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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S4 E18 "No Regrets"

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HYDRA develops a plan to eliminate Mace and S.H.I.E.L.D. A secret about Fitz comes to light.


Tropes in this Episode:

  • Abusive Parents: Turns out the deciding factor for Fitz's moral compass is which single-parent household he grew up in: in the real world, his father, Alistair, walked out and it was just him and his mother; in the Framework, his mother's out of the picture and his father raised him. Alistair has always been implied to have been a bit of a bastard, and this episode proves his absence in the real world was actually a blessing. He taught his son to avoid things like compassion, and all but states that he beat Leopold to toughen him up. As Framework Fitz's approach to things shows, this worked a little too well.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
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    • Are Aida and Madame Hydra actually two separate entities? Aida not being directly connected with the Framework and seeming somewhat surprised and struck when she sees Jeffrey dying could indicate that.
    • During the rescue, Coulson lets out "Snap out of it, May!", which may or may not have had an effect on her turning against HYDRA.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Aida in the real world seems slightly sad about Jeffrey's death.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: In the previous episodes, May was been a staunch HYDRA loyalist, doing everything to protect the world order after her greatest blunder. First, there's the Patriot's response to being called a terrorist: if he were, she'd be dead. And when she's told to confirm the Patriot's death and goes into the building she just fired upon, she sees children evacuating. While she displayed outright Child Hater tendencies in the previous episode, claiming children aren't innocent, seeing that she had just fired on a building housing children despite being told otherwise must have been a shock to the system. Then when she discovers Mace and the others and takes aim, Coulson points out that they're trying to save children and yells at her to "snap out of it," which seems to get to May and makes her stand down.
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  • Back from the Dead: Madame Hydra offers to do this for Lincoln in the Framework if Daisy reveals where she's hiding in the real world. Daisy refuses.
  • Badass Boast: Daisy gives one after May asks if she's really an Inhuman.
    Daisy: Powerful enough to bring this whole place down.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted; Daisy's face is a bloodied mess after she's been tortured by Fitz. She remains this way for the entire episode.
  • Big Good: Everybody is shocked to the core by Jeffrey's sacrifice. Beforehand, Ward even mentioned that without him, their fight would be lost.
  • Bookends:
    • Jeffrey Mace's story began with him appearing to protect someone from a cave-in caused by an explosion. Here, his story ends saving lots of people from a cave-in caused by an explosion.
  • The Bus Came Back: Thanks to the Framework, certain characters that died or were presumed dead can make unexpected returns.
    • Kenneth Turgeon, Simmons' supervisor in HYDRA, shows up to brief May.
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    • Mace's rescue target in the HYDRA prison camp is Antoine Triplett.
  • Call-Back:
    • Two of the kids from Coulson's class show up at the brainwashing facility, the one that was escorted out and the one that tagged Jemma's stolen HYDRA car.
    • The Hyde serum used by Calvin Johnson is used to give May Super Strength, complete with a touch of peppermint. A newspaper article shown in "What If..." was about a Dr. Winslow being arrested for subversion (Dr. Winslow being Cal's post-TAHITI identity), which suggests they got it from him. She isn't horribly mutated by it (thankfully), suggesting that Framework!Cal still hasn't figured out the final ingredient needed to perfect the formula: a milligram of adrenaline.
    • In "Hot Potato Soup", it was revealed that Fitz's father was abusive and abandoned him and his mother. In the Framework, this was evidently Fitz's greatest regret, as his father is still in his life.
    • At the HYDRA security check, Coulson makes some small talk about an Inhuman he heard about with lion's paws (presumably Griffin). Garrett relayed a similar story all the way back in the first season in "Providence".
  • The Cameo: Sunil Bakshi's voice is heard over the brainwashing video in the "Enlightenment Cultivation Center".
  • Chekhov's Gun: May spies some Terrigen crystals while first being shown the Hyde serum. At the end of the episode, she uses one to give Daisy her powers back.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The brainwashing program at the HYDRA prison camp is a combination of the Faustus method perfected by Daniel Whitehall, and used on Kara, mixed with the Black Widow training from the Red Room shown in Agent Carter.
    • Ward in general, from his death to Coulson getting "this weird itch, like hives" from seeing him.
