Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 19 Review: All the Madame's Men

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How do you top the bombshell that was Mace's death, May's return from the dark side and Daisy's second go-around at Terrigenesis? If you're Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you utilize the media to launch a revolution of which Katniss Everdeen herself would have been proud.

On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 19, the Resistance used Hydra's own propaganda arm to reveal the organization's dark secrets to the public: from the Nazi origins, to the systemic brainwashing at the Hydra Cultural Enlightenment Centers, to the lies told about the death of the Patriot. 

An Unlikely Partner - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The entire Agents of Hydra arc has had a dystopian flair reminiscent of novels like The Hunger Games, underground bunkers and all, but it was in this episode that I really started to feel the Panem vibes.

A lot of this stemmed from the resurrection of Sunil Bakshi, a Hydra agent who was offed by Simmons in the real world, to serve as the Stanley Tucci-esque emcee of the Hydra news within the Framework. 

Ivanov: I didn't know a machine could be on edge.
Aida: It is not. I am simply recalibrating after a setback within the Framework.

While Bakshi might be lacking the flamboyance and fantastic facial hair of Tucci's Caesar Flickerman, he certainly has the same special way of twisting the truth to toy with audience emotions.

Bakshi began by delivering the news of the Patriot's death to the world with a decidedly pro-Hydra spin. In his version, Mace was a terrorist, while Hydra were the heroic ones for taking him out. 

Later, Bakshi used his broadcast to warn the public of the danger supposedly posed by Daisy and May, on the run after pushing Madame Hydra out a window. (More on that later.)

If history's taught me anything, it's that good intentions don't come to anything unless there's a steady hand to guide them.

Coulson

But in the end, Bakshi's power was his own downfall, as the Resistance used the massive reach of his program as a means to broadcast the truth about Hydra to the rest of the world within the Framework. 

Utilizing footage from May's body camera, Coulson relayed the true story of the Patriot's death, and everything else that Hydra had lied to the public about over the years. 

The "alternative facts" reference was a nice touch, and yet another reminder that the show's writers aren't fooling around about getting partisan through pop culture.

If more people see what you saw, maybe they'll fight back too.

Daisy [to May]

The broadcast culminated in Coulson's bold declaration that he was more than a history teacher guilty of peddling Hydra lies: he was Phil Coulson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. And if you weren't tempted to stand up and cheer at that moment, you must be immune to all things epic. 

This climactic scene was by far the highlight of the episode, which seemed to serve as a bridge between the insanity of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 18 and the revolution to come. 

I don't want the public placated. I want them afraid.

Fitz

Whereas the previous episode exhausted me with one exciting twist after another, this installment was more of a slow build towards a big payoff  ​– Coulson's broadcast – that somehow still left me wanting more. 

It's hard for me to convey how much this storyline means to me in our current political climate without potentially alienating other audience members. Suffice to say, I have been taking just as much hope and inspiration from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lately as I have entertainment. 

I could have changed my life that day, but it seemed like too much responsibility. I didn't want to shoulder it.

Coulson

When you feel powerless to resist certain forces in your own life, it helps to see examples of others doing it successfully, even if said others are fictional characters on a Marvel superhero show. 

After May went rogue and enabled Daisy's Terrigenesis, the two of them escaped Hydra via a lot of gunfire. And also, by pushing Madame Hydra out a window and paralyzing her. 

For the most part, the S.H.I.E.L.D. gang has now gotten back together inside the Framework, despite not all of them remembering what their lives were like in the real world. But, there remains one notable exception.

You're right. I can't show any weakness. Which means I can't tolerate failure. Even from my own father.

Fitz

Fitz remains loyal to Madame Hydra and the machine they are building together, called Project Looking Glass – a machine that bears a striking resemblance to the one built by Eli Morrow during the Ghost Rider saga earlier this season. 

The big difference between the two? Well, Eli's machine could create matter, but Project Looking Glass can create living matter. Living matter, as in, entire human bodies.

May: Did you see that look?
Daisy: Maybe she's just racist.
May: Or starstruck.

As Simmons discovered in this episode, this machine is Aida's entire end game. All Aida wants is to escape the limitations of her programming and become a real human. She's basically a more stylish and murderous version of Pinocchio. 

Aida has brainwashed Fitz so that she can use him to help her create this machine and make her dreams a reality. And Fitz is so brainwashed that he's willing to destroy anyone who gets in the way of their plan – even his own father. 

I'm greatly enjoying the evil Fitz arc. The character has too frequently veered into cutesy puppy-dog territory over the show's previous seasons.

Mack, I get it. These wounds don't heal overnight. But for reasons I can't explain, I trust this woman. Maybe you should too.

Coulson [to Mack, on May]

This dark side of Fitz, while infuriating because let's face it, he's super evil and I don't want his plans to succeed, is also incredibly refreshing.

It's been great to see Iain De Caestecker show off the full range of his acting abilities, which go far beyond just spewing technobabble and stammering about his love for Simmons. He's done a fantastic job at selling this version of Fitz. 

To save ourselves, we need to save the world.

Coulson

With only three more episodes to go, time is running out for Fitz to remember who he really is. Will Simmons and Daisy be able to jog his memory and get everyone out of the Framework before Ivanov (ugh, him again) shoots down the plane they're in?

Share your thoughts on "All the Madame's Men" below, including how you think the Resistance will proceed now that they've informed the public of Hydra's various dastardly deeds. And remember, you can always  watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online via TV Fanatic. 

All the Madame's Men Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (62 Votes)

Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 19 Quotes

If history's taught me anything, it's that good intentions don't come to anything unless there's a steady hand to guide them.

Coulson

Ivanov: I didn't know a machine could be on edge.
Aida: It is not. I am simply recalibrating after a setback within the Framework.