When Love Isn’t Enough: Thoughts on AoS 4x20

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Title: When Love Isn’t Enough: Thoughts on AoS 4x20
Creator: eggsaladstain
Date(s): May 3, 2017
Medium: online
Fandom: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Topic: Leo Fitz, Leo Fitz/Jemma Simmons, Season 4
External Links: Meta, Archived version
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When Love Isn’t Enough: Thoughts on AoS 4x20 is an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. meta essay written by eggsaladstain.

The essay is an analytical piece on the twentieth episode of the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It specifically focuses on the relationship between Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons.


I love FitzSimmons but I am really really glad they didn’t have the power of true love compel him to remember her.

Because first of all, that’s not how the Framework works. None of the other characters ever remembered their Real World lives with the exception of Coulson, and he had a legitimately good reason for that - because his mind had already been tampered with through the TAHITI program. Your Framework self cannot remember your Real World life even if your Framework self meets someone who was important to you in the Real World. If it worked like that, let’s face it, Melinda May would have remembered Coulson the first time she laid eyes on his dorky schoolteacher self back in the rubble of that Hydra base.

Here’s what I love most about Framework Fitz not remembering Jemma - it turns the concept of all you need is love on its head in a really great way. In general, I am not a fan of this trope because it’s so cheesy and rarely done right, and the thing I really like about this show is how it doesn’t ever really ever buy into that. We saw this with Skyeward, with Daisy and Cal, with season 2 Fitzsimmons, with May and Andrew, and with Mack and Yo-Yo. Ward believed his love for Skye was enough to make her understand him and even love him back, and she shot him four times and told him with no uncertainty that his love for her did NOT make his actions okay, that his love for her did NOT make her understand him, that his love for her was NOT enough. Framework Ward’s love is not enough for him to be happy with Framework Skye since she’s essentially be erased by Daisy. Cal thought his love for his wife and daughter justified the terrible actions he took in his quest to get them back and Daisy refused to buy into that, and though she did eventually grow to love him, their love for each other wasn’t enough to give them a happy ending as father and daughter. Fitz sacrificed himself to save Simmons and suffered severe brain damage as a result, and Simmons voluntarily leaved him in the hopes that he might recover faster without her. For both of them, their love for the other actually caused them to be without the other. Now, granted, Fitzsimmons did actually embody this trope when he went to an alien planet to save her, but they also ended up unleashing an ancient evil, so I think we can still say the trope has been subverted more often than not. May and Andrew also loved each other, so much so that she almost gave up SHIELD for him, but they were torn apart by his Inhuman counterpart and untimely death. And Mack chose one love over another - though Daisy told him he had people who loved him in the Real World, he still chose to stay in the Framework with his daughter.

One thing is very clear - on this show, love is not always enough. It doesn’t fix everything, it’s not always the answer, it’s not the solution to every problem (this ain’t Once Upon a Time. It’s not always enough to keep two people together. It’s not always enough to be happy.


Thank you :) this is an awesome piece of mind you have. and i totally agree. i think Fitz will have so many troubles in the real world cause he left unvoluntary. going to be interesting two last episodes.[1]

Thank you well said, couldn’t have said it better myself.

A lot of people think that love is all you need to survive any relationship but that’s not always true you also need compromise and understanding and so Fitzsimmons without their love, compromise and understanding of each other wouldn’t work because love at first sight only worked in Disney cartoons and sappy chick flicks something that despite being a female myself have never liked watching (the chick flicks not Disney, Disney rules).

I love that Marvel turned everything on its head in this arc, sure it hurts like hell but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger :)[2]

I don’t understand the people raging about Framework!Fitz not recognizing Jemma and turning into regular Fitz by the magic of her aura because it is simply unrealistic. I love what they did and how they are progressing. I agree wholeheartedly with this post[3]

So… I like this except for one or two things. I wasn’t expecting all his memories or some True Love moment….But what about Philinda then? Because I get that she made a choice to abandon HYDRA based on her own morals (which was a bit left field), but then within the framework Melinda did admit they had a sense of familiarity together when she was tying his tie. It was like her subconscious screaming. And I don’t think it was just “they were bonding” that was part of the old Melinda following Phil through the portal. Is it just that Fitz already had his moment of Deja Vu when he saw SImmons and A.I.D.A. and Alistair wiped it out of his mind? IDK it seems a bit unfair.[4]

