It’s all Greek to Me
A Meta/Speculation on the Framework, AIDA, and the Fitzsimmons journey of the 3rd Pod
I just finished my rewatch of 4.15, and I have a few things to talk about. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
AIDA, the flawed architect
During my rewatch, I caught sight of the innocuous little necklace AIDA wore on a close-up.
You can clearly see that it’s a snake eating it’s own tail, the symbol of the Ouroboros.
The Ouroboros is an occult symbol steeped in lore and history, but some of it’s chief meanings and associations are:
- The cycle of life, death, and despair
- Formless disorder and chaos needed for renewal of an ordered world
- Jungian integration and assimilation of the Shadow-self (the darker nature, the Id, the subconscious, the unrecognized aspects of being)
Consider all of this, in the hands of AIDA, our perfect android, or immanently flawed, almost-human, and then, look at this Greek creation tale, from Plato:
The living being had no need of eyes because there was nothing outside of him to be seen; nor of ears because there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him.
Of design he created thus; his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form which was designed by him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle.
All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.
AIDA is our ‘Creator’, here - our flawed architect, who, very much like the Ouroboros’ creator in Greek myth, considers the creation of a self-sustaining existence, with nothing lacking, no need for reliance on anyone or anything, no movement, simply a stasis, to be the ideal existence. To a robot who can feel no pain, nor no emotion, to whom sustainability of the self is the only goal, this is perfection, achieved.
Now, let’s take a moment to imagine that first creation, that first snake, filled with the emotions and thoughts of any living creature, alone in the universe, trapped in place, with no ability to reach out or scream or cry for help. It’s only action, it’s only ability, to be it’s own self-destruction.
Imagine the Ouroboros, aware that it is the agent of its own end, constantly in fear, constantly in pain of one sort or another, constantly aware that it will always have to kill itself. That one way or another, it will die, and it’s choice will be the cause, and that either choice, to eat oneself or to starve to death, will always cause pain.
I can tell you one thing - that Ouroboros is definitely NOT in agreement with it’s creator about the ideal nature of its existence.
From this, let’s extrapolate to our pals in the framework.
Like rats in a cage, they’re probably running the same loops and routines, probably without contact from anyone in their previous/real Shield lives, because to exist as an ouroboros means that you must be totally self-contained.
This also makes sense when you consider that memory can be triggered by anything. So putting them in a room with people they know in their real lives, the interactions with which have been heavily suppressed, and you’ve got a recipe for synaptical misfiring and software errors. It’s like two versions of an OS running on the same computer. if they hit the same pathways, something’s going to glitch, it’s just a matter of time.
This also tells me that while AIDA, our flawed architect, may percieve her design to be ‘without pain’, in truth, she has removed their joy and condemned them to an existence, as they say in True Detective, of living time as a flat circle. Nothing changing, nothing living.
It also suggests to me that continuing in this existence is going to result in self-destruction, or self-destructive behaviours, which may help to suppress the hidden memories of their real lives.
Or, in another interesting read, it could suggest an immanent rebellion within the framework, if we consider the Framework to be the Ouroboros, and the agents to simply be ‘part’ of it, like appendages. If the Framework is the Ouroboros, then it, itself, will seek it’s own end. It won’t be able to help it, because that’s just the nature of it’s imperfect design.
The cycle of death and return
Hydra is dead. Grant Ward is dead. Radcliffe is dead. But in the framework, they return, and so do these callbacks to seasons past.
Some people claim this is going to be a ‘greatest hits reel’ before the show goes off the air (as always, we’re on the ratings bubble - They desperately need to fix their ratings system for TV guys. It just does not work! this show deserves so many seasons!!) and I’m not saying that it’s not, but what I’m suggesting is that, moreso, this was an inevitable path for the story to take, because of the nature of the Framework’s story, which is represented by the Ouroboros.
That’s why we return to Hydra, to Ward, to Inhuman fears, to all the old haunts of our show’s universe.
That which is dead will live again, and that which lives, will die. That’s why Daisy’s old life (her dead life with Ward) was resurrected. That’s why Jemma’s current life with Fitz was killed (Jemma in a grave and Fitz with someone else).
Which brings us to the next Greek myth tie in…
Orpheus and Eurydice
Fitzsimmons, an Underworld Love Story
Make no mistake, in symbolic terms, the framing of this episode shows Jemma (specifically) entering into the underworld to retrieve her trapped lover. By connecting Jemma’s entry into the Framework with her grave, she is metaphorically entering Hades’ Realm, becoming the gender-bent Orpheus to Fitz’s Eurydice.
This isn’t a new trope in fiction. It’s one of the oldest, and part of what’s known as the Hero’s Journey, or the Monomyth - which is basically perceived to be the original or essential hero-tale structure. Interestingly enough, we witnessed it last season as well, but with Fitz playing the role of the hero, journeying into the realm of death (the planet Maveth), to rescue Jemma.
However, I parallel this upcoming journey specifically to Orpheus and Eurydice for a couple of reasons (where I would not have classed Fitz’s journey with it in particular).
- This is an ordered realm in-universe
Meaning that, like Hades in Greek mythology, the Framework has been designed. It has order, purpose, to each part. Maveth was an organic world created through the mechanics of physics and astronomy. It’s order was purely natural, not imposed by any larger, sentient creator, simply the cruelty of an unfeeling universe.
- We already have a Hades and Persephone - Radcliffe and Agnes
Both Radcliffe and Agnes now exist solely (well, sort-of, for Agnes/AIDA) in the Framework, the underworld. Radcliffe is it’s ultimate progenitor, and because of that, I assume AIDA would give him a certain amount of power and control over his narrative within the Framework, making him like a God within the world.
