The LMD arc is one of my favorite arcs that this show has ever done. The story was compelling and a balanced combination of characterization, action and plot. All of the characters had something to do, or at least their LMDs did. We were kept guessing about the LMDs right up until the last episode. The only major disappointment was the writing for the Superior, who turned out to be a flat, boring character after his foreshadowing suggested someone more exciting. How you can make Zach McGowan boring, I don’t know, but they managed to do it. Maybe Ivanov will be more exciting as an LMD. He was offset by all of the Patton Oswalts, and all of the Mallory Jansens. Both were fun and amazing with their multiple characters. The other disappointment was the death of Senator Nadeer. I still have a small hope that she’ll turn out to have been an inhuman all along.
I stand by my prediction that Ex Machina was the movie that Mack needed to worry about in Episode 9 Broken Promises when he listed every evil robot movie he’d ever seen. That’s what we’ve been seeing, with a side of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Aida moved beyond Radcliffe’s goals, she wants to be a real, unique person, and the LMDs are working for her now, not Radcliffe. She accomplished this while manipulating everyone into thinking she was still just following orders, using their own prejudices against them, and working from the inside. The outside world doesn’t even know the LMDs exist. She has less and less respect for human life as time goes on because she hasn’t been given equal respect as an intelligent life form. But up until the last episode, Aida’s entire take over has been enacted in very quiet, feminine ways. No large attacks, no grandiose announcements, no uniforms or armies, no relentless killing machines. Just Aida, watching, learning, pretending to be cooperative and submissive, never wasting any movements, choosing her battles and waiting for the right moment. And wearing a dress the entire time. When Ava, the movie’s robot, finally makes her move, she’s carefully set up the conditions and gotten the cooperation of the other androids. Her successful sneak attack against her creator and his associate is on her creator’s own territory and the outside world doesn’t even realize it’s happened. Ava is free to live her life on her own terms. Ex Machina. It’s a great movie.
Aida killing the physical bodies of Ivanov and Radcliffe, the two men in charge of her, while her LMDs tried to take over the base, was the end of the Ex Machina parallel. Now we move on to the third arc of the series, Agents of HYDRA.
ABC has released three official photos from episode 4×16 and multiple posters for the third arc. The posters are mock ups turning the original Agents of SHIELD posters from each season/arc into Agents of HYDRA posters. What’s interesting about them is that they left Bobbie, Lance, and Lincoln in the posters. Those three characters aren’t listed in the credits for the first episode back, but they could show up later. Veejay Nadeer is listed as appearing in episode 16, so chances are we’ll spend some time with him in our reality and find out more about his powers.
All of the photos and posters are at the bottom of the page. Fitz doesn’t look like he’s enjoying his glamorous new lifestyle, but then, Daisy and Grant don’t look happy either.
My wild speculations follow:
The posters confuse the issue of who’s in HYDRA and who isn’t. Can inhumans be part of HYDRA? Was Phil part of HYDRA at some point, maybe working a desk job so that he could have a normal life? What about Mack? Then there’s always the question of who’s a double agent, and where their real loyalty lies. I really want Grant to be an absolutely good guy this time around, just to confuse everyone. Aida fixed all of his regrets, too! He was no longer abused, or kidnapped to be raised into HYDRA. It’s the world he grew up in, but his parents were resisters, and he’s a double agent.
SHIELD may have become HYDRA naturally, without any violence. I keep remembering Alexander Pierce saying that he learned from Fury not to negotiate with terrorists/to just take action. Without Coulson’s starry-eyed idealism in the mix to ground Fury, he might have eventually been won over by Pierce. Imagine what that would have meant for Natasha, for a May who hadn’t gone through Bahrain, and other young, gung ho agents. The Hydra philosophy of order could be appealing. The transfer may have happened much earlier than Winter Soldier, with less opposition, since SHIELD was so thoroughly infiltrated with HYDRA. Maybe Pierce is president in this reality.
So, who would be unflippable in a world where Hydra was the norm? It’s implied that Jemma’s part of the underground (buried in a grave, get it?). Steve Rogers, maybe Mace? Mace was missing from the montage, like Jemma, and the post-mortem interviews didn’t mention him, so there’s a big reveal coming. My guess is he’ll be Captain America, but which side will he be on?
They showed LMDMay make the ultimate sacrifice to remind us what real May is like, since we haven’t seen her in a long time. That way we can contrast her with framework May, who will be the complete opposite. At first.
A commenter on TVLine (I think) suggested Jemma’s grave is the escape hatch back door- that’s a good suggestion.
Fitz’s regret will have been the loss of his father. Aida will have let Fitz keep his dad and they will have built a tech empire together. Fitz will have never gone to the SHIELD Academy, so he won’t have met Jemma. Fitz is now pre-Iron Man Tony Stark to Mace’s Steve Rogers.
Aida has put herself on Fitz’s arm. She’s always looked at him as the only one who saw her as a real person. Radcliffe is the parental figure she needs to rebel against, not the lover she wants.
Radcliffe and Agnes must be together in some isolated corner of the framework, where he doesn’t realize what Aida’s done with the rest of the Framework. They might show up to help save the team once Radcliffe realizes how out of control Aida’s gotten. Radcliffe could conceivably come back to the real world as an LMD, but it’s more likely he’ll live in the Framework with Agnes on a flash drive in a vault somewhere.
Would most of the Avengers be dead in this scenario? Coulson has intervened to keep most of them alive in some way, even if it was just through his presence or inspiration. Were the rest of them nuked in NYC during the Chitauri attack? Is NYC gone? How deep into the mythology ia AoH going to go to answer these questions?