Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Is Big S.H.I.E.L.D. the Big Bad?

skrull-chalkboardIt's just past the midpoint in the first season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and we started to wonder: is it just us, or does it really seem like either S.H.I.E.L.D., or at least some faction within S.H.I.E.L.D., is the big bad that Coulson and his group are chasing?

The more we think about it, the more weird little clues there are that something is amiss.

First of all, check out that blackboard above. It's from the episode "Eye Spy" and features Skrull writing. If you translate it, it's just gibberish...but the fact that there's Skrull writing is interesting for a few reasons.

Secret-Invasion-Viral-AdFirst of all, the Chitauri--the race who attacked in The Avengers--are basically the Ultimate Universe's answer to the Skrulls. This could, then, be Chitauri writing for the purposes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that would actually make it less suspect. After all, the outpost where this shot was taken could be studying something left behind by the aliens.

Another, more sinister possibility related to us by a reader is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could be setting up Secret Invasion, a storyline from the comics in which the shape-shifting Skrulls destabilized the Marvel Universe and created distrust among governments and superheroes alike by infiltrating Earth's power structure. "Embrace change" was one of the catch phrases associated with this story and its viral campaign (as seen at left).

It's also something that Fitz said in the show's first episode back from the hiatus. It was, in fact, a big enough moment that the studio elected to include it in the midseason promo, which aired back in December and teased the second half of the season (below).

It's also worth noting, because she'll come up a few times after this, that it was in the aftermath of Secret Invasion that Victoria Hand became a major antagonist for S.H.I.E.L.D.

reina-handThere are a couple of really odd or suspect things about Reina: first of all, how did she get in to visit Edison Poe in prison without raising any suspicions? When Poe was broken out and S.H.I.E.L.D. had to go digging around in the hopes of finding out who it was that had been visiting him, all I could think was that it was a ridiculous and unbelievable premise. A prisoner that important and that dangerous? All of that would be monitored. There's no excuse for nobody having noticed her--unless they were failing to notice on purpose.

And then when she finally got taken into custody at the end of "The Magical Place," she gave Coulson this look--a kind of half-smile, that could easily be interpreted as empathy for his plight or even satisfaction at having done some damage to his black-and-white worldview. But as she's being led away by Agent Victoria Hand--a character we know almost nothing about on the TV series, but who is a villain in the comics--it's hard not to think, "oh, look, Coulson just handed her over to her own bosses."

And who might her bosses be?

robert-redford-washington-monumentWe already had a hat-tip to Captain America's sidekick Bucky in this past week's episode, titled "Seeds," in which Skye finds Bucky Barnes's name on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Honor Wall, and rumor has it there's going to be a much bigger connection than just that.

In that movie, one of the central villains is Alexander Pierce, who is reportedly the "head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whether he's actually Fury's boss or just somebody who takes over after Fury is briefly taken out of commission by the Winter Soldier (as seen in the movie's trailer) is hard to say just yet, but it certainly does seem that the actual Winter Soldier story from the comics is going to be merged somewhat with the Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. arc to make a movie with twice the spy adventure and a lot of people who don't know who to trust.

And if our guys are siding with Nick Fury against the renegade elements of S.H.I.E.L.D., that might not be evidence for the Clairvoyant being a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, per se, but it would certainly gel with the theory.

On the other hand, Fury himself has been a little squirrelly here, and there are some interesting indicators that there could be a specific beat from the comics that could explain why.

134589_4681Upcoming, Agent John Garrett will be joining the show for a few episodes in the person of big-name guest star Bill Paxton. The star will play an agent who, in the comics, has ties to a covert group of operatives working closely with Nick Fury on top-secret stuff.

In the comics, Garrett is a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent who is given cybernetic parts to save his life after being killed in action. Part of a S.H.I.E.L.D. project called The Great Wheel of Zodiac that included Nick Fury and numerous others, his reinvention as an old comrade of Coulson’s could be significant. For instance, if his Garrett’s counterpart was saved in part because of his importance to a pet project of Nick Fury’s, that may inform the nature of Coulson’s resurrection. Ans his insistence on going so far beyond the pale to keep Coulson alive.

Of course, just having S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents retrofitted with cybernetics might tease the Deathlok technology being a potential tool in the show’s toolbox–something that we (and many others) speculated about after another recent episode. If that's a S.H.I.E.L.D. op and Mike Peterson was stuck in that dank cell by the "good guys," what does that say about S.H.I.E.L.D.?

And, as we've noted in the past, that pretty much stands to reason. After all, there's no indication that Centipede or anyone else had access to Richardson's remains, since S.H.I.E.L.D. swarmed the area pretty much moments after the explosion that supposedly killed him. And who declared him dead? S.H.I.E.L.D., who told Coulson and company there was no body.

Now, apparently, the identity of Centipede's Clairvoyant is going to be a big reveal in part because it's someone we've seen before--either on the series or in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Little could be more surprising and a bigger twist than to find out that it is, in fact, somebody like Nick Fury, Victoria Hand or Alexander Pierce, manipulating Coulson's group and events within S.H.I.E.L.D. to their will.