Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD 4.18 Review – ‘No Regrets’
Previously on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Aided by Ward and Jeffrey Mace, who is actually the Patriot in the Framework, Daisy and Simmons began their plan to find a way out of the Framework with their team. They manage to recruit Coulson and find Radcliffe, but May uses Mack to trick Daisy and then takes her into custody where she is beaten repeatedly. Mack joins the Resistance as a result of his actions, and Fitz kills Agnes in cold blood, much to Simmons’ horror.
Season 4, Episode 18: ‘No Regrets’
Mace and Coulson are talking about staging a car accident and how it looks fake, so Mace flips a car onto its side. Mace says that he admires Coulson for volunteering and they discuss their plan, which is to stop a Hydra transport potentially carrying Daisy, but she is not their primary objective, another passenger is. Mace asks Coulson about Simmons and wants to know what she’s hiding. Coulson gets the Hydra bus to stop and Mace takes out the operative who comes out to meet Coulson. Mace disables the other operative and they look on the bus, which contains only body bags.
At the Triskelion, Fitz interrogates Daisy, though he refuses to admit that he’s from the real world. Fitz wants to know where the Patriot is and he questions her about Simmons, but Daisy says if she knew where Simmons was, she’d point Fitz right towards her. Fitz punches Daisy in the face for speaking ill of Madame Hydra and he says that when neither the carrot nor the stick works, they face horrible choices. He warns Daisy that they’ll find Mace and it will be the end of her. IN the hallway, May studies the Hydra memorial wall and tells Madame Hydra that she should’ve had better judgment. Aida tells her that they have a weapon that could beat the Patriot, but there’s risk involved. May volunteers for the mission with a “Hail Hydra”.
Mack asks where the body bags came from and they talk about his daughter being rattled by Hydra coming into their house. Mack wants to help, so Mace sends him to scrub the GPS and change the plates on the transport van so that they can rescue a colleague who was trying to smuggle out information about a Hydra weapon. Coulson and Simmons argue about the proper way to approach Mace about the frivolity of these missions and they talk about Coulson history with Ward, until Ward and Mace approach and Mace wants to talk to Simmons.
At the Triskelion, May gets a vial of the formula Mace was using the real world, which is Hydra’s method of fighting the Patriot. Back at SHIELD headquarters, Simmons tries to convince Mace that only Daisy and Radcliffe can get them out of the simulation. Mace says he needs a drink and asks how well they know one another and pumps Simmons for information about his life. He says she doesn’t know him all that well at all, then lists off a slew of facts about his Framework life. He says that believing that the seventeen friends that he’s buried over the past five years was not meaningless. Simmons says they can ask Daisy, which draws Ward into the argument and he asks how Simmons knows that she’s not the one waking up to reality. Simmons uses Fitz as her barometer, but Ward and Mace rebuff her arguments. Ward asks if she’s delusional or suffering from PTSD, but Mace says he thinks there’s a grain of truth and he wants Ward to find it.
Fitz is disappointed that Daisy only gave him lies, so Aida says she’s going to go in and talk to Daisy. Fitz wants to assist, but Aida sends him to check on Project Looking Glass. This allows her to talk freely with Daisy. Daisy warns Aida that if she had her powers, but Aida says that she can’t do that, but she can offer Daisy something else: Lincoln, and all she has to do is tell Aida where she is in the real world. Daisy is skeptical, but Aida says she can make it work and all she wants is what everyone else has: a choice.
SHIELD preps for their mission, and Mack also tapped into Hydra’s communications system and offers to drive the bus if needed. Mace says another lead-footed soul already offered, and Coulson and Simmons talk about losing Mace’s confidence. They’re interrupted by Mack’s daughter and they “introduce” themselves to Mack. Mace comes and collects Coulson and gives him his fake Hydra ID.
Fitz and his father discuss Project Looking Glass and Fitz admits to being troubled. His father surmises it’s “that women”, Fitz asks if he’s that obvious, and his father suggests a cuppa to talk about it, since it’s too early for a pint. Coulson takes the bus to the Hydra Enlightenment Center. Coulson’s ID initially prevents access to the center, but after re-scanning it, he’s cleared to get in. Meanwhile, Radcliffe loses his patience and lashes out as Daisy is forced to listen from the next room. She tells him he’s getting exactly what he deserves for creating the Framework and he tells her about Fitz killing Agnes. Daisy can’t believe Fitz would do that, but Radcliffe says that Fitz is different here, and all it takes is changing one small decision or action or announcement to completely change a life. Radcliffe admits to installing a few safeguards and he tells Daisy to listen carefully.
Meanwhile, Fitz and his father discuss what’s bothering him. He says it’s a woman he had to kill, not because it was self-defense but because he was an enemy of the state, but he questions whether she was actually an enemy of the state. His father says that “what if’s” and “maybes” are his mother talking, and the man that he raised wouldn’t waffle like Fitz is. He says Fitz is protecting the human race, and the only other person who understands that is Madame Hydra. He asks if Fitz loves her, and he says that he does. Fitz thanks him and he says that’s what he’s here for.
