NOTE: The post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 fall finale
It's been a long road for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - with a lot of ups and downs. While plenty of TV viewers have enjoyed the series from its outset, a vocal group of detractors (including us) maintained that, even though the series was entertaining, it had a long way to go in fulfilling the promise of bringing Marvel's shared cinematic universe to TV. Fortunately, along with subtle tweaks to the core formula over season 1, events from Captain America: The Winter Soldier resulted in a major change-up for S.H.I.E.L.D. and its respective TV program - breathing new life into the series and providing its showrunners with forward-reaching plot beats to explore.
To that end, the season 2 fall finale was one of the show's strongest entries so far, while also laying the groundwork for The Inhumans (on the show and as a Phase 3 movie in 2019), and now that Agent Carter is off the air, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is set for its 2015 mid-season premiere. We've already heard story beats and seen official images from the next episode, "Aftershocks" but now we're getting new details on where the elite spy team is headed in subsequent installments, specifically to face-off against a team of supervillains.
The news that Coulson and his crew will be forced to battle a well-organized squad of (likely super-powered) evildoers comes directly from Marvel - via the latest entry in their Declassifying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. blog series.
In this edition, Marvel.com contributor Patrick Cavanaugh shared the synopsis for episode 13 of season 2 (to air on March 17th), titled "One of Us":
"Cal seeks revenge on Coulson by assembling a team of Super Villains to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. Meanwhile, May calls on renowned Dr. Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood), her charismatic ex-husband, with a crisis that threatens to tear the team apart."
Following some underwhelming villains in season 1 (Blackout and Lorelei, among others), ABC and Marvel stepped up their game bringing some heavy-hitting evildoers (and eye-popping special effects) into season 2. Thanks to a multi-episode arc, smart implementation of his superpowers, and downright believable looking CGI (on a TV budget), Carl "Crusher" Creel has become a standout antagonist for Coulson and the team. Additionally, the inclusion of Agent 33 gave fans a memorable mirror match fight as Melinda May battled the brainwashed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent - only to damage Agent 33's Photostatic Veil, which became permanently fused in a scarred variation of May's face.
Nevertheless, while improved development of HYDRA villains have helped take Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the next level, and made it required viewing for any shared universe fans, over the last year the bar for superheroes on TV has been raised (again) - through cross-series team-ups between Arrow and The Flash (with a third DC series in development at the CW). As a result, even with Inhumans in the pipeline, Marvel can't rest on past successes and with Skye revealed to be the superheroine Quake, not to mention the full-time addition of Adrianne Palicki's Mockingbird, it's exciting to hear that a more powerful S.H.I.E.L.D. will be met with a fully formed set of supervillains working together.
As for who will actually comprise the malevolent baddies, Marvel has shared limited casting details - confirming a few returning faces, while also adding fresh players into the mix. At the time of writing we don't know exactly who (aside from vague descriptions/names) some of the newcomers will be playing but, given at least one super-powered teammate, it's safe to assume a few more will have dangerous meta-human abilities at the ready - mirroring the upcoming battle between humans and Inhumans (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Like season 1, it's looking as if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be upping the ante, and serving up direct connections to the MCU, in the form of superhuman versus superhuman warfare. After all, we've already been given a glimpse at Raina's post-terrigenesis appearance - and know that Skye has some earth-quaking new abilities.
In addition to Kyle Maclachlan returning as Cal, the episode will include Jamie Harris as Gordon (aka The Reader), Blair Underwood as Dr. Andrew Garner (May's ex-husband), Drea De Matteo as Karla Faye Gideon (a non-super human who shares a connection with Daredevil), Ric Sarabia as Wendell Levi, Geo Corvera as Francis Noche, Jeff Daniel Phillips as David A. Angar (aka Angar the Screamer), Gregg Martin as "student," Jack Kennedy as "security guard," and Jamal Duff as John Bruno.
It's also worth noting that "One of Us" was directed by Kevin Tancharoen (brother to showrunner Melissa Tancharoen) - best known among geekdom for his Mortal Kombat: Rebirth short film and subsequent Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series. While the filmmaker hasn't exploded to blockbuster feature director as Rebirth fans might have hoped, a Tancharoen-helmed episode is sure to be a strong entry in the series (one with plenty of hard-hitting fight choreography). In fact, the last episode Tancharoen directed was "Face My Enemy" (season 2, episode 4) which featured the aforementioned (and downright badass) brawl between Agent 33 and Melinda May.
Given his pedigree, and the amount of superheroes and villains slated for "One of Us," there's reason for viewers to anticipate that Tancharoen's next episode will be one of the more exciting chapters in season 2.1.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues with “Aftershocks” next week on March 3rd on ABC at 9/8c. "One of Us" will air two weeks later on March 17th.