The Framework is turning into a dangerous place for the characters on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. Last night's episode, "No Regrets," claimed another victim, only this time, unlike last week's episode which took the life of a clueless innocent, this week's episode saw a member of the SHIELD team sacrifice himself heroically to save others.
Spoilers for the Agents of SHIELD episode "No Regrets" follow.
The climax of "No Regrets" came as Jeffrey "The Patriot" Mace and Phil Coulson staged a mission to infiltrate a Hydra "enlightenment" camp. Their mission was specifically to search out for a particular mole from within Hydra who had acquired information about a secret project but had been caught in the process.
The mission was successful, but Coulson became distracted when he noticed a student from his class being marched towards the camp's "quarantine zone." Inside the zone, Coulson was horrified to find children being literally brainwashed by Hydra.
Around the same time, Hydra arrived, led by Agent May. May was dosed with a serum that gave her enhanced strength for an hour, allowing her to go toe-to-toe with the Patriot. Still, the Patriot managed to defeat her and made for the quarantine building to help Coulson.
May called back to the Triskellion and Madame Hydra and Doctor Fitz made the decision to have the on-site Quinjet fire on the quarantine building regardless of who was inside. After the missile hit, May went inside to confirm the Patriot's death. What she found was SHIELD agents, including Ward and Simmons, trying to rescue children from the rubble. May had no idea children were in the building. When the roof fell in on one boy, the Patriot dove over him to protect him.
The Patriot managed to rise up and hold the roof so that the boy could escape. Without anything else to hold the roof up, the Patriot chose to stay behind so that the rest of SHIELD could escape, a move that obviously reached even May, a loyal Hydra agent. After everyone else left, the building fell on top of the Patriot.
The death was confirmed in a scene in the real world, where AIDA observes Jeffrey Mace's vital signs flatline and turns his machine off. It may have been in the Framework and not reality, but Jeffrey Mace died being the hero he always wished he really could be.