When it comes to the directors on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., none have managed to direct more standout episodes than Kevin Tancharoen, who just so happens to be the brother of co-showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen. His episodes always manage to include some of the most impressive fight scenes displayed on the series, including the ever-fantastic May vs. May fight from season two, so it wasn’t entirely surprising to see the fight scenes shine on last night’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., titled “Spacetime“.
While we’ve become accustomed to Daisy (Chloe Bennet) kicking ass on a regular basis, it’s hard to recall a fight scene that was anywhere near as fantastic as the single take scene from last night. (Yes, this includes that other single take scene featuring Daisy from 2×19.) The character has not only become more confident in her abilities, but she’s much more swift in her movements, on par with both Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Agent May (Ming-Na Wen), and this latest single take perfectly showcases as much.
The folks over at IGN had a chance to talk with director Kevin Tancharoen on the latest single take fight scene, and what it was like to direct a fight scene written by his sister and brother-in-law, who had their own ideas of how to visualize the scene.
“They were like, ‘And then Daisy takes out a room full of assailants in a one-take, choreographed sequence.’ So it was kind of like, OK, I have to do it then. The person who wrote the script was my sister and my brother-in-law, so I think it was a ‘we’re going to make him do it again.’ It was fun,” Tancharoen said. “I don’t think any one of these versions is going to be better or worse than the other. They’re just going to be different. This particular one was in a smaller room, so it was a little bit more complicated.”
Bennet, who portrays Daisy, also talked about the single take, and how it took some time to finally get a take that pleased everyone this time around.
“It was really hard. This time, all the bosses were down watching it. One shots, if one thing doesn’t look amazing, you go again,” Bennet said of the shoot. “It took three or four hours of sprints and sprints and sprints. I honestly probably burned about 7,000 calories.”
We’ve, of course, become accustomed to single takes on the television side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to Daredevil, a series that knocked it out of the park with the hallway single take back in season one, and again with the stairwell scene in season two. However, as Tancharoen points out, there’s one major difference between doing a single take on Daredevil compared to S.H.I.E.L.D.: The characters on S.H.I.E.L.D. don’t wear masks to conceal their identities, meaning scenes like these are all on the actors involved.
“Chloe was a trooper. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t know how to really do it,” he said. “On shows like Daredevil or The Flash or Arrow or any of these other superhero shows, they have a mask on and a hood or something that can cover their face. On SHIELD, they don’t have that, and it’s full out. You have to make sure that the person who is acting the part is actually physically doing it. I give all my props to Chloe for making that work.”
He also went on to explain that he’s always looking for ways to change things up in order to keep fans from getting bored by these kinds of scenes. So going forward, he wants to try and “evolve” the one takes.
“I do think that the next one is going to be hard, because I do think one take action scenes are becoming such a trend that I think nerds are going to start being like, ‘Ugh, another one?'” he said. “I think we need to challenge ourselves to doing things that might feel like one-ers, but then it goes up to aerials, but then it goes up to drones, then goes into a steady cam, then goes into a GoPro. I don’t know, I just saw the trailer for Hardcore Henry and I’m like, OK, POV’s pretty damn cool right now. It’s always going to evolve and change.”
For fans of S.H.I.E.L.D., this is exciting as Tancharoen has been confirmed to direct the final episode of the season! This is actually a first for the director as the has never directed a season finale for a television series. This, of course, means he’s been making sure to dive into the material ahead of time.
“I literally am just starting to dive into the treatment and the outline and the script and everything and just getting into it. Since it’s the finale I’m taking it very, very seriously,” Tancharoen said. “I want to make sure it sets a new bar in some way from what I’ve done on the show. This is my first finale, so I want to make sure it’s something really solid or there’s something signature in there.”
Of course, as we’ve seen over the past few seasons, S.H.I.E.L.D. usually delivers something big with their finales, setting up the forthcoming season, while also typing up loose ends from the current season. For Tancharoen, he wants to make sure that he delivers with the finale as it’s what the “whole season if leading up to.”
“The whole season is leading up to this one episode, arguably, to lead it into the next year. I think story-wise and the emotions with the characters and the performances have to be just as on point as the action, because of course the action is going to be huge,” he said. “That’s something I’m really trying to focus on in this particular episode, because people are going to be leaving their favorite characters for quite some time until they come back next season.”
You can follow along here for all things S.H.I.E.L.D., and as always, be sure to tune into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesdays on ABC.