Agents of SHIELD LMD Storyline

S.H.I.E.L.D. EPs on Finally Playing With LMDs, the Emotional Fallout to Come

To a greater degree than in previous years, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has changed horses midseason, wrapping up one distinct arc to segue into a quite different one.

Or has Ghost Rider not been extinguished completely?

As suggested during the midseason finale, “He is trapped in another place,” co-showrunner Jed Whedon noted during a recent set visit, “which usually means that he’s not dead.”

The Marvel series instead bid Robbie Reyes adieu, for the time being at least, lest it stretch a good idea too far. “[Ghost Rider is] a lot for 22 [episodes], especially with everything else that we like and care about on the show,” said EP Jeffrey Bell. “It would feel like one flavor over a long period of time, but we’ve certainly left it open” to revisit.

The producers also admitted that “financial considerations” played a role in snuffing Ghost Rider’s flame. After all, telling the story of LMDs (or Life Model Decoys), as played by Mallory Jansen and now Ming-Na Wen, “doesn’t cost as much” as setting a guy’s head on fire via CGI, Bell quipped.

Besides, as Whedon sees it, the more story arc options, the merrier. “This year we’re getting to play with a lot of the toys that we’ve been hoping to play with,” he shared. “[LMDs are] something that we’ve been wanting to get to, and now we’re finally able to get to.”

As for switching gears barely a third of the way into Season 4, “We want everything to feel like its own mini world, and to have its own flavor,” Whedon said. “So we do think you’ll come into the next section [of episodes] and immediately feel like, ‘Oh, this is a different kind of story.’ So we’re excited about that.”

The twistagents-of-shield-may-lmd that Agent Melinda May has been abducted by Dr. Radcliffe’s LMD assistant, Aida, and replaced with an android lookalike, will offer a fresh wrinkle on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s longheld pattern of trust issues. “Trust is always an issue in a spy organization. But it’s much worse when you don’t know if the person next to you is the person next to you,” Whedon noted. “We want to not just tell scare stories of things popping out of closets, but the emotional stories — and when you get into trust, that’s when things get emotional.”

When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns on Jan. 10, with the episode “Broken Promises,” Coulson and “May” will continue to grow closer, while Aida is unrelenting in her search for the Darkhold, the mysterious tome that easily corrupts human minds and seemed to set Radcliffe’s assistant on her new, secret path. The Darkhold thus serves as the connective tissue between the first and second arcs of this season.

“In the same way that Radcliffe allowed Aida to read the book to get [Coulson, Fitz and Robbie] back, by building these quantum sort of things, it makes sense then that she can make other adjustments,” Bell said. “It seems to us that that’s part of the same story.”

Added Whedon, “We can go on a different journey, but we are still playing in the same world [as Ghost Rider], and these things could link up later in some way — maybe in thrilling fashion.” (With reporting by Scott Huver)

Want more scoop on S.H.I.E.L.D., or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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13 Comments
  1. dkleener says:

    I hope the Ghost Rider doesn’t completely disappear like the other characters in the show. I’m still wondering about the Koenig brothers and Deathlok after he lost his limb.

    • Rushil Kothare says:

      Koenig brothers were sort of phased out as patton oswalt stopped acting a year ago. His wife died so he took a break. I think he returned last week to TV. We might see him in the future. And the actor who plays Deathlok also is pretty busy.

  2. mephistoples says:

