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April 12 2017

(SPOILER) Discuss Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4x17 "Identity and Change". The episode was written by George Kitson and directed by Garry A. Brown.

I had people talking over some of the more important scenes! That said, we are getting pretty dark guys...

(Nice little could-be Buffy reference though).
I would be willing to go live in the Framework if it meant I never had to fill out a New York State tax return ever again.
Hello, everybody.
LMAO! I make my own soap now.
OK. So the Bahrain kid makes more sense. I'll give them that.
I'm so worried about Mack's daughter. Already biting nails ...
Please please please let Fitz be not this.

STOP THAT! Ew.
What's darker Hive & Swayed Daisy or Madame Hydra/Fitz?
"The soap made me do it." LOL.
I'm absolutely gonna use that now. "The soap made me do it." Ha!
Ah. So Madame Hydra is Ophelia Sarkissian.

Aida has tranferred Fitz's love of Jemma to herself... "I would cross the universe for you," which is exactly what he did for Jemma.
I think we're all going to be using the soap line. Sadly, nobody in my house will understand it.
Dusk, Madame Hydra and Fitz. Because previously their only history was that he helped actually build her. Ew.
I'm really enjoying the humor in this episode so far, but feel like it's there to make me let my guard down.
Fitz also has no memory of Jemma in this world. So he either didn't join SHIELD in the same way or was always just pure Hydra.
@AndrewCrossett This is why I pay an accountant. NYS and NYC are extra-fiendish. Sympathy!!
Loved the wings behind Mace.
Is it kind of sad that it took going into the framework to actually make Mace a good Director?
Potential Not Slayers.
We will defeat these terrorists, and we will make our society great again.

Oh, Fitz...
"Skye" is going to start kicking ass, right? RIGHT?
Fitz is going to have Angelus issues when this is over.
45 reference - drink!

And I see I was right to be worried for Mack's daughter, ugh.
If you think this is bad...
Thanks a lot, Dusk.
Other Side?
My mother used to smack us for blurting out spoilers, Dusk.
Terrigen crystals would be good right about now. But would they really work inside a computer program?
Did I say anything specific? ;)

They apparently worked for Mace javelina.
So Daisy is Captain America now? Ha!
I am enjoying all the Hydra propaganda posters in the backgrounds.
I love the Daisy / Cap line!
Is Mace really Inhuman in this reality, or still pretending?
Unclear at the moment but I'd imagine his regret is also tied to his lack of powers.
Daisy as Captain America was cute.
Why is Mack's nickname for his daughter the same one he used for Lincoln?
Oh, poor Fitz. This isn't going to go well.
Why didn't Ward shoot Fitz and/or Madame Hydra after Fitz shot Agnes? He had an easy shot at both.
AndrewCrossett, I think it's because he was too busy shooting at all the agents that were shooting at him, Jemma, and Coulson.
The question becomes, is this all just an A.I. construct, or is it truly "the other side?" as in a different dimenion? Feeling the whole "Mirror, Mirror" thing going on in this arc.
Man,Fitz is one S.O.B. in the Framework.I wonder when they do get back to the real world if this will drive a wedge between Simmons and Fitz from Simmons's side.

Really dark and intense episode tonight.Loved it.
If Fitz survives this season (a big "if") he will have some Angel-level brooding to do. I think it will split him and Simmons up and change him forever.
I really don't have words. That as an emotional kick to the nads.

@Nebula1400 I was wondering that, I get a very this isn't just VR feel from the whole thing.
Yeah. The VR thing was taking me out of the story just a little bit, but it's the reference to "the other side" which makes me wonder if it's something more.
Also, the wiki on Ophelia Sarkissian is fascinating.
Also also, I don't think everyone is getting ot of this season alive. :(
Definitely not. I mean heck, they'll probably kill Radcliffe TWICE the same way they did Agnes. But I doubt he'll be the only lead character to die this year, yeah...dunno who'd be on the chopping block, though. Either of FitzSimmons (not both) ? Not Coulson's time/don't think tbey'll kill Phil twice (not before end of series, if at all). Not May, she's been through enough. Not Daisy. Mace ? Most likely. Mack ? I think he'll choose to remain in the Framework. Which means that, in time, his body will die...so a half-death, in a sense.

Any mains I'm missing ?

