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Agents of SHIELD: The Winter Finale is Coming

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Welcome back, True Believers!  So much has happened since I wrote my last article about  Agents of SHIELD, including Malick’s great ancient HYDRA credo reveal, and of course the events of this week’s “Closure” episode (which brought little in the way of said closure).  We also got our first Captain America: Civil War trailer this week and one of the big discussions of the week is the show’s relation to the MCU movies of 2016 (and beyond).  But let’s start where I last left off, with the issue most fiercely tugging at me, and most of us I think.

Who or what is the ancient Inhuman on Agents of SHIELD‘S alien planet?

This was the central question of my last post and I have been trolling the internet continuously since I wrote it for more possible leads.  Folks with deeper knowledge than my own have presented a number of theories, but the information the show has given us has been measured and limited.

We now know the It on the alien planet (what I was calling the Death Monster) is actually an ancient Inhuman born here on Earth with the ability, and perhaps some notion of destiny, to rule the planet. That ancient Inhuman was exiled to the alien/other-star system planet, we know not when, how, or by whom.  We know that HYDRA was originally formed with the mission of bringing that ancient Inhuman back to Earth and to serve in its wake of domination.  Beyond this we have small hints and guesses at the Inhuman’s power(s) and loose theories about its identity and the location of the alien planet.  The one I’m currently most intrigued by is..

the unspoken2The Unspoken

This ancient Inhuman was once the ruler of his people but was deposed and exiled by his cousin Black Bolt.  Black Bolt then ordered that his name and legacy be stricken from their histories and thus he now bears the name The Unspoken.  To me this character theory carries weight for a variety of reasons.  Firstly, as ruler of the Inhumans he was a just and beloved King who then made a move he felt was for the good of his people but that instead led to his overthrow.  His exile altered his ethics and ambitions, turning him to a supervillain set on world domination.  This backstory makes for a well complicated character, the likes of which are conducive to interpretation in the reality-based nature (in a manner of speaking) of the television show.  The exile creates the right build-up and motivation for It’s HYDRA-based return.  It also seems to be a character that a) is simple to redesign its backstory and b) won’t take a key person away from the upcoming Inhumans movie.  It’s ability is the embodiment of Terrigenesis meaning it has nearly unlimited power.  It also plays into my earlier notion that Malick’s “destined to rule this planet” line was a more accurate statement than it appeared.  The show has been dancing around calling it anything at all, including Malick and HYDRA, instead referring to it as “It”, a sly hint to It’s Unspoken name.

An interesting sidenote: when the character resurfaces after his exile in the comics it’s in Tibet, which is precisely where a certain Dr. Steven Strange has recently been photographed.  Though the two are unrelated in the existing canon, here in the MCU #ItsAllConnected.

One other interesting note: The Marvel Cinematic Universe Wikia has the planet currently identified as Maveth, which is the title of next week’s finale Agents of SHIELD episode as well as the Hebrew word for “Death” that Fitz found on the scroll in the premiere.  All the information from the Wikia is derived from the show itself so no hints lie dormant there but I do find it interesting that they’ve given the planet a name.  Maveth does not exist in previous Marvel canon.

secret warriors2Agents of SHIELD and Daisy’s Secret Warriors

One of the coolest moments of Episode 3.09 was one that fans have been waiting for all season as Daisy brought the initial agents-with-powers team together to become the Secret Warriors.  So far it’s Daisy (Quake), Joey, and Lincoln (going by the name “Sparkplug”), with Quake the only one yet derived from the comics.  No word yet on a codename for Joey but his metal-manipulation powers will make an excellent matchup against fake-Magneto Giyera in next week’s finale.  The group is led by Mack as new acting director of SHIELD, with one of his very first acts being to activate them for their mission.  It is a somewhat ironic role considering his views on powered peoples and I think it is laying the groundwork for him to lead this or another splinter SHIELD group after the winter break.  As far as future members of the Secret Warriors, it’s been announced that the character Yo Yo Rodriguez aka Slingshot will be joining the cast after the break played by Natalia Cordova-Buckley.  There is also the question of whether the show will bring Alisha, the Replicating Girl who was a member of Afterlife, back to be a member of the team given her alliance with SHIELD against Lash.  And though he isn’t technically a powered person, the long-absent Deathlok has also been suggested as a potential Secret Warrior.


