The last episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before its current hiatus was certainly a memorable one. With the team's HQ overrun with Life Model Decoys, it was left to Daisy and Jemma - the only remaining humans of the core team - to save the day. Although they managed to escape with the help of LMD May, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire as the duo decided to enter the mysterious Matrix-esque Framework, in order to rescue their friends already trapped inside.
The Framework mechanic offers Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. an opportunity at a 'parallel universe' angle - and in a short montage at the end of the episode, the different paths each character had taken in this new world were revealed. To hammer home the point, Marvel Studios recently released promo material for the upcoming arc that showed redesigned versions of posters from previous seasons that reflect the Framework alterations. With a whole new world to explore, the possibility of returning characters has sparked major speculation among viewers.
According to TVLine's Inside Line column, precise details of who may be reappearing in the Framework are being closely guarded, but a previous chat with producer Jed Whedon revealed several snippets of information. Firstly, although he didn't appear in the closing vignette, Director Jeffrey Mace is confirmed to be appearing in the digital dreamworld. Furthermore, Whedon suggested that some other familiar faces could be returning, thought he wouldn't be drawn as to whom. The column claims:
"Until the bubble drama returns on Tuesday, April 4, all I can do is part with the few scraps left from my recent chat with showrunner Jed Whedon, who said that although we didn’t get a little vignette of his Framework life, “[Director] Mace would be in there somewhere” as Daisy gets to exploring, while “we might” see the return of some other familiar faces (a la Brett Dalton’s Ward). And with that, my cupboard of S.H.I.E.L.D. teasers is completely bare."
Given the significant number of A.O.S. alumni, there is certainly no shortage of departed characters to choose from, but the prime candidate as far as Inside Line is concerned, seems to be Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). Ward was shown in photograph form during Daisy's section of the montage, with the previously on-and-off duo apparently very much 'on' in the Framework. Other potential candidates could be Hunter, Bobbi and Lincoln - all previous Agents who were either killed off or written out.
Given the amount of speculation surrounding what and whom the Framework may contain, it appears that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may be onto a winner with its upcoming arc. Certainly, the parallel universe angle gives the show something fresh to work with, taking the characters out of their comfort zones and allowing viewers to see them in a whole new light.
With that said, these types of story-lines definitely have a limited shelf life. With the audience fully aware that the Framework world is entirely fictional - even if dying in there means dying in reality - there's only so much mileage that can be gained from watching the S.H.I.E.L.D. team in this fake universe. Most likely, one member of the team will figure out the true nature of the world they're inhabiting and do the rounds to their various colleagues attempting to bring them to the same realization. If the plot doesn't outstay its welcome, this could be very good indeed.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns April 4th on ABC.
Source: TV Line