Agents of SHIELD 4.17 Review: “Identity and Change”
As Daisy and Simmons gain help from The Framework’s SHIELD and Coulson regains a part of himself, Madame HYDRA and Fitz continue to reign with an iron fist.
One Regret Gone
As teased in the previous episode but not explicitly divulged, this last stretch of the season is based on one hinge: What if the team each had their biggest regrets removed? Where would it take them and how would it affect the world around them?
Some of those regrets appear somewhat surprising to me, for instance, I’d argue Daisy’s biggest regret would call back to her father. Meanwhile, Mack’s biggest regret is spot on for the set-up of Hope we were handed earlier this year.
Of course, some of this world is less caused by the team’s regrets. Rather it’s Aida’s yearning for love, the need to be wanted, that has caused more severe changes. While overturning and May’s Bahrain experience caused severe aftershocks, Aida’s will is the true looming shadow of The Framework’s HYDRA. Regret affects our lives but we choose to face it and move on, strengthen our sense of self. Aida removing that regret allows her to maintain her structure; her will.
Give This Man A Prosciutto Sandwich
Having spent a good portion of the season watching Fitz live with both internal and external torment stemming from hiding Aida, it comes as no surprise that a lot of focus is on him right now. With any show, for me, there’s a sense of “Well, this can be easily remedied” at some point in a plotline. Fitz killing, double killing really, Agnes strips that away from me. I’m unsure I’ve had a moment where I think an AoS character is too far gone to flip a decision like that around. Until now. Disturbing as it is, it’s also rather refreshing.
I won’t linger too long on this, but I adore the fact that Agents of SHIELD has taken such a direct stance on things that are currently happening in our world. It was never shy stepping into the topics it has, but this year it’s dug in. There are those who would argue tat they just want entertainment for entertainment’s sake, which is fine. However, I truly believe this year has been elevated beyond that thanks to shining lights on topics like fascist regimes and basic human rights.
Hey, Coulson, Your Fanboy Is Showing
“Identity and Change” has some of the strongest performances of the year, if not individually certainly when you add up the ensemble. Ming-Na is a steely wall and Iain De Caestecker is ice cold. Brett Dalton is the Ward I wish we always had. Henry Simmons and Elizabeth Henstridge both epitomize heartbreak. Chloe Bennet holds empathy and determination equally and Clark Gregg is somehow the comedic foil, which was much needed in such a heavy episode.
Seeing him revert to fanboy excitement for The Patriot felt like old school Coulson. As if he were about to pull out some trading cards and ask for a signature a la Captain America in The Avengers.
It’s an interesting thing, welcoming a change in how you experience media. Ultimately, the closing pod of this season is all character. While important, I always prioritize characters just under plot. Typically I’d think of it as a mistake but not in this case. I wholeheartedly appreciate this love-letter, for lack of a better word, to the characters we’ve adventured with over the years.