Post Mortems
Agents of SHIELD Grant Ward Spoilers

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Boss Fields Burning Qs About Framework Twists — Including That Return, That Death

Coming out of this week’s reality-warping, grade-“A” episode, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has promised “a new world order” when the ABC drama resumes Season 4 on Tuesday, April 4. And we believe it.

After escaping a battalion of LMD’d pals and an about-to-explode S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Daisy and Jemma bravely had themselves “hacked” into Aida’s Framework, aiming to inhabit their avatar selves and then find/”wake” their abducted friends. Upon doing so, Daisy awoke in a bathtub, in the apartment she shares with no, not Lincoln, but Grant Ward (!). As for the others, Coulson is teaching anti-Inhuman rhetoric, Mack has reunited with his daughter, May is happily working in the Hydra Triskelion and Jemma… is six feet under, while tech titan Fitz is on the arm of an unseen woman?!

TVLine hit up co-showrunner Jed Whedon, who wrote and made his directing debut with Tuesday’s LMD arc finale, with some of our burning questions about, as he calls it, the upcoming “Agents of Hydra” arc.

TVLINE | First off, please clarify what all Radcliffe and Aida did in creating this Framework. Those put into it have had one “regret” in their life changed…?
They only changed a few things, really. And for those people that they put in, they changed one regret for each of them — and it seems that that’s had some sort of ripple effect.

TVLINE | So in May’s case, for example, wha’ts going on with her there in the Triskelion elevator?
There will be a lot of me saying, “You’ll have to wait and see,” but… you’ll have to wait and see. No, she seems like she’s very comfortable in that elevator. I don’t think that she’s afraid that she’s there. It doesn’t look like she’s a prisoner but perfectly comfortable.

TVLINE | The Grant Ward reveal obviously was huge. As the director, was it simply your preference to reveal that with a framed photo, or was this a case of Brett Dalton not being available at the time to roll over in bed and say, “Hi, honey”?
Bret is a huge diva. No, there are multiple reasons — some of it is scheduling, but truthfully it more has to do with Daisy walking by [the photo] unaware. We want the audience to know [it’s not Lincoln], but her not necessarily to know yet, when we come back.

TVLINE | Will Daisy’s psyche choose which Grant Ward is there — what he knows, what he has and hasn’t been through?
This is a world that is up and running, so [Daisy and Jemma] are entering what Radcliffe and Aida thought was a duplicate of our world. Somehow, using the “magic” — but we know it’s actually hardcore science! — of the Darkhold, they were able to duplicate everything in our world. What that means, we’ll see develop, but we can tell from her reading that text and her reaction, she’s aware where she is, unlike some of the glimpses we got. She’s clearly aware that she’s in this alternate reality, whereas I don’t think anyone she encounters will be.

TVLINE | Talk about the look that washed over Daisy’s face as she entered the bedroom. It seemed like relief, happiness. Is there a danger that she might forget her mission?
Well, it seems like a pretty well fleshed-out world, and the goal of it was to create a reality indistinguishable from our own. So there is that danger. That look on her face I think is hope — “Oh my gosh, am I getting my own dream to come true?” And then we see the picture and we know. “Maybe not, sweetie!”

TVLINE | Meanwhile, Jemma! Did she materialize six feed under, the poor thing??
They were plugging themselves into those avatars, so… she did not wake up in a warm tub. We’ll have to see where she appears, but that was not the end of Jemma Simmons, just to make that clear.

TVLINE | I hate to think she’s now knocking from the inside of a casket, “Help me!!”
That might be the story. I don’t know how many times we can cut to that [gravestone] before it runs out of its drama. But that might be the story that’s coming.

TVLINE | It was interesting that LMD Fitz brought up marriage, during that incredible series of scenes between Iain [De Caestecker] and Elizabeth [Henstridge]. Does that mean that marriage is something that’s on the real Fitz’s mind?
I think so. In that moment, he doesn’t need to manipulate her. We know that with these LMDs, they’re mostly based on the person. These LMDs seemed a little bit more Terminator than the MayBot, but he seemed to be genuine in that moment, which is part of the thing that makes it haunting.

TVLINE | Iaian was so great in that moment where he coolly flips the blade up and then drives it into Jemma’s leg. The two of them were just fantastic, and Chloe was amazing, too. Your cast as a whole really did great.
There were some great performances. It was very fun to be in the trenches working with them. We’re all such good friends, but we had a lot of fun making the episode. It’s funny to think that we were laughing as we were shooting him strangling her, as she stabs him. “Let’s try this!” It was like playing make-believe, but it came out so creepy.

TVLINE | What all do you want to say about the woman Fitz is helping out of the Rolls?
I can’t say much other than what she is meant to represent is he’s clearly not affected by the fact that Jemma is not in his life, or is underground. He seems like he couldn’t be doing better.

TVLINE | Mack’s situation made sense, reuniting with his daughter. But Coulson’s surprised me a bit — teaching?
We’ve learned a little bit about all our characters this year, and that’s not a coincidence. We were planning on exploring them as people with a whole new set of experiences, trying to find themselves or who they are within that whole new reality. We’ll see that with anybody we encounter who’s been plugged into the Framework.

