Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 15 – Self Control – Thoughts – Part 2 – The Framework and the Superior

The episode ended with Daisy and Jemma entering the Framework and we finally get a glimpse into the world that AIDA has created. The one key difference being that she’s studied the people and removed the one thing they regretted most in their lives thereby making them happier (from her perspective). But I’ll start with the other thing that we saw right before the end – a new and improved Anton Ivanov and AIDA.

Ivanov’s like the other LMDs with one huge difference, he’s controlled by his own brain (remotely) So he has all his hatred and human wiles with a body that’s much harder to kill. I think he and Daisy will have a final showdown since she’s the one who beat him the first time and this time they will be more evenly matched. He’ll be a formidable foe.

AIDA’s arc is quite fascinating. She started out as a machine who slowly started to “wake up”. She studied the people around her to create the Framework and in doing that she yearned for the one thing she couldn’t do, feel emotion. She’s like Pinocchio, she wants to be a real person and everything she’s doing now, is with that goal in mind. The Framework is just an excuse. I think it’s also why she killed Radcliff. He created her and could therefore always “unmake” her. She destroyed her creator and thus took control of her own “life”.

For the Framework world, I’m first going to quickly summarise each of the different avatars and their worlds and then go into speculation and details after that.

First off, I am so glad that Simmons and Daisy weren’t captured and then forcefully put into the Framework. It made me so happy when they escaped. I was dreading the end because I was reasonably sure that they would get captured and it makes me inordinately happy that that didn’t happen.

We first see Daisy’s world:

She still seems to be an agent and in a relationship with Ward

Coulson is a teacher, apparently he never became an agent:

We don’t see a whole lot about Mack, except that his daughter seems to be alive:

Fitz seems to be filthy rich with a woman on on his arm…

Who is not Simmons:

And finally there’s May, who seems to be same but for one key difference:

She works for Hydra.

Speculation time:

Daisy and Ward: A lot of people (including Daisy) thought that it would be Lincoln in the other room only to find Ward. I for one am not surprised by this. For starters I was a Skyeward shipper (season 1 Ward, when he was awkward and adorable) So why is it that Ward is here instead of Lincoln? Think back to season 1. The first person Skye opened up to (excluding Coulson) was Ward. In him she saw a kindred spirit, someone who understood what her childhood was like without having to spell it out. He understood her and for the first time, she didn’t feel alone. He was protective of her in a way no one was before him. Lincoln came much later but it was Ward who helped her become an agent, he was her SO. This Skye was idealistic, her world hadn’t been shattered a million times.

Plus, I’m just happy that Brett Dalton will be on the show, for however long it lasts.

Coulson: Coulson as a teacher would actually make sense. He was always more of a mentor to Daisy than a hard-ass agent like May. He was always compassionate and he wanted to make the world a better place. What better way to do that than to be a teacher and help shape the minds of the next generation? I’m fairly certain that he’s also in a relationship. Is it possible that we might also see Amy Acker in the episode?

Mack: I can’t tell whether he’s an agent or not. The only thing that is certain is that his daughter is still alive. This Mack is happier in a way that the real Mack never was.

Fitz: I can’t tell what the deal with him is. It is clear that he is rich and probably got that way by selling his inventions. I have a strong feeling that this version of Fitz never joined Shield and therefore never met Jemma. He also seems to be a class A douche.

Jemma: Not sure what’s happening here as well except that I think that this is a tactic that would help Jemma move around in the Framework undetected. The grave is probably the back-door she was telling Daisy about. She’s clearly not dead.

May: So May works for Hydra now and I’m assuming so do Daisy and Ward. First off, we don’t know how similar this is to the real Hydra. It could be a slightly different version than the one we know and hate. She seems similar to her real self but with the different outcome for Bahrain, she seems to have changed quite drastically.

