SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “All the Madame’s Men,” the latest episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” may have just introduced a way to bring back long-dead characters Grant Ward and Antoine “Trip” Triplett. In “All the Madame’s Men,” last night’s episode, Aida revealed her true endgame: to build a machine right out of the Darkhold’s pages, which would allow her to create a body of flesh and bone for herself. However, that machine has wider implications for the show at large.
During “All the Madame’s Men,” while the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. was scrambling to find Daisy and May, Simmons and Trip went over the plans that Trip recovered from Hydra. One machine in particular stood out to Simmons. In horror, she realized it was from the Darkhold. Earlier in the season, Eli Morrow had used the same machine to create matter from nothing; Aida, on the other hand, wanted to use it to create living tissue. Simmons quickly put two-and-two together and realized that Aida would use the machine to build herself a body. With a human body, Aida would no longer be beholden to her protocols to protect life and the Framework, which means she would be free to pull the plug on the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents she is holding captive.
By the close of the episode, that machine was near completion. Judging by the promo for “Farewell, Cruel World,” next week’s episode, the machine may even be in use. Though Aida clearly built the machine for her own use, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be used by anyone else inside or outside the Framework — which means that it may be possible to bring Framework creations like Ward and Trip out into the real world.
Of course, unlike Daisy, Coulson, May, Simmons, Fitz and Mace, Ward and Trip are products of the Framework. That is to say, they are built on the perceptions and memories of all the “real” people inside the Framework. Since these characters have both been dead for quite some time, it’s hard to tell if these Framework versions of them could or should be considered anything more than a computer simulation. Nevertheless, Aida is also artificial intelligence, in the same way as Ultron once was; both androids were capable of free thought, though Aida lacks free will. This being the case, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” questions what it means to be truly human. The show could very well continue this theme by building flesh-and-bone bodies for the Framework’s Ward and Trip using the Darkhold machine, thus bringing both characters “back to life.”
Airing Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Chloe Bennet as Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons, Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and more.