What if [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](tag:722469) Season 1 was good? What if the scheduling allowed the pre-winter soldier story to flow without any filler episodes, explored the post-Hydra world in more detail, and focused more on specific characters journey throughout the season. I've outlined in a previous article I believe Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has great stories and characters but misses becoming a great show due to scheduling, focus and a lack of consequences.
This article will outline where I believe minor changes would make Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AOS) a much more enjoyable and engaging show (and help keep its viewers). One major change that I have made to this and all seasons is that the scheduling occurs so that the mid season break occurs directly before Marvel's major movie (Season 1 = Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
The premise of AOS was around a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, lead by Agent Coulson, who were tasked to investigate the new, the strange and the unknown, beginning with the Centipede group in episode 1. This CSI style serialised drama lost its focus and reason for existing (as a show and a team), causing the audience to lose track and interest.
I believe this premise doesn't focus enough on why this group has been formed and what their (and the season's) purpose is. I would change the language and focus to
"After Iron man dismantled the A.I.M. organisation, another secret organisation, known only as Centipede, was found to be funding and continuing their research. Agent Coulson, mysteriously returned from the dead, will lead a special unit to uncover what Centipede is, who controls it and what their sinister objectives are."
This premise focusses both the audience and team on a single enemy, episodes like "Seeds" and "Repairs" can exist as side missions but don't distract away from the overall goal. This also provides a reason for Coulson's team to exist, to uncover Centipede operations like in "Eye spy" and "Girl in the flower dress" rather than the current process of them coincidently taking those missions.
One of the things where AOS misses the mark is focus, both on storylines and characters. I view AOS as two distinct series, part 1 and part 2. Within each part I believe there should be a focus on, in general, 2 characters.
Agent Coulson is the star of the season, as such he is the character to lead the story and character development. This would surround his miraculous recovery from an apparent death during The Avengers. The other main theme that Coulson should be central to is keeping the team together, with a group of individuals from different backgrounds and different ideas on how to deal with problems. The differences within the team could be more strongly illustrated at the beginning as Coulson struggles to bring them together.
Skye's introduction to the team was strange and didn't entirely make sense for a super secret organisation. The changes I would like to see is that Skye is the only hacker capable of infiltrating Centipede operations, and thus is necessary for their missions. I'd like to see her questioning S.H.I.E.L.D. more openly, a ying to Coulson's yang, almost like they need her to help, and she wants to help stop bad guys, but they both have different ideas about how that's done. This would be enhanced by her connections with red tide, potential imprisonment for betraying them, but then eventual release and her rescue of Coulson.
In part 2 (post hydra reveal) I would have the focus on her relationship with Ward, extend the time before Ward reveals he is Hydra and have their relationship blossom. This would make his betrayal even more devastating and would push her character to grow afterwards.
As a bland character in part 1, in part 2 Ward should become center stage as a S.H.I.E.L.D. hero, a big focus on his relationship with Skye and then as a Hydra agent. This focus will make his transformation more engaging and dramatic, especially after his reveal and his actions against Fitz and Simmons. An episode that could be included at this time is "The Well" which could be repurposed as a stolen relic by Hydra and reveal more of Ward's past.
Plot & Episodes
As I've stated previously I believe AOS should be scheduled with the first half of the season run up to Marvel's premier movie early in the year, then the second half after the movie has premiered. For season 1 this means a few episodes early in the year are either removed, edited for post Hydra reveal or important parts used else where within new post hydra episodes. This change also means Thor: The Dark World would have already premiered (hints about cleaning up London and capturing a frost beast would have been great easter eggs).
The pilot starts with Coulson's team struggling to find information on Centipede, yet a young hactivist who has caused S.H.I.E.L.D. many problems in the past, seems to have accomplished more than all of S.H.I.E.L.D. experts and technology. Coulson's team capture Skye who resists working with them until she realises Mike Peterson needs her help. After rescuing him she agrees to work with them reluctantly.
The team hunt down Centipede operations including "Eye spy" and "Girl in the flower dress", then a request for Fitz & Simmons comes in for "Seeds." During this episode Mike Peterson reunites with the team as its new member.
The rest of the first half focuses on how Coulson came back from the dead, discovering the GH formula, uncovering Centipede, the apparent death of Mike Peterson and his return as Deathlok in the mid season finale.
After the Hydra revelation the team avoids an attack from Agent Hand whom he believes to be Hydra. Coulson reassembles his team as Garrett is revealed to be the Clairvoyant. Unfortunately General Talbot and the U.S. army are trying to detain all S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra agents, the team go on the run, hiding in motels and safe houses. Ward and Skye grow closer together, even sharing a room. Hydra are on the attack utilising a berserker staff, Ward uses the staff bringing up old memories. The team find Garrett in control of a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, after calling in reinforcements they take it back and capture Garett and his soldiers. Victoria hand and Ward escort Garrett to the fridge where Ward reveals he is Hydra and kills Hand.
Ward had stolen a hardrive with all the teams research, Ward returns to the team and when alone with Skye, convinces her to unlock it. Skye however has discovered his secret and warns the others. Ward with the help of Deathlok take her hostage and unlock the hardrive revealing the secrets of the GH formula. The season finishes up with Garrett using the GH formula on himself, Grant Ward sending Fitz and Simmons to the bottom of the ocean, Coulson's team infiltrating the Cybertech facility with the help of Nick Fury and ending Garrett, his hydra cell and taking Ward as a prisoner.
This ending, much the same as the original would set up an exciting season 2.... but what if Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 was good as well?