Once Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to reveal the major plot twist at the heart of Captain America: The Winter Soldier - that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. years ago, waiting for their moment to reappear - the series finally began earning its spot within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, since the series returned from its winter hiatus there's hardly been a peep about Hydra, or more specifically, about double-crossing Agent Ward and face-stealing Agent 33. The pair were last seen in the midseason finale, "What They Become," where after being shot by Skye, both Ward and Agent 33 fled together, apparently no longer loyal to either S.H.I.E.L.D. or Hydra.
Next week's episode, "Love in The Time of Hydra," will see the return of Ward and Agent 33 and is expected to fill in the details of what the two double agents have been up to. (Our guess? Nothing good.) While talking with EW, executive producer Jeff Bell teased:
"At the end of 'What They Become,' which was our midseason finale, Agent 33 and Ward limp off together towards the sunset. And this episode will bring us up to date and see what that has meant. And as the poster suggests, love is in the air."
And in keeping with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s latest trend, the series' newest promo poster teases their return. For this week's poster, Marvel tapped artist Annie Wu (Hawkeye). Wu's poster was revealed exclusively on EW and features Ward and Agent 33 in not one, but two romantic poses. Take a look, below:
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When Agent 33 was first introduced she was played by actress Maya Stojan, but after an incident damaged the photostatic veil she wore to disguise herself as Agent May, Agent 33 was stuck with actress Ming-Na Wen's face and voice. It was this Agent May doppelganger that helped Ward escape, and presumably Agent 33 will still be wearing May's face when we see her again.
With that in mind, the double image of two women - who EW identify as Skye and May - in Wu's art is obviously hinting at Agent 33's dual identity. And if one of those is Skye, can we assume Agent 33 wears yet another face next week? Bell isn't telling, but he explains this image hints at Ward's identity issues just as much as it does Agent 33's, sarcastically referring to Ward as the "best boyfriend ever."
"Well, what I love about the poster is he’s holding two women. And if you focus on the red you see the one, but if you focus on the blue, you see the other. And half of that goes to Agent 33, who has two faces - who doesn’t know who she is, who has no real memory of that. And it also goes to the fact that she’s been imitating other people as she did with Agent May. And so it’s sort of this dichotomy in the romantic way the red girl is looking up at him, and the way the blue one leans into him like he’s all dreamy. I mean, it’s really twisted."
When Ward and Agent 33 return next week they won't be the only surprises. At the very end of last week's episode it was finally revealed who Bobbi and Mack are working for - the real S.H.I.E.L.D. Many feared this organization would turn out to be another Hydra sleeper cell, but that won't be the case.
We learned a couple months ago that Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica) was joining Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but at the time it wasn't clear what the introduction of his character, Robert Gonzales, would mean beyond having "massive repercussions for Director Coulson and his team."
Now we have our first look at Gonzales as revealed in this ad which appeared in this week's Marvel Comics issues (via ComicBook.com):
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The imagery of the modern S.H.I.E.L.D. logo and the tagline, "Has Coulson met his match?" initially seem to be at odds with one another, but if Gonzales is a rival director of another S.H.I.E.L.D. faction then it's very likely he isn't happy with the job Coulson's doing. And especially when you remember that Bobbi and Mack are often critical of Coulson's leadership, it implies they've another boss they respect more.
What else do you think these two new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. posters could be hinting at? Are Agent Ward and Agent 33 in love? Or is Ward still recovering from his relationships with Skye and May? And what of Edward James Olmos' Robert Gonzales? Does his introduction mean Coulson's being demoted? Sound off in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “Love in the Time of Hydra” @9pm on ABC.