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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S4 E19 "All the Madame's Men"

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Daisy and May team up to escape the Triskelion. Aida advances her plans.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Adaptation Species Change: In-universe, Madame Hydra is human in the Framework even though Aida is not. This shows that the Framework has even resolved her biggest regret: not being human. However, since Madame Hydra is still aware of who and what she actually is, the Framework is nothing more than a fantasy she intends to make real with Project Looking Glass.
  • Alternate Self:
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    • The characters start referring to Framework Ward and Real Ward as different people, saying things like "he died" instead of "you died."
    • Framework Ward himself starts referring to Daisy as a different person from his Skye after Daisy confirmed Simmons' claim about the other world, to the point that he backs down when he wanted to hug her, realizing that Daisy had bad experience with his counterpart in the other world and thus she has every reason to hate being touched by him (as she previously displayed when he hugged her in "What If...").
  • Appeal to Audacity: Trip actually believes Jemma's story about the real world, claiming nobody would ever be able to make up something so crazy.
  • The Atoner:
    • It's revealed that this version of Ward also set his family's house on fire, but was recruited by Victoria Hand instead of Garrett and now tries to do his best to make up for his mistakes. This also indirectly includes those made by the real-world Ward, as he intends to go down fighting to ensure Coulson's broadcast is not interrupted.
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    • May is hellbent on correcting her mistake of supporting HYDRA after witnessing the Patriot's sacrifice.
  • Bait-and-Switch: As Jemma and Trip converge on the oil rig where Aida's machine is being built, the shot switches to Ivanov and his goons assembling it in another room. When the two meet up, it's revealed that Ivanov is in the real world, while the Framework equivalent is empty.
  • Become a Real Boy: Aida's endgame is to use the Darkhold-inspired matter creation technology to fashion herself a living body, thereby overcoming her programming restrictions.
  • Berserk Button: Alistair Fitz doesn't take Radcliffe mocking him well, see No-Holds-Barred Beatdown below.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mack and Coulson show up to help May and Daisy get away from HYDRA.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Daisy uses one of the agents at the office to block machine gun fire from the mooks shooting at her. A bit cold, even for Daisy, but technically the agent is just computer code.
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  • Bullying a Dragon: Happens twice in the same scene, considering not only are the Fitz men Dragons (Fitz to Aida, and Alistair to Fitz), but are also father and son. Leo angrily shouts at Alistair after the latter tells him the raid on the safehouse failed. Alistair scares him into instantly backing down without even raising his voice, and the shift in Leo's body language suggests this was Alistair's way of teaching Leo discipline and fear. However, once Leo regains his composure, he reminds his father that as the head of HYDRA, he can no longer tolerate failure, even if it comes from Alistair.
  • The Bus Came Back: Bakshi survives in the Framework as the host of TV news show The Bakshi Report. Like practically everything else in this world, it's a HYDRA propaganda machine.
  • Call-Back:
    • Daisy emerges from the cocoon the same way she did in the real world.
    • One thing this version of Ward has in common with his deceased counterpart is the way he throws a tantrum... by literally throwing things.
    • Coulson places his hand on Ward's chest in one scene, alluding to how the real Ward met his end.
    • Coulson recalls Nick Fury's line about what someone can do when they become part of something bigger.
  • Can't Stop the Signal: S.H.I.E.L.D. hijacks The Bakshi Report to broadcast footage of Mace's death and call on others to join the fight against HYDRA.
  • Chekhov's Gun: May turns on her body cam when entering the Enlightenment Center in the previous episode. When she defects to S.H.I.E.L.D. in this one, the footage from her body cam is used in the emergency broadcast to expose HYDRA's lies.
  • Contract on the Hitman: When Daisy and May are on the run after escaping the Triskelion, Fitz has Bakshi air a piece naming them as wanted terrorists so the public will track them down on their behalf.
  • Death from Above: Standard operating practice for HYDRA when tracking Inhumans, according to May — if a ground team can't find them, an airstrike is called in to level the area.
  • Decapitated Army: With Mace dead, Coulson fears the movement he's created will die with him. Fortunately, Coulson steps up to assume the role.
  • Destination Defenestration: Madame Hydra is sent flying out a glass elevator by Daisy's powers. She survives, but her spine is broken.
  • Dirty Coward: For all his jingoistic posturing that he will never betray HYDRA, after getting a little quaked by Daisy, Bakshi then tells our heroes to just write whatever they want in the teleprompter and he'll say it.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Played with. Alistair is pretty quick to rein Leopold in when he shouts at him, but then Leo makes it clear that he will no longer tolerate any failure after this.
  • Easily Forgiven: Defied by Mack in regards to May, as he is not willing to forgive her that quickly after she threatened his daughter. The others however are pretty quick to work with her.
  • Eating Machine: Ivanov is still able to drink his test tubes of vodka and sniff onions in his LMD body, but he no longer gets any satisfaction from it.
