Agents of SHIELD: 5.14 The Devil Complex
I've stepped in to review Agents of SHIELD this week while Steven Spatter is on holiday and what an episode to discuss! The impacts of what happened in the Framework were huge for Mack and Fitz, the former reconciling the loss of his fake daughter while the latter found himself confronted by his evil self. So naturally, with each member of the team facing their own fears as a result of the rift in the Lighthouse, it was only a matter of time before Doctor Leopold came knocking.
The recurring fear manifestation over the last couple of weeks - including Simmonds encountering the terrifying astronaut from season three this week - cleverly masked something far more insidious. For half the episode it looked as if the evil fear Fits had reawaken Mack's captured robot solider, sent it to attack the team, confronted the good Fitz and sent him into a blind panic and lured Daisy into a trap.
Which made the twist - that evil Doctor Leopold was not really there - all the more shocking. There's been too much action in the future to really allow Fitz to deal with the emotional fallout of the Framework (Mack at least got some closure in helping Flint), but having Fitz haunted by his evil doppelganger this whole time made a disturbing amount of sense. Leopald is ruthless, determined and will do what needs to be done; as Simmonds and Fitz discussed at the episode's end, saving the world requires the team to take drastic action and The Devil Complex was all about Fitz taking drastic measures.
Just how they come back from this remains to be seen. Poor Fitz and Simmonds have gone through so much to get to that happy wedding in episode 100 - the fact that they were talking about having a honeymoon in the beginning of the episode should have signalled that they were going to go through the emotional wringer once again. Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker were amazing this episode, Henstridge portraying the broken grief of Simmonds as her husband was revealed to be a monster while De Caestecker proved to the Agents of SHIELD's MVP in his portrayal of the frightened Leo, cold Leopold and then a disturbing amalgamation of the two.
The fact that, when confronted with what was happening, Fitz still forcibly removed Daisy's inhibitor, shows just how bleak things had become. Yes, he enabled an Inhuman-powered Daisy to use the stolen Gravitonium to seal the rift, but now she has her powers back, the risk of the Earth's destruction is becoming much more likely.
We also saw more of General Hale's agenda, in league with a sinister organisation perhaps more terrible than HYDRA and working with former Inhuman villain Carl Creel and the surprise return of Anton Ivanov in his LMD body. The clever abduction of Hale by Coulson's team quickly took a turn for the worse as it was all revealed as a trap. May letting Coulson take himself into custody was heart-breaking but from an audience's perspective, it showed finally offer more answers as to her sinister agenda.
The Devil Complex saw everyone at the top of the game, from Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker's continued heartbreak to Henry Simmons and Natalia Cordova-Buckley own angst over Mack's desperation to help Yo-Yo and her own frustrations (on a side note as a casual reviewer, the loss of her arms was one of the season's most brutal, shocking moments). I'm a little heartbroken over what Fitz's actions means for his marriage; can Deke's reveal to Simmonds that he is their grandson offer hope of a happier life in his mother's memories? Hopefully; but it wouldn't be Agents of SHIELD if Fitz and Simmonds didn't have to fight every step of the way for that happiness.