[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for both 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' and 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier.']
From the moment it was announced Marvel's Cinematic Universe was expanding to television with ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., fans speculated over just how much one would impact the other. Throughout the course of season 1, Agents has referenced the MCU and at times included a character or two from the larger cinematic universe, but the fallout from Captain America: The Winter Soldier will have the greatest repercussions yet.
The last three episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been game-changers for the television series. Not only have we learned the means of Agent Coulson's resurrection, but a key team member, Agent Melinda May, has been revealed as secretly working for either unknown S.H.I.E.L.D. superiors or as a spy from another shadowy agency. What wasn't clear until after the release of Captain America 2 is that these developments are a reflection of the changing landscape of the MCU as a whole.
Next week's episode - "Turn, Turn, Turn" - is the series' official tie-in episode with The Winter Soldier and two clips have been released which tease just how the series will react to the ramifications of that film.
The first clip (top of the page) features Bill Paxton's Agent Garrett and the second clip (below) reveals the upcoming confrontation between Coulson and May.
In Captain America 2, the evil organization HYDRA is revealed to be alive and well, having infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. soon after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. Through the capture and eventual enlistment of Arnim Zola, HYDRA grew within S.H.I.E.L.D., waiting until the deployment of Operation: Insight to show their true colors.
Unfortunately, this means there's no telling which agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are secretly HYDRA agents. It's a revelation that will undoubtedly shake the MCU to its core and we'll be seeing the very beginnings of those repercussions on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Obviously, Garret narrowly avoiding the missiles launched by those drones in the first clip is an example of S.H.I.E.L.D.R.A.'s own "Order 66," eliminating agents loyal to Nick Fury. More interesting, however, is the second clip, which teases a confrontation between Coulson and May. In the same episode where we learned Coulson's resurrection was connected to a mysterious blue alien's torso held within a secret bunker, we also learned May has knowledge of the procedure used to bring Coulson back, and is reporting to some unknown entity through an encrypted channel.
Now in this new clip, May explains the person on the end of the line is none other than Fury. Coulson and the others are still wary to believe her, and smartly so, but for the audience (especially those who've seen Cap 2), it appears clear that May, like Colbie Smulder's Maria Hill, is one of the few agents not only still loyal to Fury, but further informed by the director about the treachery within S.H.I.E.L.D.
We won't know for sure until this next episode airs, but it seems likely that May - perhaps even with another cameo from Fury actor, Samuel L. Jackson - will convince her teammates she's working with the good guys.
From there, Coulson's team could become a rogue entity, operating without oversight, seeing as Cap and Black Widow not only exposed HYDRA as having compromised S.H.I.E.L.D., but released all of the organizations secrets and gathered intelligence.
With S.H.I.E.L.D. effectively neutralized after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, how do you think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will continue? Will Coulson's team, along with Fury, Hill, and other loyal operatives, begin S.H.I.E.L.D. anew or go undercover for the time being? Sound off in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “Turn, Turn, Turn” @8pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: