The final leg of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 took place almost entirely within a digital framework that gave most of the characters very different lives. The escape from the Framework was a bloody affair, and the aftermath wasn’t pretty. Unfortunately, before everybody could really deal with their experiences, the Season 4 cliffhanger happened, and we now know that all but one of the characters was whisked off to outer space. Although everybody will be pretty busy with the new status quo in space, executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon has revealed that the Framework will continue to impact characters in Season 5 in some significant ways, saying this:
The impact emotionally for our characters and what they experience in the Framework will be something that resonates throughout the season. There might be specific things that we revisit but you know specifically for Fitz, the fact he was Leopold in the Framework, and things that he had done. You know each each alter identity in that world is derived from the person that you are, so him understanding and being aware of that moving forward is something that will come into play. Same goes for Mack and and experiencing a life with a daughter that he lost and in his real life, I think that will also be something that carries with him.
The character to go through the biggest change from the real world to the Framework was undoubtedly poor Fitz. The Framework altered his life by not separating him from his father and stopping him from ever meeting Simmons, among other things, and he turned into a cruel man by the name of Leopold who used his brilliance to make an awful lot of people suffer. He was also A.I.D.A.’s lover and went so far as to seriously injure Simmons when they crossed paths in the Framework.
Fitz was clearly traumatized by his experiences after he made it out of the Framework at the end of the season, and and Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon’s comments indicate that he’ll be haunted by those experiences to a certain degree in Season 5. Knowing that he has (or had) the capacity to become as cruel and twisted as Leopold would be enough to mess with anybody’s head, and Fitz will presumably be without his support system. This isn’t the first time he’s had a loved one yanked away from him into space, but it’s possible that his experiences in the Framework will have altered how he deals with the separation.
Of course, Mack went through some trauma of his own. His life was not made exponentially more terrible in the Framework, as he was able to share a life with the daughter who died in the real world. He very nearly went down with the Framework rather than leave his daughter to die alone, even knowing that she wasn’t real. His time with a daughter may be on his mind moving forward, even if he is busy dealing with aliens in outer space.
Luckily, we don’t have too much longer to wait before we see everybody back in the flesh on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The show returns for Season 5 with a two-part premiere on Friday, December 1 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. For the shows that aren’t lucky enough to return to the airwaves, take a peek at our rundown of 2017 TV cancellations. Our midseason TV guide can help you plan your viewing schedules for the beginning of 2018.