    Ivanov: [sigh] Not the same. [angrily tosses test tube to the floor, shattering it]
  • Evil Cripple: Madame Hydra now has a broken spine.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Discussed by Daisy, but then defied by Coulson, who decides to help the fight against HYDRA since they need to divide HYDRA's forces if they want to escape.
  • For Want of a Nail: This is the entire premise of the Framework, of course, and apparently it applies to the NPCs as well as the real people. Since the roles of S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA are reversed in this world, the agent who approached Boxed Crook Grant Ward and gave him a second chance, thus becoming the mentor he learned from, was the heroic (if not very nice) S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Victoria Hand instead of the villainous HYDRA agent John Garrett, and it shows.
    • It's also entirely possible that Coulson's absence from SHIELD may have played a part. Coulson and Garrett were longtime acquaintances in the real world and the changed circumstances in the Framework could have meant that Garrett never met Grant Ward.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Fitz does it again in this episode. This time, he looks down on the camera (i.e. looks down on the audience) after his father told him to become the new leader of HYDRA after Madam Hydra is crippled.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The news crawl and talking points for The Bakshi Report note that John Garrett is dead and remembered as a hero, and Daniel Whitehall has a new biography detailing his work with the Malick family, among other details.
    • Coulson can be seen reading a file on the Diviner when Ward comes in to talk.
  • The Ghost: Coulson alludes to a man who tried to recruit him into S.H.I.E.L.D., a man who told him he could be a part of something greater — Nick Fury.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: Daisy uses her powers to push a grenade round back into the truck it was fired from.
  • Gun Fu: May pulls off some during her escape from the Triskelion with Daisy.
  • Guns Akimbo: Both Daisy and May pick up two guns each during the escape sequence.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ward attempts one, deciding he is the best option to Hold the Line against HYDRA to keep them from stopping the broadcast. Indeed, soon after the broadcast, Ward is told that there is a large group of people approaching the studio. Ward reaches for his gun, only to be told that it's not HYDRA, it's a group of civilians here to help.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Subverted; Daisy is a little jittery from the Terrigenesis hangover and doesn't have her gauntlets, but other than that she has full control over her powers. This confuses May, who has never seen an Inhuman adapt so quickly. Daisy starts to explain, only to realize there's nothing she can say that doesn't sound crazy.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: During the beginning of the escape sequence, three HYDRA mooks have May and Daisy at gunpoint with assault rifles and no cover whatsoever. None of them hit anything except the wall.
  • In Spite of a Nail: As Madame Hydra notes, the people put into the Framework may have had their circumstances changed, but the essence of who they are hasn't. May's still a warrior, Mack a protector, Fitz a romantic, and of course, as previous episodes have mentioned, Ward can't help but be The Mole even when he's a good guy.
  • Instant Expert: Since Daisy already knows how to control her powers in the real world, she instantly masters them in the Framework. May is surprised, since she's seen Terrigenesis before and doesn't get how Daisy would know what her powers are, much less have such control over them. Daisy just claims she's "had practice" and leaves it at that, since she knows any explanation will just make her sound crazy.
  • Internal Reveal: Daisy is caught up on Trip being alive, Mace being dead, and May having killed him. Framework Ward is told that his real world version is dead.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. After giving Radcliffe a savage beating, Alistair's knuckles are bloody and bruised.
  • Irony:
    • In the Framework, Ward was picked up in juvie by Victoria Hand, the woman he murdered in the real world.
    • In the real world, Ward was a HYDRA agent and Daisy with S.H.I.E.L.D. In the Framework, Ward works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Skye for HYDRA.
    • The real world version of Mace implemented an insane level of hierarchy in S.H.I.E.L.D., with clear lines of command and succession, and automated transfers of data to his deputies when he was MIA. The Framework version doesn't even have a clear second-in-command, leading to everyone being lost without him.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: When Madame Hydra shows up with backup at the elevator Daisy and May are heading for, they drop their weapons while she gloats. Then Daisy sends her out the window with her powers.
  • It's Personal: Beforehand, the Resistance was just a bunch of criminals to Fitz. This changes now that they have harmed the woman he loves.
  • Level Up Fill Up: Rare non-videogame example. Undergoing Terrigenesis completely heals Daisy of all the bruises and wounds she collected over the course of the past couple episodes.
  • Loophole Abuse: Both Aida and Ivanov are still limited by their programming, unable to kill anybody from Team Coulson unless they pose a direct threat to the Framework. Thus, Ivanov tries to just kill May and Coulson but can't, even though by this point Fitz is the only member of the team that hasn't turned traitor in the Framework.
  • Made of Iron: Played with. Madame Hydra surviving a fall from that height, even with severe injuries, is surely impressive. Yet the real world version of Aida, being an LMD, would be able to literally walk it off.
