Sunday, May 3, 2015

The AoU Lead-In to AoS

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. provided a solid lead-in to Avengers: Age of Ultron with its episode last Tuesday, “The Dirty Half Dozen” (2x19).   In that episode, Coulson’s original team went on a mission to infiltrate Dr. List’s Arctic Hydra base.  While there, Coulson downloaded information on Loki’s Scepter, Strucker’s base, and the Maximoff Twins from the Hydra computers.  After the mission, Coulson contacted Maria Hill and sent all of his information to her, telling her that it is “Time to send in the Avengers.”  Conveniently, this leads almost directly into the events of Age of Ultron (and explains how Hill conveniently had all that information about the Twins!).  That is one of the benefits of a cross-platform, interconnected, shared universe:  one medium can lead into another, providing background information and showing events which would only be told in the other.  When you think about it, without “The Dirty Half Dozen,” Age of Ultron would have needed at least a couple minutes of (less interesting) exposition to explain how they knew where to find Loki’s Scepter!

Of course, one of the challenges of a cross-platform interconnected shared universe is that what happens in one medium can have serious ramifications for the others.  We saw this last year when the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team had to clean up the results of the Convergence (Thor: The Dark World) in what was the least-interesting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tie-in episode yet.  More to the point, the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier after it was revealed that the organization had been infiltrated by Hydra had a massive affect on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  The show couldn’t possibly ignore the fact that the movie had done away with its very organization.  This changed the course of the series permanently.

Caution:  SPOILERS Ahead!

Avengers: Age of Ultron did not have that same degree of impact on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and to be honest I don’t think anything short of Ultron actually succeeding in causing an extinction-level event would have had that degree of impact on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!).  However, there are a couple ways in which Age of Ultron impacts events on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. going forward and even leads into the events of this week’s episode, “Scars” (2x20).

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So Hydra is pretty much gone.  Strucker was confirmed captured—and killed by Ultron.  Since Tony knocked him unconscious before accessing Hydra’s computers, it is also a safe assumption that Dr. List is in custody as well.  Hydra may return at some point—and with Baron Zemo confirmed for next year’s Captain America: Civil War is it all but certain that Hydra will return—but it is pretty much leaderless at the moment.

Hydra has been a major plot point this season on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; I don’t think we have to worry about it as much (if at all) moving forward.

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The Helicarrier

Sadly, the helicarrier in Age of Ultron was not confirmed as Gonzales’ ship.  However, the ease with which Fury was able to mount a helicarrier-based rescue in Sokovia would suggest that he had some plans already.  Is this another “S.H.I.E.L.D.” organization, or was one of the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s involved in it?  If they were, odds are we will find out on Tuesday.  However, the more likely possibility is that Fury still has a few contacts among former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (such as Hill and Sharon Carter) who were able to piece together a skeleton crew to man the carrier—which Coulson may have been watching over for him.  Some of the personnel may have flown in from Gonzales’ ship or one of Coulson’s bases, but that’s not really a necessity.

“What S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Supposed to Be”

Cap’s comment to Quicksilver that “this is what S.H.I.E.L.D. is supposed to be” in reference to the helicarrier showing up to help them rescue the civilians may be a tease of where S.H.I.E.L.D. is going as it moves forward.  Might the new S.H.I.E.L.D. start carrying out more humanitarian and relief efforts after this?  I doubt it will ever be S.H.I.E.L.D.’s primary purpose—regardless of who’s in charge—but it will probably be something that they do when necessary.

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The Chronology

The biggest lead-in from Age of Ultron to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the timeline of events between the movie and series.  Simply put, “The Dirty Half Dozen” ends the night before the movie begins, and the movie’s final fight takes place roughly a week after “The Dirty Half Dozen.”  Does that mean that the final Ultron battle takes place at the same time as “Scars”?  It’s possible.  Here’s the timeline as I can piece it together:

Tuesday – “The Dirty Half Dozen”:  Coulson infiltrates List’s base, acquires the information, and transmits it to Hill

Wednesday midday – Age of Ultron:  The Avengers assault Strucker’s base in Sokovia and capture Loki’s scepter.

Wednesday evening – Tony and Bruce begin attempting to use the brain pattern they isolated in the scepter to generate an artificial intelligence—Ultron—to control the Iron Legion.

Saturday evening – The Avengers throw a victory party (which includes getting their creator drunk).  At the same time, the A.I. generation is successful and Ultron is “born.”  Ultron fights the Avengers and his first body is destroyed.  (Note:  Tony said that the party was happening on Saturday, that that is what the first two time points are based on.)

Sunday morning – The Avengers track Ultron to Africa, where they are defeated

Sunday afternoon/evening – The Avengers flee to Barton’s farm (did anyone see that one coming?  I sure didn’t!)

Monday morning – The Avengers spend part of the day at Barton’s farm while Ultron coerces Dr. Cho into constructing his new body.  Thor meets Selvig and goes to the “Pool of Sight.”

Monday afternoon – Hawkeye, Captain America, and Black Widow assault Ultron’s transport and capture the new body.  Stark visits Oslo and locates the scattered remains of JARVIS.

Monday night – Tony and Bruce place JARVIS’ A.I. into the new body, creating Vision.

Tuesday – The final battle with Ultron.  Hulk heads off on his own.  This is possibly the same day as the events of “Scars” (2x20).

Some Time Later (this summer?) – Thor returns to Asgard, and Hawkeye and Iron Man quit the team.  The New Avengers form at their new facility in Upstate New York.

I may have missed something or condensed multiple days into a single day.  However, if I am right, the timing works for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team to be involved in the events in Sokovia—or at least cognizant of them occurring at that time.  In fact, it is a very real possibility that the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s could be forced to work together yet again because of the Ultron attack.
When Raina says “they’re coming,” the obvious implication is that she means the S.H.I.E.L.D. quinjets.  Instead, what if she’s talking about Ultron bots?  What if S.H.I.E.L.D. is not scrambling jets to attack/invade Lai Shi, but rather to protect Lai Shi from Ultron?  That doesn’t entirely fit what’s going on elsewhere in the promotion video or the episode preview, but they probably would have cut it in such a way that Ultron would be a surprise.  If we see S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans working together to destroy a bunch of Ultron bots, that would be a cool way for the groups to learn about each other.

So what do you think of my assessment?  How much of a lead-in do you expect the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron to give to the “Scars” episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  Do you think there needs to be a lot of obvious connective tissue between the series and the movies?

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