'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.': Season 1 Refresher
We never leave an agent behind—gear up for the series' Season 6 return with these primer recaps!
With "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Season 6 premiere quickly approaching on Friday, May 10 at 8|7c on ABC, let's take a quick trip to the very beginning with a refresher on Season 1, because these S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have come so far in such a short time.
Right out of the gate, “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” drops a major bombshell on us because, surprise! Agent Phil Coulson isn’t dead anymore. Even though we all witnessed his death at the hands of Loki in “The Avengers,” he’s been brought back to life (via a very mysterious and very top secret procedure) and now he’s running his own little corner of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Coulson’s team includes Melinda May, a field agent who has recently retired from duty and now works as the team’s pilot driving “The Bus”; Grant Ward, a skilled combat fighter; Leo Fitz, an engineer; and Jemma Simmons, a biochemist. The team quickly adds another member and a non-S.H.I.E.L.D. one at that. After finding herself mixed up in the latest super hero events of the world, hacktivist Skye is recruited to the team because Coulson believes she could be a potentially valuable asset.
The reason Skye even gets mixed up with S.H.I.E.L.D. is because she’s a member of the Rising Tide, which S.H.I.E.L.D. is conveniently looking into thanks to some ongoing suspicious activity namely do to a “0-8-4’” AKA S.H.I.E.L.D.’s name for “an object of unknown origin.” At first, the agents are hesitant of Skye, due to her hacker ties, but eventually, come to trust and rely on her. Ward even takes her under his wing as a new trainee. However, Skye later reveals that she’s mostly interested in S.H.I.E.L.D. because they’ve got ties to her upbringing — Skye spent her childhood bouncing around foster homes and now she’s looking for her parents. She knows S.H.I.E.L.D. has information about them.
The team eventually begins to investigate the Centipede Project, which is being run by someone referred to as the “Clairvoyant,” and uses a mysterious woman named Raina to do a lot of their bidding. The Centipede Project is testing a mixture of the Super Soldier Serum (the same one used on Captain America), mixed with gamma radiation and a newly-discovered Extremis formula to create their own army of super soldiers. The Centipede Project has already started testing on subjects, which means there are already a handful of “enhanced” humans out there in the world. Unknown to the agents, the Clairvoyant is also after whatever technology was used to revive Coulson after his death and will stop at nothing to get it.
After sitting out the first few missions, to everyone’s excitement, May comes out of retirement! We learn that the only reason she pulled herself from the field is that she feels extreme guilt after she was unable to prevent the death of a young girl while on a mission. However, after watching from the sidelines for too long, May grows increasingly restless while her fellow agents go into combat without her, and later informs Coulson that she’s once again ready for active duty. Over the years, May earned the nickname “The Calvary,” and now we know why — she might be the last resort sometimes, but she’s also the best one.
May is also hiding a pretty big secret. Before she joined Coulson, she was approached by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury to actually watch over Coulson, and report back any suspicious activity. Fury’s worried about side effects from Coulson’s resurrection, via Project T.A.H.I.T.I., and he knew that Coulson would trust May due to their close friendship. May begins to grow increasingly worried about Coulson because he’s carving strange markings into the walls, unrecognizable to the agents who haven’t seen designs like this before. May’s also got a private channel to Fury, which Coulson is unaware about.
During a mission gone wrong, Skye is shot and her outlook is fatal. Coulson, not wanting to lose her, makes the decision to take her to the same place he was saved, the birthplace of Project T.A.H.I.T.I. However, Coulson doesn’t know the whole truth about T.A.H.I.T.I. The procedure used to bring him back to life involves a drug called GH.325, which was created from the blood of the alien species Kree. While the drug saved Skye’s life, Coulson is fearful of what side effects she might soon manifest.
Coulson also learns the full extent of Project T.A.H.I.T.I., and that it was created to save an Avenger should one be killed in battle. While Coulson believed Fury to be in charge of the project, he was actually in charge of the project himself. When he died shortly before the Battle of New York, Fury viewed him as just as important as an Avenger and decided to use the procedure on him. In the process, and because it was so excruciatingly painful, Coulson’s memories about it were wiped to spare him any ongoing trauma.
And so that’s why Coulson grows increasingly worried about Skye since the same thing had just happened to her. Simmons is asked to track Skye’s recovery progress, and she seemed to be responding to GH.325 very well. That is until it’s revealed that secret Hydra pockets have actually started forming in S.H.I.E.L.D., eventually completely taking over and destroying the organization from the inside out. The destruction in Season 1 lines up with the events of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
We learn that one of Ward’s former commanding officers, Agent Garrett, is the Clairvoyant. Also, something even harder to swallow: Ward is a member of Hydra himself. He turns on the agents, kidnapping Skye along the way, as she’s the only one who can break the encryption on some of Coulson’s files and access Simmons’ work on GH.325.
While Skye is eventually rescued, mostly unharmed, not all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents manage to make it out without a scratch. To escape Ward, Fitz and Simmons lock themselves in the Bus’ infirmary. This doesn’t exactly save them, as Ward ejects it into the ocean. While you’d think out of everyone, these two would be able to outsmart death, there’s only one oxygen taken between them. Fitz confesses that he’s got feelings for Simmons, something we’ve seen him awkwardly dance around all season, and then the two blow open one of the infirmary's windows in hopes of making it to the surface. The two are saved by Fury, but Fitz, who was pulled to the surface by Simmons without oxygen, slips into a coma.
At the end of the season, May is able to capture Ward, and Garrett is killed in the process. With S.H.I.E.L.D. now falling apart — and Fury now presumed dead — Coulson is made the new head of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. The team also finds a new hideout at a secret military base, Providence, which is run by communications specialist agent Eric Koenig (and Koening informs Coulson that Fury is actually alive).
Seconds before Season 1 ends, we learn that Raina has been working with Skye’s father, who’s still a big mystery to all of us.
Watch the "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Season 6 premiere on Friday, May 10 at 8|7c on ABC, with new episodes every Friday! Stream new episodes the next day on Hulu, On Demand or ABC.com.
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