Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns tonight for its sophomore season (at a new time of 9pm EST on ABC) after its season 1 finale left viewers with a lot of unanswered questions and some notable cliffhangers. The S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) organization is down after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier but not out, and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is tasked with the responsibility of reviving it with what little resources and trust he has left - even if The Avengers still somehow don't know he's alive.
Out of Coulson's original team, his best field agent (Brett Dalton's Grant Ward) turned out to be a traitor and one of his brightest (Iain De Caestecker's Leo Fitz) is in critical condition. But the team has picked up a few new allies along the way who will ideally help fans learn the true meaning behind what's happening with Coulson, the origins of Agent Skye (Chloe Bennet), and what this all means for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - if it means anything at all.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started off slow, held back by what it could and could not do in terms of story in relation to the movies and limited access to the characters from Marvel Comics. Towards the end of the season however, the team of original characters became a family of sorts and their relationships and emotions became something worthy of our attention. The season also planted plenty of seeds could potentially grow into big plot payoffs down the road - if of course, the show is allowed to do such a thing. The show's executive producer, Jeff Bell, promises that the season 2 premiere will address a few key questions but we're thinking even bigger - Below are five questions and/or topics we want to be revealed and explored in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2.
6 S.H.I.E.L.D. Become More Than Coulson's Team
Agent Coulson has a mobile base of operations, a car that can fly, and a very small team of young operatives but that doesn't add up to something worthy of being labeled S.H.I.E.L.D., conducting missions all over the globe. He needs resources, secret bases, equipment, weapons and a much larger staff if the mysterious security force is to be rebuilt into anything close to what it was pre-Hydra.
Even though Coulson, an original character in the movies, has been added to Marvel Comics, we want to see S.H.I.E.L.D. grow to be what it was, flying helicarriers and, so Nick Fury or Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) can lead - or at least pass the torch to one of The Avengers like Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) like we see in the comics. The Avengers are being bankrolled by Stark when Agent of Ultron begins to fill the void left by S.H.I.E.L.D. so we need to see the connection there in season 2. Perhaps Stark can bring back S.H.I.E.L.D. to it's glory days?
5 Coulson's Weirdness Solved
Agent Coulson is alive but he may not be well. As we learned in Agents of SHIELD season 1, Coulson was forcefully subjected to borderline torture by order of Director Nick Fury. Brain-tampering robots aside, Coulson lived thanks to a healthy(?) dose of blue alien Kool-Aid (blood) and there are some serious side effects to the miracle cure. That is, if you're human by nature.
John Garrett drank the Kool-Aid and it enhanced his intellect while also making him crazier than he already was. He was seen drawing inexplicable markings, the same markings revealed in the final scene of the season one finale that Coulson is now writing as well. Coulson is not fully Coulson and there will be consequences of this. We hope it's not kept from viewers for the entire season, but we need to learn what those markings mean, and how the alien blood will affect Coulson in the long-run. Is this a plot point that will fix itself, or will it permanently change Coulson? Could it transform Coulson into another character from the comics and give him a different role to play down the road, potentially back in the movies? More on that theory here.
4 Blue Alien History Explained
Used so far as a throwaway plot point to explain the revival of Agent Coulson, the revelation that a dead blue alien - conveniently and quickly destroyed - was housed in a secret base on Earth for sometime must have a larger payoff down the road. Its blood served as the miracle juice in saving the lives of Coulson and Skye (Chloe Bennet) and it seemingly had different effects on each of them.
Is that the same blue alien race known as the Kree as depicted in Guardians of the Galaxy as Bennet let slip in an interview? How did S.H.I.E.L.D. acquire the body and if they did, why has that not been a talking point of the movies to date involving Nick Fury trying to protect Earth from otherworldly threats? How long has S.H.I.E.L.D. known about aliens and what different species from Marvel Comics do they know about? We need answers.
3 Skye's Heritage Truly Revealed
Since the beginning of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D when Coulson recruited the hacker Skye into his unit, it was clear she was destined for something bigger. Throughout the first season we learned little bits of her mysterious upbringing, that she was classified as a 0-8-4 by S.H.I.E.L.D., a designation for a "object of unknown origin." We also know that many agents died trying to protect her as a baby and that her real parents were monsters. Add in the fact that she's seemingly immune to the negative effects of having blue alien blood in her body, and it's becoming increasingly clear that she's not a normal human...
All of this must be building towards some important connection to the MCU - and Marvel Comics lore. The common theory is that since this is a Whedon show, it could tie-in to The Inhumans, a film in early development at Marvel Studios, and it could even tie into next summer's The Avengers: Age of Ultron where a pair of new super-powered characters are introduced. Either way, this must be fully revealed in season 2. It's one of our biggest Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. questions.
2 Full Integration Into MCU
As it stands, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still a series without real stakes. It features characters not from the comics in stories not from the comics and at a surface level, that means it doesn't necessarily have to mean anything in the greater shared Marvel Cinematic Universe. And if that's truly the case and how it's seen, then what's the point? The back half of season 1 - partly in response to criticisms and largely thanks to Captain America: The Winter Soldier started to feel "more Marvel" - words by the series' producer and season 2 aims to continue that trend.
The show began to utilize few characters from the comics (Bill Paxton's John Garrett and Saffron Burrows' Victoria Hand), and we started to see another transform into a Marvel Comics character (J. August Richards' Deathlok), but we need to see these payoff in the bigger picture plans of the movies since it is meant to be a part of that long-form storytelling. With The Avengers: Age of Ultron coming next summer near the end of season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - and remember, this is the followup to where Couson "died" - we'd like to see these characters prove that they matter when it comes to these large-scale events.
1 More: 13 Questions For The Future of Agents of SHIELD
Let us know what (or who) you hope to see in season two!
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns at a new time for its season 2 premiere on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.