    Can anybody say Ultron? Please. I love the Whedon Family. Their contribution to telling these kind of stories (comic stories) in particular and science fiction stories in general is remarkable, refreshing and completely on the right track. But that doesn’t mean they get to screw up like Joss did when he killed (or was made to kill) Quick Silver in “Age of Ultron” and not get called on it. Kevin Feige is reported to have said the MCU does not owe the MCU (Marvel Comic Universe) any dibs on continuity. Yes Kevin, yes it does. Now since you get the big bucks for making these kind of decisions and I am just a (lowly) fan who you don’t have to pay any attention at all to of course you and the Whedons will have your way but you will still hear from me and very often. Aida was and is a very good character but it began to go completely wrong when she killed the agent who had discovered May. I would also like to know what happen to Deathlok? Have we forgotten him and stories he could be used in? There are also at least two avenues for villains of significant threat to come from. One is the Marvel catalog. The prohibitions from Fox notwithstanding there are still a great many enemies which can threaten SHIELD significantly. (And we don’t have to resort to the old thread-bare “destroy-them-from-within” motif. This is as tired as “the-make-it-mandatory-we-kill-at-least-one major/favorite-character-every-sea…every-half-season schtick! They are both very old and very tired. It is probably too late for this mistake but let’s stop it with the whole Ultron 2.5. Oh yeah you could bring HYDRA back (since actually they should not have left, cut off one head and another takes it’s place deal. Two, you can also simply create some new threat which is not in the comics yet. There is so much to chose from. Excelsior!

    • Maybe wait and watch a couple of episodes before passing judgment? How can you possibly know the LMD storyline is gonna be anything similar to how the movies handled Ultron, apart from how both he and AIDA are ASIs? Plus, Hydra being the main enemy had lost steam long, long ago, and discarding that thread was the best thing the show could have done, just like killing off Ward’s character(s) wasn’t a cheap gimmick but an honest and great ending to a character they didn’t have much use for anymore. The show has upset the status quo this season by removing Coulton from the position of Director and been mining strong episodes from the new SHIELD, and I’m confident they’ can keep the pace while doing their own thing with an ASI storyline. Wait and see.

  3. Chris says:

    I don’t care about LMDs! I just want Lance Hunter and Bobbi ”Mockingbird” Morse back, if only for a visit!

    • Katherine215 says:

      The show really needs them. I think the team has been lacking since they got rid of their characters. Also, the mood of the show, while always dark with some comedy thrown in, has basically been dark and depressing instead.

  4. Nate Hale says:

    I stopped watch this year because the Ghost Rider was so bad.

  5. NoName says:

    More than 8 episodes with Ghost Rider-flavor is too much of one flavor, but 43 episodes with Inhuman-flavor is not enough of one flavor and you want more Inhuman-flavor?
    You showrunners should have changed your show’s title to “Inhumans” in season 3. After all, it is a show about Inhumans instead of heroes without superpowers since season 2b.

  6. Fan says:

    I think Ghostrider is the best thing about the show this year. Looking forward to his return. I’m prepared to watch a few more episodes to see which way the LMD story is going. Gotta admit, the show was losing me a bit last season, but the Ghostrider story brought the game back up for me.

    • NoName says:

      The show lost me after episode 304 because of emetic Inhuman-overdose. Ghost Rider is okay-ish, but I dropped season 4 because it’s again all about Inhumans and superpowered heroes. The Agents are again in the background.

  7. soko says:

    “financial considerations” is obvious, CGI skull was absolute garbage & ate up so much of that part of the budget they had weak excuses for other characters not using powers.

  8. Rob says:

    I loved Ghost Rider. The show was very stale for a while. No new Marvel characters on a Marvel show. Ghost Rider made it satisfying again. I always watched, and will always watch. We don’t need less Marvel, we could always use more. Just my opinion. But yes. The flaming skull was terrible. That was some bad CG. I could have done better. Anyone could have done better. Looked like a bad cartoon. But the character of Robbie was awesome. I liked the actor a lot too. I want more superheroes and more supervillains!! Keep them coming!

    • NoName says:

      I’m sure, Agents of SHIELD will focus on Inhumans again soon, and you will get more superheroes. :-)

      In my opinion, the show focuses far too much on Inhumans and other superpowered characters and far too less on the Agents without superpowers. I like Coulson, May, Fitz and Simmons, and LMD’s are interesting, but that’s not enough to convince me that season 4 is worth my time. I would give Agents of SHIELD another chance, if the show’s focus was on the Agents.