What do the Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Teases Mean

The Agents of SHIELD season 3 finale arrived with a big tease of things to come. Here’s our take...

This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.

This article contains spoilers for the Agents of SHIELD season 3 finale, and Captain America: Civil War.

Agents of SHIELD has done it again – concluded a season with a big tease about something from the comics. Last year, they had us talking about the Secret Warriors, and this time around it’s Life Model Decoys. Daisy’s fate, the new director, and the double-death of Hive and Lincoln are also hefty talking points. They crammed a lot in didn’t they?

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Here’s our attempt to break it all down, and work out what the conclusion of Agents of SHIELD season 3 means for the future of the show…

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The actual ending

If the “six months later” section was the televised equivalent of an extended post-credits tease of things to come, the scene before the time jump was the actual ending of Agents of SHIELD‘s season 3 story. Lincoln lured Hive into the Quinjet and sent Daisy flying before taking off into space. Hive’s warhead was on board, and the controls were fried. Game over.

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Unless there’s a rug-pull on the cards, this scene seems to represent the final ends of Lincoln and Hive. Both have flirted with death throughout the season, and now they’ve each been blown to smithereens many miles away from Earth. 

This is the second death scene Brett Dalton had this year, after Grant Ward was killed by Coulson on the planet Maveth. Comic Book Resources asked him which death scene was more difficult, and Mr. Dalton said, “Probably Hive’s, and that was because it also coincides with — as far as I can tell — the end of Brett Dalton on the show, which is quite sad.” 

“I hope that’s not the case,” he added, but in all fairness a proper return for Ward or Hive seems unlikely at this point. After all, Hive is powerful, but I’m not sure he could survive a nuclear blast. Maybe I’m wrong, but my reading of Hive’s closing scene was that he’d finally admitted defeat and resigned himself to death. Clear the way for some new villains in season 4. 

Lincoln, too, has probably bitten the bullet for good. “If you’re going to die, I couldn’t have written a better ending for the character,” Lincoln actor Luke Mitchell told Entertainment Weekly. Note that he’s talking about it being an “end” as well, not just one of those “he’ll be back soon” comic book deaths.

Lincoln was never the most popular character among fans, but in sacrificing his life to save everyone else he at least redeemed himself somewhat. The Secret Warriors team are one man down. That is, of course, if the Secret Warriors even exist anymore…

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Daisy on the run

Cue a six months later time jump, followed by a few newspaper headlines to fill us in about what has happened in between: “Quake Not a Natural Disaster, it was a Person”, “Quake Takes Down Bank”, “Hero Or Rogue?”, “Who Is Quake?”, North Dakota Experiences First Earthquake in 40 Years”. There’s also a pin board with a map on it. A red string has been used to mark a few points. By the looks of it, Daisy has been working her way around the USA in a rather erratic fashion.

The camera pans around and Coulson, sitting next to another completely covered pin board, is looking out of a window with some binoculars. Mack brings in some sandwiches. Coulson states “they’re here early today,” and he’s not talking about the sandwiches.

We’re then shown Coulson’s binoculars in a point of view shot: it’s the wife and daughter of Charles Hinton, the Inhuman that gave deadly visions to everyone he touched and died himself a few episodes back. Daisy had promised to look after his family, and here she is checking in and giving them his wooden bird. 

But what were all the earthquakes around the USA about? Co-showrunner Jed Whedon has teased to The Hollywood Reporter that “Some of that will be revealed, but it’s safe to surmise from what you see at the end that she has returned to her roots of being a loner.”

He continued: “After everything that she’s been through and all the chaos around and all the destruction at her hand, she feels that getting close to people was a mistake and she’s better off on her own. We can see through, yes, dealing with Hinton’s wife and the girl that she’s keeping a promise, but she’s also honoring what Lincoln said, which is he believed she was meant for more than this.” 

Daisy appears, with a mildly goth-esque new look. Charles’ wife says “I wanted to thank you. The money was too generous.” This seems to explain why one of the newspapers was about a quake hitting a bank – has Daisy stolen some funds to support Charles’ family and keep her promise?

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“I actually wanted to introduce you to a friend of mine,” Daisy says, “he has a practice near here. I think you’d get along. He likes animals too.” She’s seemingly talking about her father, Calvin (Kyle MacLachlan). Having put his season 2 villainy days behind him (thanks to a memory wipe), he’s now living a normal life as a vet. Perhaps we’ll see Mr. MacLachlan in season 4. It’s hard to tell.

One thing that’s clear, though, is that Daisy isn’t with SHIELD at the moment. She gets away using a very impressive superhero jump before Coulson and Mack can get near her. It seems safe to assume that this schism between Daisy and her former teammates will dominate the early episodes of season 4. Will she re-join them, and the Secret Warriors, or keep being Quake on her own terms? We’ll have to wait and see.

The new director

“Call the director, we struck out again”, says Coulson upon realising that Daisy has gotten away. He seems quite nonchalant about the whole thing, but this line has big ramifications for the future of the show. Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson is no longer the director of SHIELD, and has departed the role that Nick Fury handed to him when he left the organisation. We’re left, like the end of Brooklyn-99 season 2, wondering who the new boss will be (wouldn’t it be great if it was Andre Braugher?). 