Points for having Agnes, Radcliffe, Burrows, and Mace in this ep, but I want wayyy more cameos. Give us Akila (the woman with the robotic eye who was one of Coulson's operatives), or Deathlok/Mike, or Skye's dad or mom, or Raina, or Quinn, or some of the Koenigs (got a mention, at least!). Victoria Hand. Sitwell. Even Malick or whoever (though if Fitz and Madame Hydra are top dogs, then they probably took out the other heavy hitters like Malick and Reed Diamond's character). Go nuts with this concept.
It's hard to see Mack choosing to leave the Framework and leave Hope behind. Even if the Framework shuts down he might choose to stay in it and wink out of existence with her.

I'm betting on Fitz and Simmons both surviving, because much more pain with them alive and forced to deal with what happened.

Radcliffe might die... hope he has a chance to get some redemption on his way out. And Mace might not make it... he's not even a full cast member. Aida is definitely toast.
Yeah, I was going to say FItz and Simmons will both survive because that's more painful. :P

Also give EH all the awards already, damn.
They may yet go nuts with the concept.

I sincerely hope it's neither Fitz nor Simmons who dies. They are the two best characters. If they both live, I think they'll be torn apart after this.

Mace is on the chopping block. Radcliffe is already dead. Daisy can't die, because Quake. Phil can't die, because Tahiti. So, that means May, Fitz, Simmons, or Mack will be shotgun axed.

If this is actually another dimension, Grant Ward may be revived as loyal to SHIELD (though I think he'll betray them in the Framework).

Also give EH all the awards already, damn.

This is code for "she'll die."

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2017-04-12 04:59 ]
There is the possibility the Framework will survive (or remain accessible). Once Aida is dead and Fitz either dead or gone home, Grant Ward can be Bearded Spock and lead the revolution against what remains of Hydra. In that case it could still be possible for Mack to see his daughter by plugging into the Framework.

If it turns out the Framework is a real dimension and not a simulation, then both Ward and Hope could possibly come through into our world... which might only be possible because their counterparts in this world are dead.

I still want to know why Aida created a fake Grant Ward and partnered him with a fake Skye. That's the biggest evidence for thinking this is a real world... but then what happened to the original Framework Skye when Real Skye jumped into her body? Or did Ward just wink into existence, retroactively fit into the universe like Dawn Summers, in order to accommodate Daisy's arrival?
Huh, so, the people murdered at the academy were all potential inhumans? Anyone else catch that? Does that mean Simmons is Inhuman, or is that jut an excuse AIDA made up? Gah, my brain.

@Andrew, well, all of the people in the world are technically fake, I assume it has to be some kind of Butterfly Effect thing, where you change a few things in the past and the results are bonkers.
Oh I just had an evil thought. Maybe fitz and/or may will come back with their framework personality and be villains next season. :/
Since the Framework is supposedly under conscious control (Aida's, or the Darkhold through Aida), Butterfly Effects should be controllable. So anything that's happened should be just as Aida planned it, unless she made a mistake. The pitfall for her is that the Framework is trying to simulate human behavior, which can be only imperfectly predicted by machines.
I still have too many questions. They answered why the kid from Bahrain lead to Hydra in control. May's biggest regret led to Hydra using that kid to spur on anti-Inhuman sentiment in the public. And Phil regretted joining SHIELD to begin with, so he's a teacher. Got it. But... Phil was the one that brought Skye into SHIELD and the one that argued for her to become an agent. So why is Skye there at all without Phil's involvement. And I don't think Ward was created just to deal with Skye's insertion into the framework, because why would Aida or the framework itself make Ward an agent against Hydra? Ward is dead, so the framework couldn't read his biggest regret and fix it. So this Ward should have still been recruited by John Garrett and we haven't really seen a reason why Ward would be against what Hydra is doing in this reality since it's pretty much what he was working for in the real world. So... I don't get his existence. And if the framework is just a computer simulation then Agnes cam be brought back if Aida wanted. It's not real. It's basically a video game. And they still haven't explained Fitz, because Jemma isn't the only reason Fitz is as Fitzy in the real world. If he doesn't turn out to have some massive plan and has been playing Aida and everyone else in the end, I'm calling shenanigans.

If we're placing bets on whose a goner, (which is morbid, but whatever ;) ) my money is on Mace, Radcliffe, and Ward will go out in a blaze of glory saving the rest, getting his redemption without actually getting it because you don't come back from being Hive.
@Gack21-Not everyone at the Academy were Inhumans. Fitz just saw Jemma was listed as a dead girl and assumes she must have survived because of Inhuman powers.
It's hard to imagine Ward is just a piece of computer code here. I think the Framework is more than just a virtual reality.

