Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 has been broken up into three incredibly distinctive "pods." The first introduced and followed Robbie Reyes aka Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) as he allied with Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), then S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, before disappearing. More recently in the second pod, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dealt with the threat of Dr. Holden Radcliffe's Life-Model Decoys, or LMDs, especially his first creation Aida (Mallory Jansen). Then, the last episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 before a hiatus saw Daisy and her fellow agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) enter Radcliffe's artificial world, the Framework.
'Self Control' ended with a huge Framework cliffhanger that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will address when season 4 returns with 'What If...' The cliffhanger sequence featured Daisy, Simmons, and their fellow agents in Radcliffe's alternative reality - one in which the villainous organization Hydra won in their battle against S.H.I.E.L.D. Now, while the Framework will see the return of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), who died in season 3, the artificial reality also gives Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a chance to introduce new villains.
As reported by EW, one such new villain is Marvel Comics' Madame Hydra, played by Aida actress Mallory Jansen. This will be the actress's third role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after portraying the LMD Aida and the human inspiration for the android, Agnes Kitsworth. EW additionally revealed the first image of Jansen as Madame Hydra, take a look:
Madame Hydra, now called Viper in the comics and whose name is Ophelia Sarkissian, was raised by a member of Hydra from the time she was a child, rising through the ranks as one of their agents. She doesn't have any superpowers, but is a skilled swordswoman and markswoman, and excellent at hand-to-hand combat. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s take on Madame Hydra will make her debut in 'What If..." and executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen explained why they decided to include the villain:
“Since we’re bringing back Hydra in the Framework, we thought we’d bring it back with a force to be reckoned with. Madame Hydra is a villain with the perfect combo of strength, sexy, and scary. We’ve thrown many challenges Mallory’s way and she’s always up for the task. We’re excited for fans to see how she makes Madame Hydra come to life.”
Of course, many Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. viewers are looking forward to those characters returning in the Framework, such as Grant Ward, but Marvel fans will no doubt appreciate that the showrunners took the opportunity of the alternate world to include a new villain - even if Madame Hydra is played by a recurring star. Jansen has been well received by viewers as both Aida and Agnes, so giving her a much different role within the Framework could prove to be an entertaining change when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4returns with ‘What If…’ April 4th @10pm on ABC.