A Hydra operative boards Coulson’s bus and chides him for being in the wrong part of the compound, but Mace chokes him out from one of the body bags and they gear up and prepare to find a friend. They make their way into the base and start opening cages, releasing Hydra prisoners, including Tripp. Tripp says he has to find his boots because of what’s in them. May convinces Fitz that the unscheduled drop off has to be the Patriot, so Fitz injects her with the serum and tells her not to waste her hour of augmented strength. She takes off in a Quinjet towards the Enlightenment Center.
Mack and Simmons discuss Hydra’s plans and how their history books don’t include the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, or MLK Jr. Mack says that at his house, he’s the judge of what’s fact or fiction before going to watch his daughter play with a catch cup. Simmons and Ward both smile at Mack and his daughter, and Ward chides Simmons for believing everything is fake. Ward says that she thinks he’s something he’s not, and Simmons says that she can’t even look at him. He asks what he did in the other reality, if he killed someone, and she says several someones. Ward sincerely apologizes and asks Simmons if Mack and his daughter believe that their world is real, doesn’t it make it so?
At the Enlightenment Center, Tripp and Coulson discuss his boots, which have a camera, until Coulson sees one of his students being taken to a quarantine building. Coulson goes to save the student and Tripp rendezvouses with Mace and Burroughs. They give Burroughs the boot and go after Coulson. At headquarters, Ward gets the alert that Hydra has found out about the mission, and he prepares to go after Mace and company. He says it’s time to see what Mack can do, but Simmons volunteers and Ward asks if it really has nothing to do with Mack’s daughter.
As Mace and Tripp go after Coulson, Mace saves Tripp from a sneak attack by May, who drives him into a van. He sends Tripp after Coulson, who stumbles into a Clockwork Orange-style brainwashing center. Mace incapacitates May and goes in after Coulson, while May reports back to Fitz and Aida. Fitz gives her the order to use the Quinjet’s armaments to take down the building and bring back Mace’s body. May radios the Quinjet’s pilot, who moves into position and fires on the Quarantine building, causing it to collapse.
As Ward and Simmons make their way through the perimeter fence, Tripp escorts a group of kids out of the building. Ward, Simmons, and Tripp race back in and try to help the rest of the kids, only for Mace to go after Coulson’s former student and have a huge chunk of the building collapse on him. May goes in to confirm Mace’s death and nearly shoots kids trying to escape the still-collapsing building. She questions why they’re there and continues on her mission. She finds the team and Mace props up the rubble, prompting May to threaten to shoot Mace. Coulson yells at her to either shoot them or snap out of it, and they rescue the boy. They can’t properly support the building, and Mace forces them to leave him behind. May gives him a long last look and makes her way outside as the building collapses on top of Mace.
Fitz takes the call and celebrates with champagne with his father as Aida looks on, pleased. In the real world, Aida checks on the real members of the team, including Mace, who flatlined. She disengages him from the Framework. In the Framework, May visits Daisy and asks if it’s true that she’s an Inhuman. Daisy makes her way to her feet and says that it is. May pulls a Terrigen crystal out of her sleeve and says that she hopes so before smashing it on the ground and sending Daisy into Terrigenesis.
First things first, if we’re to take the showrunners’ comments at face value, which they’ve given us no reason not to, then why on earth would they have had no plans to bring John Garrett back for these episodes? Granted, I think it’s probably better in the long run that they didn’t, just because it means less in the way of rewrites after Bill Paxton’s untimely death, but after seeing Tripp crawl out of that cage in tonight’s episode, I couldn’t help but think about how nice it would’ve been to see Paxton chewing the scenery as Garrett one last time.
And while I fully expected Ward even before it was revealed that it was him in bed at Daisy’s apartment and not Lincoln, to say I was presently surprised to see everyone’s favorite Howling Commandos descendent and low tech enthusiast back on the show made me glad that I stopped checking cast listings for episodes ahead of time. Now I’m also wondering if we’ll see Hartley, Hunter, or Morse in the near future.
As for the episode itself, I’ll admit to being a little disappointed, as the blurb for the episode made it sound entirely Fitz-centric, and I’m always up for an episode anchored by Iain de Caestecker. Imagine my surprise that Fitz was maybe the tenth most important character this episode. Thankfully, Jason O’Mara giving Mace the selfless performance that the character deserved more than covered up my initial sting at being misled by a short paragraph probably at least partially designed to mislead its readers (otherwise, how would the showrunners keep anything a secret?). And while BJ Britt wasn’t given a lot of material to work with on this episode, just seeing him back was a real joy. And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t compliment Ming-Na Wen for her excellent portrayal of May as a woman questioning her superiors and eventually her life decisions, all while having the conviction of character to make a decision that will more than likely lead to her employers seeking her death.
I also really enjoyed some of the quieter beats on the show, be it Daisy and Radcliffe discussing how something that someone might take for granted might have a drastic change on their life or the limited scenes were Fitz was actually questioning his life (before Aida’s construct emotionally manipulated him back into line) or especially the moments between Mack and his daughter.