Agents of Shield‘s season 4 episode 16 “What If…” follows Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson and Elizabeth Henstridge’s Jemma Simmons as they enter into the framework, a hyper realistic simulated reality built by Dr. Radcliffe, to find and rescue their teammates and friends who’ve been tapped inside and are living in this alternate reality unbeknownst to them. The show opens with Daisy in her apartment greeted by her framework lover, none other than the reality deceased Hydra agent Grant Ward. She has a minor freak out moment and tries to quake him (she can’t and seems to have no powers in the framework) until Ward refers to her as Skye. She realizes this is her simulated normal. Skye and Ward than head to work together, in the framework they both work for a government sanctioned inhuman hunting Hydra. At the office, Hail Hydra, Daisy attempts to look up Lincoln, the sparky inhuman and her dead ex lover, who she hardly ever had chemistry with, don’t worry he’s dead in the framework too. Then she looks up Jemma, who she should’ve been trying to find in the first place (I mean what was she thinking, was she was gonna run away and make simulation babies with zap boy?), it turns out she’s dead too, buried back home in great Britain. Uh-oh.
Apparently getting put into the framework as a dead body is the key to framework immortality and resurrection because Jemma is less dead and less across the Atlantic then the computer claimed. We get to see her crawl out of a grave full of decaying S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, zombie style. Turns out she was in S.H.I.E.L.D. when Hydra took it down. She hobbles and hitchhikes to town where the friendly neighborhood Hydra agents approach the girl who looks dead and ask her if everything is ok. She has no ID, so they want to take her to HQ, or Hydra Quarters, to figure things out and at the very least issue her a new ID. She doesn’t respond well to their ill informed gestures of kindness, tases them and steals their Hydramobile. She looks up some people on the Hydramobile’s computer: Daisy, who can’t be found because she is still Skye here, Fitz, who she learns is a high ranking Hydra operative, and Coulson, who’s a teacher nearby.
Back with agent of Hydra Skye, we see her and Ward beating up the inhuman man, Nadeer brother to the senator, as they interrogate him. Daisy uses his real name which is bad for him since he had a very legit hydra issue fake ID that had a different name on it. This earns him a visit to the doctor and everyone’s favorite, Leopold Fitzgerald. He will continue the interrogation of the yucky inhuman.
Simmons finds Mr. Coulson, the Hydra loyal inhuman hating propaganda spreading teacher, and tries to convict him he is in a fake reality. She is all, “I’m a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Tahiti! It’s a magical place, they can’t rewrite your memory twice!” And he is all like, “Are you a former student of mine? You are freaking me out and look kinda dead. Please leave.” After she leaves he calls the authorities because in this reality S.H.I.E.L.D. is terrifying. As Jemma leaves she runs into one of Coulson’s students vandalizing her Hydramobile. He tells her Coulson lets Hydra take students from class if they might be inhuman and spreads lies about Hydra, which he hates. She reassures him: Hydra is full of Nazis. Then we get the weirdest moment in the episode: the kid is so happy to hear this he gives her his car.
Daisy and Jemma than finally find each other at their pre-planned meeting place, and retrieve their framework escape button. But bad news bears Hydra has located Simmons as well! Ward confronts the two and asks Skye if she is a double agent and if Simmons is her informant within the resistance. She says something like, “What resistance?” To which he responds, “The one I’m a part of!” Then in Agents of Shield Season One fashion Ward saves Skye and Simmons and tells them to meet him at Skye’s framework apartment.
Once at her apartment Daisy and Jemma try to use their escape the framework button, but it fails… turns out someone deleted the coding that would’ve let them use it to leave. They deduce the cause for things being different in the Framework reality, May didn’t kill the girl in Bahrain, but only the mother. The girl then went on to cause a massacre at Cambridge, leading the world to fear inhumans, hate S.H.I.E.L.D., and giving Hydra the perfect oppressive and powerful role to fill.
Back at Hydra Quarters we see Dr. Fitz approach Madame Hydra He wants to help her find the insurgent girl and the moles inside Hydra, as May is currently tasked to do. She assures him she has blocked the insurgent girl’s escape, revealing to us she is Aida’s framework counterpart as we assumed in an earlier article, and that she needs Fitz working on other tasks for his creativity. Than they suck face. Turns out Fitz’s perfect reality was being a lover to Aida without Jemma around to distract him.
The final scene shows Daisy trying what Jemma failed to do earlier, help Coulson remember. She is failing until she tells him he is the closest thing he has to a family. To which he responds, “Daisy?”
This was a good episode of Agents of Shield. It had plenty of nods to fans of the show that have been around since the beginning. It was interesting to have a What If style episode of a show that actually drove forward the plot. If you didn’t watch it you should definatly tune in online.