Welcome back, True Believers!
I’ve not yet gotten the chance to write about Agents of SHIELD since it returned from winter break but many of you have hit me up with questions, comments, and praise for where the show is going as we prepare to enter the Civil War era. The seeds for the division surrounding the issue of enhanced people were sewn in Season 2, perhaps the earliest of anywhere in the MCU. As the Inhuman outbreak grows, the stances of world governments, the construction of a “sanctuary state”, and reactions from groups like The Watchdogs will all come to the forefront, setting the stage for the Spring’s biggest blockbuster (sorry, BvS). But AoS also has new characters on which to speculate and discuss (the Secret Warriors have officially arrived), as well as the Marvel’s Most Wanted spinoff centered on Morse and Hunter. So grab your Phil Coulson collector cards and let’s talk character predictions, a Spy’s Goodbye, and other rumor threads currently weaving their way through this season of Agents of SHIELD.
SPOILER WARNING – Reading beyond this point infers that you have seen the most recent episode of AoS. If you have not, please heed this SPOILER WARNING, crank up the dvr, get caught up, and then return here for a rousing discussion. – SPOILER WARNING
All good? Away we go then.
Marvel’s Most Wanted
We’ll start with last night’s “Parting Shot” episode, focused on Bobbi and Hunter as they attempt to infiltrate the base in Siberia that will become the Inhuman “sanctuary state” (I keep using quotation marks because we all know this will not turn out to be much sanctuary for those living there – more speculation on this in a moment). After a lengthy battle, capture, and interrogation, the episode culminates in the two agents taking the blame for the incident to the benefit of both the Russian Prime Minister and SHIELD. They are publicly disavowed and the most touching moment of the episode is the “spy’s goodbye” they receive from their now ex-team, with Mack’s unwillingness to take his shot and to let go of his friends especially poignant. It was well written, foreshadowing their finality with an opening line from their interrogator that asks, “So you don’t work for SHIELD?” I’m certain many of us didn’t see this coming, especially given that showrunner Jed Whedon had previously stated that there were writing as if the spinoff didn’t exist. But last night’s episode left no ambiguity about their departure. And though we fans will be sad to see the spy couple go, their exit was a beautifully-composed salute to two of the show’s best additions.
One of the most popular areas of question and discussion as the show has returned from break revolves around Ward and his transformation into Hive. Back in December, I and others correctly predicted that this is who the “revived” version of Ward that we saw in the Season3A finale would turn out to be. One of the cooler implications that comes with Hive’s arrival is the formation of the supervillain heads of Hydra group from the Secret Warriors comics. So far we have Hive, Gideon Malick as the tv stand-in for the now-dead Baron Von Strucker, and even our own version of Gorgon. Yup, Lucio, the Colombian officer who paralyzes/turns people to stone is the MCU version of Gorgon. His paralysis even bestows a grey color on its victims suggestive of stone. Note: This Gorgon is not to be confused with the member of the Inhuman Royal Family of the same name. Will we see an expansion of his now quiet, background character? It’s interesting to note that in the comics he and YoYo Rodriguez have quite a hands-on relationship (he cuts off her hands) so will we see this play out on the small screen?
Who else from this super villain squad will we see? I had originally thought that perhaps the female Asian world leader at the symposium could become Viper, joining Malick and taking the position of Madame Hydra. It’s clear, though, that the Russian leader will be the central figure in the construction of the sanctuary state. More importantly, we were introduced to Gideon Malick’s daughter in last night’s closing “we’ll return in a moment” scene, clearly intended to raise suspicion and intrigue. She is an excellent marksman and is clearly primed to be part of the family business. She is eager to meet HiveWard, and in the comics Hive eventually merges with Viper. Ergo, I hereby predict that daughter Malick is the MCU version of Viper. If they let it drop in an upcoming episode that she is named Ophelia I’ll get all kinds of nerd-excited.
Will we get some version of Kraken? Though the early character existed for a long time as a giant sea monster, the more recent version in the Secret Warriors comics is a Hydra agent named Kraken, controlling things behind the scenes. It also turned out that the character was an iteration of Daniel Whitehall (or the other way around, more accurately) who has already gotten a lengthy AoS appearance and death. So will the show leave Kraken out altogether? And will Giyera aka low-rent Magneto turn out to be a canon character or, like Lincoln and Joey, will be be an original character made to pave the way for the canon Inhumans?
