Thoughts on the direction that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 could take – #itsallconnected…again, again, still, and on and on, yadda, yadda, yadda.
*** SPOILER FREE: This posting will be spoiler free – so feel free to read safely with the knowledge that if you haven’t seen the series or the season 4 finale, I won’t ruin any of it for you. ***
Last year I did a write up about what I thought might get incorporated into the next season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I had a lot of fun with it, and so I thought “what the heck, let’s do it again!” It’s always fun to speculate a bit. I’ll give you a quick run down of what Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is all about, and then I’ll dig into where I think some of it may be going. I’ll speak generally, so you don’t need to worry about spoilers.
What is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Marvel’s AoS (which is how it will be abbreviated for the rest of this post) is a television series that follows Agent Coulson, who was originally introduced in Iron Man and then subsequently murdered by Loki in the Avengers, as he assembles an elite team of agents together to track down extraordinary incidents around the world. Most of the time Coulson’s team finds themselves at odds with super powered individuals, spy organizations, and occasionally on adventures on another planet across the universe. As mentioned beforehand, Coulson was killed in action during the events of the Avengers, and AoS picks up after Director Nick Fury has gone through extreme measures to bring Coulson back from the dead. Coulson’s return is kept a secret from all but a handful of high-level people within S.H.I.E.L.D., with Fury keeping even the Avengers out of the loop. Now back from the dead, Coulson is a changed man, but still a highly capable agent. Along for the ride at the beginning of the show are the following: Agent Melinda May, a seasoned veteran with a storied past of remarkable violence that makes her reluctant to return to field work. Agent Grant Ward, an agent that comes highly recommended as an exceptionally capable field operative who unfortunately does not work well with a team. Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, two genius level scientists that have always worked together since going to the academy, they are best friends and inventive life savers. Along the way they pick up Sky, a hacker that successfully hacks S.H.I.E.L.D.’s network, which impresses Coulson so much that he recruits her to train to become an agent. As the seasons progress, Coulson’s team and his responsibilities grow as he is challenged to overcome the ever growing list of earth changing villains and organizations that keep popping up ever since the heroes formed up to create the Avengers. Season 4 ended with a lot of possibilities for the future of the team. Again, I won’t spoil what happened, but the vague explanation is that the AoS team has a new status quo that is wide open to introducing new characters, threats, and opportunities to tell vastly different stories than what has been seen in the first four seasons.
Straight from the desk of Director Llama:
Before we start, let’s talk briefly about my predictions for season 4 (from the link way above), which came true and which didn’t. The link to my write up about where season 4 might go can be found here:
- New villain/organization. Yes, this did happen. Both the Ghost Rider and LMD story arc did a great job of changing up the types of villains that the AoS encounter. It worked quite well. Hopefully the threats in season 5 will be as varied and awesome.
- Connect more with the movies. No, this did not happen. There were some allusions to Doctor Strange and the magical world, but that’s about it. Civil War only slightly impacted the show. On the other hand, AoS still hasn’t impacted the movies except for a brief moment in Age of Ultron, which if you don’t watch AoS then you wouldn’t know that Coulson was responsible for helping evacuate the civilians in Sokovia. Effectively, the MCU does not acknowledge the AoS team in the movies. I’d like for the series to be better connected to the movies and vice versa, but honestly at this point I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen. If it happens, cool. If not, AoS is still a great show.
- Go more intimate with the characters. Yes, this did happen in a huge way. Again, I won’t spoil it, but I will say this: AoS consistently has the best character development and growth of any comic book related show on TV or streaming. The premise for AoS is cool, but it’s the exceptionally well thought out and acted characters that will keep you coming back week after week for new episodes. I fully expect this to be the case for season 5 as well.
- More Super Powers! Yes, this did happen. We got the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider, the Darkhold, and A.I. created modified super beings. All sorts of new abilities and powers were on display. Hopefully this expands even further in season 5.
OK! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to my thoughts on where season 5 might go.
First – SPACE!
