What's Next For 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'?

[Warning: This post is loaded with spoilers if you're not caught up with Marvel's Agents of SHIELD]

If you missed Episode 17 ("Turn, Turn, Turn") of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last week on ABC, then you missed the series' most important and arguably its best episode to date. The show and its cast will forever be changed after HYDRA unveiled themselves and sleeper agents we thought we could trust all of a sudden became villains.

With SHIELD in shambles, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are on their own, cut off from other still-functional units in the organization. With no clear directive from high-ups, Coulson and his allies are left up to their own devices to do what they can in battling HYDRA and - hopefully for fans - uncovering the mysteries surrounding the origins and near-death recoveries of Coulson and Skye, the latter of which was labeled a "0-8-4" (object of unknown origin) as a youth for still-unexplained reasons. The video up top features the cast reacting to what went down in last wee's episode.

In the remaining five episodes, viewers need some closure on the blue alien reveal and what it means for the show's future and specifically, the future of the two characters in question when it comes to their roles in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. For now, we look forward to episode 18 ("Providence") which airs tomorrow at a later time (9pm EST) following a re-run of last week's game-changer.

If you missed it, ABC and Marvel have begun releasing limited edition posters as part of The Art of Level Seven (#TheArtofLevel7). Last week's maze-inspired design can be seen here and below is the latest by artist Paolo Rivera, debuted by EW, and representing the fall of SHIELD and the rise of HYDRA.

Agents of SHIELD Episode 18 (Providence) Poster by Paolo Rivera
Limited Edition Poster for episode 18 (“Providence” )

And for a sneak peek preview of the episode check out the exclusive from The Wrap which makes a very big deal out of Raina aka "The Girl in the Flower Dress" (Ruth Negga) getting back her dress as ex-Agent Ward, a full-blown HYDRA operative, breaks her out of containment. It's an odd moment considering the character isn't from the comics and there doesn't seem to be anything special about the dress that we know of...

The official synopsis for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 18 reveals that this is the first episode where fans will meet Glenn Talbot, a character from the comics who helps General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross in hunting down the Hulk. He'll be played by Adrian Pasdar (Heroes). We'll also meet Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt), another agent of SHIELD.

“Providence” – With Colonel Glenn Talbot now on their trail, Coulson and his team seek refuge in the last place anyone would look, where they begin to uncover S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most dangerous secrets–secrets that could destroy them all, on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Guest starring are Bill Paxton as Agent John Garrett, David Conrad as Ian Quinn, Adrian Pasdar as US Air Force Colonel Glenn Talbot, Ruth Negga as Raina, B.J. Britt as Agent Antoine Triplett, Patton Oswalt as Agent Eric Koenig, Patrick Brennan as Marcus Daniels, Rich Paul as Agent #1, Bayardo De Murguia as Agent #2, Kylie Furneaux as Agent, Jeffrey Muller as Agent, Pia Shah as female scientist, Alex Goode as hacker, Alysha Del Valle as ABC reporter, Ramon Hilario as barber and Patrick Quinlan as guard.

As for last week's episode, there are many questions raised or left hanging so we'll do our best to address some of the ones we had ourselves. In an interview with IGNAgents of SHIELD executive producers Jeph Loeb and Jeffrey Bell address some of them - here are the highlights:

  • Clairvoyant Identity - We'll find out who the clairvoyant really is in this week's episode.
  • More Twists - expect another "dramatic shift" before the end of the season.
  • Brett Dalton - the actor who plays Agent Ward only found out about his HYDRA background a few episodes before filming.
  • Victoria Hand - Ward shot Hand three times at the conclusion of last week's episode, but did he really kill here? Bell: "Ward definitely killed them."
  • Coulson - Is he the de facto leader of SHIELD now that Hand is dead? No, "SHIELD satellites have been compromised" so they simply don't know who else is out there. Remember, a certain someone is making an appearance in the season finale...
  • Glenn Talbot - why is this Air Force character being introduced now? Loeb: "This will start out as something very small, and then people will see where that's headed." Could his arc lead into a story regarding Mark Ruffalo's Hulk and The Avengers: Age of Ultron?
  • Agent 13 - could  EmilyVanCamp's character from Captain America: The Winter Soldier appear in the show? Loeb: "Let's just put it this way: everybody in the Marvel Universe is always up for grabs."
  • Coulson Alive - None of The Avengers know Coulson is alive yet.

There you have it. A few answers and a lot of questions. Although there's been little talk of it, I'd expect Coulson to show up in The Avengers: Age of Ultron so the crew can know he's alive - but then again, Samuel L. Jackson described his role in the sequel as minimal, as if it's a cameo since S.H.I.E.L.D. has a lesser role to play now for obvious reasons. With characters such as Talbot showing up in the show, perhaps Agents of SHIELD is laying some groundwork for the films - from Hulk connections and HYDRA (that we've already seen) to the blue alien which may tie-in with Guardians of the Galaxy. Are you going to be tuning in for the remaining episodes?

For fun: Dalton has embraced his role - check out his Twitter logo:

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