Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | Episode 18 | ‘No Regrets’ | Aired April 18th, 2017

‘No Regrets’ was a good episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AoS) that contained great moments. This is another episode we encourage you to watch for yourself. With the incredible home stretch run to this season of the show, it will be extremely disappointing to not get another season.

Fitz and Madame Hydra

Early in the episode Madame Hydra takes over the Doctor’s (Fitz’s) heart-wrenching torture of Daisy and explains that in creating the framework all she did was change one regret from every individual’s life, as directed by Dr. Radcliffe, then she has just allowed for the hyper-realistic programming to take its course. Daisy turns the situation on her and asks what is in it for her, to which Aida replies, “I get what everyone else gets, I get a choice.”

Perhaps it is the fact that I am a member of a church where agency and the freedom to choose are fundamental doctrinal principles, but I found this narrative quite poignant. In last week’s episode, Aida explained she was tired of only being a puppet restricted by her programming, this week that is expanded upon by her expression of happiness at being able to choose and lead her own life in the framework just like everyone else. Although she has literally trapped people into the structure, she does not believe she has taken away their ability to make choices while within it. It would seem that Dr. Radcliffe’s remarks to her about people living in the framework being as real as those living out of it have shaped her perception of reality and choice itself. The slave without agency has taken the agency of others giving them no choice except to make choices within her own constraints, just as the devil would like to do unto us.

Agent Triplet is Back

Agent Antoine Triplet met an untimely yet heroic end in the AoS season 2 mid-season finale. It was exactly how I like my TV deaths (which sounds terrible): unexpected and abrupt. There was no long awkward goodbye or dragged out moment, nor was there an easily justifiable reason for him to go. Trip (as we lovingly came to know Agent Triplet) was trying to save his friend Skye, who tragically didn’t need any saving; his exposure to the Terrigen mist that began her transformation into Daisy Johnson killed him. His death was felt by the viewer and by every member of his team, but it didn’t get the drama that most deaths in this show tend to receive. Trip’s return to the show in the Framework was the perfect reflection of that.

We were given no indication that Trip would be returning. He was only set up by Jeffery Mace’s mission to rescue “A good agent and old friend.” Then there he was, Agent Antoine Trip Triplet, and the story continued. For the many fans who loved Trip in AoS seasons 1 and 2 (he was one of my personal favorite characters) it was an emotional return, partially because it was as abrupt and unexpected as his departure from the show. At the back of my mind, I had hoped we would see him in the Framework, but I doubted it would happen.

The Evil Inside Fitz

Fitz is evil because instead of having no relationship with his father he has a great one with him. Fitz’s dad has frequently been brought up this season in a negative light, painting him as a dangerous man. It would appear that the regret that Aida changed in FitZ’s life was that he had a bad relationship with his father and that in turn has made Fitz into a less than savory individual. His father is present in this episode feeding Fitz unsavory morsels like the one above.

When talking through their prison walls, Dr. Radcliffe expresses to Daisy that anyone is capable of the terrible things the Doctor is given the right circumstances. Social science and history back up his depressing claim, but they do not erase the fact that after this is all said and done the real world, Fitz is likely going to remember how terrible he was in the framework.

Simmons, Ward, and Director Mace

When Simmons confronts Director Mace and Agent Ward about the Framework and the real world they respond to her as if she is crazy. The Director even quizzes Jemma about himself, a quiz she fails having never had a non-professional conversation with the real world face of Shield. In their minds, they have proven her false.

Throughout the episode we see Mack and his daughter Hope share many tender and endearing moments. Jemma is clearly touched at seeing her old friend happy with the girl who died in the real world even though she knows it to be false. When Ward plans to enlist Mack’s help in saving Coulson and Mace, she begs him not to make him go. Though she claims it has nothing to do with his fake daughter it is heavily implied that it does and that is absolutely what Ward believes. It is at this point the show formally asks Simmons and by doing so the viewer, “doesn’t that make [the Framework] real?” It is a question that is becoming more complicated to answer.

Coulson Brings May Back

May takes a serum, similar to the one Mace occasionally uses in the real world to get supped up, and confronts the director. He beats her declaring that he is no terrorist and if he were he would kill her, and he rushes into a soon to be collapsing building to assist Trip and Phil in saving framework children from Hydra. After ordering the airstrike that begins the building’s collapse May travels inside the unstable building to make sure Mace dies. When she finds him inside, he is lifting a part of the building off of a child so he can escape the building, yet she still trains her gun on Mace. She and Agent Coulson then have one of the most meaningful exchanges of the show and is lasts only seconds. He tells her they are saving children, who she is shocked to find inside. She responds that sometimes it is better to kill children (referencing her new regret of not killing the girl in Bahrain), to which Coulson tells her, “Snap out of it, May!” telling her they are saving lives and she can either help or get out of the way. She does neither, but watches as Director Mace, the man she hates holds up a building so that his agents, a handful of innocent and terrified children, and her, his enemy, can escape with their lives. May is obviously shaken by the event and later takes a Terrigen Crystal to Daisy in an attempt to piece together the truth.

That building did collapse by the way. Killing Director Mace as it fell. I wouldn’t believe he was actually dead had they not shown him flatline in reality with Aida detaching him from the framework machine. This second casualty of the framework was more emotional than the first. We were only just beginning to know and like Jeffery Mace and it was sad to see him go, but at the same time he went out a hero. The Jeffery Mace of reality wanted nothing more than to be the hero everyone thought he was, it was his attempts to be heroic that landed him in the framework, to begin with. It was a death the real Mace would and should be proud of, saving both friends and enemies by doing something undeniably right. I am only upset that the only reason they were in the collapsing building was that Coulson wanted to save fake children.

This episode really pushed the question that AoS has been asking this entire half-season, “What makes something real?” It is a great philosophical question that is hard to answer and will likely become more relevant in the future as AI technology reaches Aida and framework levels. What is your take? Be sure to let us know on Twitter by tweeting us @nerditherefirst.