So here’s the thing, as a person I completely agree with “love just ain’t enough”. (Hell, the Patti Smyth/Don Henley song is like a soundtrack to every relationship in my twenties). I don’t love over-the-top-can’t-live-without-you stories. I may be the only person in the fandom, but I absolutely hated Fitz’s “I’m not strong enough to live in a world that doesn’t have you in it” line. Not only because I thought it was a cheezy line, but because I hate what it suggested about Fitz’s character. But that’s another rant entirely for another day.

I didn’t need Fitz magically waking up. I just wanted some glimmer of hope. Some hint from Fitz that our brave wonderful scientist was still in there. Not just because they were practically trolling the fandom the first two episodes with Aida’s desperation to keep him away from Jemma and his long gazes at her photo, but because every other character had some aspect where the inherent nature of their personality came through. May not only admitted something felt familiar about being with Coulson, but her conscience finally kicked in. Mack admitted that he knew the Framework wasn’t real. Mace may have not woken up, but we all could see Jeffrey Mace in the Patriot. We got something of their real personality from everyone. I know everyone keeps saying Fitz’s programming went deeper, but this is a man who had nothing to hope for and go on for six months and still kept the reservation.

Everybody else had some glimmer of who they actually were in this virtual world, but not Fitz. Fitz comes out of the Framework and says he thinks he is a bad person. We have two episodes left - maybe ever - and they’re suggesting things about Fitz’s personality I’m just really uncomfortable and sick over. For every other character on the show, programming and all, nature won out over nurture With Fitz everyone is saying he’s manipulated by Aida and was “raised” by his father to be this terrible person, but every other characters “real” nature came out. I definitely can see him in there - mostly his absolute and utter devotion to the woman he loves and willingness to make questionable decisions for her , but I don’t like the number of recaps and reviews that have talked about Jemma coming to terms with whether “this has been a part of Fitz all along?” We already knew all this about Fitz. To me this Framework story doesn’t say anything new or anything I am particularly interested in watching.

I don’t want DarkFitz if we get a season five. I don’t want EmoFitz hating himself over this. We already did that with Daisy.

I just think the way they set up the arc, then deliberately and unnecessarily prolonged the FS reunion only to have it be that seems like a bait and switch . I get that the writers are convinced that the only way to tell a proper love story is to insert 8 million contrived obstacles between a couple before giving them happiness. Have him hold a gun to her head, pull the slide back and press the barrel to her forehead, but give us at least a moment of doubt. Give us a look like we saw the first two episodes whenever Jemma showed up. Have him shoot her and tell her she means nothing but at least give a glimmer that something doesn’t feel right about it. THEN have Radcliffe save the day. I just don’t care for whatever they’re suggesting or trying to do with Fitz.

Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and tell a story I’m actually interested in seeing, but I was doubtful with Ghost Rider and I was right and ended up sleeping through most of that plot.I got my hopes up when I thought Jemma and Fitz were going to science together and save the day vs an army of LMDs. I got over my disappointment, regrouped, and got my hopes up for an epic story of how Fitzsimmons’ love was going to save the day. I read speculation and meta about Fitz’s reawakening having the potential to be the best moment of the series because they were putting so much emphasis about how it was for Fitz to realize who she was.

So why put all that emphasis on it for him NOT to realize? I end up only seeing two options, neither of which I like 1) Inflict pain on the characters and viewers simply because they like to do it. 2) They’re setting up a DarkFitz story.[5]


  1. ^ Response, Archived version, on Tumblr, posted by fuju18 on May 3, 2017
  2. ^ Response, Archived version, on Tumblr, posted by lbulldesigns on May 4, 2017
  3. ^ Response, Archived version, on Tumblr, posted by zegallifreyanninja on May 4, 2017
  4. ^ Response, Archived version, on Tumblr, posted by ohifonlyx33 on May 4th, 2017
  5. ^ Response, Archived version, on Tumblr, posted on May 5, 2017