Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s midseason return. Read at your own risk!
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. struck a swift blow to Hydra and Gideon Malick when the ABC super series returned — but also left fans expecting a grim fate for an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The episode actually kicked off with a flash forward to three months ahead, in which we see a quinjet in space about to explode. The only clues we’re provided is that someone from S.H.I.E.L.D. — or at least someone wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. jumpsuit — is on board, and a golden necklace is floating through the air.
That necklace seems to belong to the new Inhuman our team is tracking in the present, Elena Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova Buckley), otherwise known as Yo Yo. Though she seems evil at first after stealing a shipment of weapons from corrupt cops, it’s really the law enforcement in Columbia the team should be worried about — Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood) get taken out by an evil Inhuman who causes paralysis with his eyes. The team comes to rescue them! Elena helps! It’s all one big happy ending, except Hydra shows up to steal that bad Inhuman, leaving the team to wonder what Hydra has planned now.
See, they’re unaware that un-dead Ward (Brett Dalton), a.k.a bad guy Hive, has come to earth and is recovering in Malick’s (Powers Boothe) basement. In short, Coulson (Clark Gregg) is determined to track down Malick to make him pay for Price’s (Constance Zimmer) death, and he is able to do so by shutting down some of Malick’s businesses, costing him billions, but Malick cautions that his influence has further reach than even Coulson knows. Is he talking about Ward? EW turned to executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen to find out:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Malick says his influence reaches farther than Coulson can imagine. What can you tease of the danger the team is in now that Coulson has poked the bear?
JED WHEDON: We see that Malick is continuing his quest to gather Inhumans. The bear has already been poked, so it’s more of a continuation of what Malick’s been doing. It’s more a question of what will happen with this new person that he’s brought into the fold, this new creature that’s inside Ward. We can expect Hydra has not moved off their mark of being an evil organization hellbent on world domination.
Let’s talk about the Hive of it all. How does Ward’s version compare to what we know of the comics?
WHEDON: Obviously we’ve given Hive a different origin. The look, as you can tell, is decidedly more attractive. In general, it’s our own take on it.
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN: We’re doing what we always do: We are taking from the comics and putting our own spin to it. It’s true that our version of Hive has much better complexion than what you see in the comics.
What is Hive’s ultimate goal? What does he want with this Inhuman army?
TANCHAROEN: What we established on the show is that Hydra’s entire history and mission has been to bring this creature back, so there has to be a very [important reason].
WHEDON: I think that Malick will be asking that same question in the coming episodes as he’s trying to get a gauge on really what this thing that he is now aligned with, what it wants and what it wants from him.
Will Malick have some buyer’s remorse?
WHEDON: We’ll see. I think right now, he doesn’t know what to think. We’ll see how that plays out in the coming episodes.
What can you tell us of this three month time jump? We see someone from S.H.I.E.L.D. is inside a quinjet in space that’s about to explode. There’s a floating necklace, which looks like it belongs to the new Inhuman we meet in the premiere. Tease something!
WHEDON: We wanted the challenge of painting ourselves into a corner. [Laughs] Obviously we won’t say much about it. The visual is designed to get you asking questions.
TANCHAROEN: We will be peeling back the details and layers of that vision as we go for the back half.
So, we’ll see some more flash forwards to this moment?
TANCHAROEN: You might.
Are you essentially promising that at least one person will die by season’s end?
WHEDON: I think that will become clear later in the season what exactly we’re promising, but I don’t think that flash forward bodes well.
Coulson now has to work with Talbot (Adrian Pasdar). What does their working dynamic look like moving forward? Will he actually take orders from him?
WHEDON: He’s not going to like it. We’re very excited to have Adrian Pasdar back, because Talbot is one of our favorite characters to write. In the next episode, we’ll see them pair up and see exactly how their dynamic works.
TANCHAROEN: They’ve always had an uneasy alliance. Now the fact that they are paired together by the president of the United States, they’re forced into this alliance. Not only will there be conflict, but it’s safe to assume there will be some humor as well.
How much is the Inhuman team sort of replacing the S.H.I.E.L.D. team? Have they become the field team?
TANCHAROEN: I don’t think they’ll ever replace the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, but it’s a new facet of S.H.I.E.L.D. We’ve been saying for a while that it’s a slow burn build of the Secret Warriors team, but now in meeting Yo Yo, we may meet a few more down the line.
WHEDON: As with anything, these are powerful people. When you put a bunch of powerful people together, strange things can happen. The desire is to have a powered arm of S.H.I.E.L.D. that can help fight these other worldly adversaries. That’s right now just a hope. Its execution will prove more complicated than we think.
The plan is to keep them all separate since Lash is still out there and Hydra apparently can track Inhumans, right?
