AOS – Season IV – Ep. 17 “Identity and Change”: A Review

Posted: 04/16/2017 in Uncategorized

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Picking up where we left off last week, fan favorite Mac (Henry Simmons) returns in an altogether different role in the framework. Dr. Radcliffe’s fate is explored.  More Hydra machinations ensue and the notion that S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t quite done yet worked to deliver another top tier episode. Now, on to my review.

What is setting apart this current arc from its predecessors are two aspects, one the presentation of Aida/Madame Hydra’s case for her claimed reality, the other – the nigh irredeemable transformation of Leo Fitz (Ian DeCaestecker) into “The Doctor”, Hydra’s second in command and equally jarring, Madame Hydra’s/”Ophelia’s” lover. Both Mallory Jansen and DeCaestecker slay with their performances. The dark reinvention bolstered by her explanation that she was kept as a “slave and a thing” before gives her character as close as one can muster to sympathy.

Watching Coulson (Clark Gregg) come back by degrees plays well. Having his teacher character reveal that he always doubted all the ideologies that Hydra had put forth plays mildly for laughs as he offers his conspiracy theory on soap. At the heart of him, however, is the warrior he truly is. Jemma (Elisabeth Hentsridge) and Daisy now Skye (Chloe Bennett) finally reach him as they attempt to find Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) that they might find a way out of the framework and back into their true reality- the prospect of which will undoubtedly be the scope of the remainder of the season. The coming together of the respective elements of the team allows for less than ideal reinventions of existing characters. In the framework, Mac is happy-ish as he has his daughter, Hope (Jordan Rivera),who is exceedingly precocious and kind. Her precociousness earns both characters the unwanted attention of Hydra. Here, Mac is now a father  burdened only with the protection and care of his daughter which allows for a fairly reprehensible action on his part regarding assisting Hydra against the true S.H.I.E.L.D. incursion. While his action is understandable, it is jarring to see a man to whom bravery and loyalty are second nature forced to make such a nasty decision.

The most disturbing transformation however is in the form of Fitz who now is Madame Hydra’s second. Despite manipulating him to a high degree, there is unquestionably a connection between the two. Hearing him utter that he “would cross the universe for her” is a dark reflection of a loving act he did indeed perform for Jemma seasons back. This version of Fitz however is deeply corrupted. His not recognizing Jemma when “Ophelia” presents her as a “threat from the other side” reveals how deep his counter programming truly is. His torture of Inhumans would be something unimaginable in reality, but here is the stuff of his evil legend.

Jemma holds out hope that he is still himself. A make or break moment in which Radcliffe, now a vestige of himself, as he is actually dead at Aida’s hand, pleads reason with his former friend informs how far afield the Fitz we know has strayed. When Hydra arrives to take down the ‘other world’ team, Fitz sees Agnes (Mallory Jansen), in truth the template behind Aida’s existence, and rather than questioning the reality of what is occurring around him, he acts in a brutal  manner.  The question of what is real is asked with frequency as matters unravel and Aida/Ophelia’s command over her created domain takes hold.

The existence of S.H.I.E.L.D. though still diminished and led by Mace (Jason O’Mara) brokers some degree of hope for Daisy, Jemma and Coulson. On the subject of Jeffrey Mace, still an actual Inhuman in this reality,I’ve got to say the show runners must be given credit for allowing a purer version of his “Patriot” identity. This season has easily demonstrated the highest degree of creativity and balance for this series, as three arcs have been handled with aplomb. The hail Mary moment by Coulson and later segment with Mac gamely show that at heart who a person truly is cannot be overwritten like code. This will have to be the case with Fitz who skates his way to a path far removed from redemption.

Yet another solid run. Strong performances with striking shifts in character portrayals prevail and allow for Season IV to remain simply outstanding and well worth your time. Here’s hoping the Season V renewal is still imminent as regardless how this plays out, the team behind the show seem to have a healthy abundance of ideas to keep this show going indefinitely.

A final thing and off the beaten path a bit… am I the only one who thinks O’Mara could be a pretty damn good Batman as he has both the physical presence and proper cred of  multiple films worth of voice acting cred for the Dark Knight? Just sayin’…..

 

 

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