Last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a rather explosive episode that helped to set up future story-lines, both on S.H.I.E.L.D. and on the potential spin-off Marvel’s Most Wanted, which has been ordered to pilot by ABC. Not only did we see a new variation of Hive (Brett Dalton), a much stronger one at that, but we also saw what looked to be a potential cure for Inhumans, something that’ll clearly play a larger part as the season goes on. Speaking to the folks at io9, executive producer Jeffrey Bell, along with co-showrunner Jed Whedon and a few members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. cast, talked about the changes on the show this season, as well as what we can expect going forward. (Yes, that also includes season four!)
As I stated in my previous write-up, in which Dalton talked about that gooey scene from last night’s episode, over the course of the show’s three seasons, no character has undergone more changes than Grant Ward. When we first met Ward back in season one, he was a clean cut S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with little personality, and then Captain America: The Winter Soldier happened, and everything we thought we knew about Ward went out the window. It was then that we learned he’d been working as a double agent and that there was a far darker story to this character than had been previously displayed. And as he continued to morph into one of the show’s big baddies over the course of season two, we slowly started to learn more about Ward as he sought to rebuild Hydra following the loss of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Of course, as we saw at the end of the mid-season finale last year, all of Ward’s hopes of rebuilding Hydra were lost when Coulson finally claimed his revenge on Ward, leaving his dead body back on Maveth, only to later become a host for Hive. So, why the decision to change up Dalton’s character once again? According to co-showrunner Jed Whedon, they wanted to give him another “challenge”, while also “escalating” his character.
“We’re huge fans of Brett and this was another way to give him a challenge,” said show co-creator Jed Whedon. “He’s been a baddie for a while and we thought it was a nice way to escalate this character.” Executive producer Jeffrey Bell added this. “To be able to embody an antagonist with someone we already have feelings for, it’s already loaded and interesting to us. So for Brett to embody whatever this thing is puts a face on it. It’s much richer than ‘Monster X.’”
And while there’s no denying that Dalton’s portrayal of Hive in the back end of season three has been excellent thus far, it’s only one of two big things taking place on the series. The show has wasted no time introducing new Inhumans since it returned two weeks ago. Part of this is because they still have to flesh out the rest of the Secret Warriors by the end of the season, and because, secondly, courtesy of both fish and fish oil pills, the population of Inhumans is only continuing to escalate. As we saw in “The Inside Man”, people are beginning to question how dangerous these beings are and trying to come up with solutions to protect themselves from Inhumans. This fear and lack of understanding is something that will continue to be addressed and treated as the show’s own version of Civil War.
“The days are coming where we will need to know [the exact whereabouts of] everyone who is Inhuman who has crossed our path,” said Gregg. ‘We’ll need to know where they are, as we try to sort out if they’re going to be friend or foe. That’s our version of Civil War.”
“The main challenge is learning about who we can recruit as the Inhumans continue to grow in numbers and who we might need to put down,” added Ming-Na Wen, who plays SHIELD badass Melinda May. “Those are really tough decisions. So it’s that and building up a new force.”
Which is why the idea of a possible cure is interesting – depending on how the writers choose to handle it, of course. It offers people a choice in the matter, something Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) thinks those with the Inhuman gene should have, whereas Daisy (Chloe Bennet) feels that it’s a birthright that should be welcomed. (Seeing these two switch positions regarding this matter has also proved interesting.)
“At the center of the show now is this question of ‘If you could choose it, would you want to?’ Would you choose to have this happen to you? Is it a choice? People who change, how do we treat them? Do they immediately have freedom to be who they want to be? Or is it a very dangerous weapon that we have to control or understand? That’s a lot of what we’ll talk about, moving forward forever, because that’s the dynamic between regular humans and powered, enhanced humans.”
Of course, we’re still years away from the big screen debut of the Inhumans, so for Clark Gregg, seeing how the writers found a way to introduce the race to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and set up the Secret Warriors has proven to be rather exciting.
“What I love about what the writers have done is, rather than wait for something to cross over from one of the movies, they just exploded Terrigenesis around the world, and set up Secret Warriors, and set up an Inhuman outbreak—that’s different, frankly, from what’s in the comics that I ever read,” said Gregg.
Finally, with only ten episodes left for the season and a season four renewal already announced, the folks at io9 couldn’t help but ask Whedon if there were any plans in store already for the next season. And while it’s still too early to say much at this point, Whedon did promise the early renewal helped them set stuff up with a bit more confidence.
“In our heads there’s always more coming and you have to plan for it,” said Whedon. “So even if [the season 4 announcement] hadn’t happened early, we have to work as though it’s coming. But it does give us confidence. It allows us, as we’re setting stuff up, do it with a little more confidence.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays on ABC at 9 PM EST. Be sure to tune in! And as always, for all things S.H.I.E.L.D. make sure to follow along here.