Two things are happening here. The first is a domino effect. The lives of these people were interlinked, so if you remove even one person, the effects are evident in all their lives. Daisy’s moral compass is tied to her relationship with Coulson. He’s literally the father she never had. Without him, it’s easy to understand that she would fall in with Hydra.

May’s failure at Bahrain is a key part of her. It continues to influence her decisions. Her drive to save lives stems from that one incident, without it, she’s a different person. Coulson’s absence affects her too because even with her, he was the one who told her that it was okay to feel, to let people in. To care about others. Because like Ward, May too was a specialist, trained to not care about people.

Fitz probably never joined Shield and therefore never met Simmons. She grounded him in a way no one else did. Without her, he is like his father, arrogant and egotistical.

The other thing at play here is the idea that we are shaped by our experiences, good and bad, and that includes our regrets. Without their pain, their lives are hollow. They are shells of their real selves, their lives are a lie. In their “happy” lives all of them have have made poor choices. They are lesser people without their pain. That pain taught them compassion, empathy, the desire to protect and fight for the underdog, the ones who can’t protect themselves. Pain is a part of life, it is an integral part of growing up. Without it, they are vastly different people and their poorer for it.

I think the third arc will be about coming to terms with the hand life dealt them. We know for sure that it will be hard on all of them, it will take a toll. Even for Daisy who knows she’s in a simulation, this alternate version of her life will be a hard to let go off. To see what she could have had but didn’t. That will be its own kind of torture. Boy, is this season serving up one emotional sucker punch after another.

P.S. – I sincerely hope and pray that the show soon gets renewed for another season (or three) I am not ready to say goodbye to these characters. We need this show!!

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Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 15 – Self Control – Thoughts – Part 1

Well, this was a whopper of an episode and one of the best episodes on the show if not the best. There were so many things to love. Jed Whedon did an amazing job with the episode and set-up the final arc of the season beautifully. Rarely have I seen an episode come together so well and seamlessly without any hiccups. I’ll go character-wise so that I can cover everyone.

Also SPOILERS follow so beware. I’m going to cover the last bit of the episode in the next post since that will also involve a fair bit of speculation and meta.

First things first, I am pleased to say that I was right about Daisy not being an LMD, it was too convenient and the writers of the show hate being nice to the audience so really it was no surprise.

Now, onto Fitz and Simmons:

These two feature quite prominently this season, both as a romantic couple as well as people who work exceptionally well together. Having watched the previous episode again, I realised that the additional LMD could be either Fitz or Jemma. They were both separated from each other but the only one completely alone was Fitz because Jemma was with Davis which made it harder to swap her out. Also, just as the team regroups and Jemma informs them that they missed May, Daisy and Jemma are the only ones who still want to pursue her while the others stay mute once LMD-Coulson refuses and decides to return to base instead. But the performance by Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge were both amazing this episode.

This scene between the two of them was nothing short of amazing. There was real tension and it was played so well that it actually could have gone either way.

There was so much internal conflict and pain there that you would have to be made of stone to not be torn yourself. And then there was this:

The change in Fitz after he stabs Jemma is instant and terrifying. He is suddenly cold and brutal. That switch from terrified to cold was brilliant.

Daisy:

Daisy’s having a difficult day herself. Unlike Jemma, she has no idea that there are LMDs on base and that important people have been switched. I would have been really troubled if they had managed to switch her, it would been like rehashing an old story. One of the reason this is one of my favourite shows is because ALL the women are resourceful and more than capable of taking care of themselves. Seeing Daisy realise just what had happened and then think quickly on the best course of action was gratifying because she didn’t make stupid mistakes. And this is creepy, no matter how you see it:

But, the highlight of the show was easily this:

(Be still my Skimmons heart)

I loved that these two women quickly figured out that they were both human and then started working on a plan to get the rest of the team out of the base safely while also working on how to save the people who had been taken. I was starting to miss the interaction and friendship between these two and this scene makes me ridiculously happy.

I absolutely have to mention just how much of a badass Daisy is, she sees Jemma breakdown and immediately takes charge and reassures her.

