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In Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Ophelia, a.k.a.

Aida

has used the knowledge of the Darkhold to create a world-sized alternate reality by changing the one regret of the people imprisoned therein. She certainly can alter that one aspect. She also seems to be able to introduce herself into the Framework, which was not its original purpose.

However, is she able to kill people in the Framework? We know she can't kill people in the outside world. On the one hand, she sends May on a mission to kill Mace. On the other hand, she doesn't seem to be able to introduce elements to the simulation to kill anyone else.

Is she able to insert objects or other code into the Framework? She doesn't create, say, Hydra agents or walls to stop Daisy et al, or paralyze them or something, instead using preexisting elements of the simulation. Clearly she does not have absolute control. On other hand, she was able to put herself in it, and has introduced new people while the simulation is running, removing their regrets in turn.

What are the limitations on Aida's ability to control the simulation? And do they come from Aida's programming or limitations of the Framework?

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I haven't watched the latest episode, so I'm surely missing some fresh info, but this is how I understand it:

Ophelia is the architect, but she is limited

Thanks to the Darkhold and Dr Radcliffe, she designed the Framework, but can't (or won't) modify it further than it's current iteration. This is comparable to the Matrix (from the famous 1999 movie) where machines can send agents (aka. security protocols) to interact with the virtual world, but can't alter it in a way that would not be intended by its design. As the Framework replicates the real (MCU) world, Ophelia can't alter the reality of it, so she can't create Hydra agents out of nothing, add/remove environment elements, give herself or anyone Inhuman powers... because that wouldn't be possible in the world the Framework tries to replicate.

She is able to pull in and out of the Framework because she has "admin login privileges" and it was intended in the Framework design to be able to "connect/disconnect" people.

WHY is she limited

Whether she is limited by the Framework, her own programming or something else is not known, but I have several non-exclusive interpretations:

  • The Framework is in a finished state. She can't alter its "source code" any further because it would mean starting from the beginning.
  • Any alteration to the Framework requires a lot of work/time. We have seen she can't do "Darkhold" tasks instantly or remotely, she has to physically interact to alter reality or the Framework. Whether she has to code or "stitch with her hands", it requires a dedicated task that would take a long time.
  • Her programming doesn't allow her to do this. She is bound to it (we saw that even killing Dr Radcliffe was a logical decision made by her programming to "help" him), and maybe altering the Framework is possible, it would go against her programming.

Edit: In the light of episode 4x19, we can see that:

  • She can disconnect at will without damage if her body is damaged in the Framework
  • Her body appears to be biologically standard in the Framework (she is not an android there). So if she died in the Framework she may die in the real world too.
  • Her programming (and especially the "protection of SHIELD agents" directive) prevent her to harm people from SHIELD if they do not pose a direct threat to the Framework. Daisy and Simmons now are. The Framework itself is her way around that (with project Looking Glass).
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    To push the "Matrix" comparison further, machines can actually alter the Matrix, but this induces bugs (like the black cat "déjà vu"). Hence the limitations. – ChuckMaurice Apr 27 '17 at 8:22

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