“Agents of SHIELD” threw us all for a loop in their midseason finale, revealing that Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) has actually been replaced by an LMD — a Life Model Decoy.
What exactly is a Life Model Decoy you ask? Screener spoke to the executive producers and cast about these complicated new androids and how they factor into the next arc of “Agents of SHIELD” Season 4.
After the mess that was Ultron in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” we can’t believe any scientist would be crazy enough to mess around with artificial intelligence and androids ever again, but Ratcliffe (John Hannah) has always been in a league of his own. Don’t expect Aida and robo-May to set out to conquer the world though.
Jed Whedon assures us that while Aida is an impressive feat of technology, she’s not quite as self-aware or maniacal as Ultron was.
“We said at the beginning of the season that [LMD’s] were mimicking human behavior,” Whedon says. “The real difference is that they represent people that we know, and that it’s not a big robot baddie – I mean, there is some of that, obviously – but right now we know that there’s one among us who is someone we know. How much they know, and how much their agenda is mixed with their own emotions, and those sort of questions is sort of what we’re going to dive into.”
Another difference from Ultron is that these LMD’s don’t appear to be omniscient or independent. Unless Aida has decided to up and kidnap May all on her own, she still appears to be functioning within her parameters and obeying Radcliffe’s instructions.
Ming-Na Wen says that if we’re going to look for someone to blame in this scenario, we should probably be looking at the scientist behind the curtain, quietly pulling the strings.
“I think the big question, too, is what is Radcliffe’s motivation, not so much what is Aida’s motivation at this point, because he’s really the taskmaster in this whole scheme of changing out May for the LMD May … To apprehend May and already planned out and created the LMD May, I don’t think he went through all that trouble just for sh*** and giggles.”
For the most part, Aida doesn’t seem as preoccupied with human emotions as she does with the mysterious Darkhold and holding May hostage. She did experience her first bit of physical pain in the midseason finale though, when she stepped in front of a bullet to protect Fitz.
Mallory Jansen says that move was a combination of her own feelings and her original purpose — to be a shield. “I do think they can care, and I honestly think that Aida over time knows the people who are closest to her and who she trusts,” Jansen says, “But I do think she was programmed to protect people. From the beginning she said, ‘I’m your shield. I’m here to protect you … I was made a specific way, and anything I do is what I think is right.'”
We’re a little nervous about a robot’s road to hell being paved with good intentions, but we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out (or doesn’t) when “Agents of SHIELD” returns from hiatus. Whatever the case, we’re officially on high alert wherever May, Radcliffe, and Aida are concerned.
Can’t wait that long for more “Agents of SHIELD?” Be sure to check out the 6-part digital series, debuting Dec. 13th at ABC.com.
“Agents of SHIELD” returns Jan. 10, 2017 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.