Obviously, there are spoilers for Captian America: The Winter Soldier ahead, so wait to read this until after you’ve seen the movie if you don’t want it ruined for you.
Agents of SHIELD has recently been calling itself Agents of SHIELD: Uprising, along with momentarily replacing the SHIELD logo with Captain America’s shield, and the events of the last episode led up to the events of the film. Clearly, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will have a big impact on the show going forward, not to mention the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I have some quick thoughts about what this might mean for Coulson and his crew going forward.
No More SHIELD
Obviously, the biggest impact on our team will be the fact that SHIELD no longer exists. In the film, when Captain America and his friends discovered that SHIELD had been overrun and controlled by HYDRA, Cap decided to take down SHIELD once and for all. Nick Fury objected to this, of course, but eventually relented. As of the end of the film, SHIELD is done for, having been completely shut down and its secrets spilled onto the internet. Of course, this doesn’t mean that SHIELD personnel and equipment suddenly vanished, so I’d say it’s safe to assume that the Bus and those aboard it wiped out. In some capacity our heroes will still be around trying to protect people and save the day, the question is just exactly what that capacity will be.
Without SHIELD to give them orders and targets, where will their missions come from? It’s possible that another government agency will step in and assume SHIELD’s role eventually, but until that point I think Coulson and his team will be on their own. I can easily see a scenario where they take the Bus and fly around from mission to mission, taking the jobs that interest them and making their own calls (though they should probably paint over the giant SHIELD logo on top of the Bus). The easiest comparison for me is to the 1980’s TV show The A-Team. For those of you who have never seen it (or who only saw that awful movie remake), the A-Team was made up of a group of ex-Army Special Forces who were framed for committing a crime they were innocent of, who promptly escaped from prison and went on the run acting as soldiers of fortune, helping the helpless and protecting the innocent. They rode around in a cool van, either stumbling across situations that required their intervention or being hired to help on a specific mission.
This seems right up SHIELD’s alley. They all have unique skills, just like the A-Team, they have a unique mode of transportation, and their goal is protecting the innocent. (In case you’re curious and are familiar with the show, Coulson is Hannibal Smith, May is B.A., Ward is Face, FitzSimmons are Murdock and Skye is Amy Allen.) The idea of seeing our crew continuing their mission but with limited resources and while on the run sounds like a lot of fun, and could really give our characters a chance to shine. Remember that sequence in Iron Man 3 where Tony had to infiltrate the Mandarin’s hideout without his Iron Man suit? Imagine our crew like that, having to improvise with what’s available around them, A-Team style, rather than simply relying on SHIELD to back them up and bail them out. I just hope at some point our team is locked in a barn somewhere and has to build a tank out of whatever supplies they find inside, preferably while set to a montage with lots of welding.
What about HYDRA?
We won’t know until tomorrow night how our team will escape from their current predicament, which has the Bus being remotely piloted back to base while Victoria Hand waits to ambush them. I’m sure they’ll find a way out of the situation, but with Simmons trapped with Hand, they’ll have to mount some kind of rescue. I know the show has teased some deaths upcoming, but I hope it’s not one of our six main characters. Regardless, with HYDRA’s involvement in SHIELD, our team won’t know who to trust. The infiltration of SHIELD was so thorough that anyone could secretly be working for HYDRA, as we saw in the film that Sitwell was really a HYDRA agent. Presumably anyone we’ve seen thus far could be working for HYDRA, including (though unlikely) people on the Bus, as well as Victoria Hand, Blake, or John Garrett. We saw in the ending of The Winter Soldier, that Nick Fury was setting out to try to track down HYDRA members who escaped the destruction of SHIELD, and perhaps we’ll see Coulson and his team join Fury in the hunt, assuming they get out of their current situation. Of course, complicating the matter is the fact that Fury faked his death in the film, even telling Steve Rogers to direct anyone looking for him to his gravesite. Will Fury and Coulson be working towards the same purpose, but separately, or will Fury find a way to get in touch with Coulson and team up? Could Coulson and Fury rebuild SHIELD as an external organization, gathering what resources they can from the remains of SHIELD while acting independently to protect the world from a variety of threats?
Who is the Clairvoyant?
One of Agents of SHIELD’s big mysteries in recent weeks has been the identity of the Clairvoyant, a person or entity who seemingly had psychic powers and could both see things that had happened and things to come (the one exception being what happened to Coulson after he died). However, in last week’s episode Skye determined that the Clairvoyant might not actually have special abilities but it just might seem that way because they have access to all of SHIELD’s files, except for Coulson’s which only Nick Fury can access. They think the Clairvoyant is a traitor inside SHIELD. Given the events of The Winter Soldier, it seems very likely to me that the Clairvoyant might actually be Arnim Zola, the former HYDRA scientist who was captured by SHIELD and whose consciousness was uploaded into a computer. This would give Zola access to all of the files he would need to act as the Clairvoyant and to manipulate SHIELD’s activities in order to meet his own ends. It’s possible that this isn’t the case, but I would bet at this point that the Clairvoyant has ties to HYDRA even if he’s not actually Zola. The threat of the Clairvoyant is still out there, as is Deathlok and the Centipede organization, so our agents will still have threats to deal with, despite the destruction of SHIELD.
What about the other mysteries?
We saw that Melinda May has been spying on Coulson and Skye for some higher authority (seemingly confirmed to be Nick Fury in a preview clip from tomorrow’s episode), but that still raises some questions about what happens with some of our mysteries going forward. With SHIELD gone, how will Coulson and Skye learn any more about the strange, blue alien creature who was being used to create the GH-325 serum that brought them both back to life? What will happen if they start to develop side effects? I could easily see an episode in the future where something happens to the two of them as a result of the drug, and the team has to search abandoned SHIELD labs or track down SHIELD doctors in hiding in order to find answers. And what about Skye being an 0-8-4? Now that Natasha Romanoff uploaded all of SHIELD’s data to the internet, will information be easier to come by for a hacker like Skye, or was only some of the information uploaded while the rest was locked away in secret somewhere?
In all, I’m excited to see what’s to come on Agents of SHIELD. I’ve obviously loved what I’ve seen from the show thus far, and I can’t remember another show that threw such a huge, game-changing monkey wrench into the works only 2/3 of the way into its first season. I love the idea of our team working without the SHIELD safety net, perhaps even as “soldiers of fortune” for a time. The question of whom to trust and what path to take from here on out will be an interesting one for our characters to deal with going forward. I would assume that HYDRA will come into play strongly on the show, and that some of our mysteries will be resolved quickly as a result of the events of The Winter Soldier, while others might take a back seat for a while. The show is taking a smart step in repeating tomorrow’s episode again next week, to be immediately followed by next week’s new episode (adjust your DVRs accordingly), in order to offer an opportunity for people who waited a week to see the film to catch up on what they might have missed tomorrow night.
What do you think? What effects with The Winter Soldier have on Agents of SHIELD? Do you think that Zola might be the Clairvoyant? How closely will Agents of SHIELD resemble The A-Team after this shakeup? (Will we see Melinda May throwing someone over a bar upside down just like Mr. T.?) How will our team function without SHIELD around to back them up? What new threats will emerge with SHIELD out of the way? How will HYDRA fit in? What will the show be called now that there’s no SHIELD? Let me know in the comments!