The Secret Warriors
Over on the Good Guys bench, the ranks are also swelling as the Secret Warriors team comes together. We’ve already mentioned YoYo, a direct transfer of Slingshot from the comics, and before the winter break we already had Lincoln and Joey join the team as original, non-canon members. This leads to the obvious question, what other Secret Warriors will the showrunners be bringing over from the comics?
In the source material, each of the Secret Warriors was the illegitimate child of a supervillain, the source of each of their abilities. While the MCU’s Daisy carries this same origin, I don’t think they’ll stick to it for the rest of the team, it’s simply more complication than necessary. As a result, I predict Jerry Sledge aka Stonewall from the comics, son of the Absorbing Man, Carl Creel, will be replaced by his father, already an active and re-emerged AoS character.
What about Hellfire? Last season many predicted that this was who Ward was to become, a hotshot who turns out to be a traitor for Hydra. Obviously Ward is not Hellfire, but will we see an MCU version of this popular character?
Will the son of either a former head of Hydra or an American general, turn out to be Phobos? So far we’ve been introduced to both Werner Von Strucker (now with tortured Hydra past) and George Talbot (in passing). I think either father could serve as a symbolic stand-in for Phobos’ father, Ares, the god of war, so keep an eye out for more hints.
But the most exciting hint of an upcoming Secret Warrior is the sly mention of Manifold. This Aboriginal Australian was name-dropped in the “Inside Man” episode when Bobbi broke into the Aussie leader’s safe and found the name of an Inhuman they are holding for military experiments. The name on the folder is Eden Fesi, the real identity of the teleporting character Manifold. His ability is to bend time and space, allowing him to teleport himself and anything/anyone around him. A passionate fan of classic rock, in the comics Manifold willingly joins the team as a way to escape the boredom of the Australian outback. He first appears in Secret Warriors #4 and throughout his tenure he’s been recruited by Iron-Man and Cap to be an Avenger, he’s run into the Guardians of the Galaxy, and he has interactions with Black Panther in the Secret Wars storyline. Could any of these mean bigger future things for the character or will he remain an AoS property only?
In the “Inside Man” episode the concept of a “sanctuary state” for Inhumans is raised at the world leader symposium and proposed to be established within Russia’s borders. Malick’s subsequent meeting with the Russian leader solidifies the nefarious nature of this endeavor, feeding speculation as to a comic book precursor to this new state. For many fans it brings to mind Genosha, the island state from the X-Men comics. Genosha obviously can’t be used due to continuing issues of rights with Fox, but there are other locations within the comics that our sanctuary state could turn out to be. The leading contender is a place called Madripoor, an island in Southeast Asia near Singapore. It is a seedy place, a haven for pirates, an isle without extradition, ruled by Madame Hydra. This presents a locale rife with spy-battle opportunities and even the possibility of a Marvel’s Most Wanted crossover.
The final canon element I’ll discuss today is the upcoming inclusion of the group The Watchdogs. The President first name-drops them in “Bouncing Back” mentioning that “…watchdog groups are hurling accusations…” which Skye then solidifies in “Inside Man”, calling the group The Watchdogs by name and mentioning their mission to “kill the aliens, take back the planet”. So what do we know about this militant organization? First appearing in Captain America #335, the Watchdogs are a right-wing group, dedicated to the restoration and protection of “traditional” America culture against the onslaught of pornography, sex ed, abortion, homosexuality, etc. They force their victims, held at a large compound in VT, to wear electro shock dog collars and flood them with Americana imagery. Their various cells called Dogpacks (and each member a Dog-Brother) present a good angle for AoS to take in showing the world’s reaction to the “Inhuman Contagion”. They swear the following oath, the recitation of which I predict we will see on the show:
“I solemnly vow to walk the virtuous path… to safeguard society from the forces that would corrupt it… and to destroy the enemies of decency… of morality, and of the values upon which our country was founded!”
Will this group be a short-lived enemy for Coulson and crew, or will they be the lead of a global resistance to enhanced people that we see carry over to Civil War?
There’s much to be excited about in this half-season of AoS. Are the subtle hints about Mack’s aversion to Inhumans and Hunter’s experimenting with fish oil pills foreshadowing an enhanced turn for Mack? How will his budding romance with YoYo evolve, especially in light of the exploding spaceship scene that opened the premiere? And who the hell is Mack’s brother?? Will Lash return? Graviton? Deathlok? And what side(s) will our AoS heroes take in the oncoming Civil War? The answers to these questions and more, only on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.