    • Coulson posing as a bus driver can be subtle up to the point before a viewer hears him say "The Bus".
    • Coulson claims he speaks Spanish well. In S1, after the HYDRA reveal, Coulson ordered a pizza for his crew on the run. To hide it, he ordered under a Spanish name.
  • Defiant Captive:
    • Daisy bitterly snarks at Madame Hydra, refusing to give her anything.
      Daisy: I asked for a mani-pedi. Got tortured. B.T. Dubs, your psycho-prison sucks.
    • Radcliffe won't take any of Aida's crap, no matter how badly she hurts him in return. Quickly subverted during the next scene as he indeed seems broken by his ordeal, and especially Agnes's death and screams at Aida to just kill him already.
      Madame Hydra: Algorithms, running their natural course. As Dr. Radcliffe always intended.
      Radcliffe: [offscreen] THIS ISN'T WHAT I MEANT, YOU SADISTIC WITCH!
      Madame Hydra: Guards!
      [sound of Radcliffe being electrocuted and screaming]
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • HYDRA "history" books make no mention of the Trail of Tears, The Holocaust or Martin Luther King Jr. Simmons calls it "a complete disregard of historical and scientific facts". Maybe they are "alternative facts".
    • The child Inhumans hidden in the Playground and protected by S.H.I.E.L.D. are referred to as "refugees".
  • Dramatic Irony: Fitz says to his father that he doesn't know what kind of man he'd be without him. The audience, of course, knows the answer: a much better one.
  • Embarrassing Last Name: Coulson's fake HYDRA ID is Jamie Flugelman, it being the only name Ward could clear from HYDRA's database. After giving him the ID, Mace proceeds to call him "Flugelman" for the rest of the episode. The HYDRA agent checking IDs at the Enlightenment Center also calls attention to the name. Coulson claims it's Canadian.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite their relationship being pretty unhealthy, Fitz and Alistair really do seem to love each other.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even HYDRA loyalist May, who believes that all kids are potentially evil thanks to what happend in Bahrain, is appalled that they fired on a building full of them, especially since as far as she knew, there were no children at the facility.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Simmons is pretty blunt in her opinion of the Framework's reality, brushing off Jeffrey's cause as meaningless among other things. This attitude takes a bit of a hit when she sees Mack with his daughter.
  • Foreshadowing: Fitz's father briefs Fitz on someone smuggling a camera into Project Looking Glass, mentioning that the camera itself was "an antique." Turns out it was Antoine Triplett using his grandfather's Howling Commando gear.
  • For Want of a Nail: Daisy and Radcliffe discuss this when Daisy has trouble believing that Fitz could ever be the sadist he is in the Framework. As Radcliffe explains, anyone is capable of pretty much anything under the right circumstances. Something as minor as a single sentence can change the course of a person's entire life. In the case of Fitz, back in "Hot Potato Soup", his father is noted to have abandoned him and his mother, so the Framework obviously rectified that.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • The HYDRA Enlightenment Cultivation Center, also known as H.E.C.C. AKA 
    • Hyde's serum is referred to as the Augmented Strength Serum, which spells ASS, though this one probably wasn't on purpose.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: After Fitz tortures Daisy to no avail, Madame Hydra tries to get her to cooperate via promising to give her Lincoln back. Daisy won't budge.
  • Heel–Face Turn: May witnessing the Patriot's Kirk Summation to her in addition to sacrificing himself to save one kid — coupled with the revelation of what HYDRA has been doing to kids — convinces her to turn on HYDRA, delivering a Terrigen crystal to Daisy.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mace performs one in the Framework to save a kid and his team; he's crushed under tons of rubble. This leads to him being Killed Off for Real in the real world thanks to Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • Hope Spot: When Jeffrey rises from the rubble, there seems to be a tiny chance for both him and the kid to make it out alive... but he's stuck under a support beam and he can't move without killing the kid and his entire team, so they have to leave him behind to die when the building eventually overwhelms him.
  • Hour of Power: The Hyde serum only lasts for an hour. May uses it against Mace, but the flight in wastes most of her time and her strength crashes soon after her fight with Mace.
