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Spoilers below for the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Lots of characters have come and gone during the four seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and thanks to its new storyline, any of those faces could come back. Daisy Johnson and Jemma Simmons sent themselves into the Framework, a Matrix-like digital alternate reality where the rest of their teammates have been trapped by AIDA. It's a storyline with a number of possibilities and thanks to the anti-continuity Framework, we've already seen the return of series villain Grant Ward. And perhaps fan favorite Lance Hunter may be next on that list thanks to a social media post from actor Nick Blood.
Nick Blood, who portrayed the mercenary turned S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Lance Hunter, posted this picture to Instagram of himself together with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. regular Iain De Caestecker, who plays Agent Fitz. The picture doesn't outright have anything to do with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but instead seems to be simply a hangout session where Blood and De Caestecker bought matching sweaters. But the fact that Blood posted this the same week that the Framework storyline was introduced - which also happened to be another arc-breaking finale - has led to speculation that Hunter could be returning in some form to the show, with his proximity to De Caestecker being the main source of evidence.
Neither Marvel or ABC have broached the subject, but the potential for Hunter to come back is absolutely there, and if he were ever to come back, this is the time to do it. The Framework was created by Dr. Radcliffe and his android assistant AIDA as a means to "humanely" pacify their captives while they replaced them with Life Model Decoys. Since then, the Framework has grown stronger and bigger, becoming a full digital world so realistic that the user can't even tell the difference. The Framework removes the user's biggest regret, causing an alternate reality where all the characters find themselves in entirely different circumstances, i.e. Coulson's a teacher and Ward is still alive. Oh yeah, and Hydra's rules the world.
In the show, Hunter and Bobbi Morse were essentially blacklisted from the spy world and were forced to go on the run. This was meant to set up their own spin-off Marvel's Most Wanted, but ABC ended up passing on the idea, and Hunter has not been seen since. The Framework would allow Hunter to return, albeit in a completely different form than what fans might recognize. Considering that this storyline is supposed to be very satisfying for longtime viewers of the show, and that the cast and crew could currently be working on the rest of the season, I'd say there's a very good chance we'll be seeing Hunter before Season 4 wraps.
This is a really exciting new step for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and you won't want to miss it when the show returns on April 4 at 10 p.m. EST on ABC. Head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what else is coming to the small screen in the near future.