Kelsey McNeal/ABC
Natalie Abrams
September 28, 2015 AT 12:00 PM EDT

When Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns for its third outing, Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) has his hands full.

With an influx of Inhumans cropping up, his agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been rather busy trying to keep the world safe, though they’re not the only ones tracking Daisy’s (Chloe Bennet) newly transformed kin — both a shadowy government organization and a very blue super villain named Lash (Matthew Willig) are gunning for them as well. But that’s the least of Coulson’s problems since Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is still missing in action. Oh, and he’s missing an arm. How is S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fearless leader dealing in the aftermath? EW caught up with Gregg to get the scoop:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us what Coulson’s dealing with when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns.

CLARK GREGG: Where we left off last year, his current project is to sign up Skye in a quasi-leadership capacity to put together a team called Secret Warriors, which is comprised primarily of people with powers — Inhumans, for the most part. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some people… like Deathlok (J. August Richards) or somebody, show up at some point. All allies are welcome to that thing, I suspect. He’s got a missing Simmons, who’s been swallowed by this monolith and seems gone for good, although maybe Leo Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) is not as accepting of that result as others. The results of the fish oil, Jesus, the fish oil supplements seem to be sprouting Inhumans every which way!

 

One of the cool things about the show is at the end of last season when it was Agents of Nothing, and S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t exist, it was a very different ballgame. They were in the shadows trying to put S.H.I.E.L.D. back together and deal with a very powerful underground Hydra, and a lot of that got dealt with last season. Now all of a sudden it’s Inhumans and Secret Warriors, and it’s very different and we don’t have our old plane, so I’m hoping at some point they deliver us a new plane.

 

What’s going on with Coulson’s arm in the new season?

All that’s clear is that he’s definitely got some very skilled technicians on his team who are giving him a fancier option than one normally sees walking down the street, but it’s still very much an adjustment process. It’s far from the kind of hand that someone like, say, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) would have drafted for himself with that kind of budget. I have a feeling it will evolve hopefully.

 

Coulson lost his life, then lost a limb. Is he looking at his life a little more carefully now?

I’ll tell you what it feels like to me, but I can’t guarantee that’s what they’re going to write. I think once you’ve come back from the dead, it certainly gives you an appreciation for life that’s different from the one you had before. At the same time, Coulson always feels like he’s already been gone, and this seems like he got a free ticket to come back. I would not call him reckless by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that he’s just got a resignation that the reason he’s back is to serve a purpose and if that ends up taking him out in a more final way, so be it.

 

How that deals with his hand — it’s what I love about this character, and it’s what I love about what the writers are doing with him — he’s not the guy that’s going to overpower you. He’s not the guy that’s going to turn into a different species, and he’s not going to win any modeling contests, but he will keep coming at you. He’s crafty and righteous and really devoted to the people who are his family, and that’s Skye and his team. You can step on him, and peel pieces off him, but he’s still going to keep coming.

 

How do the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. feel about the Secret Warriors? Is there resentment between the groups?

It’s not clear yet, honestly. What is clear is that the results at the end of last season really eradicated S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0, and there’s one S.H.I.E.L.D. now, and the people who are left reunified by what they’ve gone through to a certain extent. It doesn’t mean they all have the same feelings about Inhumans. What’s clear already is that Coulson has people on the team who are Inhumans putting together Secret Warriors, and people like Mack (Henry Simmons) who aren’t, who carry with them a different degree of skepticism that I think might be one of the reasons Coulson put them on the team.

 

There is another government agency hunting down the Inhumans. How does Coulson feel about this?

This other government organization, I know that there’s a person that Coulson suspects may be involved with that team, [Rosalind Price], who is played by the magnificent Constance Zimmer. She’s formidable and has a lot in common with Coulson, and perhaps, shares some of the same aims. I just hope that she works for someone who ends up being a good guy.

 

Can Coulson trust her?

No. I don’t think Coulson’s ever reached the place where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) was where he trusts no one. I don’t think that’s him, but you don’t go through what he’s gone through so far and come out of that without adopting some of those same Nick Fury cautionary mechanisms.

 

Is there a possibility that Rosalind Price could be a love interest for Coulson?

That would be nice. I hope she plays the cello. [Laughs] You wouldn’t hear any arguments from me.

 

Is there anything you can tease about the introduction of Lash?

I know in the comics he’s a bit of a bad guy, but there have been some whisperings that he and Coulson might make a very unlikely love couple. [Laughs] OK, I don’t know, it’s the best thing I could come up with.

 

Simmons is gone and has been missing for a while. Is the team still searching for her or do they feel like maybe they’ve exhausted their options at this point?

By the time we rejoin our stalwart agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it really varies throughout the team. There are those who feel that it’s kind of clear what happened to her and that she was killed, and as I said, Fitz has a hard time accepting that.

 

How does Coulson feel about Simmons being gone?

I would tend to say that we discover him very much in the former camp.

 

Ward (Brett Dalton) is potentially the new head of Hydra. Is there still a part of Coulson that feels like he could bring Ward back, or is he too far gone?

It’s such a good question. I feel that you put your finger on what’s the most difficult part of the job of being the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson’s a guy who really tries to see the best in what people have to offer, and yet, from the injury that he did to Fitz, and the people that he’s murdered, the other part of Coulson that’s responsible for keeping people safe, especially Daisy, I believe Coulson’s had enough. I don’t think he’s looking to trust him anymore. If he turned out to be the head of Hydra, I think it would tie things up in a neat, poisonous bow.

 

What’s the dynamic now like between Coulson and May (Ming-na Wen)?

It was pretty on the rocks at the end of last season. There were ways that she seemed to have felt that their trust had been violated by both of them too many times. That’s the vibe I got from the end of last season, and I have nothing yet that suggested anything has altered that dynamic.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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