Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 4, Episode 16 “What If…” (B+)
This show has been off the air for over a month, and it’s a bit disorienting to have this first hour take place exclusively in the Framework. As if what we had seen May go through while she was fighting for her life and thinking that she had broken free so many times was nothing compared to this. It’s a throwback to see Hydra in such a prominent position of power, and this alternate reality does, as Daisy and Simmons discovered, put each of the imprisoned characters in a state of misery that they would hate and surely will once they discover what is going on and that nothing about this is real. Simmons’ strategy of telling people that they don’t really exist probably isn’t the best way to go about it, and Daisy isn’t being terribly subtle either in her efforts to glean intelligence to gain the upper hand. Waking up with Ward was another major throwback, and casting him as a mole for the good guys was a cool twist. I had expected Radcliffe to be the big terrifying doctor, and having Fitz assume that role, playing so far against type, was an intriguing surprise. I should have seen Aida as the director coming, and having a relationship with Fitz is an interesting addition, especially because, in all likelihood, this may be the real Aida fully aware of what she’s doing and who she is. It’s good to see one glimmer of hope in Daisy’s ability to get through to Coulson and have him remember her name, so maybe they won’t be stuck in this world for all that long.