At long last, this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally revealed the significance of its Hydra-fied “Framework” reality, as Aida prepares to build herself a flesh-and-blood body in the real world. That could theoretically extend to other deceased characters returning in recent weeks, but EPs now throw some cold water on Ward’s full-time return.

You’re warned of minor Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spoilers from here on out, but this past Tuesday’s “All the Madame’s Men” revealed Aida’s plan to use the Darkhold’s matter manipulation to build herself an actual body; free from anyone’s programming. Aida also implied that brainwashed Hydra leader Fitz might accompany her to the real world, but fans of Brett Dalton’s digitally-resurrected Ward couldn’t help noticing an opportunity to return the character full-time.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Jed Whedon acknowledged the possibility of Ward returning to the real world, but seemed to imply it wouldn’t be the case:

‘Yeah, well, I mean in theory,’ EP Jed Whedon says. ‘Our story didn’t [go there.] There are rules for that because thankfully we can do anything.’ So, probably don’t hold your breath.

Obviously, Whedon isn’t about to give away one of Season 4’s biggest potential twists (especially with Season 5 looking hopeful), but there’s some curious wording afoot here. The question EW posed was whether digital characters like Ward and Trip might “take over a human in the real world,” akin to how Daisy and Simmons “took over” their existing Framework avatars, which isn’t quite the same as Ward having a new body built altogether.

Obviously, Whedon and other Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crew relish having Dalton back, but will the reunion extend to a permanent position in Season 5? Watch the trailer for Tuesday’s latest, and stay tuned.

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