Friday, May 1, 2015

The AoS Lead-In to AoU

Image Courtesy
It’s Avengers: Age of Ultron Day in America!  Who’s excited?  I know I’m excited!  I’ll be going to see the movie this afternoon right after lunch, so you can expect a quick non-spoiler review later in the afternoon/early evening.  I will try to publish a more detailed spoiler review some time tomorrow or Sunday (depending on if/when I can see it again this weekend).  But before seeing the movie, I thought it would be a good idea to go over the immediate build-up to the events of Age of Ultron.  I talked about some of it in my TL;DW (“Too Long; Didn’t Watch”) article last week [], and then again in my review of “The Dirty Half Dozen” (2x19) and Age of Ultron expectations post this week. However, in case you did not get to see “The Dirty Half Dozen,” here is my breakdown of exactly how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. leads directly into the events of Age of Ultron.  There will be SPOILERS for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but not for Age of Ultron; just wild speculation.

Image Courtesy
Image Courtesy
Quick Lines about the Twins

There are several throwaway lines throughout the episode which do not affect the episode’s plot but are included to anticipate the events of Age of Ultron.  The first one I noticed served as Dr. List’s introduction to the episode.  When we first see him, he is on the phone with a “Doctor.”  After hanging up he comments that Strucker is pleased with their accomplishment in capturing two enhanced people (meaning Lincoln and Deathlok).

The next is in another conversation between List and Bakshi while discussing their experimentation on Lincoln and Deathlok.  He notes that it is a shame that the Twins are the only survivors of their experimentation with giving people superpowers using alien technology (meaning Loki’s Scepter).  List makes it clear that thus far Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) are the only enhanced people that Hydra has—or at least the only ones whose powers resulted from this experimentation.  It wouldn’t exactly surprise me if the Twins are the only enhanced people in their control, period; considering that they were in the process of dismantling two enhanced people when S.H.I.E.L.D. intervened, that doesn’t exactly bode well for any other enhanced people whom Hydra has captured in the past!

List further notes that the Twins are with Strucker in Sokovia.  This is just the first Sokovia namedrop in the episode; it becomes far more significant later in the episode.

Image Courtesy
Coulson’s Mission and Setting Up Avengers: Age of Ultron

At the end, it is revealed that Coulson’s entire mission in this episode sets up the first Act of Age of Ultron.  When he meets with Gonzales in the containment room on the Bus, Coulson’s primary argument for leading the mission to destroy the Hydra base in the Arctic is because Strucker and List are conducting experiments on enhanced people.  Gonzales proposes bombing the base off the face of the earth, but Coulson argues against it, claiming that he does not want to risk killing Deathlock or Lincoln (Gonzales isn’t too thrilled with his reasoning).  In reality, Coulson has a second, hidden, objective for infiltrating the Hydra base:  He wants access to Hydra’s computer system.  He gets access to a Hydra computer while Fitz is disabling the base’s missile defense system, and downloads a large amount of data onto a flash drive.  What was he looking for and why was he looking for it?  We find out at the end of the episode.

After returning from the mission, while talking to Gonzales, Coulson receives a phone call.  He takes one look at the Caller I.D. and holds the phone out so Gonzales can see that former Deputy S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill is calling him (can you say “pissing contest”?).  When Coulson goes to his office, he takes the video call from Hill, who is sitting in what is pretty clearly Avengers Tower—you can see the New York skyline out the window.  Coulson brings up some of the information from his flash drive and shows Hill a couple images of Loki’s Scepter.  Simultaneously, he informs her that the Scepter is at Strucker’s base in Sokovia—and that List is likely on his way there.  During the infiltration, List had escaped with one of his lieutenants; Coulson expects him to return to Strucker.  This sets up List to reappear in the movie (he was in the mid-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, along with Strucker and the Twins), specifically back at Strucker’s side.  They actually did the same thin in Winter Soldier with Agent Sitwell:  He received orders to report to the Lemurian Star on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and then the Lemurian Star was attacked by pirates, setting up for Sitwell to appear in Winter Soldier.

The key of this whole episode—at least as far as the Age of Ultron lead-in is concerned—is when Coulson transmits all of the data he received from Hydra to Hill.  This includes the exact location of Strucker’s base.  It also includes Hydra’s information about the Scepter.  And presumably it includes information about the Twins—information which Hill will share with the Avengers.

And speaking of the Avengers, after receiving the information, Hill asks Coulson about Theta Protocol:  “Is it ready?”  His response:  “It is.  Time to bring in the Avengers.”  In other words, Coulson calling Hill is what puts the Avengers on to Strucker’s location, and why they get called in to begin with.

As a side note, Theta Protocol is a subject I’ve discussed previously.  In “The Dirty Half Dozen,” Coulson and Hill use “Theta Protocal” and “bring in the Avengers” together as though there is a connection there.  And I think that there may be one, but I don’t think “Theta Protocol” is a code name for Coulson having Hill sic the Avengers on Strucker.  That is a little too simplistic and does not account for some of his actions as part of Theta Protocol.  If you remember, Mack and Bobbi said that Coulson was making a lot of trips around the world, burning money (figuratively), and engaging in massive building projects—complete with materiel requisitions (including 100 bunk beds).  The trips around the world would make sense:  He was trying to find the Hydra base housing Loki’s Scepter.  He explained away his meetings with Andrew Garner as “counseling” to cope with his alien writing.  But how do the building projects and bunk beds fit into a plan to find the Scepter and call in the Avengers?  I don’t think they do.  I think “Theta Protocol” might be a little more detailed than that.  Either way, it definitely has something to do with the Avengers.  My best guess at this point is that either Coulson is building safe houses for the Avengers around the world (which doesn’t make much sense if Tony “Uncle Money Bags” Stark is bankrolling the Avengers) or Coulson is recruiting new members for the Avengers.

