Warning: This article may contain spoilers!
If you're upset that this week's episode of Disney (NYSE:DIS) Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was yet another momentum-killing rerun, I've got some great news.
Starting with the April 1 show -- aptly titled "End of the Beginning" -- Disney's ABC will broadcast a new episode for seven consecutive weeks leading straight into the first season finale.
Last week was a notable exception since Marvel's Assembling a Universe special aired during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s regular Tuesday evening slot, but the pending streak comes as welcome relief for anxious fans who've enjoyed only five new episodes through the first three months of 2014. And though we know Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has effectively boosted ABC's Tuesday numbers so far this season, it's no wonder the show's executive producer, Jeph Loeb, took time at PaleyFest last week to thank ABC's Andy Kubitz for the uninterrupted late-season schedule.
Narrowing the gap
More important, though, is how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is planning to use those seven episodes to keep viewers coming back for more.
So what do we see? There's plenty of J. August Richards as Deathlok in action, and Bill Paxton's back as the ever-popular roughneck, Agent Garrett. We also see quick shots of both Ming-Na Wen as Agent May and Clark Gregg as Coulson, which so happen to coincide with the narrator saying the Agents' "trust is destroyed."
Then there's the dark figure ominously insisting "You've been betrayed" -- a near-certain reference to the Clairvoyant blowing the lid off Agent May spying on Coulson at the conclusion of "Yes Men" two weeks ago.
But while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plot is definitely getting juicier, the whole destroyed trust/betrayal thing is nothing new to television, right? So what'll set the show apart?
Hints at PaleyFest
Look no further than the April 4 cinematic launch of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Referring to the April 8 episode, Loeb teased, "It would not surprise anyone if things that happen in the movie you mentioned are in the show we're talking about. I wouldn't miss it if I were you."
Though Loeb was stingy with details regarding which of his Agents might also appear in Winter Soldier, we've also already seen Maximiliano Hernandez appear as Agent Jasper Sitwell roughly two minutes into the film's first extended trailer. Moreover, that trailer shows Cap and his team infiltrating a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel taken captive by Marvel Villain George Batroc:
And while Lady Sif's appearance on the show was fun, Cap's influence appears to be more significant than any of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s previous big-screen crossovers to date. In a HitFix interview yesterday, for example, Ming Na-Wen even admitted she was "freaking out" and wondering "What happens to us?" after she saw a rough cut of Winter Soldier.
However, the broader question remains: Will any other notable Winter Soldier characters appear on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. two weeks from now? In an ideal world, the April 8 episode would not only cope with the aftermath of Winter Soldier's events, but also feature at least a cameo from one of the film's leads like Anthony Mackie's Falcon or Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.
And why not? Both are S.H.I.E.L.D agents, and in the comics Falcon eventually served as head of the agency's Super Agents.
In any case, if one thing's sure it's that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is rapidly blurring the lines between television and cinema to an extent we've never seen. If it can continue to do so successfully, we could see it thrive for years to come.