The long-awaited sixth season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally here, and fans get to find out what happened to the heroes after the Season 5 finale that killed off Fitz, left Coulson with his days numbered, and seemingly split the team in two with Mack as the new leader. The sixth season is the first to run for only 13 episodes, and it just so happens to be premiering in the same time that HBO's mega hit Game of Thrones is winding down its last season.
On the surface, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Game of Thrones don't seem to have much in common, but S.H.I.E.L.D. star Clark Gregg recently chatted with CinemaBlend about how S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 is like the HBO series, saying this:
You know, we started this show six and a half years ago, maybe seven, in a very different stable-ish world of network 22-episode, and we did five seasons of that, and yet our show I think always felt more genre. It feels like the 13-episode model, it’s kind of felt like where we always belonged. The world around us has changed so much in terms of cable and streaming, the cinematic stuff you’re seeing on Game of Thrones. I was so struck by the weekend of Endgame, when people were seeing Endgame was also a weekend where people were dealing with the demise of the kind of climactic episodes of Game of Thrones, which was also a ten-year journey with these people.That’s kind of how we digest story now. This feels right.
Yes, April was an emotional month for fans of Game of Thrones who are also fans of the MCU, thanks to Thrones airing one of its most highly-anticipated and deadly episodes the same weekend that Avengers: Endgame closed a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While obviously the battle for the Iron Throne and leadership of the Seven Kingdoms is different from what the heroes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are up to in Season 6, there are notable similarities, not the least of which is the episode count.
Just as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 is its shortest season to date, Game of Thrones Season 8 is its shortest season. Based on some of Clark Gregg's previous comments about how much longer S.H.I.E.L.D. will last, it's probably safe to say that Season 6 is the beginning of the end of the S.H.I.E.L.D. saga. Both shows also switched up their formats for their latest seasons. On top of Season 8 being its shortest, Game of Thrones is poised to resolve its two big series arcs within only six episodes.
Interestingly, for all that it has struggled in the ratings for years, S.H.I.E.L.D. is in no danger of the new format backfiring and getting the show cancelled after Season 6. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was renewed for a seventh (and likely finale) season well before Season 6 even premiered, also for 13 episodes. Most of the Netflix Marvel shows ran seasons of 13 episodes each, and both Runaways and Cloak & Dagger have run seasons well below the 22-episode mark. Maybe 13 episodes is exactly what S.H.I.E.L.D. needs for one spectacular arc.
Of course, S.H.I.E.L.D. is not going to score Game of Thrones-esque numbers no matter what it does, but no show is likely going to come close to matching Thrones any time soon. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the first MCU TV show to make it to a major network, and it's currently the last one standing. Considering future Marvel shows are likely headed for streaming, perhaps these next two seasons of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the end of Marvel's presence on network television. We'll have to wait and see.
For now, we can look forward to a few months of S.H.I.E.L.D. action on the small screen. Considering the timing of the premiere, S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 could be just what fans of Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame need. You can catch the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 premiere on Friday, May 10 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, with future episodes continuing to air in the Friday 8 p.m. ET time slot on ABC.