- The season 4 finale ended with what appeared to be the introduction of a space station facility, which opens up a whole new avenue of ideas, characters, and stories. I’m hoping for something more akin to Men in Black, with the space station being a check in point for aliens visiting the planet. The station certainly would also act as the first line of defense from an alien threat as well. Some have speculated that this might be the introduction of SWORD (think SHIELD but in space), but there is legality issue for Marvel to use it, as it is considered part of the X-Men franchise, which means that 20th Century Fox still holds the filmed rights to SWORD. They could also use the space station for research, and could use it to tie into Captain Marvel, but that seems like a long shot. Regardless, I hope that the space station is used to bring more of the alien species from the Marvel cosmic universe to the TV side of the MCU. This potential move to outer space could also be designed to connect AoS to the new Inhumans TV series that ABC is going to broadcast before AoS comes back winter 2018.
Second – the 100th episode needs to be something special!
- The 100th episode of any show is a major milestone, especially when you consider that most TV series don’t make it past their pilot episode. Many shows use the 100th episode as an opportunity to do something big. This could be a major shift that shakes the foundation of the show, introducing a new character, writing a character out of the show, having characters that have been in the show before come back, an event (a wedding, birthday party, etc.), or even do something wildly unexpected. Sometimes it’s a variety of multiple of these items listed. AoS tends to be an “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of show during the finale, and I am hoping that is the kind of 100th episode we get as well. I want a wild ride that is unpredictable, intense, and rewarding.
- The 100th episode would be a great episode to have someone from the film side visit the show. Even if not an Avenger (a return by Nick Fury or Maria Hill would be great, or even a member of the Netflix Marvel shows), it would be awesome to see the connective tissue expand a bit more.
Third – #itsallconnected – so connect already!
- This is a repeat from last year, so I won’t sit here and rehash all of what I said already. It’s in the original post that I linked above if you are curious. What I will say is this: Marvel Studios needs to reintegrate Phil Coulson into the MCU films. Even if they don’t bring the whole AoS team in, they could easily have Coulson and Daisy (super powered Inhuman on AoS with vibration manipulation powers) show up and assist the Avengers, or Ant Man, or whoever needs assistance. At the very least have Coulson explain that he is alive, and that he can lend support to the Avengers when needed via his highly skilled team.
- Seriously. Real talk time. Bring someone from the MCU movies onto AoS again. We’ve gotten Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Lady Sif, Peggy Carter, and a handful of other characters from the movies in the first 2 seasons of AoS, but that well dried up by season 4. It’s time to bring a member of the movie world back into the fold for an episode in season 5.
Fourth and final idea – Space is a nifty place to visit, but it shouldn’t be what the entire season is about.
- AoS has done really well the last few seasons by doing controlled story arcs (called pods) that do not last the entire season. this approach has made the show a much more enjoyable experience, especially when compared to other comic book shows like Arrow or the Flash that try to hold a story arc for the entire season. The pod approach effectively eliminates filler episodes and makes every episode feel like it matters. That being said, it will likely be wise to make the space story a single pod and move onto more espionage themed material. SHIELD is in bad shape and it would be nice to see the agency brought back to prominence before the series closes out.
- End game needs to be thought out at this point as well. Season 5 is a blessing, as AoS live viewing numbers were not stellar during season 4. The good news is that the viewers were stable, and the show received an amazing boost in the adjusted viewing numbers, both +3 and +7 days. However, if the ratings deteriorate any further, it may be difficult to to get a season 6 renewal from ABC. It’s time to make sure that the foundation for the series finale is set in place, so that the show can have a proper ending if renewal is not going to happen. Plan 2 options, an open ended finale that allows for a season 6 and a definitive series finale that wraps the show up satisfactorily.
I am still every bit in love with AoS as I was since the first season. The team working on this series is churning out some top notch TV. This is the only show that I watch live when it airs on ABC. Any other show I watch later on Hulu or whenever it hits another streaming service. Regardless of whether any of my ideas magically make it into the next season (because it most certainly won’t be because I said it was a good idea), AoS will likely still be an amazing show to watch. I’m excited to see what the writer’s room has in store for the viewers, and I’m hopeful for a some great plot twists and perhaps a better connection to the MCU films.
Also, if Jeph Loeb, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, or Jeffrey Bell read this: A) Thanks for creating such a fantastic show, and B) If you need a good writer with solid ideas and a love for screenwriting, drop me a line at Packy – Head Llama, I’d love to send you all some writing samples and/or join the writing team for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
If a sample of my work is needed up front, please read my tiny silly short screen play: Retardo Bruce Willis Mad Libs and my more deadly serious snippet from my feature length screenplay for an original horror film titled: 20 Miles to Texas!