This review contains spoilers.
5.14 The Devil Complex
Well, you just knew that the honeymoon between Fitz and Simmons wouldn’t last forever, right? But who knew it wouldn’t even begin?
This week hurt, you guys. I think we can all agree on that. With the warm and fuzzies still lingering from Simmons and Fitz’s wedding a few weeks back, the reveals this week just hurt. And boy oh boy, did this week’s episode masterly play with viewer expectation and land with a rock-solid gut punch.
Last week, the agents secured the Gravitonium they needed to close the breach. This week, we kick things off with Fitz unable to mould the Gravitonium in order to use it to close the gate to the fear dimension. Sounds like a typical SHIELD episode; Fitz and Simmons getting science-y with the extra layer of their grandson, the time-lost Deke, hanging around and observing nana and papa.
Of course, there is the always-present possibility of some anomaly leaking in from the fear dimension, like a ghostly astronaut that appears this week. A viewer is ready for something from the past to pop through that portal and bring the drama and fear.
Which is why when Doctor Fitz from the Framework manifests into reality it’s frightening but not all that surprising. Of course, HYDRA Fitz would be regular Fitz’s greatest fear. But things are not what they seem, not at all. Evil Fitz arrives, takes out Mack, and manipulates events so he can abduct Daisy. If you’ll remember, Evil Fitz was obsessed with Inhumans so it is really no surprise that he wants to get at Quake.
But it’s not Evil Fitz. It’s not Framework Fitz. It’s not a phantom manifestation of Fitz’s worse nightmare. It’s Fitz himself. In a masterful plot stroke, this week’s episode plays off Fitz’s old brain injury and his experiences within the Framework and reveals that Fitz, the real, recently married Leopold Fitz, takes on his dark side in order to back Daisy’s powers.
He does this in order to allow Daisy to manipulate the Gravitonium to close the fear gate. Yeah, it’s an altruistic end, but in order to do this, Fitz has to torture Daisy and risk her life in addition to reactivating the powers that are destined to destroy the world. Fitz needs a dark edge to do what he thought was necessary to close the gate, and he finds that dark edge in his Framework persona.
He tortures his friend. He shoots Mack. He risks the end of humanity. He allows his Framework self to take control of his morality. Fitz is not possessed or facing an evil doppelganger, he is now his own fear. Damn, that’s some strong writing.
All this brings up the question of how will this team survive? If Fitz is capable of this kind of cold manipulation, how can his new marriage survive? I guess that’s why Deke is around, to remind us all that no matter how far Fitz bends, his bond with Simmons is forever secure. Deke is a walking, talking promise or perseverance and a better tomorrow. Yes, he’s used as comic relief, but all of a sudden, thanks to this week’s dark turn, Deke is so much more than just a laugh.
There’s still more going on other than the shocking Fitz twist as SHIELD manages to abduct General Hale this week. Piper helps Coulson track Hale’s cellphone, but it turns out that SHIELD was played. Hale wants to be captured and confront Coulson and along for the ride is Crusher Creel and the returning Anton the Android.
I love me some Absorbing Man so Creel is always welcome but it is also cool to see the chess match between Coulson and Hale as that story unfolds. Admittedly, it’s all kind of drowned out by the Fitz shocker, but the Coulson and Hale confrontation sets up some huge action for the weeks to come.
As does the return of Daisy’s Quake powers. Daisy was happy with her lack of power. After all, no powers, no Earth breaking like an egg. The return of these powers against Daisy’s will and the pain she has to endure to get them back is the ultimate betrayal by Fitz. The brilliance of the twist is that you can’t even argue with Fitz’s reasoning. He needs to close that gate and so he does, but man, did he have to do some sick things to get the job done. I can’t see how Daisy will ever forgive him. By closing the gate via Daisy, has Fitz doomed the world? This all some multi-layered, head-spinny stuff right here.
We also got to check in on Yo Yo as her new arms are being built. She is without fear because she knows she has to survive into the horrible future, which adds another layer of pathos to everything. But on a lighter note, I am so ready to see Yo Yo kick ass with some robot arms.
And she will need to kick ass because the episode’s stinger reveals that Hale is a part of HYDRA. But a HYDRA we haven’t seen yet, a very alien HYDRA whose plan has not been revealed. That’s for next week and the weeks to come; as for this week, let us recognise a performance of a lifetime by Iain De Caestecker who plays a dual Fitz and breaks our hearts.
Damn man, I’m still shaking over this one, I think I have to call it: five stars.
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, Principia, here.