Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the winter premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s winter premiere revealed its next villain — and it’s a familiar face.
Subtitled “Life Model Decoy,” this batch of episodes explored the concept of android duplicates and the moral and ethical complications they pose. Director Mace (Jason O’Mara) ordered Radcliffe (John Hannah) to erase the Darkhold from Aida’s programming, but Aida overpowered his accompanying S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and hacked into HQ to try to find the Darkhold. Aida used the Life Model Decoy version of May (Ming-Na Wen) that she planted within the team to fulfill her ultimate goal: Get the Darkhold for — twist — Radcliffe!
“Radcliffe says at the end of episode 9 that he wants the Darkhold,” executive producer Jed Whedon tells EW. “He glimpsed it, and it has its hooks into him. He’s just doing something very innocent to try to get it back. He’s not going to harm a soul.” Riiiiiight.
And yet Aida did hurt a soul, killing the agent who discovered the real May locked up in the lab, as well as fighting off various S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the winter premiere. Is that a sign that she’s not fully under Radcliffe’s control? “He may have over-calibrated a little bit on that,” Whedon says. No kidding: After reading the Darkhold, Aida was able to update her own programming to understand the human condition, feel no pain, and prevent others from shutting her down.
Though Team S.H.I.E.L.D. believes Aida has been decommissioned after Mack (Henry Simmons) chopped off her head, it was revealed that there are multiple versions of Aida. However, Radcliffe still has a spy within their ranks — the LMD version of May — and Radcliffe wants her to steal the Darkhold. “We explore him as our baddie,” Whedon says.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.