Hey, What if "The Doctor" is actually an LMD of Fitz within the Framework, and the real Fitz is tied up in Madame Hydra's closet somewhere?

[ edited by AndrewCrossett on 2017-04-12 18:30 ]
Doesn't AIDA mention that she just changed a few things and let it play out? I mean, not that I believe her necessarily.
fun Fact and Bad fact:

Fun: Amy, the student complaining about her Dad was played by Clark Gregg's real life daughter.

Bad Fact: The Resistance is based in the exact same location as real world SHIELD so Madame Hydra can storm them whenever she wants, therefore is probably just playing with Mace's fantasy and/or giving her side someone to hate.
It felt like I was watching Fringe again, and that's a good thing.
Also, how did May know that Skye would know Mack? As far as she knows, Mack is just some single dad with a daughter that took Hydra tech. He has zero connection to Skye in this version. Yet May fed him enough info to get Skye (she isn't Daisy till she wakes up in the Real World...) to give herself away.

And doesn't anyone else find it odd that Fitz would say to Aida "I'd cross the universe for you" and then not even flinch when Radcliff says the same exact thing to him regarding someone else, someone Aida is desperate to find and kill? Even evil Fitz has to know it means something.
May didn't know Skye would know Mack... but Madame Hydra (Aida) did. May mentioned that her instructions here came directly from MH. Aida suspected that Framework Daisy had been replaced by Real Daisy. So she had Mack arrested and brought in to trick her into revealing herself.

But what I'd like to know is, how did Framework Mack know where to find a SHIELD drop site?
Maybe we're supposed to infer that the framework's programming is not that strong and being confronted with real world people, names, etc. can weaken it and make them remember things? So Mack was living his life, la dee dah, until Daisy sat down in front of him and started mentioning things from his other life, one that maybe bugs him as much as Coulson's did. *Guessing*
@AndrewCrossett at al: Guys, Aida did not *create* FrameWard or put him with Daisy intentionally. She did not devise every single thing that exists in the Framework. She replicated the real world and only changed a few things - fixing the "greatest regrets" of a few people (May, Coulson, Fitz, Mack, Mace, Agnes), which has resulted in this world we see. Then she put the LMD version of the Superior in charge of protecting the Framework, and inserted herself into the world as Madame Hydra, the most powerful person in the world and Fitz' lover (classic wish fulfillment!) and is now trying to protect the Framework from the inside.

Jed Whedon has explained what the Framework world is in interviews he gave after the episode 4.15:

"Speaking of that, can you clarify the parameters of the Framework? Is it really an ideal world, as Aida and Radcliffe seem to think?

Yeah, I think that Radcliffe and Aida set out to duplicate the world, and with some of the info that Aida got from the Darkhold, they were able to do that. Now, the one change that they made was they plugged I think five people into it and repaired one regret for each of them, and that seems to have had a little bit of a ripple effect. We’ll get to learn more about the nature of that reality, but they were setting out to make our world. And it just seems when you change something, there’s a little bit of a butterfly effect.

So putting Jemma aside, who is decidedly her own case as she is apparently dead, which character’s new life do you think will be most surprising to fans?

Well, that’s a little bit of a wait and see question. But one thing I can say is that the themes we’re exploring are sort of, are you different if you’re in a different situation? Or are you inherently the same person? Obviously, we see May standing without much fear in a Hydra building, seemingly like she’s on top of the world. And so the question is, is she still her? Or have her new experiences changed her enough to be someone else?"

(...)

Okay, cool! So in terms of Ward, you definitely know how to keep the fandom churning! Is there a possibility that he will show up beyond the alternate universe, or is his role strictly in imaginary land?

Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But right now, there’s only five people in the Framework who actually have bodies in our world. [Ward] is a simulation, but he’s a simulation of exactly who he was. As Yo-Yo says, how do you populate a whole world? And Daisy very conveniently answers, “With the Darkhold.” It’s sort of our catch-all/fix-all solve this year, the Darkhold. It gave them this ability to sort of duplicate our world, so he is Grant Ward as we knew him."

Now, the world is different around him, and so whether or not he reacted the same to the changes in the world, we’ll see. But Grant Ward never enters the picture and makes things run smoother!

http://www.hypable.com/agents-of-shield-4x15-jed-whedon-interview/

Ward is a character who had a lot of different sides to him. Since he’s dead, we know that Aida didn’t brain scan him into the Framework. What is Aida basing her version of Ward on and how similar is this Ward to the one we knew before?

