It wound up with a shocking twist that took the LMD arc to a new level.
It also included a bit of history, with a mission with Coulson and May way back in the day, maybe before the first Iron Man movie.
When Fitz learned that Radcliffe (John Hannah) not only made an extra Aida (Mallory Jansen) after the first was killed, but an LMD version of himself, some fans wondered when Radcliffe would replace most of the agents, too.
That moment happened, to the horror of Fitz and Simmons, just as the episode ended.
This bit of sleight of hand confirmed Mac’s belief that science, especially when it’s misused, can cause major problems. He all but accused Leo of being responsible for Aida and the Framework where the real May is still trapped. The Framework may be great for training agents, but not replacing people. What just happened further proves his point. Simmons does give Fitz a pep talk that Peggy Carter would have given Steve Rogers. It’s too bad that speech will be a moot point later. For one thing, the Framework code is spreading and could affect a big chunk of the world thanks to our tech.
The main story, though, is the SHIELD crew trying to find Mace (Jason O’Mara), who’s been grabbed by Anton “The Superior” Ivanov (Zach McGowan). It’s really part of a plan to eliminate Coulson, who Ivanov blames for allowing aliens into Earth, including Inhumans.
This connection actually goes back a few years, before May was married. She and Coulson were in Russia to find an 0-8-4 (item of unknown origin), but it’s not revealed what it is. It seemed to be their first mission together, and they had a lot of cute bantering. If nothing else, it was a hint of what Marvel’s Most Wanted would have been like. Bring back Hunter and Morse, especially if there’s another season.
Anyway, Coulson distracts some Russian agents looking for the item, while May grabs it. It looks like she’ll leave him behind until she crashes her vehicle into the van that’s carrying Coulson. Afterwards, they sort of suggest that maybe they can get together someday.
In the present, Ivanov is mad because he was one of the Russian agents out to get the 0-8-4, and his men wound up getting killed. So, it’s actually a bit of revenge that he wants.
Even though Mace isn’t as strong as he was with the super serum, he holds his own as much as he can, and he also won’t denounce SHIELD, either. Coulson shows up, and claims he’s not sure what the 0-8-4 was that they had to get back then. Ivanov still says that Coulson has hidden behind shields all his life, from Tony Stark to SHIELD, and it’s about time he stop hiding and accept the punishment for what he’s done. Couslon doesn’t agree, but is sure he’s there to get Mace and May back. He steps aside for Daisy to put Ivanov down.
Meanwhile, Fitz and Simmons wonder why they haven’t heard from the agents yet. Eventually, they do show up with a wounded Mace, but Coulson says they have to get Mace treated and get May and Aida later.
Simmons, though, thinks there’s something wrong with the timeline. She and Fitz discover the LMD detector was shut down…by Coulson. However, she gets special e-mails that tell her where an LMD has been detected. That’s when they learn they’re the only real agents left in SHIELD. It’s basically “Invasion of the Body Snatching LMDs” now, with Aida taking over thanks to the Darkhold influencing her in major ways.
It gets even creepier when LMD Coulson wakes up LMayD, who’s now in his office. They get ready to replace more agents and create SHIELMD. The only question is how Fitz and Simmons can stop this alone, and whether the real agents can ever be able to do their jobs again if they ever escape the Framework.
Next week, Aida’s plans to replace all of SHIELD (if not everything else) with LMDs go forward, and Radcliffe may not be comfortable with the idea.