Want even 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.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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40 Comments
  1. Dominique says:

    I’m so excited for the upcoming episodes, it’ll be fascinating to see how Daisy will deal with all of this, and which Ward is there (given that Radcliffe never the actual Ward, right? Only Hive?). And to see how the rest of the characters will take the news their reality is not real. I can imagine it won’t be solved in an episode or two.
    And I agree, Iain and Elizabeth were so powerful, especially when Fitz switched back and forth between begging Jemma to stop, and trying to choke her. Unbelievable performances.

    • lisa wo says:

      That moment when Fitz-LMD switched from begging for his life to being an emotionless robot was scary as hell. I love Fitz more than anyone else on the show because he’s just the coolest, sweetest guy, so seeing him so different was pretty terrifying. Just proves that Iain de Caestecker is an amazing actor – shifting from one thing to another in a blink of an eye.

  2. laurelnev says:

    My only question is didn’t they “find” their doubles before going in? I thought that’s maybe why they didn’t take YoYo with them. I’m betting that headstone will have something to do with the way OUT of the framework and that Jemma is not pounding on a coffin. And as I speculated in the recap, my bet is it’s Aida on Fitz’s arm, and is something Aida engineered. She always seemed to have some sort of bond with Fitz, the closest to a Bot crush I’ve ever seen.

  3. Steve F. says:

    So, is the SHIELD/SSR base gone? If the show does make it to another season, where are our intrepid agents gonna be based out of? And more importantly, will they find a way to have Brett Dalton come back permanently again? (Maybe as one final LMD without the evil personality?)

  4. Rory Teller says:

    Yawn. Another show that will be doing an alternate reality storyline. It has been done too many times by too many shows. Shield, as usual, is late to the party.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Thanks for chiming in!

    • lisa wo says:

      Ugh, another show having some relationship drama! It’s been done so many times! Like, seriously, the alternative reality storyline is just a tool used to push any show further than before. Of course many shows have done it before, just like any other trope. But it’s the way they do it is what makes it different. And I trust Agents of SHIELD will do it wonderfully because they have not disappointed me yet.

    • g says:

      the difference is this:
      1 – it’s an idea inspired by the comic books – ie. source material that predates ANY modern tv shows going back to 1977
      What If ….? comic books that was a whole comic series that presented alternate realities of major storylines & characters
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_If_(comics)

      and AoS has found an awesome way to do it – without having to affect the rest of the MCU films or tv shows confusing the wider general audience.

      so give credit where credit is due …. almost EVERYTHING on modern sci-fi or fantasy tv shows (or films) can actually be sourced ideas wise to COMIC BOOKS from the 60s & 70s (or even farther back in history – ie. Captain America 1941 … as well Nick Fury goes back to WW 2 – both BEFORE Marvel comics even existed .. as well Namor the Submariner … pre-dates Aquaman.

      so consider everything else …. COPYING Marvel Comics (or DC, etc)

      2 – this What If …? storyline inside the Framework is only PART of the story to end S4
      there are still elements of the wider story that will take place in the real world – which YoYo is still a part of and other characters could show up again to help stop AIDA
      specifically:
      Nick Fury & Maria Hill, Ghost Rider, Deathlok, Joey and may be other new characters

      ie. possibly two concurrent storylines happening in & out of the Framework.

      the more you know
      and if you’ve been watching AoS …. never assume something is going to be exactly what you might think it is … they ALWAYS seem to have more tricks up their creative sleeves

    • g says:

      the difference is this:
      1 – it’s an idea inspired by the comic books – ie. source material that predates ANY modern tv shows going back to 1977
      What If ….? comic books that was a whole comic series that presented alternate realities of major storylines & characters – look it up

      and AoS has found an awesome way to do it – without having to affect the rest of the MCU films or tv shows confusing the wider general audience.

      so give credit where credit is due …. almost EVERYTHING on modern sci-fi or fantasy tv shows (or films) can actually be sourced ideas wise to COMIC BOOKS from the 60s & 70s (or even farther back in history – ie. Captain America 1941 … as well Nick Fury goes back to WW 2 – both BEFORE Marvel comics even existed .. as well Namor the Submariner … pre-dates Aquaman.

      so consider everything else …. COPYING Marvel Comics (or DC, etc)

      2 – this What If …? storyline inside the Framework is only PART of the story to end S4
      there are still elements of the wider story that will take place in the real world – which YoYo is still a part of and other characters could show up again to help stop AIDA
      specifically:
      Nick Fury & Maria Hill, Ghost Rider, Deathlok, Joey and may be other new characters

      ie. possibly two concurrent storylines happening in & out of the Framework.

      the more you know
      and if you’ve been watching AoS …. never assume something is going to be exactly what you might think it is … they ALWAYS seem to have more tricks up their creative sleeves

      • The common denominator in all these endings makes me think that Cap was never dethawed and still in ice in the Framework…. Just WOW!

        • Or he could be Hydra Cap.. This is a world that’s been altered by each of the inserted characters’ regrets though. And I think we know from that episode that Coulson’s was that he had never enlisted.. and he was instrumental in bringing the Avengers together.