JW: Well, I think that the Darkhold has somehow given her the ability to duplicate our world. That's the good thing about moving into the Doctor Strange realm of “science we don't yet understand” being basically magic, is that we have a magic book right now that somehow gave them the ability to duplicate our world and populate it. I think that everybody who's in the world is just as they would've been in our world. Now, that doesn't mean that circumstances haven't changed because, as we know, they repaired a little bit. They tried to change just one little thing for each of our people and there seems to have been a ripple effect. How he reacts to this new environment and how empowered he feels by it and how dangerous he is is a question you'll have to wait to get the answer to.

http://comicbook.com/marvel/2017/02/23/agents-of-shield-jed-whedon-grant-ward-hydra-interview/
Wow, that was a 10/10 episode for me, the second one this season (after 4.15).

When Radcliffe started trying to get to Fitz, and Simmons was saying he would never kill an innocent woman, I knew Fitz was going to kill her. Because the show has consistently subverted the "Power of Love/Friendship"/"Remember Who You Are" trope. Every time there's a scene where someone tries to get through to a brainwashed/indoctrinated person and stop them from doing something evil, and gives them a "that's not who you are/you can fight it" speech, it NEVER works, and they always do something horrible.

@Kris: Malick would be very, very unhappy with what this iteration of Hydra is doing with the Inhumans, so I'm pretty sure he's not involved.

@Nebula1400: Ward is fulfilled doing what he likes best, having a purpose and mission (I loved when he even said the line "It's the mission now") and someone to give him orders, and he's got nothing to tie him to Hydra, since Garrett is presumably dead. Why would he betray the Resistance?
He's probably not going to be happy finding out his world isn't real and his girlfriend is literally another person (sort of), and I don't know how that will turn out, but that's a different issue.

@NYPinTA: "So why is Skye there at all without Phil's involvement. And I don't think Ward was created just to deal with Skye's insertion into the framework, because why would Aida or the framework itself make Ward an agent against Hydra? Ward is dead, so the framework couldn't read his biggest regret and fix it. So this Ward should have still been recruited by John Garrett and we haven't really seen a reason why Ward would be against what Hydra is doing in this reality since it's pretty much what he was working for in the real world. So... I don't get his existence. "

Skye drew the attention of SHIELD as a brilliant hacker because she was researching SHIELD to find out info about herself. She could have drawn the attention of Hydra the same way (SHIELD had already fallen by that point, several years before) and been recruited by some other agent for her skills. It could have been May, or even Garrett, or someone else. And Ward could have been involved in her recruitment just as he was in real life (with Coulson, only that was recruitment for SHIELD).

Ward never gave a damn about what Hydra was trying to do, or Hydra in general. He was only there because of his extreme and absolute loyalty to Garrett, and Garrett was there out of opportunism and because he wanted to find a way to save his own life, using Hydra resources. Ward was working towards that goal throughout season 1. A little reminder:

http://blog.whedonesque.com/post/86189427857/its-not-like-were-true-believers-right

Since Garrett presumably died in the Framework because he never found the solution for his injuries/illness (Coulson not in SHIELD - Coulson never dies and never gets resurrected - Fury doesn't resurrect Coulson - Garrett never investigates it, plus Fury probably never even founded the project TAHITI, since Hydra won before the Avengers could be assembled), Ward has nothing to keep him loyal to Hydra.
His only emotional attachment was to Skye, and when he found out his girlfriend was an Inhuman - which would make her targeted by this version of Hydra, but protected by the Resistance - he joined the Resistance.

Real life Hydra was not anti-Inhuman anyway - on the contrary, they wanted to use powered people, not destroy them, and they were initially founded to bring back Hive to Earth, which makes this FW Hydra's actions all the more ironic. Real life Ward never hated the Inhumans anyway, and the only time he showed any genuine interest in Hydra's goals (rather than using Hydra for his own goals, like saving Garrett, or waging a war against his former team out of revenge because he couldn't deal with Kara's death - again, personal reasons) was for the short time before his death, when he seemed to be into the whole bringing back Hive thing. Which is the complete opposite of being anti-Inhuman.
@TimeTravelingBunny The problem with that is Skye was recruited by Coulson in 2013. May found that Inhuman girl in 2008. I doubt Hydra waited very long before using her to kill a bunch of people so they could take over. So Hydra would have been in power long before Skye would have been a blip on their radar and I don't think hacker chicks would be something they wouldn't immediately torture and destroy, no matter her skill. I mean based on who Skye was she'd be the one living in a bunker leading a resistance. (With Mace. I mean that guy just wants to be a hero so frikkin' bad!)
@NYPinTA: She's said many times that SHIELD was the first real family she's ever had, Coulson was the first person who ever tried to take care of her, etc. So who's to say that in a world where Hydra are seen as the good guys, she wouldn't be drawn into Hydra if she formed close relationships with some of the Hydra agents and found a 'family' there?