  • Hypocrite: Madame Hydra claims that the Framework isn't a prison, despite having placed May, Coulson, Mace, Fitz, Mack, and Radcliffe in it against their wills and refusing to allow any of them the option of leaving. She also insists that all she wants is "a choice" like everyone else, including the people she traps and manipulates.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: When May accuses Mace of being a terrorist after her attempt to fight him with a Super Serum falls through, he retorts that she'd be dead if he were.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Ward says as much after Simmons tells her story; he considers it wacko and delusional. Fitz's dad also chides him, telling him that it was too early to drink a pint. Of course, this might have been a Kick the Dog moment coming from him.
  • Irrational Hatred: Jemma doesn't even try to conceal her hatred for Ward, even though this version of him is completely different from the Ward she knew. Ward apologizing for the actions of his alternate self seems to get through to her a little bit, at least enough to work with him to save Coulson and the others.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Patriot spends his battle with May implying that she's an Inhuman, "Someone's been juicing....unless you're actually one of us". It does indeed put her on tilt.
  • Just a Machine: Simmons is insistent that the people of the Framework are just pieces of code, and letting Mace fight to protect them is a dangerous distraction. She seems to begin to back off this stance when she sees Mack with Hope, though she tries to hide it.
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: Coulson calls out May for trying to stop them from rescuing an innocent boy, and gives her the choice to kill them or help them. Thankfully, she doesn't pull the trigger. Considering the fact that the only thing protecting them all was Mace holding up the building, and her orders were to kill him, it probably was more a pragmatic decision than anything else.
  • Kirk Summation: May is under the impression that she and HYDRA are the good guys and Mace and his S.H.I.E.L.D. are thugs and terrorists. He replies (after winning their fight) that if that were true, she would be dead right now.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: Mace uses his body to shield a child about to be crushed by the collapsing building, then holds up a fallen support beam so the rest of his team can escape. The weight of it eventually overwhelms him.
  • Must Make Amends: Coulson refuses to leave Chris behind, feeling terrible about spreading HYDRA's lies for years and watching countless students of his getting abducted.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Radcliffe finally has a meltdown over all of the trouble he caused this season. Even after all his dickish behavior, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for the guy.
  • My Greatest Second Chance:
    • Upon seeing the student who was taken away by HYDRA in "What If..." at the reeducation facility, Coulson laments all the times he toed the party line and allowed HYDRA to do such things, so he's going to rescue that boy.
    • Mace gets to use real superpowers to save someone from being crushed by debris, the very act which he became famous for in the real world but did not actually do. Even though it cost him his life, it seems the Framework managed to truly fix one person's biggest regret.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Though little attention is drawn to it, Coulson proves extremely competent with multiple types of firearms, even though his Framework self is a teacher who likely never touched a gun before.
  • No Sympathy: Daisy is very apathetic towards Radcliffe's suffering, given everything he had done beforehand... until he reveals what happened to his beloved Agnes, then it turns into a case of Alas, Poor Villain.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The virtual Ward figures out that there was bad blood between his counterpart and Simmons, and offers a sincere apology for whatever the other Ward had done, something the real Ward would never have done, as he was incapable of seeing himself as possibly being in the wrong.
  • Papa Wolf: When Coulson sees his former students being "reconditioned", he resolves to save them all.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Alistair Fitz displays a sexist streak when he says Virtue Is Weakness and calls such values "womanly", noting that his son got these qualities from his mother when he apologizes.
    • According to Mack, HYDRA's history books make no reference to the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, or Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Propaganda Machine: This is implied to be Sunil Bakshi's role in this reality; "Bakshi News" is mentioned, and his voice is heard over the Faustus brainwashing video that HYDRA was exposing the children to at the re-education facility.
  • Punched Across the Room: When May's Super Serum runs out and her attacks can no longer hurt Mace, he ends the duel by using a palm-thrust to send her flying several meters into a wall.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: While Madame Hydra does succeed in killing the Patriot, beheading the S.H.I.E.L.D. rebellion and getting rid of the most powerful Inhuman hero, their methods to do so shake May's trust, causing her to not only pull a Heel–Face Turn, but also free Daisy and restore her powers, essentially granting the rebellion a new, even more powerful Inhuman hero.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Simmons telling Mace and Ward that they're virtual characters in a hyper-realistic simulation gets faced with a lot of skepticism.
