For the first time in the history of the series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has fully embraced a sub-heading for portions of a season, reflecting the major arc for that portion of the season. Season four started with ‘Ghost Rider,’ introducing Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) and taking us on a journey through meeting him, trusting him, and seeing him leave. The logo for the show, and all press for the start of the fourth season, focused on the addition of this character.
As we said goodbye to Robbie, we saw more and more of Mallory Jansen‘s Aida. The character, who was introduced early but kept a backseat through much of the major plot, was revealed to be much more than she appeared before the show took a hiatus for the holidays. When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns tomorrow, it will start a new arc, and for this, the show has gone all-in on the Life Model Decoy (‘LMD’) theme, just as the season started with the ‘Ghost Rider’ theme.
Showrunner Jed Whedon revealed at the Television Critics Association winter panels that we are going to get another arc for the last third of the season, after another hiatus.
“This year there’s three [story arcs],” Whedon stated. “It’s based on our schedule of how we’re airing. We like to run continuous, if that [is] possible, so this next [LMD] chunk will be a section and then we’ll be off for a while and there’ll be a third part.”
Regarding the LMD arc, Whedon went on to explain that he has felt this is an arc that needed to happen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but things that were happening in other parts of the MCU necessitated that they wait.
“It’s something we wanted to do for a long time,” Whedon explained of the series’ current arc. “When you start a show called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. you’re pretty sure you’re going to do it at some point but we always have to steer away from stuff that’s coming up in the movies and there was going to be some robots in some of those big movies, so we steered away from it initially but we always had it in our minds. We felt that we had a lot of good Inhumans stuff to do last year so it seemed like the right time.”
In fact, it might have seemed like too many robots, if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had introduced LMDs as the film side of the MCU was introducing Ultron. Keeping some time between the two stories was probably a good idea. Meanwhile, the writing staff had a difficult task in pulling these two themes together.
“When we started talking about Ghost Rider, we realized that with the Darkhold there was a way to get all of these things in one sort of soup, and so that’s sort of how it happened this year.”
Will the Darkhold continue to be the binding force that pulls the third arc into the series? It’s hard to tell. We do expect six episodes in the LMD arc, based on a photo from behind the scenes. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait and see what the writers have in store. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns tomorrow night at 10 PM Eastern, on ABC.