Why torture and kill a hacker if you can get them to work for you? I'm sure an evil organization running the world would profit from having talented hackers. And they do know she's a hacker, FM May said "I don't care what you've hacked".
If the Darkhold re-created our world, why would it re-create Ward, who is dead?

It could be that Aida assumed Daisy's biggest regret was not being able to save Ward from himself and turn him back to the light side of the Force... but Daisy is an intruder in the Framework. Did Aida/the Darkhold create a template for the Skye/Ward relationship with the idea that Daisy would eventually be inserted into it when she was captured? And by making Ward a subversive and making Daisy his partner, did Aida realize she was creating a big headache for Hydra? Did she care?

I don't think Aida really has much control over the Framework at all. She's making the wishes, but the Darkhold Monkey's Paw is calling the shots.
@AndrewCrossett: Because ripple effects and different history resulted in Ward not being dead. The obvious fact is that changes devised to fix May's and Coulson's regrets butterflied away all the events that resulted in Ward's death in the real world.

Similarly, other people are alive in the Framework but dead in real life, without Aida specifically making them alive (say, Burrows, and I'm pretty sure there will be others) and vice versa (for instance, Billy Koenig).

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2017-04-14 04:41 ]
@TimeTravelingBunny Yeah, pretty sure Hydra is not seen by hardly anyone as the "good guys". Has anyone not Hydra even seemed like they thought of them that way? Skye being there makes no sense to me. And what's really weird is not once did Daisy even ask herself why she was there. Was she wondering if she was that susceptible to propaganda that she'd fall in line with them if things were different? Nope. And they still haven't explained why Fitz is so frikkin' evil. Sure, Simmons has said Aida has brainwashed him, but that's a theory, not fact. And frankly there is nothing about Fitz that I believe would lend him to be so completely different.
@NYPinTA: At the moment, they may not be seen as the good guys by many people. But when they first got into power? We're told Hydra used the Cambridge incident and convinced the public that they were the answer to the terrorist, I mean Inhuman threat. How would they be able to do that if the public did not at some point see them as the good guys?

I think that Aida only "brainwashed" Fitz in the same sense as everyone else she and Radcliffe connected to the Framework - she changed their memories in terms of their "biggest regret", and that led to all the other changes. In Fitz' case, she has also inserted herself in the Framework and started a relationship with him, but that doesn't mean she has intentionally shaped his personality in this or that way. I'm pretty sure based on the press release for the next episode that we'll learn more about why Fitz is the way he is. But I'm pretty sure that his change was that his crappy father (who in the real world left when he was very young) stuck around in this reality and had a strong relationship and influence on him. Why else would they have established that part of his history this season, during the LMD arc? And in 4.16, he quoted his father: "My father always said you need trust to be betrayed". That would also explain why he is the most different, because his divergence goes back the furthest into his past, into childhood and formative years - while everyone else's change only happened in adulthood (or late adolescence, in Coulson's case).

As for what Daisy and Jemma think and say, they are at the moment focused on getting their friends and themselves out of the Framework and haven't had either the time or the will to give it more thought. "None of this is real" and "he is brainwashed" are the things you'd want to think, without delving further into it, to deal with seeing the world turned upside down and people you love acting like monsters.
You guys/gals need to read more time travel scifi! Everyone knows if you go back and kill Hitler it just makes things worse!
I just caught up to the last two episodes. So far I like this. Especially the first episode, because it only featured characters I care about. The second(/this) one had Mack, which sucks, but I'm down with Hope being around. Waking up will be a bitch for him, though. If I were him, I probably wouldn't want to and I'd fight anybody trying to destroy the framework, which in this very moment reminds me of a certain library...

