As Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "LMD" arc draws to a close, Season 4 is gearing up for a terrific new direction. After another short mid-season break (taking us through to April 4th), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will dive into the twisted virtual reality known as the Framework. In this warped timeline, Hydra emerged triumphant, the heroes have died, and old friends have turned into powerful enemies.
But even as "Self-Control" set up this massive arc, it also raised some more intriguing questions — ones that will haunt #Marvel fans until April 4th. Here are some of the possible twists we can see in the future...
1. Has 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Just Killed Simmons?
"Self-Control" ended with Simmons and Quake hacking into the Framework, figuring that they could track the Framework's hub down from the inside. The half-formed plan seems to be that they find their friends, wake them up to the reality of their situation, and somehow get them to explain where they're being held captive. It's a desperate, high-risk strategy, and it has one major problem; inside the Framework, Simmons is dead.
The episode did everything it could to up the ante with this revelation, with Simmons cautioning the S.H.I.E.L.D. team not to pull her or Daisy out of the Framework — otherwise they'll incur brain damage. She then cautioned Daisy that she needs to take care while inside the Framework; if she dies in the Framework, she dies in real life too.
Alas, poor Simmons; when she enters the Framework, she's already dead. From here, one of two things could happen; either the Jemma Simmons of the Framework will be resurrected, clawing herself out of the grave, or the real Jemma Simmons has just flatlined.
2. Why Does Aida Want to Hunt Inhumans?
While all eyes are on the Framework, Aida shows every sign of continuing her mission against the Inhumans; she planned to use Daisy LMDs to slaughter them, and has preserved the mind of the Watchdogs' leader. The #Inhumans plot is sure to continue, with Aida's LMDs helping the Watchdogs hunt the Inhumans down.
As yet, we have absolutely no idea why Aida wants to kill Inhumans. So far, my theory is that she's setting up the Watchdogs as a continuing distraction for the on-the-run S.H.I.E.L.D. team, knowing that their attention will be divided between saving the Inhumans and hunting her down. Whatever the case, we can clearly expect "Agents of Hydra" to switch between the Framework and the real world — and, given Daisy (and Simmons, if she's alive?) can presumably will themselves out of the Framework, they may jump between the two realities as the arc continues.
3. What's Going to Happen to S.H.I.E.L.D.?
"Self-Control" ends with S.H.I.E.L.D. in a state of chaos. Over the course of the episode, we saw S.H.I.E.L.D.'s leadership compromised, and only a handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives escaped - causing maximum chaos in their wake. In fact, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s secret HQ was absolutely devastated, with the May LMD detonating a powerful explosive that presumably destroyed both herself and the Coulson LMD. So, what's going to happen to S.H.I.E.L.D. back in the real world?
Naturally, Aida can replace any of the lost LMDs, including the Director. So any gap at the top of S.H.I.E.L.D. will swiftly be filled, allowing Aida to continue in her plans. What's more, given the unconscious S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were all briefed that Daisy and Simmons were the LMDs, it's pretty obvious what tale Aida's LMDs will weave; that Daisy and Simmons were the ones who planted the bomb to cover their escape.
Will anyone over at S.H.I.E.L.D. suspect the truth? Or will Aida instead gradually take over S.H.I.E.L.D., replacing their operatives with LMDs?
4. Could Doctor Radcliffe Save the Day?
There's a certain twisted logic to Aida's murder of Doctor Radcliffe. Her two prime directives — to protect both Doctor Radcliffe and the Framework — were indeed in conflict; Radcliffe's belief that the Framework reality is as real as the flesh-and-blood world provided her with a convenient way to resolve the conflict. So she slit his wrists, shoved his head into the Framework, and uploaded his mind. Doctor Radcliffe can never enter the real world again.
But this could be a big mistake. Although Radcliffe was clearly addicted to the Framework, he seemed to want to cling to the real world as well; he could easily become a very powerful ally for Simmons and Daisy. After all, not only does Radcliffe know exactly where the Framework's hub is located, he's also one of the few people to have read the Darkhold. We have absolutely no idea what this man could be capable of.
Meanwhile, by adding Coulson to the Framework, Aida has undone everything Radcliffe wanted the Framework to be. He sought to create a world without regrets, with no shadow of death looming over it; but one of Coulson's many regrets is the fact he can't remember his experience of death. Although the Framework has mostly focused on Coulson's wish that he'd lived a normal, ordinary life, it's entirely possible that this regret will have been absorbed into the program too. Radcliffe may come to, ah, 'regret' adding Phil Coulson into the mix.
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All in all, "Self-Control" has left Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in an absolutely fascinating place. Even as we look forward to exploring the twisted reality of the Framework, we're given tantalizing questions about the real world — from Simmons's fate to Aida's mysterious plans for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans. And Doctor Radcliffe is definitely a wild card...
What do you think of "Self-Control"?
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