Agents of SHIELD: [Spoiler] Needs To Live to Save Earth

SPOILERS for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "The Devil Complex" ahead

"The Devil Complex" saw Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. take another remarkable twist, revealing that Fitz is not the man he was. One of the show's longest-running heroes is now as much foe as he is friend; a dark corner of Fitz's psyche has been unlocked, releasing the sinister version the show is referring to as "Leopold." This version aligns with the character introduced in the Framework, a mastermind who's far more ruthless than the Fitz fans know and love.

For Jemma Simmons, this is the most heartbreaking twist to date. The newlyweds won't be allowed a honeyman period, and sadly Fitz really is no longer the man she married. He's something far worse, his psyche torn apart, his mind split into two personalities who are at war with one another. It's yet another obstacle for the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to add to their list, an already formidable one that includes "the Earth's imminent destruction," "General Hale," and "dimensional rift unleashing our worst fears." (Though, as of this episode, that last obstacle seems to have been dealt with.)

Related: Did Gravitonium Destroy the Earth?

Ironically, though, this so-called "psychic split" may actually be just what the team needs. Already, Leopold has successfully unlocked Daisy's powers in order to save the world from the threat of the fear dimension. Could the Framework's version of Fitz actually save the world?


Fitz's Psychic Split in 'The Devil Complex' Explained

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 saw Coulson and his team trapped in an immersive virtual reality, one where their greatest regrets had been written out of history. The Framework swiftly turned into a nightmare world, one ruled by Hydra. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team lived different lives. Coulson, for example, was a history teacher. In the Framework reality, Fitz had remained under his father's wing. This had led him to grow up into a very different person, becoming a confident figure who rose through the ranks of Hydra. Fitz ultimately became Madame Hydra's second-in-command - and Ophelia's lover. Unrestricted by petty morality, the Framework version of Fitz unlocked whole new avenues of science and technology. He was also willing to torture and kill without a qualm, and murdered Holden Radcliffe's lover.

When the S.H.I.E.L.D. team were brought out of the Framework, they were left reeling, struggling to deal with their return to reality. Each member of the team had two sets of memories. For most, the alternate memories seem to have diminished over time. But Fitz's were dramatic and disturbing, not least because he knew he really had been responsible for killing a real person who was trapped within the Framework. Poor Fitz's grasp on reality was only made worse when he was spirited away by Ophelia.

It's important to remember that Fitz is actually the most vulnerable of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. Way back in Season 1, Fitz suffered severe brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. That actually led Fitz to hallucinate in Season 2, to imagine Jemma alongside him. Brain damage like that doesn't just go away; Fitz was always going to be the most vulnerable after emerging from the Framework. Making matters worse, both versions of Fitz are scientists, meaning large tracts of their knowledge intersect. Every time Fitz approaches a scientific issue, he's potentially tapping into the part of his brain that was shaped by the Framework. He also tapped into the ruthlessness of his Framework version while trying to bluff his way into Kasius's favor on the Lighthouse, establishing a further link to the Framework memories and persona.

RELATED: Agents of SHIELD: The Lighthouse Explained

The ultimate consequence, then, is that Fitz's mind has fragmented. He appears to now be suffering from a form of Dissociative Identity Disorder, with the trauma of the Framework creating two separate personalities. The "Leopold" identity embodies the life he lived in the Framework, and could easily become a terrifying opponent for S.H.I.E.L.D..

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