She then proceeds to beat up LMD-Mace, LMD-Mack and LMD-Coulson. The fight scenes were spectacular and I loved the way Daisy was using her powers, in new and innovative ways.

May would be so proud. Also, Chloe Bennet doesn’t get enough credit, she was great in this episode. Her desperation and confusion when she finds Simmons was heartfelt and utterly convincing.

LMD-May:

Speaking of, LMD-May was also brought into play. But LMD-May is fundamentally different from the new LMDs. In that, her prime directive was to acquire the Darkhold but everything else was from the real May which meant that she cared about Daisy and Jemma and Shield in a way that these new models didn’t. LMD-Coulson miscalculated when he placed her as the final line of defense. The plan backfired and I’m not surprised it did. LMD-May was always conflicted about her directive and just what she was. I was glad that she got her moment to shine.

Self Control was an absolutely brilliant episode with just enough twists and turns and they were executed very well. Read on for part 2 where I’ll discuss the Framework the avatars of the characters within it as well as Superior 2.0

Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 15 Self Control – Theories Updated

So, I posted theories about who could be LMDs on the base yesterday but some (or all) of those theories could be wrong because I was missing some very important information. The episode I saw had some glitch which is why I missed a few seconds towards the end of the episode. The idiot that I am, I thought I hadn’t missed anything important. Turns out I had, the very important part where Fitz’s tech informs Fitzsimmons and the viewers that there are 4 LMDs in the chamber.

But here’s the thing, I still don’t quite buy that though it does make me make some changes to my theories. I still think Daisy is a misdirect because when have the AoS writers been so straightforward with information? Ummm, let me see, Never.

Which leads to this: either Fitz or Simmons is an LMD. Here’s why: I think either Fitz of Simmons is an LMD and I think one of them modified the chamber sensors to give the wrong diagnosis. It is far too convenient who the LMDs are and the promo goes to great lengths to suggest that this is the case. But if that were true, why not show Daisy also strapped to a machine like the other 3 in the image below:

Because the audience is being set-up. We are being to led to believe that Coulson, Mace, Mack and Daisy have been switched for LMDs and Fitz and Simmons are next on their list. Except that’s far too obvious.

The other thing that makes me think that the writers are setting us up is that we never see Mace or Coulson give Daisy or Mack any instructions. For a show that declared the 4 of them as LMDs, why be shy in that regard in the promo?

The alternative theory I have is that all 4 of them are LMDs but somehow Daisy escapes being put in the Framework and is on the run and we have this image from the promo:

She’s not wearing her uniform and her gauntlets are off and we know that she only took them off when she had gone rogue. She’s wearing what looks like an ill-fitting grey top. Now, if this were a scene from Daisy in the Framework, it would look ideal, so she would be dressed the way she normally is. So, it’s possible, that the Daisy on base is an LMD but then the real Daisy manages to make it bust the remaining human agents out before the LMDs get them. Even the setting is vague, it could be the bad guys lair or the base with the power cut off.

I have a feeling that writers will spend the first half of the episode selling the “they’re all LMDs”  only to turn it on its head close to the middle of the episode before all hell breaks lose.

Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 15 Self-Control – Theories

So, from the episode synopsis we already know that the base will be overrun with LMDs. We also know who some of them are, however there are some that we are unaware of and this is where it gets tricky.

For one, AoS writers love throwing curve-balls at the audience and keeping them on their toes, however, they also don’t normally repeat aspects that we’ve seen in previous arcs.

