AOS – Season IV – Ep. 21 “The Return”: A Review

Posted: 05/12/2017 in Uncategorized

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Another power packed episode brought us one step closer to the end of the framework arc. Mallory Jansen’s Aida/Ophelia is easily the show’s best villain thus far, one who borders on an antihero with this run. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s two top agents  freshly returned from the framework find only enmity with the now ‘liberated’ Ivanov/Superior (Zach McGowan) awaiting them. Equally challenged are the remainder of the team who find themselves aboard an under attack Quinjet in the form of an effort headed by General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) understandably baffled and PO’d at all the madness left in the team’s wake. All that went down was good. On to my review.

We open with a returned Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May (Ming-Na Wen) finding themselves free of the framework but far from free. Their current whereabouts are Ivanov’s underwater bunker where they are quickly greeted by Ivanov who advises that with Aida’s new found ‘humanity’ his restrictions about harming them are ‘lifted’. If the episode crumbled at this point, for the sheer ultra cool “shield” visual by Coulson in which he ‘defaces’ the Ivanov bot, this run would still be worth it. The revelation that there are a host of robotic Ivanovs however provides the duo with more adversaries than they can handle, forcing them to lock themselves in. Mac’s (Henry Simmons) physical self lies comatose due to his choice to remain within the framework to raise his daughter. Throughout the episode, the notion of how real Radcliffe’s (John Hannah) domain truly was is visited via various emotionally charged moments. All moments with May and Coulson register  as she pushes him to learn what awkwardness occurred between him and her doppelganger. Her reaction to his having “opened the bottle” was perfect.

Elena/YoYo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) takes the news about Mac as expected. She charges Daisy (Chloe Bennett) and Jemma (Elisabeth Hentsridge) with having failed him and her. That she knew about his late daughter informs Daisy that the relationship between Elena and Mac was deeper than she expected. We have no doubt she will not let it go without at least making an attempt. Her later actions, besides setting up for the finale next week, inform that she should have asked more questions as regards Hydra’s treatment of Inhumans, which segues back to Aida. Having brought Fitz (Iain DeCaestecker) to some remote tropical island via her new found ability to teleport, she is overrun with emotion. Mallory Jansen is a find. Her breathing in the air and expressing the joy of every moment and sensation plays well. Her now being able to make her own choices had proper oomph. The moments between she and Fitz were among the episodes best as she initially attempts mind games but he pushes past getting her to acknowledge the wrongness of her actions. She at first pushes the notion that all that he did came from him as she simply provided Fitz with the parental guidance he missed. Fitz’s ownership of a darker aspect of his nature is used as a catalyst to force her to acknowledge her own.

The fractured S.H.I.E.L.D. team reunite and some ground is re-taken via a face to face between Coulson and Talbot. The fifty words or less explanation request was vintage Talbot with a role Pasdar has made his own. Talbot’s confusion and mistrust, at discovering a blown up compound, hurt/dead agents along with the body of  Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara) are warranted. A step back is taken via his tentative acceptance of Inhumans.

Where the episode rose to stratospheric levels however was with the shared cell time when Fitz and Aida are taken in. Her action at the sinking bunker pushes her toward heroism. The conversation and superior acting between the two was top tier. Equally good was Jemma’s moment watching the two converse while in their cell as she hopes to learn if the man she has loved is indeed still in there. The performances on all sides were fantastic including a later wordless moment between Jemma and Fitz. The episode was very much one of decisions and their impacts. Fitz’s decision informs Aida’s. The revelation of the the results of his experiments as the Framework’s “Doctor” pays off astoundingly well. An end sequence sets the stage for what stood to be an incredible finale, season or otherwise.

The recent declaration that the series is renewed is due reward to the amazing show runners, superb cast and hard core fans such as myself. AOS remains incontestably – simply outstanding and well worth your time.

 

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