“All the Madame’s Men” is episode nineteen of season four of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the previous episode, “No Regrets”, Director Mace sacrificed himself inside the Framework during an operation to free a captured agent – Trip, who died after being exposed to terrigen in “What They Become” – in order to allow some children to escape from a HYDRA facility, which caused his death in the real world as well (Aida seems to be operating inside the Framework and as an autonomous android at the same time; is she remotely connected or is her Madame Hydra personality a separate being?). May saw the children being held by HYDRA, which caused problems (oddly, despite the fact that she turned on her bodycam prior to not killing Mace, there doesn’t appear to have been any fallout from this). The mess that the Framework is in links back to the death of a bunch of children at the hands of an Inhuman child whose life May had spared. Killing that child in Bahrain was May’s regret; that child killing others turned her against Inhumans. The lives of children are therefore quite important to May so, as a result of discovering that HYDRA was holding some captive, she has exposed Skye/Daisy to terrigen mist. Radcliffe had told Daisy that there was a back door, one which Aida couldn’t remove, so that they could return to the real world.
Incidentally, Fitz’s regret seems to be connected to his relationship with his father; in the real world he basically didn’t have one and the implication was given that his father wasn’t a terribly nice person. In the Framework, Fitz has a good relationship with his father – who still doesn’t seem to be a nice person – and this has made Fitz into not a very nice person as well.
This episode opens with a television programme, The Bakshi Report – another dead face reappears – where Bakshi is saying that terrorists attacked a HYDRA enlightenment cultivation centre, killing civilians, but that during the attack the terrorist known as the Patriot was finally killed.
Some HYDRA agents are watching this report in the Triskelion when the building trembles. Daisy breaks out of her cocoon and then she and May attempt to escape the building. They are stopped by Aida/Madame Hydra, who monologues at them about how peoples’ true natures remain the same, before Daisy – who knows how her powers work, unlike the typical newly-changed Inhuman – blasts her out of the building to fall many stories to the ground.
It turns out that Aida was plugged in to the Framework, just like the others – so she can only be present in one place at once; that must be inconvenient at times – and she unplugs in the real world. She tells Ivanov that May is being a problem, so the latter pulls a gun and holds it to May’s head. Ivanov wants to kill May but can’t; Aida’s programming means that she has to protect May and the others and, because she built Ivanov, he is limited the same way. The only way she can act is if they become a threat to the Framework. Which Daisy and Simmons are, but she doesn’t have their bodies. So Aida wants Ivanov to find them.
The Resistance is having problems as, with the death of the Patriot, there is no one true leader to take charge. News about Daisy and May’s escape reaches them, so Ward takes a team and goes looking for them. Simmons takes a look at the documents that Trip stole, which are on Looking Glass. She recognises that it is Darkhold tech so she and trip take another team to go looking for it. This leaves Coulson and Mack, who go into the field when they get a possible report about Daisy and May.
Aida’s Framework body has suffered extensive damage from the fall, but she isn’t dead. Nor can she seemingly repair it. Fitz is taking over as the new head of HYDRA whilst Madam Hydra is incapacitated, but Aida wants him to finish work on Looking Glass.
It seems that May’s bodycam only recorded footage; it didn’t broadcast it. Which is oddly primitive, as in the real world such footage is usually uploaded to another location, and often watched live. The footage may well prove useful against HYDRA’s ‘alternative facts’ – another dig at Trump and his tendency for them?