Note: This article contains heavy spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4's penultimate episode, "The Return".
The dearly-loved "Agents of Hydra" arc is coming to an end! Our heroes have returned to the real world, but Aida has come with them, courtesy of Project Looking Glass. No longer is Aida an android — she's now flesh and blood. But, of course, Aida chose to make herself a body that is infinitely beyond the norms of mere humanity....
Over in the Framework — that sinister virtual reality ruled by #Hydra — we knew that Aida's agents had been rounding up Inhumans all over the planet. They'd even perfected synthetic Terrigen, so Inhumans could be exposed to Terrigen under control conditions, with no risk to humans. But what was the fate of these captive Inhumans?
Aida's Terrifying Experiment
It seems that, just as in the real world, the Hydra of the Framework is fascinated by super-powers. In the Framework, the Inhumans were revealed to the world way back in 2008, when the insane Inhuman Katya Belyakov used her powers to cause a massacre in a school in Cambridge. Hydra took advantage of this opportunity to step forward and offer the world stability, using fear and paranoia to help build a totalitarian regime.
In the Framework, Hydra seem to have far greater understanding of Inhuman genetics than we do in 'our' world. In fact, they've created tests that can identify Inhumans in order to gather these potentials in camps. But in "The Return," we finally saw Aida's endgame for this strategy; the whole thing was focused on giving her an edge when she finally became flesh in the real world.
You see, it seems that every Inhuman's ability was analyzed on a genetic level. When Aida used the arcane science of the Darkhold to create her new body, she deliberately ensured that every possible Inhuman power was coded into it. Not only is Aida an Inhuman now, but she also possesses a phenomenal range of powers.
What Powers Does Aida Possess And What Does This Imply About The Framework?
The episode saw Aida demonstrate four powers — all of which were terrifyingly familiar:
- Teleportation. It's clear that this power was taken from an Inhuman teleporter named Gordon, who caused a lot of problems for S.H.I.E.L.D. back in Season 2.
- Electricity generation. In a move that took S.H.I.E.L.D. by surprise, an enraged Aida was able to lash out with the electrical powers of Daisy's lost love, Lincoln Campbell.
- Incredible healing. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, we were introduced to Daisy's mother, Jiaying. Jiaying was an Inhuman, like her daughter, and possessed remarkable healing powers. She could even suck the life out of people — and nearly tried to use that power on her own daughter!
- Superhuman strength. We don't know where this particular power came from, but Aida was able to snap a man's neck with one hand.
In the 'real world', Jiaying ruled over an isolationist colony of Inhumans known as Afterlife. She'd done so since shortly after the Second World War, so I can see no reason why she wouldn't have done the same in the Framework reality. Katya Belyakov — who was killed by Agent May in our reality — was an escapee from Afterlife, and it seems Hydra successfully traced the child back to her point of origin. Given the power set that Aida displayed, it's clear that Hydra defeated the Inhumans of Afterlife, making them genetic fodder for Aida's experiments.
It's the second hint we've had that the Framework wasn't kind to Daisy's parents. After all, Hydra also possessed the Hyde serum, boding ill for her father.
What Other Powers Could Aida Possess?
This raises a terrifying question: what other powers could Aida possess? Naturally, she could easily have captured Inhumans and potential-Inhumans we've never met, but just from Afterlife, it's possible that Aida possesses a salvo of abilities that would terrify S.H.I.E.L.D.. Amusingly enough, this may well include the power to generate duplicates of herself in combat — a power we saw in the ill-fated Afterlife resident Alisha Whitley. Imagine S.H.I.E.L.D. having to take on not one, but three Aidas!
It's also likely that Aida will possess some form of pyrokinesis derived from either Lori Henson or from Hellfire. That said, Aida has seemed to take a visceral pleasure in killing with her own hands so far; she clearly quite likes the feeling of taking a life. So, even if Aida does possess this powerset, she's unlikely to use it too much.
Of course, there have been other, more exotic powers. The ability to give people a vision of death, for example; a power of prophecy; or the ability to create and control a Darkforce shadow of yourself. Aida could quite easily possess any of these gifts. We have no way of knowing which Inhumans Hydra found in the Framework reality.
Let's face it, Aida has just had one serious power-upgrade. The former android has become a one-woman army, turning into one of the most powerful threats that S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever faced — and she plans to watch the world burn. Ironically, though, S.H.I.E.L.D. do have one edge; Fitz. He played a major part in Project Looking Glass, so it's likely that he alone knows what powers Aida could throw at our heroes...