Thinking about it, the framework shouldn't be destroyed at all. The people inside it are very much alive. Artificial, yes. But alive. Destroying the framework would be like destroying the planet earth: No one left to mourn, so no harm done, but also quite a lot of harm done, because there's more to an existence than others mourning you, having a physical body, or even being organic. I wonder if they'll make Ward turn against the team by having his survival instinct kicking in. If so, I know who I'll be rooting for.
"there's more to an existence than others mourning you, having a physical body, or even being organic."

Is there ? Not as far as we as a species know, so far. Gettin' into souls and metaphysics when we're coming at it from that perspective (agreed on "others mourning you", though -- if you lived the remainder of your adult life in the wilderness, died there, and no one knew you or anyone who did had died before you...if there was no one around to mourn your passing, you still will have existed).

In the MCU, maybe. The Dr. Strange film opened things up with the introduction of magic (maybe the Thor films did as well, though I held to the any-technology-or-ability-beyond-our-current-comprehension-is-indistinguishable-from-magic/the-Asgardians-and-Frost-Giants-and-Dark-Elves-are-aliens explanation) and on AoS we have the Darkhold (and Daredevil Season 2 featured The Hand and something I won't spoil for those who haven't caught up), so...yeah, more-to-existing-than-our-bodies-and-brains could easily be a thing in the MCU (as it is in the comic books they're adapted from)...but blanket statements about that for all of existence/the real world are incorrect. Sorry, but atheist/skeptic here -- gotta prove it.

Because of what the showrunners have implied in interviews, though, I'm thinking it's likely that The Framework IS a created alternate reality. If Aida could build a portal to rescue Coulson and Fitz from the purgatory-like state of existence during the Ghost Rider arc, why not create or tap into an alternate reality as well, right ? Seems like an extension of that newfound gift of hers. Although all her little adjustments to The Framework -- as early as we saw her tinkering with it with May -- would mean she's tapped into MULTIPLE realities, even without her realizing it, if she connected to one every time she assumed she herself had made the adjustment. Which means these Framework people's lives DO matter as much as those of the people in the main MCU.

But this could still all turn out to be a very convincing, extremely-complex-beyond-comprehension reality simulator and in that case, no, these video game NPCs don't matter. They're code and wisps of magic dreamed up by Aida and The Darkhold. It could all be just a very convincing play put on for the benefit of the few real people plugged in to The Framework. This would all be a hell of a lot simpler if this WAS a Matrix-like brain trap, a lot easier to explain to viewers (although I guess it's more interesting if it's NOT -- because been there, done that already in film & TV -- and I'll admit The Matrix ain't a great comparison because everyone inside of The Mateix, even the machines/the minority of characters created by code alone, were shown to be aware/sentient and self-actualized beings who cared about their own existence and survival). I'm not sure it all WILL get properly explored in the remaining five episodes -- lot might be left up to us to assume and infer from what little we get on screen.
I'm an implicit atheist (or something close to it - I just googled that term and merely scanned over the description), myself. What I meant is, that you don't have to be an organic, "born" being in order for your life to have (the same) "value" (that an organic life has). Because all the things, that one may call remarkable about an organic life, like feelings, dreams, desires, etc. can be programmed into an inorganic life. And unlike to what others may believe, I don't think this makes it less "real" than the feelings, dreams or desires that "we" have, because these, too, are programmed. By nature, by the way our brains and our bodies work. A lot of our behaviour can be analyzed and explained. There are reasons, why we feel certain ways or why we want certain things. Too steal your phrasing, it's not magic - and if it seems like "magic", that's because science hasn't figured it out, yet (and maybe it never will).

Obviously, there's a difference between having a body (no matter what kind) and not having one. On the other hand, you can never be sure about the people around you. You can never be sure about what is reality. Maybe you are dreaming. Maybe you are in some kind of simulation. Who knows? The only thing that matters, I believe, is your very own point of view. Something is important when it is important to you.
The inhabitants of the framework don't know they are ones and zeros. And if they did, it would mean for their need and their desire to continue existing exactly the same thing it would mean for me, if sometold me I wasn't real: absolutely nothing. Kill somebody in the framework, and the beings close to them experience suffering, which will feel as real to them, as it would to me, you, or any other creature of sophisticated programming. You are essentially causing pain. Destroy the framework in order to avoid this pain (or for any other reason) and you are basically destroying an entire world.

