Even with all the delays in the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scheduling in the US, Fox (Starhub Channel 505 in Singapore) is still trailing the US by four episodes. It’s therefore ironic that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released in Singapore a week before it opened in the US, because, as our review of the movie mentioned, #ItsAllConnected.
For over a month now, since Oscar night on 2nd March, the show has been promoted on ABC with the new tagline “Uprising”, the hashtag #ItsAllConnected, and a blink-and-you-miss-it teaser blending the show’s logo and the movie’s logo. Below the cut, we’ll explain exactly how the movie and the show are linked, especially after tonight’s episode on ABC, “Turn, Turn, Turn”.
SPOILERS FOR BOTH THE MOVIE AND THE LATEST EPISODE (IN THE US) BELOW.
What a crazy week it’s been for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Last week’s episode “The End of the Beginning” saw paranoia build for Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) as Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) defies orders and kills someone believed to be The Clairvoyant. Just as Coulson is demanding answers from Ward, Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) was discovered to be taking orders from an unrevealed source. Coulson tracks May down but before he could properly interrogate her, the Bus gets remotely commandeered by Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows), who orders the death of everyone on board, except for Coulson, whom she wants alive. The final scene of the episode is actually directly from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with the Winter Soldier’s first appearance in an assassination attempt on Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but presented in such a way that it becomes part of the show’s narrative.
Though this week’s episode, “Turn, Turn, Turn” immediately picks up from the standoff between May and Coulson on the Bus, it is soon made very clear that the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier have already occurred. That is, Fury is “killed” by the Winter Soldier, Captain America invades the Triskelion headquarters and HYDRA is revealed to have been part of S.H.I.E.L.D. all along, hiding in plain sight. In response, HYDRA reveals itself in a big way and, all over the world, S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities are being assaulted from within.
In just one of the many shocking reveals of the night, May explains that she’s been reporting to Nick Fury, who wanted to keep a close eye on the controversially resurrected Coulson. If that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, she then reveals that the whole team was put together simply because they had the capability to neutralise Coulson if he ever became a threat. Unfortunately, that would turn out to be just the first time Coulson felt betrayed in the episode.
While the movie’s antagonist came right from the top of the S.H.I.E.L.D. hierarchy in the form of Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), in the show it is, appropriately, someone closer to home – John Garrett (Bill Paxton). Coulson’s old friend, reveals himself not only to be part of HYDRA, but also the season’s main antagonist, the Clairvoyant. Garrett even namedrops Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández), who also turned out to be a HYDRA agent in the movie, when his shifting loyalties are uncovered.
(Interestingly enough, it seems that every classic S.H.I.E.L.D. character re-introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has eventually been outed as a HYDRA double agent. Pierce, Sitwell, Rollins and now Garrett. In next week’s episode, Patton Oswalt plays Eric Koenig, who in the comics was both a Howling Commando and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
#ItsAllConnected. Anyone who was unfortunate enough to have watched tonight’s episode before watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier would probably have found most of the movie’s plot spoiled for them. On the other hand, I imagine that of those who did watch the movie over the weekend, most found the synergy between the two extremely compelling. As portrayed perfectly at the end of the movie, what the combined forces of Captain America, Black Widow and the Falcon won was a battle, not the war. The threat of the helicarriers and the Triskelion may have been neutralised, but HYDRA was still very much at large on an international level. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that very fallout is only starting to be explored.
After all, the episode ended with the latest HYDRA double agent to reveal himself – Grant Ward, conveniently carrying with him all the information that the team had accumulated over the season. How will Coulson’s team deal with this major betrayal from one of their own? I guess we’ll have to wait for next week’s episode, “Providence”.
“This is the first time any franchise has tried to link a film with a television show, in this capacity,” notes Ming-Na Wen. “It is all connected.”
Interestingly enough, ABC has scheduled “Providence” to be shown immediately after a repeat airing of “Turn, Turn, Turn”! Clearly, the pace is picking up on the series, and the events of “Turn, Turn, Turn” is crucial enough to the remainder of the season to warrant being shown again so soon.