Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 20, “Farewell Cruel World”
This recent stretch of episodes inside the HYDRA controlled Framework came to an emotional conclusion, but S.H.I.E.L.D.’s work is far from over. However, this escape from the virtual prison was truly worthy of the excellent stories told in the previous few weeks.
Jemma and Daisy decide it’s time to get out of Dodge, and Radcliffe’s back door is just the place to exit stage right. The only problem is to get all the key players together to make their escape. For the S.H.I.E.L.D. team members that is relatively easy, but Fitz is another challenge entirely.
Of course, the trip there is a little more complicated than going from Points A to B, but it affords the writers an opportunity to spend a few more moments in this world that has been so rich in both narrative value and fan service.
Where else are you going to see people who Tripp doesn’t know hug him like he’s a long-lost teammate? Or May and Coulson discuss soap and alternate realities? Or Jemma confront Fitz’s evil father? The entire episode was filled with these moments, set against the backdrop of the race against time, because in the real world, Madame Hydra’s real world body is getting built in a 3D printer.
Each character faces a challenge before they are able to make the leap home. Coulson gets déjà vu after being shot in the back, but convinces May to make a leap of faith with him. Jemma has a chilling, heartbreaking showdown with Fitz and his gun (thankfully Radcliffe broke that tension and chucked Fitz into the breech). And, Mack makes the most difficult, heartbreaking decisions of all. Despite now knowing without a doubt that the world is fake, Mack also knows in his heart that the love his shares with his daughter is real. So he stays, crushing Daisy and Yoyo’s spirit in the process.
With barely enough time to catch your breath after the big escape, the season endgame starts. The team members are trying to shake the cobwebs loose after leaving the Framework, with Fitz suffering the most, since he did terrible things as the leader of HYDRA. Aida, with her new body, shuffles into the room and hug-teleports Fitz out of the area. If that isn’t bad enough, the jet Daisy and Simmons are on is under attack. This story is far from over.
Like with all the episodes inside the Framework, this one was a gem, and further evidence that the series is firing on all creative cylinders – performers, writers, VFX and crew are all pumping out consistently top quality adventure television. With a couple of episodes left and a special guest set to make a return, everyone who watches Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t wait to see how it all ends.