WHEDON: At the end of [episode] 11, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) has decided to keep the team spread out so they can call them if necessary, but it is too dangerous to have them all in one place.
You’re saying Secret Warriors isn’t necessarily replacing S.H.I.E.L.D., but are there some who are threatened by the rise of this new team?
TANCHAROEN: We’ve always known that Mack (Henry Simmons) was never really keen on having powered people around. He was wary of aliens, Inhumans, all of it. He’s had to come to terms with that and has come around on that, and his relationship with Daisy and working with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, but he still has that perspective.
WHEDON: And you can feel Hunter is rolling his eyes with another powered person. Mack, Bobbi and Hunter have a different perspective on this because they’re the field team that doesn’t have powers. They all suffer for it in this episode. We’ll see how that emotionally gets them down the road.
Did I read this wrong or is there an attraction there between Mack and Yo Yo?
TANCHAROEN: There might be a little something there. [Laughs]
Are you planning to bring in new Inhumans each week?
WHEDON: There will be some of that. We don’t want that to be our only story engine. Early in this back half of our third season, you’ll see that we’re still trying to keep telling other kinds of stories. While that is an aspect of it, there’s still other things in our universe to play with, and new things to play with.
What can you tease of where Lash (Blair Underwood) is and when we’ll see him again?
WHEDON: He’s out there.
TANCHAROEN: We may see him again.
WHEDON: We’ll also see that May (Ming-Na Wen) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) both have their own emotional baggage that they’re carrying because of how it all went down.
TANCHAROEN: Simmons has tremendous guilt because she let Lash out of his cage, and as a result, many Inhumans died. May cannot believe that she was married to a now-monster. If anything, we will be exploring the emotional consequences of what Lash has left behind in the midseason finale. If he shows up again, it will be fairly interesting and possibly explosive.
Are Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Simmons really able to start over? What does their relationship look like moving forward?
WHEDON: They’re going to try. They’ve been through enough and have earned the right to reset, try to be coworkers again and not worry about any other history or future, just relate on scientific terms again. That’s what they’re trying to get back to. Where it goes from there, we’ll see.
Are you putting the breaks on the romance as they mend their friendship?
WHEDON: Right now they’ve been through too much. It would be irresponsible of them to either call everything off or to jump in the deep end.
TANCHAROEN: For now, the way they’re coping with everything is to say, “Hey, let’s be what we once were.” But the fact they have already kissed and basically out loud said they love each other finally, that resonates.
Will Daisy and Lincoln’s (Luke Mitchell) relationship affect how they work together on the team? Will that blind them during missions?
WHEDON: It could.
TANCHAROEN: It’s really complicated when you work with somebody you’re in a relationship with. Everyone, don’t do it!
WHEDON: It hardly ever works out! [Laughs] No, I would say that for Daisy, she’s trying to learn to lead while one of the people she’s in charge of is somebody she’s in a relationship with. That will probably prove to generate some conflict. In terms of Lincoln, he’s new and really is only there for her. We’ll see how he’s affected by all the new developments at S.H.I.E.L.D.
TANCHAROEN: We’ll have the opportunity to get to know more about Lincoln. He’s been with us for a while, but now he’s finally at our home base. The team now is more exposed to him, spending time with him, so they’ll all start to understand more of the kind of person he is. We may or may not like what we see.
What else is May facing in the back half of the season?
WHEDON: One of the things you feel at the end of this episode is that Coulson and May have both suffered fairly large losses. You can feel that they’re getting back to the friendship that they once shared, now with a shared sense of loss. Her role as Coulson’s right hand will be reinstated in this back half.
Will we see Deathlok (J. August Richards) again?
WHEDON: Right now there aren’t plans, but you never know. We’ve got a lot of moving parts right now. He is always in the back of our minds.
How much will Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. set up Marvel’s Most Wanted?
WHEDON: No comment.
TANCHAROEN: But soon enough we will be able to comment.
WHEDON: All we can say is those characters are on our TV show.
TANCHAROEN: So one would imagine that we’d have to do something.
Will we see any connections to the upcoming Captain America: Civil War?
WHEDON: Unlike the second Captain America movie, which affected our show in a way that no movie ever will again, I think that our story now stands on its own than it did in that first year. The connections will be much more reverberations in the world that we share and less of a direct tie-in.
TANCHAROEN: That’s Jed’s very eloquent way of saying, “Sort of.”
Coulson’s literally building a team of superheroes. I have to imagine once the Sokovia Accords come out that it will impact the Secret Warriors.
WHEDON: It absolutely will.
With Hive and Malick amassing an army of Inhumans, and Secret Warriors now building out its ranks, is this leading to an all-out war?
WHEDON: We’re only now writing the very last episode, so that’s a good idea. We have to go… [Laughs] Maybe.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.