Following on from the previous article Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 - What if it was Good.
What if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (AOS) series 2 was good? What if the series didn't have so many different stories, so many different themes that needed to be followed and eventually tied together. What if there was a focus on a few characters who's story moved the entire series forward. What if it had a clear focus for the first half of the series leading into Avengers: Age of Ultron, then could purely focus on its own central story and the characters that drive it.
The premise of the first half of season 2 surrounded the obelisk and the hydra group attempting to discover its power. As a continuation of season 1, and the battle with hydra, this fits in perfectly except they've missed out on a big opportunity to set up, and tie in, with Age of Ultron.
If we change the scheduling for the first half of the series to lead into Age of Ultron, we can focus the story into a new updated premise:
"Hydra have revealed itself and are growing in power, S.H.I.E.L.D. have been decimated and Agent Coulson is on a mission to rebuild it. Utilising former Agent Ward and secret contact for intel, Coulson's new S.H.I.E.L.D. target the five remaining heads of Hydra, including Daniel Whitehall and Wolfgang Von Strucker. During this campaign Coulson's judgement and leadership are called into question, fueled by his mysterious absences, secret contact, failure to target specific hydra bases and his compulsion to carving mysterious symbols."
I believe this premise focuses the story around the battle with a specific enemy, the five remaining heads of Hydra. It's also brings to the centre of the story Coulson, as he battles his compulsion to carve alien symbols and hides the secret mission given to him by Nick Fury.
After the destruction of Von Strucker's base in Avenger's Age of Ultron, Hydra are officially defeated. For Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to continue fighting Hydra doesn't make much sense, therefore in the second half of the series the story would focus on Ward escaping S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, his relationship with Agent 33 and their quest to rediscover their identity outisde S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra. This would mirror the story of Skye who is also grappling with her past, identity and what she has become, including finding out about her father Cal, then her mother and the Inhuman sanctuary.
This season Agent Coulson again becomes the essential focus of the storyline and the main character developed within it. Coulson in the first part of the series struggles to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D., battle Hydra with limited resources, all the while keeping secrets from the rest of the team. The secrets would be revealed as:
- The alien carving (much as occurred originally in the series)
- Coulson's absences and siphoning of resources to a hidden project (more pronounced)
- Coulson involved in secret communications with a third party who insists that he doesn't attack certain Hydra bases, or provides information on others (suspected to be Von Strucker)
- Coulson directly cancelling missions to bring down Hydra bases without giving a reason
These actions would brings suspicion to Coulson especially following the post credit scene in Captain America: Winter Soldier with Von Strucker. All this would fuel the take over of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Robert Gonzales and the committee.
In season one both Fitz and Simmons were interchangeable and forgettable characters. I personally had hoped one would die in order to make the other one interesting, I was hoping it was Fitz. His sacrifice at the end of season one was a great moment and his recovery and brain injury made him and even more interesting character. His delusions of Simmons, his trouble with speech and the frustrations they both created were fascinating, along with his relationship with Mack. I would like to see this explored more but also include another major event to affect his character even more, the death of someone close to him in season 2.
Yeah that's right, our favourite hactivist is back in the limelight, now discovering her Inhuman powers she will become forefront of both the storyline and character development, dealing with meeting her father, the revelation of her mother and the inhuman sanctuary.
Yet again Ward becomes central to the plots and character development, finally escaping S.H.I.E.L.D., and as our predominant antagonist in the second half of the season, we discover more of his past, he finally unburdens himself from his family, Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. to start new life, Bonnie and Clyde style, with Agent 13.
Bobbi Morse S02P02
Along with Ward being an essential character, so Bobbi Morse will come to prominence. During part one of season two, Bobbi and Mack had betrayed Coulson causing some division within the team. Bobbi in an effort to redeem herself chargers head first into battles with Ward, Cal and the Inhumans. She finds first hand how dangerous powered people are, especially Inhumans as her actions lead to the death of one of the team. This along with the death of all the rest of the Committee at the hands of Inhumans (many close friends to hers) solidifies her belief that people with powers must be controlled. These incidents begin a small division in the team, those who believe powers must be controlled and those who believe in the freedom of the individual, Coulson is the only person capable of keeping these two factions together working as a team.
Plot and episodes
This season begins with Coulson outlining the intel regarding the remaining Hydra heads. They have intel that one of the heads is targeting an artefact, the original 0-8-4. Fitz has survived his encounter with Ward, but has suffered brain damage and struggles to adjust to life in the team. The team encounters Crusher Creel who manages to take the artefact, deliver it to Hydra, although Creel is captured by the team.
Meanwhile Simmons has infiltrated another branch of Hydra and is forced to show her loyalty. Simmons discovers valuable information to bring down this Hydra branch but her secret loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. is discovered, only Bobbi Morse, undercover, manages to save her.
With this information S.H.I.E.L.D. launch an offensive against one of the heads of Hydra and takes them down including the head, four to go. Coulson reveals to the team he has information regarding another head of Hydra, after taking down some installations Coulson refuses to attack the main base leaving everyone confused. Members of the team comment that Coulson keeps denying them missions against some Hydra bases. After this revelation Bobbi and Mac reveal they have uncovered Coulson siphoning off money and discuss their secret mission, Hunt discovers their plan and is taken out by Mack.
Coulson continues investigating alien carvings, using the memory machine to remember his involvement in the T.A.H.I.T.I. project. Mac and Bobbi decide that Coulson has gone too far and call in Gonzales and his team who take over the base, as they do Ward escapes and Agent May helps Coulson escape.
