The Good: Good tension, Decent performances, Moments of character
The Bad: Very simple plot
The Basics: "Farewell, Cruel World!" gives the characters the motivation in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and allows for the plot to move toward a decent resolution for the Framework.
As Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. rushes towards its fourth season finale, it is hard not to get the impression that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is looking to uphold the Marvel Cinematic Universe conceit that no one stays truly dead. When Madame Hydra's grand plan was revealed in "All The Madame's Men," Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. created a credible way to return Brett Dalton to the cast. If that happens, Dalton might well be the performer on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. who has had the most diverse roles to play - as goody two-shoes S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent, a HYDRA sleeper agent, Hive and now the good guy who actually loves Daisy and wants to save his world. But, even if that is the direction the fourth season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going in, the season still has a few episodes to get through before it gets there. "Farewell, Cruel World!" is the latest step in the rising action of the season.
Building on the widespread resistance begun in the climax of "All The Madame's Men" (reviewed here!), "Farewell, Cruel World!" continues the struggle for Simmons and Daisy to rescue Coulson, Mack, Fitz and May from The Framework before they are killed inside. "Farewell, Cruel World!" has Madame Hydra and Fitz against the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. inside the Framework, while the world outside the Framework is shown again.
Ten days after Daisy and Simmons enter the Framework aboard Zephyr One, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team aboard the plane is forced to turn off the cloaking field to conserve what little fuel is left. Inside the Framework, Madame Hydra's forces crack down on the citizenry. Fitz tries to seduce Radcliffe into helping him with the promise of an organic body in the real world that can accept his consciousness. Coulson and Simmons work on softening May up to the reality of the real world. Simmons is alarmed to learn from May that Alistair Fitz is in the Framework, manipulating Fitz. Simmons hunts down Alistair and takes him hostage to try to get to Fitz.
When Simmons accidentally kills Alistair, Fitz becomes especially bloodthirsty, putting a price on Simmons's head. Mack, May, Simmons, Daisy, and Coulson head to the backdoor out of the Framework that Radcliffe built, but they discover that the park he had the backdoor in is now a steel mill and the escape point is a molten metal pit! The S.H.I.E.L.D. team is disheartened and that allows Madame Hydra to activate Project Looking Glass. When Daisy finds a way back to the real world, the people within the Framework have a chance to escape. But Fitz's murderous rage and Mack learning the truth about the real world cause complications that even Ophelia could not foresee!
"Farewell, Cruel World!" does an excellent job of refocusing the plot on the characters. The principle characters motivate all of the major movements in the episode, instead of spending a lot of time belaboring explaining the plot through the characters. Simmons, Fitz and Radcliffe move major elements of the story through their actions. Coulson and May start to move in the direction of accepting being the public face of the Resistance and motivating him to accept that direction, but the plot moves them to simply approach the back door.
At the key moment, though, it is Daisy's creativity that changes everything for the team and that is refreshing to see. Similarly, May and Coulson's relationship is finally revealed to be as deep as all fans might hope.
"Farewell, Cruel World!" has a simple escape plot, much like a prison break. But the episode manages not to feel simple because the characters in it act and react with a sense of realism that is compelling and well-performed.
For other works with Briana Venskus, please visit my reviews of:
"Self Control" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Walking Dead - Season 7
"The Martian Chronicles" - Supergirl
"Meet The New Boss" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"The Ghost" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Failed Experiments" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Grace And Frankie - Season 2
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the fourth season here!
For other television episode or season reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a comprehensive listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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