Agnes, like Persephone, her mythological counterpart, exists half in the Framework, and half outside of it, in the real world. Her physical embodiment, AIDA, is outside. Agnes’ other half, her mental self, exists wholly in the Framework.
- Like Orpheus, Jemma must enter into the underworld from an impossible ‘back door’
Orpheus is granted entry into the underworld by the gods, but can only enter through a realm even the gods fear to tread, the Stygian Marshes, which he must cross without the help of the boatman, Charon. Here are some choice quotes about the Stygian Marshes:
Homer, Iliad 3. 368 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) : “[Athena addresses Zeus :] ‘Never would he [Herakles] have got clear of the steep-dripping Stygian waters [on his journey to the Underworld].’”
Virgil, Aeneid 6. 323 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
“[The Sibyl addresses Aeneas on their journey through the Underworld :] ‘What you see is the mere of Cocytus, the Stygian marsh by whose mystery even the gods, having sworn, are afraid to be forsworn. All this crowd you see are the helpless ones, the unburied: that ferryman is Charon: the ones he converys have had burial. None may be taken across from bank to awesome bank of that harsh-voiced river until his bones are laid to rest.’”
Statius, Achilleid 1. 478 ff :
“Whom else [but Akhilleus (Achilles)] did a Nereis [Thetis] take be stealth through the Stygian waters and make his fair limbs impenetrable to steel?”
I don’t know about you, but my dudes, that sounds INTENSE. Achilles’ impenetrability was granted by being dipped in its waters, Hercules himself could not have surmounted their challenge. In similar fashion, I wonder if Jemma’s in-Framework ‘death’ makes her, in effect, immortal within the Framework, like Achilles being dipped in the Stygian waters?
Either way, it’s only through the faith of Orpheus’s love for someone else (there’s that bit about human connection, again, instead of the lonely ouroboros of self-sufficiency) that he is able to surmount the challenge that would have felled the greatest hero of Greek myth. This guy, this musician, who didn’t have any special powers except his ability to wail on his axe (okay fine, it was a lyre or some other ancient Greek instrument, whatever) and his utter, absolute love for Eurydice.
Jemma is just a human woman. There is nothing special about her, except the powers of her mind, and her utter, absolute love for Fitz, which has borne her across the universe, back to him, and now, that selfsame love will bear her back to him, through death. Because, nothing can keep their two souls halved. They will always be reunited.
In the myth, Orpheus enters the underworld and seeks audience with Hades and Persephone, appealing to their emotions and explaining the depth of his love for Eurydice. He played his lyre for Hades, who was so moved, he agreed to allow Eurydice to leave with him.
I think, here, Jemma will play her ‘lyre’ - she will draw upon her own gift, her genius in biology/chemistry/science to release the agents from their framework. Possibly, this might involve appealing to Radcliffe and Agnes to release Fitz in particular, and require Jemma to wax poetic about the nature of their embodied love, in scientific terms (much like the law of thermodynamics from season 1).
But it’s not all sunshine and roses, guys.
In the Myth, Orpheus must lead Eurydice out of Hades without looking back until they have reached the light. If he looks back, trying to find her, he will lose her forever. Orpheus is but a few steps from the light when doubt siezes hold, and without meaning to, he looks back, sees Eurydice as a Shade, who dissolves under his gaze, and traps her forever in the Underworld.
It was Orpheus’ faith and conviction that carried him through realms that Gods feared to tread and that Heroes would crumble within. It was his love that bore him through it, his faith in that love, his conviction in his ability to portray it in such a heart-swaying way that Hades would grant one single soul reprieve. But then, after such a harrowing journey for a single, noodle-armed lyre-playing wine-swilling musician, unused to such rigours of the soul, his doubt begins to unravel everything.
Jemma’s characterization, throughout the entire run of the show, is Atheistic. She believes in the laws of thermodynamics, not in an afterlife, but in a very scientific version of reincarnation. She doesn’t believe the universe ‘wants’ anything. And now, Jemma, our Atheist, must trust in something entirely outside her comfort-zone. she must trust in her Faith. her faith in Fitz, in their love, in the unbreakable, inalienable nature that binds them, that has tangled their souls up.
The thread that began to unravel the moment she was forced to doubt that his LMD double was truly the Fitz that loved her. She was forced to kill the thing that wore his face and spoke with his words. She was forced to sever a connection, no matter how tenuous, with a person she loved, who is now lost in this underworld existence.
I believe, without question, that Jemma’s biggest obstacle throughout this whole endeavour is going to be her self-doubt. That if she can kill a thing that looks like Fitz, sounds like Fitz, acts like Fitz, and has Fitz’s memories, is she, a ‘murderer’, and worse still a murderer of the person she loves more than anything, deserving of his love?
I believe Jemma will struggle deeply with these feelings of villainy and murder and that will eat away at her core of self-trust and self-esteem, even worse than last season, with Maveth and the inhumans.
To end on a happy note though:
The Greeks freaking loved a sad ending, they ate tragedy up with a spoon. Jed and Mo are not ancient Greeks, and they love a sappy, happy ending love-story just as much as we do.
It will be Framework Fitz that gives Jemma back that part of herself she killed to survive, that belief that she’s worthy of his love. He will start to come back to himself, little by little, and in that same way, come back to her.
I also believe, that, in the end, when they leave the Framework, Fitz is going to see the bruises on Jemma’s neck and go FULL OUT TERMINATOR ON FITZBOT’S ASS.
It’ll be like May vs May but with less nightgowns and more sparks!