Monday, April 10, 2017

What If...

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned last week to begin its third and final story arc of the season: the Framework, aka "Agents of HYDRA." Based on this first episode, it could turn out to be their best material of the season.

First, despite the fact that I've sometimes wished the show wasn't so much the "Daisy Johnson Hour," I'm drawn in by who it is that has to save the day this time. Not just Daisy, but Simmons too, with the whole team counting on them. Big time girl power here -- and not of the usual May-kicks-ass variety. Plus, Daisy is without her Inhuman abilities, almost reset to season one status in the show.

Also reset to season one status (somewhat), we have Grant Ward back on the show. And while I felt Ward wore out his welcome long before they began the Hive arc, this feels like a good way to put the character back in the mix without straining credulity.

If you're a fan of genre television, then you know what a fruitful story line the "parallel universe" can turn out to be. Everything from Star Trek to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Stargate (and everything in between) has found memorable episodes in mirror realities, alternate timelines, dream dimensions, and the like. It often leads to some of the best episodes of a series, as writers, actors, and everyone else involved with a show gets to cut loose and change things up.

Here, the premise is a tantalizing one. As Aida explained to us before the break, the world of the framework represents reality as it would be if each of the subjects trapped in it had just one regret changed about their lives. From just half a dozen butterflies flapping their wings, we have this HYDRA dominated, fascist regime. We've already learned that the one change where May was concerned was not taking the life of that little girl in Bahrain. Here's hoping for more fun revelations in the one change made for each of the other characters (or, at least, Aida's interpretation of how to address their regrets).

We got no Mack, Director Mace, or Radcliffe this episode. Not only did the absence of these characters help in establishing the "back to season one" vibe of the episode, it means that on top of the stage already intriguingly set, there are more revelations in store when those characters are brought into the mix. I for one am eager to see where it goes.

I give this episode an A-. You've got the hook set in me, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Now reel me in.

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