The Return is the twenty-first episode of the fourth season of the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the eighty-seventh episode overall.
Coulson and the team's victory in the Framework is short-lived, as an even deadlier enemy looms against them all.
At the Ivanov Oil Platform, Phil Coulson and Melinda May are confronted by Anton Ivanov, who is now able to kill them since Aida finally obtained a biological body, lifting all restrictions about killing other people. Ivanov attacks May and Coulson, withstanding several bullets and easily knocking May down thanks to his enhanced mechanical body, but is finally destroyed when Coulson uses his Energy Shield. However, Coulson and May quickly discover that they will have to deal with several copies of Ivanov. They lock themselves in a room and May uses this time to catch up on all the events she missed, ranging from the final assault on Eli Morrow and the disappearance of Ghost Rider.
Aboard the Zephyr One, Jemma Simmons and Daisy Johnson are finally awake, enabling the crew to restore the plane's power into the weapon system. Though the plane is heavily damaged because of the assaults of Ivanov's men, Piper and Davis manage to get rid of their enemy. The Zephyr One then flies to the Ivanov Oil Platform in order to rescue the rest of the team. On the way, Elena Rodriguez blames Johnson for leaving Alphonso Mackenzie in the Framework, though Johnson explains that Mackenzie would not leave his daughter. Shortly after, Simmons and Johnson learn that S.H.I.E.L.D. is once again considered dangerous by the authorities after the destruction of the Playground, with Glenn Talbot suspecting Johnson to have something to do with it.
After teleporting Leo Fitz and herself on a beach, Aida enjoys the sensations provided by her brand new biological body. Fitz then confronts her about what happened in the Framework, holding her accountable for manipulating him. Aida replies that she only repaired his relationship with his father and confesses that she feels love for Fitz. She then teleports with Fitz to an apartment designed to look familiar for Fitz. However, Fitz is still highly troubled and worries about his friends who were in the Framework with him. He tries to have Aida feeling empathy for them in order to rescue them.
At the oil platform, Coulson and May are still struggling to fight their way out. They manage to destroy more of Ivanov's clones. However, the Watchdog intends to leave the base with his submarine and to destroy the facility. Aida teleports into the base and tries to stop him after Fitz managed to persuade her to do the right thing and save her former captives. However, she fails and Ivanov leaves.
In the meantime, Coulson brings May on the surface and at the same moment, the Zephyr One finally arrives. Aida returns at the apartment to get Fitz and then teleports again at the oil platform, rescuing Mackenzie by teleporting him and the Framework equipment to which he is still connected aboard the plane. Then, Simmons shoots Aida and Fitz with an I.C.E.R. and the team places them in the plane's Containment Module.
The team returns to a destroyed Playground and lock Fitz and Aida in one of the remaining Containment Chambers, waiting for their awakening. They further discuss what happened in the Framework and how they feel now that they are back, with Simmons fearing that Fitz could still be a cruel and ruthless person and still in love with Aida. She decides to monitor the Containment Chamber's video feed in order to hear their conversations.
After waking up, Fitz and Aida also discuss what happened in the alternate reality, with Fitz still traumatized that he showed an evil nature because of the education provided by a father figure, much like Grant Ward. He also laments over the fact that his friends could never forgive him and that his future with Simmons is now destroyed. Aida tries to comfort him, but she mistakenly thinks that Fitz is still in love with her after their liaison in the Framework. Therefore, when Fitz states that he still loves Simmons and only her, it drives Aida insane.
Aida assaults Fitz and tries to escape with him in order to live with him, whether he wants it or not. However, her teleportation abilities are blocked by the Quantum Field Disruptors of the Chamber. In the meantime, Simmons tries to go to the Chamber to extract Fitz, but she is stopped by U.S. Air Force soldiers sent by Talbot, along with Coulson, May, and Johnson. While Coulson tries to explain the situation, Fitz is pulled out of the Chamber by Piper, Davis, and Prince. Aida, who acquired several Inhuman capabilities like Lincoln Campbell's electrokinesis, escapes in turn and chase them. She kills several U.S. soldiers, Prince and Davis, but Fitz and Piper manage to get on the Zephyr One. Fitz orders them to take off immediately and Talbot reluctantly agrees to let the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents go.
Aboard the plane, Fitz remains in the Containment Module. After hesitating, Simmons joins him and comforts him. Both of them cry together, traumatized but finally reunited. In another part of the plane, Coulson and Johnson discover that Rodriguez plugged herself to the Framework in order to bring Mackenzie to the real world.
Filled with anger and a desire for revenge, Aida returns to Ivanov's submarine. Ivanov explains that they could use the knowledge of the Darkhold to rebuild the world of the Framework in the real world, thus restoring Aida's domination over everyone and everything. Aida agrees, stating that she wants her enemies to suffer.
After inspecting the ruins of the Playground, Talbot and his men leave the base. Shortly after, an Inter-Dimensional Gate spared by the destruction activates and Ghost Rider emerges out of it.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez wakes up in the Framework to find herself strapped to a chair in a burning building. Recognizing where she has arrived, she screams in horror.