Image Courtesy
Raina’s Vision of Metal Men

Simultaneous with Coulson’s conversation with Hill, we also see another conversation going on, between Raina and Jiaying.  Raina is in the process of telling Jiaying that she believes that she (Raina) should be making the decisions for the Inhuman community rather than Jiaying.  However, her thinly-veiled threat is interrupted by an overwhelmingly powerful vision in which she sees Loki’s Scepter (in a shot from The Avengers).  On coming out of the trance, Raina tells Jiaying that she saw the Scepter, that it was “beautiful, dangerous” and would cause “so much destruction.”  Interestingly, she said that “it isn’t finished yet.”  Does this mean that the Scepter will have something to do with Ultron?  Remember, I still haven’t seen the movie yet; I’ll be going right after lunch today.  The other possibility is that “it isn’t finished yet” because it is an Infinity Stone, and during the Infinity Wars it will be combined with the other Stones and the Gauntlet to cause untold devastation to the universe.

That’s not all.  Raina also sees “Men made of metal” who will “tear our cities apart, and the world will be changed forever.”  The “men made of metal” is obviously a reference to Ultron and his robots—though Iron Man, War Machine, and Vision could all fit that description as well.  I’m curious about Raina’s statement that they will “tear our cities apart.”  Is she talking about cities in general?  Or about Inhuman cities?  Might we see Inhuman cities in Age of Ultron coming under siege by Ultron drones?  That would be pretty cool, and an interesting way to introduce the Inhumans into the movie side of the MCU.  However, throwing the Inhumans into the mix alongside about a dozen Avengers, and Hydra, and Ultron seems like too much.  With that you risk the same problem as they would have if they introduced Captain Marvel with a quick cameo:  the character(s) gets shortchanged in her/their first appearance.  I think they could still get away with it, but the average moviegoer who doesn’t watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (they’re seriously missing out) won’t know what’s going on.

One thing is certain:  “The world will be changed forever” after Ultron attacks.

Image Courtesy
Possible Future Crossovers

There are a couple moments in the episode which may or may not be setting up future crossovers between Age of Ultron and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the end of the season.  I don’t know how much stock to put in either of these, but either one could lead to interesting moments.

The first possible crossover moment comes while Fitz and Simmons are examining Mike Peterson/Deathlok at the Playground.  Simmons comments that Hydra completely dismantled Mike’s leg, and that it will take a lot of man-hours to reassemble it.  Fortunately, they know of a facility that can repair Deathlok’s leg, which will already be prepped when he gets there.  Could the “facility” they are talking about be Avengers Tower?  It is certainly a possibility.  After all, how many people have the tools to put together a cyborg?  Tony Stark and Bruce Banner together easily have the requisite knowledge, and Tony’s vast fortune is more than enough to build, equip, and staff a facility with the ability to reassemble Deathlok’s leg.  And if Stark works on him, then Deathlok could come back with some awesome Stark-Tech upgrades, too.

Is it a reference to Avengers Tower?  Probably not, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Deathlok walking out of the Tower in one of the final scenes of the season with his leg fully repaired.

Another possible foreshadowing of future events comes at the end when Coulson tells Gonzales that he can have the Toolbox—at least until Fury comes to take it back.  From his reaction, it is obvious that Gonzales did not know that Fury was still alive—and this gives the three people who are watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and still haven’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier a heads up that Fury faked his death in Winter Soldier (spoiler alert!), just in case it comes up in the movie.  This may or may not also be setting up a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) in the last three episodes of the season to referee the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. fight.  He has to know about it, considering that Coulson has told Maria Hill, and the two of them are part of a very small handful of people who know the truth about Fury.

Is Fury returning this season?  Anything is possible.  I recall an interview since the episode aired to the effect that Fury will not have a cameo, but we can’t put stock in that.  After all, directors and actors lie all the time to cover up surprises like this!


I think the way in which “The Dirty Half Dozen” leads into Avengers: Age of Ultron is one of the best parts of this series.  Not only can Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. be affected by the movies (as with the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in), but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can also provide a “prelude” to the movies by showing the events leading up to the main action.  This gives us fans who watch all of the TV shows and movies even more to enjoy because what we see on the small screen is going to have an impact on the big screen.

Did you see any connections that I missed?  My Sunday article (after watching Age of Ultron) will be a look at how the events of Age of Ultron can impact the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. world.  As of now I don’t think they will dwell on the movie too much.  Obviously they can’t ignore “men made of metal tear[ing] our cities apart,” but there’s a lot else happening on the show, so they may not be able to connect the movie and episode quite as much as they did with this one, or with every episode after Captain America: The Winter Soldier last year.  How do you think they will connect on the other side of the movie?

If you want to get an email whenever I publish a new article, go to the top of the page and enter your email address in the box labeled “Subscribe to Mostly MCU Reviews” and click “Submit.”

No comments:

Post a Comment