Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producer Jed Whedon responds to the Framework fan theory that Project Looking Glass will bring back Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and/or Antoine Triplett (B.J. Britt) for season 5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 has been broken up into three distinct storylines - first introducing magic through Ghost Rider and the Darkhold, then shifting to mysticism melding with technology and focusing on Life-Model Decoys. Now, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been inside the Framework for the third part of season 4, exploring Dr. Radcliffe's (John Hannah) digital prison/virtual world.
Agents Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) infiltrated the Framework by inserting their consciousnesses into their digital avatars, where they discovered the virtual reality is incredibly complex - and has an alternative history in which Hydra defeated S.H.I.E.L.D. In the most recent episode, 'All the Madame's Men', both the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and Aida/Madame Hydra (Mallory Jansen) turned their focus on escaping the Framework - with Aida planning to use Project Looking Glass to create a human body for herself and finally gain free will.
Fans have pointed out that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Project Looking Glass could potentially also be used to bring either Ward or Trip - fan-favorite characters who returned for the Framework storyline - into the real world and reunite them with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team more permanently. When EW posed the question to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. producer and showrunner Jed Whedon, though, he played down the possibility of either character's Framework avatar taking over a human body, saying, “Yeah, well, I mean in theory. Our story didn’t [go there.] There are rules for that because thankfully we can do anything.”
Based on the wording of the question, it's unclear whether Whedon was asked if the digital avatars of Ward or Trip could inhabit a human body that already exists (such as, say, Ward's avatar being inserted into Coulson's body) or if the showrunner is shooting down the possibility of Project Looking Glass creating entirely new bodies for Ward and/or Trip based on their Framework avatars. If it's the former, Whedon doesn't actually shoot down the characters' potential returns, but if it's the latter then fans shouldn't expect to see Ward or Trip after the S.H.I.E.L.D. team exits the Framework.
As it was revealed in 'All the Madame's Men', Project Looking Glass is a machine similar to the Quantum Particle Generator constructed by Eli Morrow (Jose Zuniga) earlier in season 4 after reading - and being corrupted by - the Darkhold. Except, in the case of Aida's machine, she'll be able to create a living human body for herself. The specifics of how the machine is able to do so is unclear since Simmons, who makes the discovery, simply says it's tech created with help from the Darkhold. So, depending on how exactly the machine works, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan theory pertaining to Ward and Trip may not be plausible.
Even if this particular fan theory doesn't come to pass, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is gearing up for a thrilling season 4 finale. Next week's episode, 'Farewell, Cruel World!' sees the agents racing against Aida to exit the Framework before she can gain free will and destroy the Framework - killing the S.H.I.E.L.D. team if they're still trapped inside. Plus, with Aida utilizing similar tech to Eli Morrow, perhaps Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is building up to the return of Ghost Rider before season 4 comes to a close. That said, how exactly season 4 plays out remains to be seen as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs its remaining episodes.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues with ‘Farewell, Cruel World!’ May 2nd on ABC.