Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 will bring back The Framework in an unexpected way. Although Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 wove together multiple story arcs, everything built towards the concept of The Framework and a reality where Hydra reigned supreme. The concept allowed the Marvel TV show to play 'what if...?' in a way that Marvel Comics have done for decades. As a result, the series was able to mine its past in clever and creative ways while advancing the core story it was telling all season. However, the show has never been one to let a plot thread fall by the wayside.
Even when it appeared Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had moved on from Inhumans and Ghost Rider in season 4, the series found ways to bring those elements back into play as the season progressed. Since its inception, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has used the lore and the mythology of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe to spin out interconnected stories while regularly adding new elements. Season 5 will see the main S.H.I.E.L.D. team head into outer space, a bold new frontier for the show. This raises the question of how, exactly, The Framework could come back into play on the series in season 5, now that it's been reported that it will.
EW was asked by a fan for their Spoiler Room segment about the possibility of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 taking place in The Framework, but the site confirmed that Coulson and his team are truly in outer space. They were able to share, however, that The Framework "will come back into play in a very surprising (and revealing) way soon."
Introduced in the second half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4, The Framework is a virtual reality where one's consciousness can live on past death. Holden Radcliffe designed it to keep his dying love Agnes alive in some manner, but the Darkhold-corrupted Life Model Decoy AIDA ended up placing him and most of the main S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in there with him. The simulation saw AIDA become Madame Hydra in a reality where Captain American never stopped Hydra from overthrowing S.H.I.E.L.D. during the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier (among other changes to the real world).
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 is set to dive deep into Marvel's alien mythology, between the return of the Kree, the appearance of another Monolith, and at least one new Inhuman joining the fun along the way. The news that The Framework will also return further illustrates that the show isn't done pulling from its past yet, even as it heads into the future. Exactly how The Framework will factor into the new season remains to be seen, but the final results should be both fun and dramatic.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 premieres tomorrow on ABC.