  • Mistaken for Misogynist: It’s subtle, but when Ward refers to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who recruited him, Coulson asks what HIS name was. Ward promptly chides him for assuming the agent was a man. Coulson, though, was almost definitely drawing on a latent memory of Garrett, rather than having a sexist assumption about S.H.I.E.L.D. agents being male.
  • Mythology Gag: After her Daisy-provided trip out the window, Madame Hydra has some vivid bruising on her left temple and cheek; her comic counterpart typically wears her hair draped over the left side of her face to conceal noticeable scarring.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Alistair gives Radcliffe a beating after Radcliffe mocks him for being nothing in the real world and just latching onto his son's coattails in the Framework.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Alistair is unable to beat the information he wants out of Radcliffe, as Radcliffe has nothing left to live for and thus doesn't care if he dies. Fitz realizes they need to give him something to live for.
  • Papa Wolf: Mack is prepared to shoot May for threatening his daughter two episodes ago, but Coulson talks him down.
  • Posthumous Character: The Framework's version of John Garrett is already dead at the time of this episode.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: This episode features another nod to Bill Paxton's death in the form of The Bakshi Report reporting on the recent death of "American Hero" John Garrett, whose Framework incarnation was obviously able to live a few years longer than the real one.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Radcliffe gives one to Alistair, noting how in the real world he's just a stupid drunk, and how even here he's nothing without Fitz. Alistair doesn't take it well.
  • The Reveal:
    • The episode reveals how Aida is able to operate her android body in the real world and be Madame Hydra in the Framework: she is able to pull herself in and out at will. It also reveals her endgame: overcome her android limitations by building herself a real body.
    • Ward's regret was being recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. by a psychopath like John Garrett instead of a strict yet more benevolent mentor like Victoria Hand.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Fitz launches an all out war against S.H.I.E.L.D. in retaliation for Quake's attempt on Madame Hydra's life.
  • Rousing Speech: Coulson gives a pretty big one live on national TV, which immediately causes people to stand up and join the fight against the fascist HYDRA regime.
  • Saying Too Much: Radcliffe notes that he heard the commotion of Daisy and May's escape through the vent when he's being questioned by Alistair, which leads Alistair to discover that Radcliffe had communicated with Daisy through said vent before. He just doesn't know about what.
  • Strawman News Media: The Bakshi Report is an outright propaganda show for HYDRA.
  • Take That!: There is also a jab at the Access Hollywood scandal when Bakshi hits on a subordinate and offers to take her furniture shopping.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: Aida and Ivanov are unable to kill unless the person poses a direct threat to the Framework, because Radcliffe built the limitation into Aida and Ivanov's body is based on her design. This means Daisy and Jemma are fair game in the real world, but not the members of Team Coulson plugged into the Framework at the oil rig even though most of them are currently fighting against her, since they only affect the world within, not the actual apparatus. Ivanov is supremely annoyed by this, as it prevents him from killing Coulson.
  • Title Drop: Coulson ends his monologue with him pulling out his badge, the one Nick Fury gave him when he first offered to join way back when, and refused.
    Coulson: My name is Phil Coulson, and I'm an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Tranquil Fury: Seems to be Alistair's trademark. He throat-punches Radcliffe and then begins giving him a savage beating, but his expression never changes. He also has a low opinion of anyone who can't keep their fury tranquil.
    Alistair: [to Fitz] If I wanted you hysterical at every setback, I'd have left you with your mother.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The recently-deceased John Garrett is listed as an "American Hero". The reference to "Bakshi News" (the full title being The Bakshi Report) in the previous episode is fleshed out, as the Framework's version of Sunil Bakshi acts as HYDRA's Propaganda Machine, and a Freeze-Frame Bonus from the same news show mentions Daniel Whitehall as a respected figure with a new biography soon to be released.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The normally calm Fitz completely loses it after Aida/Ophelia gets injured.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ward brings up his Skye, asking if he'll get her back when Daisy leaves. Daisy admits she has absolutely no idea, and belatedly realizes that even if he does get her back, she'll still be a HYDRA agent.
    Ward: Well, every relationship has its ups and downs.
  • You Are in Command Now:
    • After Madame Hydra is rendered comatose by Daisy, Fitz is put in charge of HYDRA. She wakes up later, but her infirmity means Fitz is still giving most of the orders.
    • Without the Patriot, S.H.I.E.L.D. has no clear line of succession. Coulson ends up slotting mostly into the role, but Ward is still doubtful about his ability to lead, and Jemma takes Trip on a scouting mission without bothering to ask for permission.
  • You Have Failed Me: Fitz threatens his father with this after Daisy and May escape capture.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Ivanov attempts this with May when Aida reveals that she's turned traitor, but his programming and hers prevents him from following through. However, it's still on the table once Aida has her body and is no longer bound by her programming.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Ward decides to do this so the broadcast won't be shut off. Fortunately, the broadcast inspires people to help defend the studio, so he doesn't have to do it alone.

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