“There are no hints,” Jed Whedon said on the topic of the new director, in that Hollywood Reporter interview. The other co-showrunner, Melissa Tancharoen, added this: “We’ll answer all of that in the beginning of next season. But there’s a lot you can glean from that flash-forward, even in his [Coulson’s] appearance. He’s worse for wear, he’s not wearing suits, he and Mack are holed up in that hotel room, he’s obviously been on stakeout for a while. And obviously Daisy has changed her appearance and is a loner gone rogue.”

So, the SHIELD team has changed a lot between the start of season 3 and the end. Lincoln is dead, Daisy has gone solo, and Coulson is no longer the director (and neither is Mack – his go-to second in command of late – because he’s out in the field talking about ‘the director’ as well). And, as far as we know, Lance and Bobbi haven’t come back. That could change, though, given the fate of their not-picked-up spin-off pilot Marvel’s Most Wanted.

It’s hard to even hedge a bet on who SHIELD’s director will be when season 4 kicks off. It’d be great, in terms of interconnectivity and exciting the fans, if it was someone from the movies. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, perhaps, or Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill. Both characters have been missing in action since Avengers: Age Of Ultron, so it’s hard to impossible to know what they’re up to at the moment.

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It’s also worth remembering that Captain America: Civil War ended with William Hurt’s Thunderbolt Ross and Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in positions of power and aligned to the government. The chances of Downey signing up for a TV show are nil, but perhaps William Hurt could be convinced. He appeared in Humans on Channel 4 last year, after all. Maybe he’ll be the new director of SHIELD, if there’s room in the budget to pay his wages. 

Adrian Pasdar’s General Talbot has been Agents of SHIELD’s government face of late, which arguably makes him the frontrunner for the role of director. I could live with that (moustache jokes are always funny), but if Marvel Studios agree to share an actor from the movies, it could be a huge publicity push for the show. Time will tell.

Life Model Decoys

After the Daisy scene, there was one more big tease – John Hannah’s last scene of the season as the shady scientist Dr Holden Radcliffe. “Hold my calls AIDA, today is a special day,” he says, wandering into a snazzy office and chatting to his artificially intelligent computer. “Where’s my boy Fitz, did he get the invite?” he asks. But, as AIDA the AI explains, Fitz is busy organising a surprise for Simmons.

Radcliffe claims that his name has been cleared, albeit with a few stipulations. But that’s not why he’s celebrating. He laments briefly that Fitz and Simmons couldn’t make it. “Would’ve been fitting”, he says, “this is based on an old SHIELD program.” An outline of a female body appears on the screen, and the words “L.M.D. Phase 1 Upload Procedure.”

“Poor kids have had a lot friends die,” he adds, “maybe they didn’t have to.” He tells AIDA that today’s her birthday, as a female outline appears behind a white wall. Even if you’re not overly familiar with the comics, it’s clear that Radcliffe is planning to bring his computer AIDA to life with some form of synthetic body.

Fans of the comics will know that ‘L.M.D.’ stands for Life Model Decoy: a type of android technology that has always been popular with SHIELD within the pages of Marvel Comics. They allow agents to live vicariously through robots that identically match their appearance. You can send a LMD into the field instead of yourself, reducing the chance of Agents dying. LMDs also have a tendency to be super strong and very durable. This, obviously, would be very handy for the TV show’s version of SHIELD.

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You might remember, from way back in 2012’s The Avengers, that Tony Stark once tried to avoid taking a call from Coulson by saying “you have reached a Life Model Decoy of Tony Stark.” This confirms that the idea of LMD technology has existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for quite a while (some also believe that Patton Oswalt’s Koenig brothers are all Life Model Decoy copies, but that hasn’t been confirmed). Radcliffe has dusted off the old project and made it a reality. 

The name of Radcliffe’s AI/first LMD comes with comic book heritage, too. AIDA traditionally stands for Artificial Intelligence Data Analyser, and she’s the companion of a man named Tom Thumb who used his inventions to fight crime as a member of a superhero team called Squadron Supreme (who heralded from a parallel universe). 

In the comics, AIDA was much more than just a robotic voice. She had a personality and feelings too, and attempted to help Tom Thumb (against his wishes) when he had cancer. And while we’re on the topic of comic book origins, Holden Radcliffe is a character from a different comic book run, who was obsessed with creating android soldiers.

Of course, it remains to be seen where Agents of SHIELD will go with this arc. LMDs could be a godsend for SHIELD, or a huge pain in the ass if they fall into the wrong hands. Jed Whedon told THR that “Radcliffe has a good heart, but he’s willing to do anything for science. He’s excited about the prospect. He said Fitz and Simmons had friends die and maybe they didn’t have to. He’s clearly opening a box. Whether or not it’s Pandora’s box, we’ll see.” 

So, what will season 4 be about?

To wrap up, there’s a fair bit we can extrapolate about Agents of SHIELD season 4 by looking at season 3’s final scenes. Hive and Lincoln are seemingly out of the picture, clearing the path for new villains and agents. Daisy is on the run, providing her with a new storyline and SHIELD with someone to hunt down in the opening episodes of season 4. There’s a new director in play, that could be a brand new character or someone we’ve seen in the MCU before.

And Holden Radcliffe is working on Life Model Decoys with AIDA. These could either be a powerful asset for SHIELD or a dangerous tool for the next villain to plague them. It could also open doors for cameos from thought-dead characters, if the show wants to go down that road. Either way, the status quo of Agents of SHIELD will look totally different when season 4 kicks off this autumn…

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