Friday, February 17, 2017

What's the Last Story Arc in AoS Season 4 Going to Be?

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By now it’s pretty well known that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: LMD arc is going to conclude next week with the episode “Self Control.”  This is the fifteenth episode of the season, leaving seven more episodes for the third and final arc of the season.  However, as of late we do not have any definitive information about that final arc beyond a comment from Chloe Bennet that it will give something of a payoff for fans who have been watching since season 1.  I really don’t know what that means, but we’re going to speculate, anyways!

What could the final arc of this season be?  Here are at least a few possibilities.

What We Know/Suspect So Far:

As stated above, Chloe Bennet teased a connection to season 1, though that could mean just about anything.

It is also a confirmed fact (shocking, I know), that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be releasing in U.S. theaters on May 5.  There was a small connection to Doctor Strange in the first arc of the season, so it is equally possible for there to be some degree of connection with Guardians Vol. 2 in the final one.  However, that is not a certainty.

Finally, it has been stated that they will take a hiatus between arcs (I would guess about a month, starting up again either March 28 or April 4).  This doesn’t mean much beyond the possible connection with Guardians Vol. 2, since either date would place the season finale either 1 week or 2 weeks after the movie’s release.

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Option 1:  Deathlok

This isn’t a particularly exciting option, but it is something we have waited over a season to see.  Whatever happened to Mike Peterson, a.k.a. Deathlok, after he was sent away to have his dismantled leg repaired?  We have not received any hints of what happened to him since then, even though he would certainly have been affected by the Sokovia Accords last year.

If Deathlok is the focus of this arc, it would be easy enough to explain his absence for a year.  The first time he disappeared for half a year, he was off on a secret mission for Coulson; the same could be true now.  The other option is that the process of rebuilding his leg has been unsuccessful, keeping him sidelined for the last year.  As a possible connection to the previous arcs, this would give a reason for Dr. Radcliffe to stick around with another plea deal to replace Deathlok’s leg and upgrade some of his hardware.

Deathlok doesn’t provide much in the way of obvious connections to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, however, which would be a bit disappointing.

The Berserker

The Asgardian presently known as Dr. Elliot Randolph has made a couple of appearances so far to help the team with alien artifacts.  Given that he would (presumably) be covered by the Sokovia Accords in the same way that Thor is, I would be very curious to know how he maintains his privacy and secrecy in an atmosphere of suspicion and fear.

That he is himself an alien would offer an obvious potential connection with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, though there are a lot of directions to take it.  However, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has already explored human fear and mistrust of “aliens” using the Inhumans, so that would be pretty redundant.

The other issue with focusing on Randolph for an entire seven-episode arc is that there really isn’t quite enough there for a full arc.  Thus far his character has been good in small doses, but unless they find a way to tell the full story of his time on “Midgard” in flashback and make it interesting, this would not be my preference for a seven-episode arc.

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This almost feels like cheating since so much of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has revolved around the Inhumans.  Additionally, there is an Inhumans TV series and “movie” (the first 2 episodes released in IMAX) coming later this year.

However, this feels like the right move precisely because of the previous two points.  Given that so much of the series has focused on the Inhumans—and given that they will now be taking something of a backseat with their own series coming, making the Inhumans the focus of this final arc would be a good “send off,” opening the series up to place more focus on other stories and characters moving forward.  This could also give the Royal Family a small introduction in advance of their series, simultaneously increasing hype for Inhumans and infusing new life into AoS.

The first-season connection is fairly obvious:  the Kree body played a significant role in the season and gives a connection to both the Inhumans and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Oh, and there’s also Vijay who is still at the bottom of a lake somewhere in his second Terrigenesis cocoon, and that’s bound to factor in here somewhere.

Even if the final arc of the season is not focused primarily on the Inhumans, I do expect this final arc to give the Inhuman storyline a worthy conclusion and perhaps help to set up Inhumans in some way.

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Agents of S.W.O.R.D.

I suggested this as a possible spinoff from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last year, but that obviously did not come to fruition.  However, that’s no reason it couldn’t work as a story arc in this season and set up a potential spinoff in the near future (that’s what they sort-of did with Ghost Rider).

Given that extraterrestrial visitations have become something of a regular occurrence on this series (and in the MCU as a whole, though the only “aliens on earth” story for the last year has been the Inhumans—and that’s a misnomer), it would make perfect sense for the now-legitimate S.H.I.E.L.D. to begin preparing for the eventuality of future alien invasions.  This may not actually cohere into S.W.O.R.D. until the end of the arc (and end of the season), but the idea of aliens and alien invasions would be an interesting connecting plot for the arc.  This could also bring together a number of new Inhumans (such as Vijay) and other enhanced individuals (such as Deathlok) as a team formed specifically to deal with extraterrestrial threats when they arise.  This team would become the basis for S.W.O.R.D. by the end of the season, perhaps after fighting off an alien invasion with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a team of Inhumans.

And an alien invasion would be an amazing tie-in for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.


Of the four options explored here, the one I like the most is “Agents of S.W.O.R.D.,” followed by “Inhumans.”  These are the two that I think connect the best with season 1, as well as everything that has been going on in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season.

However, I strongly suspect that they will surprise us with something that we really don’t see coming.  But regardless, I am excited to see where this series is going.

What do you think the final Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 arc will be?  Do you like this method of breaking up the season?  Let me know in the comments!

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