‘Self Control’ Plot Summary:
A battle between man and machine erupts at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, while on the sub Aida (Mallory Jansen) makes drastic decisions to protect the Framework.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has come a long way.
Back when the show first aired in 2013, many felt it didn’t live up to its movie counterparts. I know, I’ve mentioned this before. But it’s worth mentioning again. During the rough period of the early first season, I was frankly embarrassed to admit that I was still following it. Now it’s better than The CW show that was getting all the attention at the time, Arrow. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has improved with age, unlike that show and its sister series, The Flash. I know saying it’s better than The Flash might ruffle some feathers, but you know it’s true.
“Self Control” does admittedly start off where other episodes have, with the threat of a traitor among the team. It’s retreading ground of other great installments. But this episode is too fun and full of insane twists not to love it. The surprise that Aida replaced Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), not Daisy (Chloe Bennet), with an LMD is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just the paranoia that makes “Self Control” so good.
Just when you think the episode can’t get any crazier, it does, and more than once. I already dug the weird Daisy army reveal, but the real Daisy using her Quake powers to her advantage when hiding puts it over the top for me. And the dim lighting with a hysterical Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) makes it feel like a horror movie. Her wielding the shotgun-ax reminded me of something you’d see in Evil Dead. Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon’s brother, who typically produces and writes, directed his first episode here. Given the action, the aesthetic, and the performances, I’d say he knocked it out of the park.
Speaking of performances, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets emotional as well, with the death of the May (Ming-Na Wen) LMD. Personally, I think the episode did a pretty good job of depicting her turn. Radcliffe (John Hannah) programmed her to retrieve the Darkhold, but he also made her as close to the real May as possible. But even he didn’t know all that she could be capable of. She’s stuck between her duty and her love for Coulson (Clark Gregg), and she chooses Coulson in the end.
Aida has a similar dilemma with her loyalty to Radcliffe and her wardenship of the Framework, but perhaps because she’s not as emotionally complex, she needs Radcliffe to settle the issue. Now he’s dead. I said he was too far gone and his memories are uploaded to the Framework, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. created such a quirky evil genius that I’m going to severely miss him.
I do suspect we’ll see Radcliffe in the Framework, but that’s not until April! Ugh! I want to see what the Marvel Matrix is like now!
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t ever completely stuck the landings for its storylines, but for the moment, I’m all in.