Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be back on TV for its fourth season, starting on the 20th September. Whilst we patiently wait to see what darker forces our much-loved agents will be battling this time round, it would make sense to go back to the ending of the Season 3 finale for some hints as to what could be in store.
Season 3 ended with a trailer of sorts. Lincoln and Hive’s journey into the abyss gave the season its closure, and spelt an overdue end to Brett Dalton’s evolving persona. However, it was offset by the flash forward that gave viewers a glimpse into how the next season will begin. Six months into the future, Chloe Bennet is back in character, this time as a goth-looking vigilante Daisy, and still intent on keeping the promise she’d made to the inhuman Charles Hinton before he died. Hinton, to recap, was the homeless inhuman who gave Daisy visions of the future, a future she could not seem to change however hard she tried. His visual revelation of the death of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent did not help Daisy when the time came, and her renewed relationship with Lincoln met its tragic end when he stole the prophetically deadly crucifix from her before setting off with Hive in the quinjet towards space and sure death.
Meanwhile, it seems like Coulson is no longer Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and is seen in those final minutes of the episode tracking and chasing Daisy, now aka Quake, whilst referring to someone as “the director”. This is in line with the idea that Coulson has been presumed dead by the general public since before the start of Season 1, when he was fatally stabbed by Loki in The Avengers (2012), and therefore cannot still head the group following the Sokovia Accords (Captain America: Civil War) and that the team now works in the open.
Mad scientist Radcliffe returns in the fourth season with a surprise. His latest experiment is based on an old S.H.I.E.L.D. program, and it seems like his intentions are truly to help the good guys when he says of Fitz and Jemma, “maybe they didn’t have to” have their friends die. The final seconds of the finale show us that Radcliffe means to make a Life Model Decoy, which makes us ask who’s got it wrong all the time up to now – will the scientist’s latest invention really help S.H.I.E.L.D., or will it spell trouble after all? Maybe, we’re set to watch a TV version of what Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron) turned out to be.
The trailer focuses on Daisy and Radcliffe, but we should not forget the other characters who are also set to return. Ming-Na Wen is back as Melinda May, and I would guess that, just like Daisy, has shut herself off after the death of her dearest. May might also still be nursing the pain of losing Andrew/Lash in the face-off with Hive/Grant Ward. Tough as she looks, the series has shown us time and again that she feels dearly about those close to her, something that might cloud her judgement for a while.
Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz are finally taking their relationship seriously. However, given their history, can we really assume that they can make it work this time? Or will other things once again get in the way? There’s also speculation that Bobbi and Hunter might return, as their spin-off series Marvel’s Most Wanted turned out to be not wanted and has in fact been cancelled. Mack and Elena (Yo-Yo) are also coming back, and I’m smelling something of a romance there; who would take a series of bullets for someone who’s just a friend?
All in all, there are enough questions left to have us wondering and speculating as to what might come next. With Lash and Hive now both out of the way, there must somehow be a new villain involved, unless Daisy’s gone the way of her first mentor, Ward. And from what I can gather, things are going to heat up even for our friends, as the new director will be joining the agents with no team emotional baggage and ideas all his own.