[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead.]
It looks like a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, judging by the trailer for next week's episode 'The Return'. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season continued this week and the core team finally managed to escape from the digital alternate reality The Framework. Mack, however, controversially elected to remain behind despite discovering the true nature of his reality.
Unfortunately for the team, the closing moments of the episode made it very clear that the danger was not yet over. AIDA managed to complete Project Looking Glass as she transferred her consciousness into a (super)human physical body and she swiftly teleported into the unknown, with a shell-shocked Fitz. Meanwhile, Daisy and Simmons' plane ride was coming under heavy assault, although you would have to assume with Quake now up and running again, the enemy planes will be quickly dealt with.
ABC have now released a trailer for next week's offering, 'The Return' and the footage certainly seems to confirm that the situation is only going to get worse for Phil Coulson and co. The trailer re-introduces The Superior, who is in charge of the submarine currently housing the recently-awakened S.H.I.E.L.D. members, and he appears to have new extra-ordinary abilities of his own. If that wasn't bad enough, the sub itself is sinking.
Interestingly, although the trailer confirms AIDA will feature next week, there is no real footage of Fitz and one of the big questions leading into the season four finale is how the scientist will react to the former LMD's new sentience. Fitz was unsurprisingly traumatized by his actions in The Framework and speculated that the evil he showed there was his true nature. Whether the trauma will cause Fitz to follow a similar path in the real world remains to be seen, but before being teleported away, he certainly seemed intrigued by the newly-human AIDA.
The Framework arc has largely been well-received critically and it has been interesting to see familiar characters in unfamiliar roles. Furthermore, the decision to revert the action back to the real world prior to the season finale ensures that the alternative reality material didn't outstay its welcome. As entertaining as The Framework was, large chunks of the narrative had very little impact on the real world and returning to the regular timeline at this juncture is most welcome.
With that said, after the dramatic events of 'Farewell, Cruel World!' Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has some work to do, if it's to deliver an equally thrilling finale episode. Now that AIDA is human, her goals remain unclear; she previously mentioned wanting to plug all of humanity into The Framework, but this plan seems to have taken a back seat in recent episodes. As such, the season's endgame isn't quite formed yet, although the confirmation that Ghost Rider is returning is sure to have many fans excited regardless.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues with 'The Return' May 9th on ABC.