Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Two Ideas for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5

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As I’ve talked about previously, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been renewed for season 5.  Last week’s article went into detail on everything we know so far.  This week, I’m going to play the “wild speculation game” and try to guess at what might be happening during this next season.

I actually have a couple different thoughts on how this can play out.  First, we’re going to talk about the potential of completely changing the format of the series.  Then, we’re going to talk about a hybrid format which retains the “pods” from season 4 but incorporates some elements of my new format idea.

Before we get started, there is one assumption I am making:  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to take at least 3 Fridays off next season.  Given that the show is going to be on Friday nights, it would not make sense for them to air episodes on the U.S. release dates of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War since they would be in direct competition with their own studio’s movie (and they would lose).  Likewise, I hope/expect that they will skip Good Friday.  So based on this assumption, the season would last until June 22 if they air all single episodes.  But note the “if.”

If they do this, they need to bring
this guy back
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Option 1:  Movie Format

Given that this series has used several different formats in its four seasons—“monster of the week,” serial, pod—it’s not unreasonable to assume that they could switch it up and use another completely different format in season 5.  If they do, I would recommend a “movie” format, in which each week they air two episodes back-to-back, working them together into a single narrative arc as a movie.  However, if they do this they will have to take a couple extra weeks off during the season if the 11 “movies” will last from January until May.

These 11 movies would be broken into two distinct groups.  The first movie (the season premiere) would pick up on the theme of space and show why they are there and what they have been doing.  Assuming that the whole team is in space, they will return to earth at the end of the movie with some new information about an impending threat to the earth, which will influence the remainder of the season.

The next five movies would introduce new enhanced characters—new Inhumans, people who have given themselves technological abilities, and people with other abilities (magical or otherwise)—who have appeared in the time that the team was in space.  Options include Vijay, Sebastian Druid, Deathlok, Abigail Brand, or even Kamala Khan (if Marvel TV can use her).  Each of these movies will offer a complete origin for the character, including a space-based villain (mostly aliens) discovered in an area where an Infinity Stone has been kept or used, who forces the new hero to use their abilities for good and brings them into the spotlight enough for S.H.I.E.L.D. to find them.  The S.H.I.E.L.D. team will still be involved in each of these movies, but taking a bit more of a backseat (think the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Iron Man 2 or Thor).  The team identifies the threats, mobilizes against them, meets the new enhanced, and recruits them to work with S.H.I.E.L.D.

The final group of five movies will connect very closely to Avengers: Infinity War by showing how S.H.I.E.L.D. is preparing for the threat they learned about from their space adventure (which they discover to be Thanos).  S.H.I.E.L.D. works with N.A.S.A. to bolster the earth’s space defense capabilities—which leads to the formation of S.W.O.R.D. as a joint venture between the two organizations.  The movie on April 27 (immediately preceding Avengers: Infinity War) would build up to Thanos’ appearance on Earth to find the Mind and Time Infinity Stones.  After a 1-week hiatus for the Avengers: Infinity War premiere, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would pick up with the events of the movie by showing how S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. prepared for this event, responded to it, and used their resources (including all of the enhanced assets they have recruited) to fight Thanos’ forces on the ground while the Avengers fought them in other places.  This movie, which would be the season finale, would end shortly after the events of Avengers: Infinity War with everyone defeated, Thanos triumphant, and one of Thanos’ servants as the new ruler of Earth.

I think it would be really interesting to see this kind of serialized movie format for next season, though it could be a challenge to use 11 movies to fill out these 16 weeks (excluding the 3 weeks off mentioned above).  Given that this season will be airing during the dreaded Friday night spot, offering the promise of a new movie every week might be enough to bring in more viewers for the show.  Also, given that the show is moving forward an hour, it has the ability to run two hours without going too late.

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Option 2:  Modified Pod Format

Based on the two or three weeks off proposed above, season 5 has already been broken up into “pods”:  January 5 – February 9 (6 weeks), February 23 – March 23 (5 weeks), April 6 – April 27 (4 weeks), May 11 – June 22 (7 weeks).  These could be used as “pods,” each with its own distinct theme and focus.  However, instead of stretching the season out through June, I think they should work in a number of double episodes (as “movies” like the first option), which would allow the season to conclude right after Avengers: Infinity War premieres.

The first pod of episodes would begin with a double episode on January 5 and conclude with a double episode on February 9.  These 8 episodes would focus on the team in space learning about the impending threat of Thanos (though they never learn the name) and returning to Earth with a plan to prepare the Earth to repel this alien invasion.  The pod’s finale would see the team fighting off a major alien threat just outside the solar system (perhaps with assistance from the Inhumans from the series airing this fall) and returning to Earth.

The second pod of episodes would begin on February 23 and conclude with a double episode on March 23.  These 6 episodes would focus on S.H.I.E.L.D. operating from the shadows (due to continued fear and mistrust from the public thanks to the season 4 finale) to recruit new Inhumans and other enhanced assets into the Secret Warriors while simultaneously working to develop space-based weapons and space-worthy vehicles to use against the alien invaders.  This would all be set against the backdrop of repeated alien incursions intended to locate and identify the Earth-based Infinity Stones.  During the pod’s two-part finale, S.H.I.E.L.D. would fight off the biggest alien attack yet while simultaneously capturing the alien vessel using its space-worthy quinjets.  Due to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s role in fending off this alien invasion, the military would agree to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. to form S.W.O.R.D. as a way to more effectively confront alien threats.

The final pod of episodes would begin with a double episode on April 6, run without breaks until a double episode on April 27, take a week off, and conclude with a double episode on May 11.  These 8 episodes would build up to Avengers: Infinity War and show the S.H.I.E.L.D./S.W.O.R.D. response to Thanos’ arrival.  S.W.O.R.D. would be formed and become operational, using the captured alien ship as an orbital base.  S.W.O.R.D. would form its own enhanced team (I want to call it the “Unity Squad,” bringing together human, Inhuman, and alien members to defend Earth from hostile aliens) as a counterpart to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Secret Warriors. Alien threats would become a weekly occurrence, leading Coulson to believe that something worse is coming.  The double-episode right before Avengers: Infinity War comes out would feature an even larger alien attack which softens up the Earth’s defenses, right before Thanos’ army appears over the Earth.

The two-part season finale, which would come out the week after Avengers: Infinity War (maybe 2 weeks after), would show all three Marvel ABC teams (Inhuman Royal Family, Secret Warriors, Unity Squad) fighting Thanos’ forces all over the world, perhaps even with minor (probably voice-only) cameos from either Robert Downey, Jr., or Chris Evans, coordinating strikes between the Avengers and the S.H.I.E.L.D. forces.  In the end, the heroes would all be defeated with massive casualties, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team would be on the run from Thanos’ remaining forces, trying to stay ahead of them while rallying and organizing resistance to Thanos.


From these two ideas, it should be pretty obvious that I am really expecting three things from season 5:  S.W.O.R.D. will be introduced into the MCU, the Secret Warriors will actually get featured, and there will be a major tie-in to Avengers: Infinity War.  It’s not that I will be disappointed if any of these don’t take place, but these all feel like the logical direction for the show to move.  Let me know if you want to see more on either/both of these ideas; if there’s interest I will expand them with more details on what characters could be introduced and what stories could be told.

So which of these ideas do you prefer for next season?  Personally, I think I lean more toward the hybrid format since that allows for a few more stories to be told during the season.

Also, what do you expect to see in season 5?  Let me know in the comments!

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