Captain America: The Winter Soldier spoilers follow.
This week I tuned in to Agents of SHIELD on ABC because I was curious how the show would tie in to the now-released Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The show hasn't wildly improved since I last tuned in, although the general business of the storyline made it more watchable. Their version of Deathlok is a joke, though, made all the worse by the fact that he only ever appears identifiably as Deathlok in an X-ray. Don't get me started.
This episode, The End of the Beginning, brought the agents of SHIELD face to face with someone who seemed to be the Clairvoyant, the mysterious villain behind the scenes who has been pulling strings all season long. The Clairvoyant, as his/her name indicates, is supposedly psychic and can see into the minds of humans. Coulson didn't believe in psychics when the season began (which always seemed dumb to me), but now he's come around to believing. Just when he does, though, another theory pops up: what if the Clairvoyant isn't reading minds but is reading everybody's SHIELD files? What if the Clairvoyant is actually a SHIELD agent?
Knowing as we do now that SHIELD is rotten with Hydra infiltrators (including the thankfully late Jasper Sitwell, who was briefly on this episode) that makes a lot of sense. But who could the Clairvoyant be? It has to be someone interesting, and it won't be Robert Redford's Alexander Peirce, as there's no way Redford is showing up on an ABC hourlong drama. There is one character from the movies who makes good sense as the Clairvoyant and whose presence would be easy to finesse on the show:
Zola, we learn in the new movie, has uploaded his consciousness to a computer deep below Camp Lehigh, in SHIELD's original headquarters. In a very nice nod to the comics Zola's face appears to Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov on a computer monitor, and we learn that he's been behind the scenes of SHIELD from the start, gathering and analyzing information. Then a rocket blows the whole place up and Zola is, seemingly, killed.
Except he's a guy in a computer, right? And he could just upload himself to the web; in the movie he's trapped in 1960s computer banks (millions of feet of computer tape, he says!) but you could get all of Arnim Zola on your Xbox One today. It makes sense that he survived. And since we find out he's been analyzing all of SHIELD's data and using that info to look into the future - analytically speaking - at upcoming threats, doesn't it make sense that he's the Clairvoyant?
Having Zola as the Big Bad of Agents of SHIELD season one would be great, and almost make up for how crummy the show has been. Toby Jones plays Zola, and he's not above popping up on TV - especially in a role that essentially requires nothing but voice work. And the latest episode heavily implied Zola, as the fake Clairvoyant communicated with Coulson through computer monitors only. Honestly, it's so well set up that if the Clairvoyant ends up being someone else I'll be mighty disappointed in this already disappointing show.
Thanks to Silas Lesnick for floating this theory by me.