Coulson now tracks down the members of the T.A.H.I.T.I. program, he discovers the truth of the carvings. After his revelation he meets with Hunter, recruits Deathlok and "convinces" a now free Ward to help them find the alien city. The team infiltrate a Hydra base, discover the whereabouts of the city and escape. At the same time S.H.I.E.L.D. tap into Deathlok's feed and see Coulson working with Ward confirming their suspicions.
Coulson returns to S.H.I.E.L.D. and offers a truce where the new S.H.I.E.L.D. act as oversight to Coulson and he reveals the city and Hydra's plans, as well as another Hydra base. Ward however has defected to Hydra, they do not believe him to be a true believer and take him hostage as a double agent.
Coulson sends another secret message out to his contact, revealed not to be Von Strucker but Maria Hill who confirms she has the information she was seeking and that the Delta protocol has gone live. Gonzales allows Coulson's team to defend the city (but none of his agents) and stop Hydra from activating the weapon. As they attack Skye is taken hostage, she and Ward escape but Skye shoots him. Skye makes her way to the temple to stop Raina from activating the weapon, she is too late and Raina tells skye her father will be so happy. Trip follows them into the chamber, the transformation happens and Trip dies and Coulson kills Whitehall.
Part 2 - Post Age of Ultron
Coulson lets Gonzales know about Nick Fury and what the delta protocol was, that all the missions he stopped their agents from completing were sent to the Avengers. Coulson and Gonzales agree that Coulson will continue as director and report to the committee.
Skye struggles to come to terms with her powers, Fitz realising that the earthquake was caused by her protects her from being discovered.
Ward now resurfaces with Agent 33, hunting down his brother and family killing them as part of his process of freeing himself from his past. He then meets with Cal, Skye's father, and they hatch a plan to take down Coulson and free Skye from S.H.I.E.L.D. using a group of individuals from the index. The group, along with Ward, create havoc for Coulson but are finally defeated with help from Skye. Before the team can capture Cal, Gordon teleports in and takes him away. This strengthens Bobbi belief that powered people need to be controlled and they are growing in numbers and power. Bobbi and the council warn Coulson about Skye's powers, he reluctantly agrees that Skye needs to be safely kept away from the base, and sends her to Banners cabin.
The committee however disagree with Coulson's decision and Bobbi takes a team to bring Skye back for assessment and containment. During the attack Skye defends herself and is rescued by Gordon.
Skye discovers the Inhuman sanctuary where Raina and Cal are being kept, She meets her mother and learns to control her powers. She also forms a friendship with Lincoln, a fellow Inhuman.
As the committee and Coulson agree to begin talks with the Inhumans, Skye's mother Jiaying, double crosses them killing Gonzales and making it look like S.H.I.E.L.D. were attacking the Inhumans. During this battle Bobbi and May charge to rescue Gonzales, they are too late and in an intense battle with multiple Inhumans, both are overwhelmed, Bobbi is rescued but she can't find May.
Back at the base Bobbi leaves medical frantically looking for May. When May arrives Bobbi is overjoyed, May explains to her how she escaped then suddenly injects Bobbi with an anesthetic, takes her into the quinjet and flies away. It is then revealed that May is dead and her body has returned to the aircraft carrier and not the base. As the team mourns and break the news to Fitz protests that he just saw her in the corridor. Review of the footage shows this to be true.
Meanwhile on the aircraft carrier (which has no Alien monolith, it doesn't exist!) Agent May's body is returned with many others. The Inhumans however haven't finished and Gordon teleports an attack team in that take over the ship, begin killing the Committee and attempting to destroy all S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel to keep the Inhumans safe.
Ward and Agent 33 take Bobbi hostage, torturing her so that she will admit what she did to Agent 33 in betraying her to Hydra. Hunter rushes after Bobby, Ward has set a trap for him but Bobbi sacrifices herself to protect him. As Bobbi bleeds out in his arms Hunter hears Ward escaping, he rushes to the window firing at him however he doesn't hit Ward but kills Agent 33.
Meanwhile on the aircraft carrier Inhumans continue to attack S.H.I.E.L.D., during the battle Simmons is severely injured from an Inhuman. Coulson manages to convince Cal to help them save Skye and they fly in to take back the ship. Skye confronts her mother but can't bring herself to take her out, Cal steps in and kills his wife saving his daughter from having to. S.H.I.E.L.D. successfully stop the Inhumans but Simmons fades away eventually dying in Fitz's arms. After spending much of the series confused about her feelings for Fitz, and never having the chance to tell him how she feel, she finally admits that she loves him then dies.
This Finale, though roughly the same as before (except a very sad ending) also has some major differences. Characters (and the cast) have developed much more with May and Simmons dying, along with Bobbi seriously hurt, this has changed most of the team in some way. Inhumans are now at the forefront of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s radar, the team have already developed differing ideologies with how to deal with them and Coulson is the only thing keeping everyone on task. Coulson and the team have come to a realisation that normal agents aren't always enough (as seen with the death of two original characters, the committee and many agents). Coulson decides to activate the caterpillar program, a program designed to put together a team of gifted people to help fight gifted people, not quite the Avengers but it's something. Daisy Johnson (formerly Skye) will lead the team, and her first recruit is Mike Peterson (Deathlok).
This, along with the release of terrigen into the ecosystem, would set up a great season 3. But what if season 3 was good? What if the spontaneous appearance of Inhumans could allow the stories seldom seen outside an x-men comic being played out in the MCU? Coming soon what if Season 3 was good (after Civil war).