Last night’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was not only action-packed; it also snugly set up the events leading to Avengers: Age of Ultron, opening on Friday.
EPISODE AND SHOW SPOILERS AHEAD!
Not only did Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) join the team for one more mission (I was hit by a sudden wave of nostalgia), but there were lots of cool Marvel easter eggs in the episode -- including references to key Avengers players like Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) and a mention of the Twins and their current location. Raina (Ruth Negga) also had visions of Loki’s Staff, which plays a part in the events of Age of Ultron and was last seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon opened up about the episode to chat about the Avengers tie-in and that cool cameo. So, without further ado ... when ComicBook.com pointed out that "The Dirty Half Dozen" partly felt like a prologue to Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jed Whedon agreed, saying:
"Because we air before and after the release of the film, we think it’s important for the die-hard fans who will see both as soon as they are released to be rewarded for that. So we do want the lead in and out to interact with the film more than most episodes."
Whedon and Tancharoen compared this episode with the ones that followed the events of The Winter Soldier last season, explaining that there was indeed a tonal shift (it got darker) for our agents following the reveal that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. all these years. Whedon told Variety:
"In Winter Soldier, the storyline was a direct parallel to our season-long arc, revealing Hydra at the center of SHIELD as the common antagonist in both tales. So the tie-in was significant and, truthfully, will be the most interwoven event between our series and the films probably ever."
With Tancharoen adding:
"This year, our narrative is completely separate from the events of the Avengers film, so we tried to interlace our Inhumans storyline with Age of Ultron in a way that enriched both viewing experiences but didn’t derail our narrative train. Fortunately, those pesky Hydra folks are always popping up and in this case serve as the bridge between the two. That and Theta Protocol, of course."
Talking about Theta Protocol and all that jazz, two of the biggest surprises last night were without a doubt Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) revealing that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) was alive to Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos), and him talking to Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Was it always the plan to use her, or did they want to use Fury at one point? Tancharoen said: "The plan was always Cobie. She’s close to Coulson, they have history, and tie-in-plot-wise it made the most sense." As for the surprising Fury reveal, Whedon added:
"At this point we were just using the Fury reference to let Coulson one-up Gonzales with knowledge that Fury is alive. Fury will not show up, but it does serve as a turning point in Coulson and Gonzales’s relationship."
If you read this post, but still haven’t seen the episode or don't plan to, no worries. Maurissa Tancharoen assures us you’ll be fine even if you haven’t seen "The Dirty Half Dozen" going in to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. But I want to know, what did you guys think of this particular Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode? Were you blown away or underwhelmed? In the meanwhile, I'll just leave you on Skye's (Chloe Bennett) awesome fight scene from last night.