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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ghost Rider returns as Aida's plan unfurls

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Jennifer Clasen/ABC

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk.

Ghost Rider, well, rides again!

During Tuesday’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gabriel Luna reprised his role as the flame-licked spirit of vengeance, arriving just in time as Aida (Mallory Jansen) plans to use the Darkhold to transform the real world into the Hydra-ruled one of the Framework.

See, now that she’s human, well Inhuman, Aida is feeling the gamut of human emotions. She finally gets to make her own choices, and her first choice is to be with Fitz (Iain de Caestecker). However, he has no interest in being with her. So now Aida feels rejected, angry, and worst of all, she feels vengeance, and she sets her sights on destroying Team S.H.I.E.L.D. — and the world. EW turned to executive producers Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jeffrey Bell to get the scoop:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What exactly does Aida want?
JED WHEDON: Her basic programing is do everything you can to emulate humanity, so she’s justified in all her actions because everything she’s doing is trying to get a better understanding or trying to get her closer to that point where she is that thing that was originally designed to be — indiscernible from a real human.
JEFFREY BELL: She goes, “No, no. I’ve never had a choice. I finally get to make a choice, and I choose you,” to Fitz, “and you choose me.”
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN: That’s not how this works, is it?
WHEDON: And so when it doesn’t, things turn really, really bad. But that’s such a great moment because her first choice is, “I want you.”
BELL: And then Mallory goes…
WHEDON: She goes full on.
TANCHAROEN: She goes…
WHEDON: “I will not be ignored.”
TANCHAROEN: The most appealing part of making Aida into a real woman is she is experiencing the feeling of these raw, sensory experiences that she’s never had before. It’s all new to her, and in a way, she’s very much like an infant experiencing these things for the first time, and it could be like both ends of the spectrum, just completely raw. So how does one deal with that? How does one deal with the first time of disappointment, rejection, and rage? Maybe she took the rage to another level.
WHEDON: And to Mallory’s credit, we’ve also taken this character through the full spectrum from robot to human.
BELL: She’s been, like, five people this season.
WHEDON: Right. We’ve taken her and made her walk every step along that road, and she has been able to deliver at every turn. It seems like every time we give her a new thing, we go like, “Oh, that’s even more interesting. Oh, that’s even more interesting.” We think that by the end, she’s as complex a villain as we’ve ever had.

Fitz rejects her, so what does her wrath look like in the finale?
WHEDON: Not everyone will survive. Not everyone will survive.
BELL: There’s a line where she’s having all these feelings, and Fitz tries to assure her. “There’s so many feelings, that’s why I’ve decided to feel just one: vengeance. I like vengeance. It’s clean. It’s sharp” — and it’s like she found something to grab onto, and so she’s pretty clear in what she wants.

How will the team feel, morally and ethically, about killing a human version of Aida rather than a robotic version?
WHEDON: I think they’ll be conflicted at first, but then she does enough terrible stuff that they’ll get over that.
TANCHAROEN: They’ll be like, “We need to do something.”
BELL: There’s enough bad things, it’s like, “You know what? I’m kind of over it.”

Ghost Rider is back! How has his time in hell, essentially, changed him?
TANCHAROEN: He’s a little worse for wear.
WHEDON: Yeah, he’s had some experiences. Even though we feel like we told three entirely separate seasons this year, it was important for us to try to tie them all together, to bring Ghost Rider, the Darkhold, LMDs, and the Framework all together again. Aida was created by using the Darkhold, and there’s really one person who can defeat her.
BELL: Ghost Rider.

Are we finally going to see Daisy and Ghost Rider fight alongside each other?
BELL: Yes, which is also important to us to see those two guys back-to-back doing some cool stuff.

How epic is that fight going to be?
BELL: Exactly as epic as we can afford.
WHEDON: Not as epic as the first draft [of the finale script]. The first draft was pretty epic.

Did you write the finale with a sense of closure in case the show is not renewed?
WHEDON: No, we were told to write a season finale, so we wrote a season finale, not a series finale.
BELL: Or a s—ty series finale. [Laughs.]
WHEDON: It’d be like, “Wow, that was sad.”

How does the showdown between Team S.H.I.E.L.D. and Aida compare to what we’ve seen with other big bads over the years?
WHEDON: Well, it’s super similar, except there’s a flaming skull.
BELL: And it’s much more expensive.
TANCHAROEN: And expertly crafted by this young fellow right here.
BELL: Oh please. It’s all teamwork. Thank you. I will say this about it, and it’s what I love about the show, we’re an ensemble show, and it takes everyone to defeat her.
WHEDON: If we defeat her.
BELL: If we defeat her, and she doesn’t kill us off. Everybody has to play their role in the story for us to kill her. I like that.

Anything you guys can tease about your finale cliffhanger?
TANCHAROEN: You want to see what happens, right?
WHEDON: I say we have a cliffhanger, but I think the cliffhanger is the tease.

The season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.