At this point in Season 3, the “Agents of SHIELD” are experiencing a lot of drama and they’re not saving it for your mama. The group is in disarray, enemies are coming at them from all sides (and within) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is still trying to get his groove back after some recent character-redefining moments.
With all this in mind, Zap2it caught up with the cast for a recent visit to a sealed-off, top secret location that we’d love to disclose — but then we’d have to kill you. Instead, let’s just piece together what the stars have to say about the current state of play. Beware, agents, as spoilers lie ahead.
After Tuesday’s (March 22) episode “Parting Shot,” it has been firmly established that the “SHIELD” agents face threats on multiple fronts, including Hydra, Hive and of course, Gideon Malick who continues to be the thorn in Agent Coulson’s side.
“Once you have the president on your side, it feels like you’re pretty well-stacked,” Executive Producer Jed Whedon explains of the character played with scenery-chewing venom by Powers Boothe, and how he complicates Coulson. “His international reach is far and wide, so it’s not as easy as just getting the secret blessing of the President … [Coulson] is trying to work towards legitimacy, but it is not an easy road.”
For Gregg, the longtime heart and soul of the SHIELD universe, it’s just another in a long line of Marvel metaphors.
“What I love about Marvel and sci-fi is that we get to look at things that are going on through a prism that makes it something we can suddenly all look at differently,” Gregg says of the storyline. “There won’t just be some easy answer; but I suspect this world, where there are Inhumans, is here to stay. That’s a development that’s happening here in our part of this world, and it seems like it’s turning over a shovel and finding a lot of stuff to play with.”
According to Ming-Na Wen, that toy box of playthings also give actors like herself a lot of material. It’s hard work, in the best way possible.
“It’s tough playing a character like this,” she insists. “I’m always having to either justify or understand why she doesn’t go through the process of grieving or coming to terms with what she’s done.”
Reflecting on May’s cold-blooded ruthlessness, she says it’s a necessary component of the job. “I always equate it to the real soldiers out there,” Wen says. “Anyone who’s in the armed forces, the police, or any field that requires you to make very, very tough decisions about life and death [is a kindred spirit]; I’m glad I just pretend.”
At the moment, Wen explains, her character is just trying to keep everybody alive. “May’s main objective is to make sure every SHIELD member can protect themselves against the Inhumans and Hydra. There are just too many threats out there right now.”
But one thing that SHIELD has always been good at is exploring the humanity beneath the heroism. “There is the opportunity where they explore how lives are affected, families are affected,” Henry Simmons explains. “If someone is SHIELD and they aren’t allowed to tell, ‘Hey, I’m in SHIELD.’ They’re not allowed to talk about that, and just how relationships are delicate and strained when you’re in SHIELD and you can’t really tell anyone what you’re doing. It’s difficult.”
Chloe Bennet agrees, and says ultimately the greatest threat to many of these characters right now might just be themselves. “Being Inhuman and being a SHIELD agent, it’s not just work, it’s so personal because it’s her blood, it’s who she is,” Bennet says of her conflicted character’s mindset. “I think having [Lincoln] on the team helps her open her eyes to seeing other aspects, because he’s been an Inhuman longer and he’s kind of not as sensitive to it or used to the criticism.”
“She’s able to handle it in a less emotional way,” Bennet says of her character’s latest development. “So, I think maybe it helps her a little bit.”
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.