Over the past six episodes of “Agents of SHIELD,” we’ve gotten a good look at the new director, Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara). While we went into this season expecting to hate him — any director who’s not Coulson (Clark Gregg) is not okay — but lately we’ve been weirdly charmed by him.
He does genuinely seem to want equality and acceptance for Inhumans — especially seeing as he’s on himself — and he’s got a casual and charming manner that easily draws people in. However, he’s definitely got some secrets he’s holding back from the team, which will no doubt come back to bite him (and everyone else) at the worst possible time.
According to Clark Gregg, Coulson feels just as conflicted about Mace as the audience does.
“Coulson had this idea that if SHIELD was going to be the agency that monitored Inhumans, then there should be someone at the head who’s Inhuman. Then, they serve him up the guy who seems like he works for Buzzfeed,” Clark Gregg says, “And I love Buzzfeed, but I don’t want them running SHIELD. And yet every time Coulson tries to wash his hands of Mace, there’s something kind of charming and bumbling and at the same time kind of heroic and gutsy about the guy.”
As for what he’s hiding, we’re hoping Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) clues us in on Mace’s hidden past soon. She’s been a lot bolder this year, in terms of leveraging her new position of power to her advantage — but what does that mean for her tenuous relationship with Mace?
“Now we see [Simmons] really taking advantage of how clever she is,” Henstridge says, “And how she’s much better at reading people now. She can come up against Mace and go after him. She may not be able to knock him out, but intellectually she can go, ‘You were lying in that moment, and I’m going to use this against you to leverage what I want.'”
That particular mystery Simmons is leveraging is the one major aspect of Mace’s character that keeps us from liking and trusting him. Jason O’Mara agrees that the secrets of Mace’s past are an important thing to uncover, and which questions we should be asking ourselves about him before deciding on his trustworthiness.
“There’s a bit of a slippery nature to Mace,” O’Mara says, “Quite like some other public figures as of late. It’s important that some of the mysteries of his character and secrets of his backstory be revealed. Like he says he went through Terragenesis — when? Has he ever used his powers in anger before? If so, with whom? What is that whole thing? There’s so much missing, and he’s playing that to his advantage.”
“Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.