[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead.]
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pressed on with its Framework arc this week in an episode that saw Daisy and Simmons continue to pursue their friends and escape the virtual reality; Coulson geek out at the prospect of having a robotic arm; and Fitz loyally serve HYDRA and its leader, A.I.D.A., now known as Madame Hydra. The episode also saw the debut of the Framework version of Jeffrey Mace, better known as The Patriot.
Mace's Framework life had yet to be revealed in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but it seems that his digital existence isn't too different from reality; with the superhero leading S.H.I.E.L.D., albeit from the shadows as opposed to the public domain. Indeed, the Framework version of S.H.I.E.L.D. seemingly operates as an underground resistance against HYDRA rule and The Patriot is front and center of this rebellion.
ABC have now released both a trailer and a series of images from next week's offering, 'No Regrets', which highlights a further focus on digi-Mace. The trailer sees the battle between S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA intesify with The Patriot and Agent May clashing for their respective sides, as Fitz continues to torture the truth out of Daisy. Meanwhile, the episode shots depict a particularly moody-looking Patriot, as he and Coulson go to work, with the latter appearing to still be gradually rediscovering his spy skills.
The Framework arc has been full of twists and turns thus far and subsequently, both the trailer and images refuse to divulge many details about the plot of 'No Regrets'. There is, however, one small but potentially huge tease in the clip with Mace's "unless you're one of us now?" line to May. Although this could easily end up being a throwaway quip, it does tease the potential for May to be revealed as an Inhuman. Mace's source of power in the Framework is yet to be revealed, with the inhabitants seemingly believing him to a genuine Inhuman rather than a drug-enhanced human. It also remains to be seen whether characters can have superpowers in the Framework, but not the real world.
The third arc of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season has been very strong so far and has given the show a somewhat fresher feel, allowing viewers to see alternate versions of characters and a dystopian world where S.H.I.E.L.D. are a far cry from the well-resourced organization fans are used to seeing them as. Agent Ward as a genuine good guy is a novelty and Mallory Jansen continues to prove herself an incredibly versatile actress.
With that said, some fans may be a little disappointed at the lack of surprise returns in the arc thus far. With the Framework in place, many speculated that the new set-up could lead to the reappearance of much-loved characters who are deceased or departed in the show's primary world. The only such character has been the perennially-returning Ward - despite hints from cast and crew suggesting more than one shock re-emergence.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues April 18th with 'No Regrets' on ABC.