Fans have always wondered the fate of Agents of SHIELD halfway through Season 4, because despite the show’s wonderful turnaround on storytelling, the show didn’t seem to have much of an audience by network standards. The low viewership has always been blamed on the poor performance of Season 1 before the upheaval created by Captain America: Winter Soldier. Things improved on Season 2 only to be followed by a mediocre Season 3. Season 4 suggested a more mystical approach thanks to the MCU opening its mystical gates for Doctor Strange. Season 4 delivered mysticism and more, but the ax was actually ready to drop.
Facing an uncertain future, the cast and crew of Agents of SHIELD delivered a season worthy of going out with a bang. Fortunately, the series was saved, not because it was a critical success but because the almighty mouse that has been restrictive with the show decided to intervene. Disney decided that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is just too good to let go and told ABC to hold onto the ax for a while. The decision is because of several factors:
Stability – Agents of SHIELD, while not the TV juggernaut Disney and ABC had in mind maintains a substantial enough viewership, enough to keep the show on the air. Those numbers increase further after factoring in the streaming audience. So if the show is seen by enough people to sustain it, why cancel?
Social Media Presence – social media is the perfect source for free advertising and the show and its cast have amassed a good following whether or not they’re fans of the show itself. The show’s large social media following gives the it the potential to gain more viewers. Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennet aren’t shy to give their wacky sides every now and then.
TV Network Presence – Disney may own Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios, but it does not own Netflix or Hulu. It would be embarrassing for Disney not to have a Marvel series on its own network, ABC especially since they own the MCU in the first place. But they can always make series other than SHIELD right?
Inhumans Failure – Not exactly. ABC has tried three times. Agent Carter, while having a great first season didn’t have as good a reception on the second and was cancelled. But Agent Carter still has potential, and there are talks of it returning for a third round. Marvel’s Most Wanted, a SHIELD spinoff starring Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse, unfortunately, didn’t take off costing Agents of SHIELD two important characters. Hunter is returning for Season 5, but Bobbi (Adrienne Palicki) is currently onboard The Orville which is enjoying critical success vying for Star Trek fans’ approval against Star Trek: Discovery. The third try is The Inhumans series which is suffering criticism left and right, not just for its production values but for the story and acting. The series is much rumored to be dead in the water, left to drown until its final episode airs. This writer hasn’t seen it himself, but it’s said to be so bad that SHIELD has to be called in earlier to wash down any bad taste that would be left by the show. As an honest opinion, The Inhumans, specifically the Royal Family are better off as supporting characters. Bringing Inhumans to the forefront as an attempt to supplant mutants was a failed attempt at the comics because they’re unfortunately not as compelling than the more popular X-Men. Daisy Johnson herself is a mutant in the comics but retconned on TV. If early criticism of Inhumans is to be believed, ABC needs to keep SHIELD, and both ABC and Marvel need to move on to other things.
Other Potential Spinoffs – SHIELD returns this October for a potential space adventure and hopefully another ‘podded’ format which worked so well in Season 4. SHIELD will also likely introduce its more covert sister agency called SWORD (Sentient World Observation and Response Department). If the concept works for audiences, SWORD can be a potential spinoff show set in outer space. Ghost Rider meanwhile gained some very positive reactions from audiences through there’s no further news of his spinoff series. Still keeping fingers crossed of that happening. And finally, there’s the Secret Warriors, a team of already established Inhumans from the show like Quake and Yo-yo, and perhaps a couple more teaming up against a resurrected Jia-Ying.
Since Disney itself just can’t Let It Go, the company might just give the fans what they want and stay true with their ‘It’s All Connected’ tagline. SHIELD and its potential spinoffs would really benefit from cameos of established cinematic characters, even those belonging to the B-list. It wouldn’t kill them to feature a voice call from Tony Stark or Nick Fury, and since Iron Man is CGI, there’s no need for Robert Downey Jr. to appear in person. If Season 5 turns out to be just as good as season 4, then that stuff might just happen.