    • Mace may be superhumanly strong and tough, but holding up a building note  is out of his weight class, especially after a tough fight with May.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: It's a subtle version, but both Jeffrey and Ward call Jemma out on her cold disregard for their reality, with Ward putting a special focus on Mack's love for his daughter.
  • The Reveal:
    • Radcliffe tells Daisy that he put safeguards into the Framework that even Aida can't tamper with.
    • If you still have a body and die in the Framework, it means you die outside it, too, as Simmons previously surmised.
    • Aida is somehow able to maintain her android body while her mind is in the Framework (wifi maybe?)
  • Sacrificial Lion: Jeffrey is the first major figure on the heroes side to give his life this season.
  • Shipper on Deck: Fitz's father openly ships his son with Madame Hydra, even telling Fitz to his face that she's the only woman right for him, which most likely he was deliberately programmed to do by Aida.
  • Shout-Out: A few are made to certain MCU films:
    • This exchange:
      Coulson: He's trying to save a kid!
      May: So was I.
    • And this:
      Mace: Miss Simmons.
      Simmons: It's "Doctor".
    • Which is earlier repeated by Fitz:
      Daisy: [in pained disbelief] What happened to you, Fitz?
      Fitz: It's Doctor.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Even while torturing Daisy personally, Fitz never once raises his voice.
  • Spoiler Opening: BJ Britt's name appears in the opening credits, tipping off sharp-eyed viewers to Tripp's return.
  • Take That!:
  • Torture Is Ineffective: Despite Daisy being beaten within an inch of her life, Fitz notes that she won't give up any information. Played with in that Daisy tells him the truth the entire time, but it's not a truth he cares to hear or is even relevant to his line of questioning. She knows practically nothing about S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Framework, and what little she does know she refuses to divulge.
  • Understatement: While gathering a team to extract Mace, Coulson, and the others, Simmons asks Ward how many people he can gather. He answers, "Not much." And by that, he means that most people in the Playground are refugees as other field agents are sent out elsewhere. He even intended to ask one of the refugees, Mack, to assist him.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: How Mace gets the upper hand in his fight with May. She clearly has an edge in hand-to-hand combat, and that combined with her temporary Super Strength gives him problems, but while he may not be as good in a fight, he is used to the limits and applications of his strength, whereas May isn't.
  • Villain Ball: Fitz knows the Hyde serum lasts an hour, so he gives it to May before she leaves and the flight over evidently takes nearly an hour. If he had just given her the syringe and said to take it before landing, she might have been able to overpower and kill Mace. Instead, she fails, sees him give his life to rescue children, and has a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Daniel Whitehall is shown in a history book as a positive figure and Coulson mentions "Bakshi News", implying that Whitehall's Dragon is also a well-regarded figure.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: In the Framework, Fitz's father instilled a disdain for "womanly sentiments" in him. All the better that the real Fitz spent his life estranged from him.
  • Witch with a Capital B: Radcliffe, at one point, calls Aida a "sadistic witch".
  • Wham Episode: Mace dies, May does a Heel–Face Turn, and Daisy ends up regaining her powers.
  • Wham Line: Delivered by May, hand in hand with the Wham Shot listed below.
    May: Is it true? You're an Inhuman?
    Daisy: Yeah. Powerful enough to bring this whole place down.
    May: [producing Terrigen crystal] I hope so.
  • Wham Shot:
    • From an out-of-universe perspective, Trip being one of the captured people in HYDRA's prison camp given that he died and hasn't even been mentioned for over a season.
    • Android Aida checking on the state of the physical bodies of the captive S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and looking dismayed that Mace died — which begs the question of how she can simultaneously maintain her android body and be Madame Hydra within the Framework at the same time.
    • May pulling out a Terrigen crystal and using it on Daisy, complete with an anticipatory grin by the latter.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ward calls Simmons out for regarding the Framework's reality as artificial and unimportant, as it's the only reality he knows.
  • Written by the Winners: Hinted at before, but in the Framework, it's clear that HYDRA has been rewriting history; Whitehall appears in a history book as a well-regarded figure, and according to Mack, the book makes no mention of the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, or Martin Luther King Jr.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Simmons, once again to no avail. Mace, being one of the real-world people hooked into the Framework, thinks there's at least a grain of truth in what she's saying, but he won't accept that nothing in this world matters.

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