Now, we know that Mace, Coulson and May are LMDs, we see them hooked up to the Framework, but in the promo for episode 15, AIDA mentions 4 LMDs. So who could the fourth be? There are some possibilities. From the end of episode 14, we have this:

In the image, we know that Coulson and Mace are LMDs for sure. However, the tech only detects an LMD, it can’t however differentiate between normal human when the humans are with an LMD (or two)

Now onto the other possible LMDs. Let’s start with the least likely: Daisy. I seriously doubt that she’ll be one of the LMDs because we saw something similar to this in season 3 when she was under HIVE’s control (before she revealed herself at the end of the episode) She also got injured in her fight with the Russian (I’m not calling him Superior because I doubt he’s the big bad) but yeah, she clearly got injured, and it seemed like a deep wound:

If this is the case, then like May she should be able to see the inner metal work. Then there are her powers. Radcliff can give her memories to the LMD but not her powers. But my chief reason for her not being an LMD remains that we’ve seen evil Daisy in season 3 and there’s no reason to repeat that. Besides with Coulson and Mace gone, Daisy will have to step-up and take charge.

It won’t be Elena either, at this point I don’t know if she’s going to be in the episode. But if she is, I still don’t think it’ll be her. Because like Daisy, she’s an Inhuman and it’ll be easy to figure out if she’s an LMD.

Then there’s Fitz and Simmons. Either one of them could be LMDs but not both of them. The writers love driving the audience up the wall by always messing with Fitz and Simmons and this season has been pretty kind to them. But I can’t tell who’s more likely to be one. It could be Fitz, since he’s Shield’s best bet on figuring out the LMDs and deactivating them (apart from hacking their head off) Simmons, on the other hand, would be equally bad. As of right now, she is the one with the highest clearance at the base, which means she has a lot of power. Plus, the only time she was away from base, when she was taken to help Vijay break out from his outer-husk, she was always with the shield goons and at the time, Radcliff and Senator Nadeer weren’t working together.

But, I’m optimist that it’s neither of them simply because they’ve both been through enough pain with Fitz’s trauma and recovery and Simmon’s getting sucked onto another planet.

Now, onto Mack. He’s actually a pretty good candidate. For starters, he spent an entire episode MIA when he went to visit his ex-wife. He was on his own and it would have been so easy for Radcliff to swap him  for an LMD with no one the wiser.

That looks super aggressive. For what it’s worth, my money is on Mack.

In the LMD arc, we have maybe one or two episodes to go which means that the threads need to start unravelling. I have a feeling that the last few episodes will deal with the Darkhold and containing that. The Watchdogs will probably still be a part of it. Nadeer’s brother, Vijay will also make a come-back having gone through his second (and permanent) transition and will likely play a big part. It will also be a great way to get Ghost Rider back since he’s probably the best equipped to handle and get rid of the Darkhold.

So this is my two-bit worth of speculation.. Feel free to comment and let me what you guys think..

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake Review

frostbloodYet another mediocre read with a boring heroine and an equally dull hero. Frostblood was pretty predictable, the only reason I finished it was because it was relatively short. The heroine, Ruby, was the run-of-the-mill YA character, hell bent on revenge while also harbouring dreams of being a healer, go figure. The hero, Arkus, was also a typical YA hero, in that he was a douchebag and a jerk to Ruby from the very beginning and insisted on not telling her why he’s acting the way he is.

Of course, Ruby can see beyond the douchy exterior to the kind and gentle man he is on the inside. Seriously! What gave her that insight? He was nasty and nice in equal measure, if anything, it should have given her whiplash. His constant mood swings and then for him to often take it out on her when she had no idea what was actually going on was just uncalled for..

Also, she was somehow supposed to dethrone the current king but no one shared the actual plan with her for the longest time and she was fine with that. WHY?

If the synopsis for the next book is accurate then we are in for a dreaded love-triangle and all I could do was roll my eyes.. Haven’t we moved forward to better plots? And for her to be so in love with Arkus and then to also fall in love with whoever the new douche is, how does that work? So done with love triangles!

Sweet/Vicious – Thoughts and Impressions

sweet-vicious-wall-30-prores-no-bug-mp4-00-00-23-11-still006-edited-1481159884I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this new show called Sweet/Vicious! I started watching it on a whim because the trailer looked interesting and I am so glad I did.