Where Will We Be Left After the Agents of SHIELD Winter Finale?

Executive producer Jeph Loeb hinted last week that some big surprises were to come in the final two episodes, echoed by Clark Gregg:
“This mid-season finale has two shocking twists,” he says. “Both of them are bigger than anything that happened in last season’s mid-season finale.”

Last year’s mid-season finale featured Daisy undergoing Terrigenesis (to become Quake) and Agent Tripp dying as a result of the exposure.  Given the magnitude of that change, both for the Agent of SHIELD‘s plot and the overall MCU, the twist(s) in this year’s winter finale will have to be pretty significant.

Will someone die?

I had been thinking that Mack might not make it to the second half of the season.  He was less developed than his co-characters, including Hunter and Morse with whom he joined the show who have become the MCU stand-ins for Mockingbird and Hawkeye.  But last week’s promotion to acting director has led me away from this belief.  I also thought they might kill off Lincoln but offing the love interest of two different central characters two weeks in a row would seem to be bad form.  Joey, though, I don’t think is safe.  There are also those who think we could see one of FitzSimmons taken away from us (specifically Fitz in a heroic effort to save Will) and while I think the shock value would be highest with this move, it would be more destructive than useful, especially given how much has been invested in their relationship recently.  Sorry Joey, looks like you’re next on the chopping block.

How will Agents of SHIELD lead in and connect to the rest of the MCU?

The second season of Agent Carter begins airing on January 5th January 19th .  At the end of last season Carter was approached by Howard Stark for the initial formation of SHIELD and I believe the series will spend some time delving into this as a corollary to Agents of SHIELD‘s storyline of HYDRA’s ancient formation.

Captain-America-3-Civil-War-Cap-vs-Iron-Man-artworkThe most obvious tie-in will be to Civil War, with the battle over what to do with powered people already being fought on the AoS front lines.  During the season’s second half we will get the week-to-week impact over the film’s opening weekend, a television act unique to Agents of SHIELD.  But I also have a possible theory that Ward will actually make the jump to the big screen as the first agent not named Coulson or Hill to cross over.  I think both Grant Ward as a character and Brett Dalton as an actor have the most to lend to a film role, expanding him into a leader of a villainous group in the wake of the superheroes fighting each other (can anyone say Masters of Evil?).  I think he will not be killed or stopped but will grow in his Bid Bad-ness, possibly getting powers as he transforms into a canon character (Taskmaster?) or being taken over by the It and turned into something new.  His lines about “leading” and the way they’ve built him up over the end of the season hint at a greater not lesser role for his character going forward and I think that him becoming empowered on the alien planet could be Loeb’s bigger-than-last-season twist.  That all depends, of course, of what happens to Ward in the mid-season finale.  Perhaps the surprise is that he’s the star giving a final performance.

The other MCU tie-in comes from introducing another solar system/dimension for the alien planet (now named “Maveth”) as the MCU prepares for an inter-galactic battle against Thanos in the Infinity War.  My newest theory is that the planet will be revealed as The Blue Area of the Moon to which the Inhumans transported their entire city of Attilan.  But whatever the location’s identity, it is sure to be used as a pitstop, gateway, or background to events in the coming films.

Final Conclusions

No matter what happens, it promises to be an exciting mid-season finale next week.  I think there is a good chance Coulson and Fitz remained trapped on Maveth during the winter break, specifically because they went to the lengths to appoint Mack as director.  I really don’t know what I think will happen with Will.  Is he the Death Monster?  Will Fitz heroically rescue him or be thrown into peril doing so? Will he square off against Ward in a good-super-soldier vs bad-super-soldier battle?  And I think we will get a last-second reveal of the Death Monster/It/The Unspoken as the episode comes to a close, lending a specific hint or hints to snap the character into recognition.  However things do go down, the Agents of SHIELD winter finale promises to send Daisy-type reverberations into 2016.


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