The star of last night’s episode of Agents of SHIELD wasn’t the action or the classic “robot decides mankind is too irrational to live” moment. It was the way the show portrayed the bone-deep paranoia that comes when anyone of your friends can be evil.
The first example of this was the confrontation between Simmons and Fitz over which one of them was an LMD. The relationship between the two made watching each one try to convince the other that they’re not an LMD physically painful. Even with it not being real, Fitz cutting his own wrist to prove that he was human and not a robot/using that to get Jemma close enough that he can overpower her was deeply disturbing.
The second version of this confrontation is between Daisy and Simmons, with Daisy having discovered a room full of LMDs of herself and Simmons bleeding and on the run from LMD Fitz. In that case, the best part isn’t the accusations they fling at each other, but the sheer relief on their faces when they discover that neither of them are LMDs.
(This is superb acting from Elizabeth Henstridge, by the way.)
By the end of the episode, Daisy and Simmons have managed to grab a few recruits and escape on a quinjet, although the command structure of SHIELD is still full of LMDs. Their only plan is to insert themselves into the alternate reality world of the Framework, where Coulson, Fitz, and the rest of them are unknowingly trapped. But that’s hardly the only problem. Because as we see in the final moment of the episode, in the Framework, Coulson is teaching a class of students to fear Inhumans, Fitz is rich but Simmons is dead (we see her tombstone, at any rate), Mack’s picking up after his daughter, and May is working for Hydra, who seem to have completely replaced SHIELD, apparently having never been taken down by Captain America and friends.
And Daisy? She gets a text to bring her boyfriend into work. And that boyfriend is of course...
Grant Ward. Because Grant Ward NEVER dies in this show. He will be brought back over and over forever and ever until his creepiness becomes a self-sustaining life-force that no longer needs his body as a shell.
And in case you were wondering if he was only going to appear in photos or something small, oh no. Marvel made sure to promote actor Brett Dalton’s return:
He. Will. Never. Leave.
That said, it totally makes sense for the Framework, which appears to basically be this show’s version of the Mirror Universe, to keep Ward around. He fits right in with all the unsettling things we’ve seen. And I can’t wait to see Simmons and Daisy navigate it.