The show is about these two very different girls, Jules Thomas, a Sorority sister and Ophelia Meyers, a laidback weed dealer, who come together to fight back against men who raped and sexually assaulted other students but got away with it. This is especially relevant in the wake of wide-spread campus rapes and the pitiful sentences of Brock Turner and other idiots like him.

Sweet/Vicious is an amazing mix of laugh-out-loud moments interspersed with serious issues dealt with sensitivity and respect. One of the main characters, Jules, is a rape survivor and so much of the show focuses on her PTSD and her attempts to deal with what happened to her. Part of why she embarks on her journey as a vigilante is because she wants the perpetrators to feel just as scared and helpless as she and the other survivors feel, while also teaching them a lesson.

The show is exceptional because it’s well-written and features the perfect balance between humour and drama. The tone is relatable and never preachy. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson created an amazing mix of characters that were flawed, nuanced and yet still worth rooting for. She, the writers and the directors did a spectacular job dealing with the issues they did without ever resorting to stereotypes, something even the so called ‘serious’ show have trouble doing. The episodes that featured sexual violence of any kind were preceded by a trigger-warning, have you ever come across something like this on any other show? Ever seen a trigger warning before a Game of Thrones episode which deals with sexual violence against women in such a callous and insensitive manner. Even the portrayal of rape was something that we so rarely see. It wasn’t fetishized, the way such scenes often are. The scenes were hard to watch because they felt real. The focus was always on the victim and they never felt gratuitous or exploitative. Special mention for the support group that had men as well as women. That was a small thing and easy to miss but so important because men can be sexually assaulted as well and not many show even acknowledge that.

It is also worth noting just how many nice guys there are in the show. Sure, there are the sex offenders but the show also prominently features genuinely nice guys who respect and support the women they are with either as lovers or as friends. Also, there are so many healthy relationships like the one between Ophelia and Evan, Jules and Tyler, Harris and Fiona. I could write an entire post on the relationships. Who am I kdding, I loved Evan and Tyler, they were adorable.

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The show is about girl-power and this is reflected in the crew as well. Of the writers on the show, there are two women (not including Robinson) and of the six directors, three are women. This is commendable. Even the cast is diverse, with POCs who are more than the peripheral characters no one knows or cares about, they are important with their own narrative arcs.

Another thing I loved about the show was its portrayal of women. They did away with so many stereotypes and I was overjoyed to see women standing up for and supporting other women. They genuinely cared about each other and for once there were no women cutting down other women over a guy. Even with characters who seemed a little shallow, the show was quick to point out that there was more to a person than what is obviously visible, case in point Fiona Price. She seemed so shallow and not too bright and most of the other characters wrote her off almost immediately till she had that conversation with Harris and he like the audience is blown away by her.

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Harris is all of us

The cast is also exceptional especially the two main leads, Eliza Bennett and Taylor Deardon. The episodes that focused on what happened to Jules rested on Bennett’s performance and she was brilliant. Her performance was heartbreaking and so compelling. Deardon was equally adept at handling the humourous and the serious scenes. I loved these two so much. The show’s entire premise rested on whether the audience believed the bond between them and they made it easy to do that. Their friendship was one of the highlights of the entire show. Other notable mentions include Brandon Mychal Smith as Harris and Aisha Dee as Kennedy (can I just say that I also loved the friendship between Jules and Kennedy)

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I can’t articulate well enough just how amazing this show is. And what is even more amazing that we got it from MTV and not an HBO or Netflix. Credit to MTV for getting behind a show like this. Now, if they could just renew it for another season or three, that would be great.

 

P.S. – as much as I loved Tyler and Evan, I am sad to say that I’ve set sail on the Juphelia ship and would love nothing more than to see them get together, although, no reason why Tyler and Evan can’t join in the fun. Also, I hope that Kennedy’s in season 2 and doesn’t leave, that would be a bummer.