SPOILERS for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead
The third pod of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has explored the Framework, but its first victim has been confirmed to remain dead. Jason O'Mara was one of the new, big additions to the fourth season as he brought Jeffrey Mace aka The Patriot to the series. While initially posing as a Inhuman, his powers were later revealed to be the result of a makeshift super serum. But, once he went into the Framework, his one regret of not being a true hero was realized, though it was a short one in reality.
Even though those trapped within the Framework believe they have always lived within this world, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team has truly only been living in the world for a few days. Simmons may have tried to convince Mace that this alternate reality was not real, but with his team and a group of children in harm's way, Mace met a hero's death and it will stay that way.
EW spoke to showrunner Jed Whedon and producer Jeff Bell following the debut of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "No Regrets" and specifically asked them about the decision to kill Mace - and if it will last. Whedon says that the stakes of the Framework was a big talking point for the writers as a group, while Bell notes the emotion behind the heroic act.
Whedon: This season is proof that death is, at times, fleeting on our show, but he is really dead. One of the things [we decided] from the very beginning in talking about doing some version of an alternate world was the stakes had to be real, so our decision to make it a virtual world came with great bonuses but also came with the challenge of, ‘How do you still make the stakes high?’ In order to make it life or death, we felt like we needed some death.
Bell: Jason came in and played this new version [of a character that] we’ve never seen, this slightly corny guy who had always wanted to be a hero, and the fact that in the Framework he got to be that hero was really fun, but there’s also real consequences of being that hero; a real hero would sacrifice himself for the greater good. As sad as it was for that character to end, for the character to go out in such a powerful way was super moving.
With S.H.I.E.L.D. existing in a comic book world that has brought back many from the dead before, it is better for them to confirm Mace will stay dead now than wait. This confirmation also makes the death even more impactful in hindsight, as any thoughts regarding his possible return can no longer be applied. Now the question will become if this is just the first death of many.
It should say volumes about this season, the arc of Mace, and O'Mara's performance that the death of Patriot was so impactful. Not only did he get a truly heroic way to go out, but the entire episode did a great job at building up Mace as a hero. Even though his sacrifice did not happen in the real world, his actions translate over. If he had not held up the building, the incident would've also claimed May, Coulson, and Simmons. Once the team does get out of the Framework, his death will also cause another turnover in the S.H.I.E.L.D. director's chair, one that Chloe Bennet's Daisy Johnson could take over.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues Tuesday April 25 with ‘All the Madame’s Men’ at 10pm on ABC.