      • BRYAN HARRISON says:

        I would like show if they didn’t do dumb stiff all time like sec Aida appears and they tranq why put her in chamber with fitz 1st u always separate ppl 2nd they would just cut her head of or vaporized her whatever & 4 sure tested her see what abilities she had while tranq ya just silly things make me furious on this show lately

    • BRYAN HARRISON says:

      agreed, agents of Suck they should cut Aida head of soon tranq

  5. midas777 says:

    hands down the bet episode in a while the acting was soooo good and the twists were nice April is too far away

  6. Hollie says:

    Well, another vague SHIELD interview, but I expected no less from Marvel I suppose. Thanks for asking those questions for us anyway, Matt! (And also mentioning those phenomenal performances!!!) one thing though, I believe it’s spell Iain, not Iaian….

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Understandable typo fixed! And yes, all of us who do what I do try our very best with Marvel interviews — but you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

  7. Lu says:

    Could I nominate the entire cast for performance of the week? BC daaammmnnnnn but special shoutouts to Elizabeth, Iain, Chloe and Ming-na

  8. lisa wo says:

    Iain de Caestecker continues to impress me. I thought he had reached his peak in season 2 in confrontation with Ward scene, but every single time they give him some meaty stuff to work with, he just blows me away. Fantastic actor!

  9. Luis Roman says:

    Yes, but is Coulson with the cello player???? May is in SHIELD, but the others aren’t? What does that say about May?

  10. Joey Padron says:

    Good interview with Jed. Can’t wait to see what happens in new episodes for Agents of Hydra arc in April!

  11. ndixit says:

    Good for AoS. First time since the first Hydra arc where I feel actively engaged by the show. But I wish Daisy and Jemma weren’t immediately aware that they were in the framework. It would have been more interesting to have all of them living out these AU scenarios and then Daisy and Jemma being the first to start realizing its not real. I can imagine Daisy is going to freak out over Ward. Its pretty slick how they brought Brett back. I hope he gets another interesting version to play because he’s been the show’s chameleon. Honestly, it will be nice just to have him interact with the rest of the cast. He hasn’t done that on a regular basis since season 1.

    • CHRIS ALBANESE says:

      Funny you should use the term chameleon…. Since season 2 I was saying that Agent Ward would become Task Master, but The Chameleon could also work.
      or should I say “THE SHA MEE LEON” (T.U.F.F. Puppy anyone???)

  12. MLD says:

    This episode has made me change my bubble vote to KEEP. The actors were given material to shine and the characters had stake in the game vs. engaging in empty battles and monotonous plot lines that seem to go nowhere. This episode showed so much potential that I hope can be maintained in the last third of the season. ABC, RENEW THE SHOW!

  13. Brandon Pond says:

    Why would you include the spoiler in the title?! it’s the Second thing to pop up in a google seach of ‘Agents of Shield’. Thanks for ruining that for me,

  14. Matt says:

    Who is the rocket scientist at TVLine who posts this page with the URL “agents-of-shield-season-4-spoilers-grant-ward-returns-jemma-dead/”? Not having seen this week’s show, I Googled Agents of Shield, and there is your giant spoiler just waiting to ruin it for everyone: “Top Stories… ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Season 4 Spoilers: Grant Ward Returns, Jemma Dead – TVLine · 1 day ago”. Did someone do that on purpose? How tall was the ladder their mom was standing on when she dropped them on their head? I won’t be visiting your site again.

  15. I am tired of Grant Ward. (I am particularly tired of his fandom.) I am tired of Hydra always coming back despite narrative constantly claiming they’re over. I am tired of the writers breaking up FitzSimmons “for the drama”. “AoS” could have stayed in the Ghost Rider storyline and been a bit more unpredictable and a bit less repetitive.

    Iain and Elizabeth, in particular, have been doing FANTASTIC work this season and the show continues to be my religion week after week, but I have to admit—I am getting tired of the same “twists” every single season.

    And no, this being an “alternate” reality doesn’t make up for any of this.

    I want to have faith in Jed & Maurissa. I don’t want to give up on my favorite show.

    I am just so. very. tired.

  16. Amy says:

    Oh man the cast actually knocked it out the park! They are the collective performers of the week in my eyes. Especially Iain – he was in the episode for about 5 minutes and it still made a huge impact. That quick switch from crying, pleading Fitz to the cold emotionless LMD was on the same level as the Emmy nominated actors in Westworld.

    Also incredible first time directing from Jed. Honestly brilliant from start to finish!

  17. jbarebo says:

    curious what regret of Jemma’s they “fixed” that lead to her apparent death in the framework

    • Aida didn’t insert Jemma into the Framework, so she hasn’t had a regret ‘fixed’. I’m assuming her death is the result of one of the six who were inserted by Aida (May, Coulson, Mack, Mace, Simmonds and Agnes) having some regret fixed….

  18. Mike Schutzer says:

    When Daisy is in the framework, does she have her inhuman abilities?

  19. Here’s my theory: since the Framework is the world as people WANT to see it. it was Aida getting out of the car with Fitz, and Gemma’s “death” is what Aida *wanted* to see…not what really happens.