Plot Lines of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Season 4, Episode 16 “What If…”

By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

A Plot: SkyeWard

After the short tease in the winter finale, we got the return of Grant Ward. As much as I was ready for his story to be finished in the main Agents of SHIELD world, his return in the framework was welcomed. The relationship between Skye/Daisy and Ward was a compelling one and it was left somewhat unfinished when Ward met his untimely demise at the literal hand of Coulson in season three. Even though this isn’t the real Ward and these aren’t his thoughts and memories, this is still a nice way for the writers to give the character some more closure. It’s also a nice way to give fans their much-demanded redemption arc for Ward. Doing that by making him a double-agent fighting for the Inhumans was a nice touch. This is the Ward we all remember from season one before it was revealed that he was loyal to Hydra all along.

As for Daisy, I enjoyed seeing her and Simmons backed into a corner in this episode. I spent the episode wondering if the powerless Daisy will try to go through terrigenesis while in the framework. If so, I’m also curious if she’ll come out of it with the same powers. Having her be Quake in the real world is great, but I’d love to see her come out with a new set of powers that she has to learn before she can fight Aida and Hydra.

B Plot: FitzSimmons

Over the course of the last four seasons, Simmons has become so much more than just a lab rat and this episode really highlighted that. The way she took down those two Hydra agents and escaped with their car was great. Then she was able to link up with Daisy and regroup to fight another day. She may not be quite on the same level as May or Daisy but she can certainly take care of herself.

Evil Fitz was a sad yet amazing thing to see. I love the idea that Simmons is so important to him that he’s gone completely off the rails without her. We’ve seen some flashes of this in the real world, particularly earlier this season when he was helping Radcliffe secretly work on the LMD program. The real Fitz is a good person, but he needs Simmons as his moral compass. Aida knows this and that’s why she’s trying so desperately to keep the presence of  Simmons in the framework a secret. The moment he sees Simmons he’s going to snap out his fake programming and begin fighting Aida. This setup was tremendous and I can’t wait to see the payoff that will be coming soon.

C Plot: Coulson and May?

Coulson and May probably had the saddest altered realities in the framework. May’s existence was revealed to be a damaged one no matter what happened in Bahrain. We’ve spent most of the past four seasons learning how failing to save that young girl turned May into a near-misanthrope. Now we’ve learned that saving that girl would have had the same results only with more innocent lives lost. This episode showed us that Melinda May is the most tragic figure of this whole story.

Coulson’s story is just as sad even if it’s not as tragic. The man devoted his whole life to SHIELD. He even went so far as to literally give his life in its service. Now we learn that his happy life was as a teacher who hadn’t ever left his classroom. In essence, Coulson’s biggest regret that the framework corrected is joining SHIELD. This is a revelation that could alter how we see Coulson from now until the end of this series.

It was a nice touch having Daisy be the person that snaps Coulson out of his altered reality. It’s been a while since the writers touched on this extensively, but Coulson and Skye/Daisy are exceedingly important to each other. Coulson is the man who saved her from her life of cyber-crime and brought her into a life inside SHIELD. While we can debate whether or not that was actually good for Daisy, she greatly appreciates it and will forever respect Coulson for what he did for her.

Finally, as important as Daisy is to Coulson, I think we’ll find that Coulson is just as important to May. When she comes face-to-face with him I think she’ll also snap out of this altered reality and fight Aida. While that fight has happened in the real world it was but a tease. The real fight is still yet to come and it will amazing.

Thanks for reading!