Yes, from your point of view - or even from my own - they are somewhat less. (Outside of the framework) you cannot grasp them, cannot touch them. Fail to pay the electricity bill and they're in a world of trouble. However I believe that it's less about what I think from where I stand and more about what I would think, were I to stand where they are standing right now. You might call it empathy. You might also call it the refusal of the negative use of god-like power (which actually doesn't sound like me at all...).
Furthermore, I am thinking about all the things that could arise from their world. Knowledge, ideas, scientific discoveries, medicine, technology, art (not to mention occurences of love, compassion, determination and other positive emotions and behaviours) - you name it. If that doesn't make their existence valuable (for us) - I don't know what does. So in the very least we may view them like productive livestock, which isn't very nice, but that's kinda how we roll and it has seldom stopped us before.

Finally, like I said before, if I were Mack, I wouldn't give a shit whether or not this Hope is real. It only matters that she feels real to me. And she would only stop to feel real, if the programming was flawed and unconvincing.

...

The one thing I'm unsure about is actually Aida. On one hand it can be argumented that she needs to be removed from the framework, because she's like a god and that's problematic. On the other hand, however, she played a major part in building/enhancing it, so maybe that's her natural right which should not be blindly interfered with by outsiders. Her being at war with S.H.I.E.L.D. makes things a bit easier, but I'm trying to exclude that for argument's sake.
@Sahjhan: I'm thinking along the same lines. That's why I think it's not a given that the Framework will be destroyed at the end of this season, and I hope it won't. The season finale will probably include some debate what to do with it. Someone has to realize that, in a way, this would feel like killing a lot of people and destroying a world.

The ideal solution would be to get the 'real' people out, but let it continue to exist. The question is, does it need a 'real' person's consciousness to be plugged in to exist, or not? If yes, maybe leave Aida plugged in - just without having control over it to rewrite things or plug people in without their consent etc.
I honestly believe Mack should stay in there with Hope (maybe even get her mother in there, too). It would make perfect sense for him and be somewhat poetic, considering his earlier stance regarding A.I.s. Sometimes happyness finds you from odd directions, but you would still have to be a fool not to embrace it.
Me getting rid of him would be a plus, however him deciding to stay would also make me like that character alot more, because that's what I think I would do.

That being said, I'm not so sure there will be a moral debate about the framework and its inhabitants on the show. I can picture someone like Mack being somewhat on the edge about it for personal reasons, but I wouldn't be surprised, if in the end all of the (real) main characters were to - perhaps silently and unspokenly - agree that the framework is a fake world full of inhabitants who do not deserve to live .
@Sahjhan: I certainly hope that's not the case.

Why would he get Nicole, Hope's mother, there? There is no indication she would want to be there, going to your ex anad saying "hey, would you like to join me in this virtual world where our daughter is alive..." would be super creepy and wrong and something that would probably make her call on a restraining order for him. Not to mention that as far as we know she doesn't even seem to have an avatar in the Framework, we don't know what even happened to her in that world (since there's no mention of her at any point, it seems that Mack is a single father), and it doesn't seem like Mack cares that much. She loves Hope, not Nicole. His biggest wish was clearly Hope being alive and him getting the chance to bring her up, rather than being with Nicole. And she's never even appeared on the show, so it's even less likely they'll suddenly introduce a woman we've never seen and have Mack plug her into the Framework.
He would bring her there, because from what I understand, Hope's mother still - after about ten years - is not over the loss of her daughter. So if the framework-version of Hope is good enoug for him, there's no reason why he wouldn't atleast consider it being good enough for Nicole, also. It all comes down to where she's at in her life. Is she in a good place? Then yes, leave her be and don't take the risk. But if she isn't and if it's because of Hope, and if has been many many years, then yes, maybe the framework is what she needs and what may be able to help her.

Regarding what happened with "Nicole" in the framework, I don't think it matters, because it has nothing to do with the real Nicole. Maybe Mack's divorced, maybe she left, maybe even died. Obviously there are potential scenarios where the framework would need to get a bit creative. But people return from being apparently dead on TV all the time, so that shouldn't be an issue ("Simmons" died and the framework simply ignored that when the real one joined the fun). Maybe she was imprisoned by HYDRA. Maybe she even works for them.

Just to make things clear, I'm not talking about Mack "being" with Nicole in a romantic sense. I'm talking about them sharing a pain and him finding a cure for that pain, that he may want to make available for her, too.

Whether or not all of this is going to happen is a different story and I'm not placing any bets. I merely think it would make sense from an emotional standpoint.

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