The status quo in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is obliterated in season 1 when SHIELD falls apart, which the showrunners intended when they created the show. SHIELD falls apart near the end of the first season, having been infiltrated decades before by the terrorist outfit Hydra. While the twist may appear to have destroyed the show’s long-term objectives, it was always planned by the show’s makers.
Agents of SHIELD take place concurrently with Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The sixteenth and seventeenth episodes take place at the same time as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The critically praised Captain America solo film depicts SHIELD’s demise as Steve Rogers foils Alexander Pierce’s and other Hydra operatives’ master plans within SHIELD. Despite the death of Alexander Pierce and the failure of Project Insight in The Winter Soldier, Hydra survived. Unfortunately, SHIELD’s official existence came to an end.
The Story of Marvel Studios
The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe delves into how the events of The Winter Soldier affected the Agents of SHIELD, providing an intriguing detail. According to the book,
“…in The Winter Soldier, everyone agreed to revisit SHIELD and tear it all down. (Marvel Entertainment and ABC Studios, despite popular misconception, also knew this before developing their Agents of SHIELD TV series).”
This emphasises how Agents of SHIELD was created with The Winter Soldier’s twist in mind, allowing the showrunners to establish a status quo for nearly an entire season before delivering a gut-punch revelation that further connected the series with the MCU’s history.
Throughout Season 1 of SHIELD, Coulson and his crew were harassed by a mysterious organisation known as “Centipede.” Centipede was led by “The Clairvoyant,” a mystery individual, but as SHIELD fell apart, Centipede was revealed to be a Hydra sub-division. John Garrett, a veteran SHIELD agent and high-ranking Hydra sleeper, was revealed to be the Clairvoyant. Garrett wasn’t the only unseen villain; one of the Hydra twist’s biggest gut-punches was the revelation that Grant Ward had been a member of Hydra all along.
One of the illustrations of how intertwined the MCU is is the synchronisation between Agents of SHIELD and The Winter Soldier. Furthermore, the showrunners of SHIELD made fantastic use of the upcoming twist to demonstrate the full impact of Hydra’s infiltration of SHIELD. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD destroyed a band of fire-forged buddies with the startling surprise of Ward’s allegiance to Hydra, despite its creators’ knowledge of SHIELD’s impending disintegration.