What Next for Marvel's Agents of SHIELD?
With Agents of SHIELD season 3 coming to a close, teasing a new status quo for Season 4, we take a quick look at what could happen and what is more likely to happen to Coulson and Co.
Coulson has been demoted back to agent and SHIELD has a new, currently unknown, Director in charge. Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) is the most likely candidate, with the ATCU likely repurposed into a newly rebooted and government approved SHIELD. Whilst the events of Civil War didn't play massively into the events of Season 3 (likely for the best, as the show had a clear focus that gave it energy and drive), the effects of The Sokovia Accords are likely to be felt throughout Season Four.
We may also have a completely left field Director of SHIELD. Following the events of Marvel's Secret Invasion comic, SHIELD was dismantled and Norman Osborne and HAMMER took over, hunting down heroes during what is lovingly referred to as The Dark Reign. Could we see someone with a personal grudge against heroes taking over? Could it even be Thunderbolt Thadeus Ross (though it may be a slight step down from Secretary of State)?
I'd expect the Inhumans to take a step back for a while as any powered vigilante is potentially a target of SHIELD. Whilst we're always told that everything is connected there still seems a massive gap between the movies and TV and now feels like a good time to try and bridge it. Now that Cap's Avengers are on the run it would be exciting and plausible to see them turn up in some form. They're fugitives, so how does Coulson feel about going after them? How does Cap respond to finding Coulson being alive (just another government lie)? Maybe Ant Man or Hawkeye could be found sneaking into an old SHIELD facility...
Whilst I don't expect any of that to happen - largely due to behind the camera politics - it would be massive coup for the show. It's also one that makes narrative sense instead of being simply a stunt episode. Ah well, I can dream.
With Agent Carter cancelled will we see her appear in Agents of SHIELD, perhaps a story told in flashbacks that ties into current events? Hayley Atwell and Dominic Carter are both leading brand new shows (Conviction and Preacher respectively) but are also eager to reprise their roles in the MCU. Atwell's current career success owes a lot to her turn as Peggy Carter and I doubt that we have seen the last of her. Agents of SHIELD seems like the only viable way to do so, and I imagine discussions are being had or that the offer is at least on the table.
Hunter and Morse both left SHIELD for their own show Most Wanted. The pilot didn't get picked up however so I wouldn't be too surprised to see them reappear in SHIELD. Coulson may even be tasked with tracking them down; Mockingbird certainly won't have signed up to the Sokovia Accords.
Will we see Damage Control? They were name dropped in Season 3 and a Damage Control sitcom has been on the cards for a while. I wouldn't be surprised to see that idea scrapped (it's not really a show anyone seems to have much excitement for) but for some of it's key ideas to possibly make it into SHIELD.
The show could also be a way to tease and set up the proposed Cloak and Dagger show. Or perhaps Marvel might want to introduce The Runaways, a gang of kids who don't want to follow in the footsteps of their supervillain parents. It would kill any chance of ever seeing Drew Pearce's long gestating movie come to fruition but fans of the series will be happy to see anything come to light with those characters. It might even be used as an effective backdoor pilot.
Whilst Agents of SHIELD is keen to reference and tie into the movies, there has been very little connection between the small screen Marvel ventures and a few nods to Daredevil wouldn't go amiss.
Speculation and wishful thinking aside, we can expect to see Coulson hunting down Daisy. Speaking to EW Clark Gregg himself has said that Coulson is not in a good place, hunting down someone he loves and no longer finding he has as much control over his life as he was used to previously. I do however suspect that Daisy is likely to be back working with SHIELD by the mid season finale (this show has always liked to split it's halves into different focuses and agendas). The Secret Warriors are still out there too...
John Hannah is certainly sticking around. Dr. Radcliffe is developing Life Model Decoys for his AI, AIDA. AIDA first appeared in the comics series Squadron Supreme where she was used to help find cures to diseases - will she be used to "treat" Inhumans?. Radcliffe of the comics also created an army of AIs. Will we see a more tech focused season, perhaps with Radcliffe - who has already proven to be of flexible morals - creating something he can't control? Expect more than a few references to Ultron if so.
Mack and Rodriguez seemed to be slowly developing a friendship that promised to be something more. She wouldn't sign up to the Accords so does that put them at odds? Speaking of relationships, hopefully the writers don't A) bring back Lincoln as an LMD and B) break up Fitz/Simmons.
The other thing we can expect are a few more film tie ins. Doctor Strange and Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 are both due to hit cinemas whilst Agents of SHIELD is on the air. Doctor Strange is most likely to effect the show as it will see the Mystical side of the MCU come into play proper, opening up a whole new set of potential threats and, as an aside, Marvel are still thinking about what to do with Blade...
Truthfully we will get our best indication of what Season 4 holds at San Diego Comic Con but all the show really needs to do is continue to deliver consistently, carrying on the energy of Season 3. Coulson lives.