Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming back for a sixth season, but its new summer 2019 slot means it won't deal directly with the events of Avengers 4. Despite its low ratings in its Friday night timeslot, the show does well with delayed viewings and boasts a passionate and vocal audience, which no doubt played a part in its last-minute renewal for a shortened 13 episode run. However, when it returns S.H.I.E.L.D. will be in an uncertain MCU landscape.
As fans watching the nearly-concluded season 5 have seen, the final episodes which tease the death of a main character (rumored to be the head honcho Phil Coulson) are set roughly during the events of Avengers: Infinity War. As the Black Order attacked New York City to collect Doctor Strange's Time Stone, S.H.I.E.L.D. was dealing with its own concurrent invasion by the alien Confederacy and the rise of General Glenn Talbot as the villain Graviton. However, it seems like S.H.I.E.L.D. will not directly deal with Avengers 3's pivotal and universe-altering ending. Whatever death occurs in the season 5 finale, "The End", it seems the drama will be primarily rooted among S.H.I.E.L.D.'s core characters, leaving the mainline MCU to settle its armageddon in the movies and the series to pivot in accordance - if it all - in season 6.
Indeed, by the time Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 airs in summer 2019, Avengers 4 - which hits theaters on May 3 - will have been over with for weeks. This allows S.H.I.E.L.D.'s creative team to circumvent the messiness of Phase 3's ending straight up; they can jump right over Thanos' finger snap and pick up at the dawn of Phase 4, addressing the new status quo of the MCU in whatever way works best for them.
In the past, S.H.I.E.L.D. was radically altered by the films' big changes to the MCU - Captain America: The Winter Soldier's Hydra takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D. obviously uprooted the first season - but in recent years, as the show has become more and more disconnected from the cinematic MCU, it has mostly paid lip service to the events in the films (like the Sokovia Accords).
This has proven very tricky when it comes to Avengers: Infinity War. It's too big to be ignored, but has been woven into season 5's timeline somewhat awkwardly; it turns out Coulson's team wasn't even aware Thanos existed and only barely kept up with the events of Infinity War by watching the news on television. The second half of season 5 revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ongoing mystery of the destruction of the Earth was related to Thanos; fear of the Mad Titan's coming attack sparked a series of events between Hydra, and the Confederacy that led to Earth's destruction - which is a cataclysm the movies don't acknowledge.
Fans have definitely noticed the glaring disconnect between the movies and the series, which are each presenting apocalyptic events Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is either delaying dealing with or, in the films' case, outright ignoring. This leaves the TV show in an awkward position overall: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still connected to the movies but fans now realize not even the end of the world on the show is worth mentioning by its cinematic counterparts. Skipping having to deal with Avengers 4's resolution entirely is an effortless way for S.H.I.E.L.D. to avoid this being so glaring.
Season 6 could truly be a new beginning for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., one that may even see the series receive a new prominence in the MCU.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s season 5 finale "The End" airs Friday, May 18th @ 9 PM on ABC.