SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Broken Promises," the mid-season premiere of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Aida is dead! Long live Aida -- literally. In "Broken Promises," the mid-season premiere of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", Aida's life came to an abrupt halt when Mack used his trademark shotgun ax to decapitate her, but that isn't the end for Aida or her mission. As it turns out, her quest has nothing to do with Aida herself and everything to do with Holden Radcliffe.
The very end of the episode found Radcliffe in his home, raising a glass to Aida, but he wasn't alone. A backup LMD that looks identical to Aida joined him in his toast and listened intently as he explained why he wants the Darkhold: eternal life. He believes the Darkhold holds the answers he's been searching for, despite the fact that he never got to read it himself.
Radcliffe was the one who sent Aida to the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. He programmed her to mimic emotion, so that it appeared as though whatever she read in the Darkhold had corrupted her. The act was certainly enough to convince Fitz, who seemed pretty heartbroken at Aida's demise. Nevertheless, Aida 1.0 failed in her mission, but just barely. She was just about to exit the hangar with the Darkhold when Mack put a swift end to that.
Oh, and that whole "Agents May has been replaced by an LMD" storyline? Yeah, Radcliffe was behind that too. It appears as though he hopes to glean information off of Coulson, as he can observe anything that LMD May sees. It certainly worked the first time around, when Coulson revealed to May that he'd hidden the Darkhold in Mace's office, which enabled Aida to track the book down.
However, the LMD version of May doesn't know that she is an LMD. She attempted to take Aida down in defense of the Darkhold, but not before Aida was able to use a remote control to shut her down. When she woke up, she appeared confused and alarmed, but didn't confess this to Coulson.
This kind of move certainly isn't out of line for Radcliffe, who could be described as morally ambiguous at best. After all, he voluntarily worked with Hive last season as the ancient Inhuman attempted to transform everyone on Earth into an Inhuman. Additionally, when Simmons and Fitz first met him, he was in eager pursuit of cybernetic enhancements, so it seems that LMDs are the next logical step in his development.
Ming-Na Wen, who plays May, dropped the news that Radcliffe was the mastermind behind Aida's agenda earlier this week. “The big question is, ‘What is Radcliffe’s motivation?’ — not so much Aida’s — because he’s the taskmaster in this whole scheme of changing out May for the LMD May,” she said at the time. “Is [his agenda] for something good … or is he the mad scientist hoping to advance science? I don’t think he went through all this trouble for s–ts and giggles!” However, she didn't reveal why, exactly, he wanted the Darkhold -- a question that tonight's episode answered in full.
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.