[SPOILERS for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 winter finale ahead.]
Marvel's Cinematic Universe completed its Phase 2 earlier this year with Ant-Man and will kick off Phase 3 with Captain America: Civil War next spring. Meanwhile, the TV side of the MCU has grown to include another ABC series, Agent Carter, in addition to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Plus, Marvel and Netflix officially launched their own corner of the MCU, located in Hell's Kitchen, New York, with Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
Next, Agent Carter season 2 is set to debut early in 2016, immediately followed by the continuation of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3. So far this season, S.H.I.E.L.D. has dealt with the sudden emergence of Inhumans all around the world as well as facing off with an old foe in Hydra. The midseason finale concluded certain story threads and set up even more that will be explored in the second half of season 3. Now, a new promo teases Agent Carter season 2, while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producer talks some of the reveals of the show's winter finale.
The promo (above) teases Peggy Carter's (Hayley Atwell) trip to Los Angeles where she will re-team with Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy) in order to battle a sinister force in the City of Angels. Wynn Everett has joined the cast in season 2 as Marvel Comics villain Whitney Frost a.k.a. Madame Masque, in addition to a whole host of other new and returning characters in Agent Carter. The promo promises another action-packed season with Peggy making a hobby out of punching all of L.A.
As for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. midseason finale, executive producer Jeff Bell spoke to CB about the development of the Secret Warriors, who were confirmed to appear before season 3 premiered. It seemed in the midseason finale, 'Maveth', that Mack had given the green light to an early version of the Secret Warriors by assembling Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), Lincoln (Luke Mitchell), and Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) into a team of their own. While they may not be the final version of this Marvel team, Bell further explained how it is a precursor to the Secret Warriors:
"I would say it's certainly a warning shot over the bow. They certainly came in and were helpful. It was the first time that they were put together in some kind of meaningful way, and I would say just keep looking forward to more of that as we ... I think we, as writers on the show, feel like we have to earn this group. It wasn't just like everybody who had a power could suddenly get a cool uniform and be part of a team, you have to figure out how to do that. Yeah, we're moving in that direction."
The writers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have certainly been working toward the Secret Warriors, teasing the team first in the season 2 finale, while in season 3 Daisy has mentioned recruiting newly-located Inhumans. The team even hit some roadblocks in 'Maveth' as Joey was still learning the ropes of working within the confines of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s protocols. As such, the team still hasn't reached the point of being the fully realized Secret Warriors - and Bell's cryptic statement that "you don’t have to be an Inhuman to be a Secret Warrior" hints that the final roster of the team hasn't been realized yet either.
However, while the development of the Secret Warriors was likely a highlight of the midseason finale for Marvel Comics fans, the big twist of the episode came toward the end when Coulson got his revenge on Ward by killing his former agent with his robotic hand. But, this won't be the last we see of Ward, who was reanimated by the creature residing on Maveth and returned to Earth. This huge shift in his character is similar to what viewers saw in season 1 when he was revealed to be Hydra posing as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. But, as Bell explained to CB, there are some differences between these changes to Brett Dalton's character:
"When we went to him this time, it wasn't just like, 'Oh, you're Hydra,' it's like, 'Grant you're just getting killed, but you're not leaving.' As you've seen at the end of 10, something else is happening. It's always scary, but as an actor he's really risen to all these challenges, and I really look forward to whatever's going to happen, seeing what he does with that."
Although it may not be the first time we'll see a transformation in Ward, Dalton's knack for transitioning from the loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to the Hydra turncoat should give viewers confidence that the actor will pull off another massive shift to his character. Plus, Bell's experience working with Dalton gives him a first-hand perspective of the actor's capabilities, further proving that this next incarnation of Ward will be another compelling character. Between Ward's newest villainous turn and the continued development of the Secret Warriors, fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have plenty to look forward to when season 3 continues next year. Until then, Agent Carter is going back to work.
Agent Carter season 2 premieres Tuesday January 19th, 2016 at 9pm on ABC. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 returns next year on Tuesday, March 8th at 9pm on ABC.