[SPOILERS for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4, episode 15 ‘Self Control’ ahead.]
Despite already having a midseason finale at the end of last year, last night's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. presented one of the show's most intriguing and multilayered cliffhangers yet. The events of "Self Control" brought many of the season's stories to a head, while setting up the final chunk of episodes for when the show returns in April. Not only did a character from the show's past return, but the people behind SHIELD have teased many of the series' past moments will be revisited this year.
While the LMDs are still clearly a threat to our protagonists, they will all have their hands full moving forward. Not only does Daisy have to see through her idyllic life and attempt to save her friends from the Framework, but Simmons has to overcome the whole being dead thing. And aside from Aida and the Superior causing trouble in the real world, the characters in the Framework will have to contend with a Hydra that won the battle from The Winter Soldier. The move provides the producers and writers a chance to play with the lives of our heroes, while also exploring the past of the show.
Following the episode, IGN spoke with co-showrunner Jed Whedon, who also directed (for the first time) and wrote "Self Control." Whedon opened up a bit on what the Framework means moving forward.
"One of the things that we're exploring in the Framework is the nature of reality and the nature of identity, and what makes you you. Anything that we put in there is going to be a reflection of our characters and sort of feed their emotional journey -- and possibly their neuroses. So it's all there in support of our characters and continuing their season-long arc of discovering who they truly are."
With Daisy and Simmons choosing to join the Framework, it's unclear how much of their memories they retain compared to those forced into the system. More interesting, is what the shot of Simmons' headstone means for the character in this virtual world.
"Well, they're plugging into their avatars. They say they've located the avatars and they'll just plug into them. It's a made up digital world, so there's certain rules that can be bent. But what happens to Simmons, you'll have to wait and see."
Finally, Whedon touched on Aida, whose philosophical debate with Radcliffe led to his apparent death. While she 'saved' him in a sense by putting his mind into the Framework, it still marks a dark turn for the character. Whedon was quick to point out, however, that Aida might not be as evil as she seems.
"She's just doing what she's programmed to do. We see in that scene with Radcliffe that she's programmed to protect him and the Framework, and she finds a way to do both that might not be exactly what he imagined, but she's really just reenacting her programming. Every time he accuses her of something, she reminds him, "I'm just programmed to do this," and I think one of the things that she's programmed to do is to mimic human behavior. I think that we're seeing that aspect of her taking over a little bit. Whether or not she has nefarious intent or is just trying to do what she's programmed to do, we'll see, but yeah, she didn't make herself this way. Someone else made her, and she's just doing what she's told."
Hopefully, we'll get some answers to the many questions we now have about S.H.I.E.L.D. Then again, with such a rich set of mysteries, it will be fun to see how it all plays out when the show returns from its hiatus. Stay tuned, as we'll be sure to bring you any new developments as they arrive.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 returns April 4 @ 10 p.m. on ABC.