Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns tonight (January 10th) with new episode, 'Broken Promises', and there's plenty of reason for fans of the show to get excited as Coulson and the gang return from their winter break. Last time viewers saw S.H.I.E.L.D., they had narrowly avoided disaster by defeating Eli Morrow with the aid of Ghost Rider and S.H.I.E.L.D. director Jeffrey Mace but a new threat emerged towards the conclusion of the episode - as it was revealed that Dr. Radcliffe's Life Model Decoy, AIDA, had 'done an Ultron' and gone rogue, kidnapping Agent May in the process and replacing her with an android copy.
There's one S.H.I.E.L.D. character who has usually been a vocal opponent of anything that looks human but isn't - the crew's resident mechanic, Mack. Despite being fiercely loyal to his friends, Mack has previously shown concern over the growing Inhuman presence - something not helped by his near-death experience whilst being possessed by Inhuman power - and, as a man of science, rarely seems to trust anything that falls into the realms of fantasy.
As such, it's perhaps not surprising that the character is more than a little worried about the growing LMD influence within the S.H.I.E.L.D. ranks - and in a new clip from 'Broken Promises', Mack gives an intense speech about the dangers of artificial intelligence. The scene sees the core S.H.I.E.L.D. group discussing their plan to dispose of the most powerful science textbook of all time, the Darkhold. Since AIDA read the book, Director Mace orders her hard drive to be erased and when Radcliffe resists the idea, Mack is quick to argue otherwise, brilliantly quipping "have either one of you seen a movie in the last thirty years, the robots always attack." As well as the teaser clip, ABC have also released a series of images from next week's episode, 'The Patriot', which show Coulson and Mack seemingly on security detail and promise a return for Adrian Pasdar's Talbot.
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Whilst Mack's foreshadowing is far closer to the mark than he probably realizes, the clip sets up a potentially explosive episode, particularly with LMD May looking distinctly concerned about S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plans to memory-wipe her creator. It's possible that Radcliffe's attempts to reset AIDA's hard drive will be the catalyst for the group discovering the android's evil intentions and if so, Mack is going to have a hard time trying not to say 'I told you so'.
If the events in the clip do ultimately lead to AIDA being outed in 'Broken Promises', Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will benefit greatly as a result. Now that the LMD cat is out of the bag for the audience, there's only so long viewers will be happy to watch Coulson and co. remain in the dark about the situation before the plot becomes annoying. By revealing the LMD threat early in the arc, A.O.S. ensures it can focus on the central theme of the struggle between human and android.
Even so, the next installment of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season still has several potential pitfalls it must avoid. One of these is having the human force in the narrative look completely innocent and the android side completely evil. Artificial Intelligence is a gray area by nature and particularly in S.H.I.E.L.D. where humans not only created AIDA but also willingly showed her the Darkhold. A.O.S. needs to make sure not all of the blame is placed onto the LMD contingent.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns tonight ( January 10th) with 'Broken Promises' on ABC.