The first half of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s fourth season ended in rather dramatic fashion with Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) dragging his megalomaniac uncle to an alternate dimension as the S.H.I.E.L.D. gang battled side by side with their new Director, the Inhuman Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara). Crucially, however, it was revealed at the end of the mid-season finale that Radcliffe’s experimental Life Model Decoy, Aida (Mallory Jansen), had begun displaying Ultron-esque levels of dangerous behavior – likely as a result of her reading the Darkhold – and was holding a beaten Agent May hostage.
Whilst not everything is known about the direction of the second half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season four, it seems fairly clear that much of the focus will be on the L.M.D. program and Aida. Dr. Radcliffe was in a precarious position having created the android in secret and although the cat’s now out of the bag, it surely won’t be long until Coulson and the gang realize Aida has sinister intentions and that the Agent May they are currently working with isn’t the real deal. Meanwhile, it also seems fairly certain that Reyes/Ghost Rider will be reappearing, despite currently being trapped in another dimension and the first two episode titles have already been revealed as ‘Broken Promises’ and ‘The Patriot’.
More information about the remainder of season four has just been revealed from a somewhat unexpected source, however. The show’s visual effects supervisor, Mark Kolpack, recently tweeted an image of himself and Ghost Rider actor Gabriel Luna messing about in the show’s offices and in the background, a noticeboard containing the titles of episodes eleven to fourteen can be seen. These are, in order: ‘Wake Up’, ‘Hot Potato Soup’, ‘BOOM’ and ‘The Man Behind The Shield’.
Given that Kolpack’s tweet has not yet been deleted, it’s likely that the reveal could be an intentional one, rather than a blunder and, to be fair, the titles give little away regarding the show’s upcoming storylines. Not much can be gleaned from the titles ‘Wake Up’ or ‘Hot Potato Soup’ and ‘BOOM’ suggests little more than the episode involving plenty of bomb-centered action sequences. The real gem of the bunch, however, is ‘The Man Behind The Shield’, a title that could arguably be referring to either Mace or Coulson. Episode 10 title ‘The Patriot’ suggests Mace will have an increased role in the second half of season four but perhaps Coulson’s burgeoning romance with Melinda May could be the focus of ‘The Man Behind The Shield’, with fans getting a rare insight into the ex-director’s love life – something that does not traditionally have a happy ending.
The introduction of Ghost Rider this season has somewhat revitalized Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it would be remiss of the show’s production team if Robbie Reyes doesn’t return to the fold sooner rather than later and the same goes for the currently imprisoned Agent May, as storylines involving a doppelganger intruder always have a limited shelf-life before becoming frustrating for viewers. The show will also have to be careful its L.M.D. story arc doesn’t feel like Age of Ultron deja vu, given that both stories share similar themes.
If these pitfalls can be avoided however, there is a real chance that the second half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could out-do the first and set the show up for a fifth outing in the future. The L.M.D. threat has the potential to go in a multitude of different directions and could expand on themes already touched upon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a more in-depth way. Furthermore, the chemistry between the central cast members is as strong as ever and although it seems as if many of them are beginning to couple-up, the new additions to the cast have truly freshened up the show’s formula.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with ‘Broken Promises’ January 10th on ABC.