Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which returned for the second half of its third season with last week’s fantastic “Bouncing Back”, has introduced an ancient Inhuman with Brett Dalton‘s Hive – a being that overtook the corpse of Grant Ward during the mid-season finale last year. Since then, the series has been hinting at something big to come with Hive, briefly showcasing his powers, without outright confirming what he’s capable of. And while we don’t know his motives, or whether he’s truly working with Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) or against him, it appears that we’ll slowly begin to learn more about his character as the rest of the season goes on. And according to executive producer Jeffrey Bell, that also includes his full abilities.
Over the course of the first two seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Grant Ward has gone from a trustworthy Agent, working beside Coulson and the rest of the gang, to a double Agent, who was revealed to actually be working for John Garrett (Bill Paxton). And that was just in season one. Over the course of season two, we saw the character continue to morph into the show’s big bad as he sought to take down Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D., before ultimately meeting his demise at the end of the mid-season finale in season three. Or so we thought for a short period of time, as it was later revealed at the very end that the being on Maveth had overtaken his corpse. So, what led to the decision to turn Ward into Hive anyway? According to the showrunners, it was a way to “escalate the character”.
Said showrunner Jed Whedon, “He’s been the baddie for a while and I thought it was a nice way to escalate this character. As you were just mentioning, there’s still memories in there. So there’s still an aspect of the man we came to love to hate in there, but we wanted to give it some extra juice and we wanted to give Brett one more challenge where he has to change his character.”
“Also, I think we’re very interested in seeing how our team will respond, eventually, if they happen to cross paths,” showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen continued. “How they will respond to seeing the man they all know and hate still standing? And if he does have Ward’s memories or parts of Ward’s personality, how then that will play into scenes with our characters?”
With the show still keeping secrets when it comes to Hive, is it too early to classify him as a true bad guy? After all, Dalton has referred to Hive as a “reinvention of the character” Grant Ward, as opposed to a “straightforward” villain. According to Dalton, the character has shade of grey, and has true and honest motivations for his actions, something we haven’t really seen with the villains on S.H.I.E.L.D. before.
“You will see he actually does have a philosophy about what the world could be now that he’s there, and it’s quite inclusive, actually,” he said. “It’s not about taking over the world and doing all of that stuff, as cool as that is to do. There actually is something there that might be, I would say, in a shade of grey. But it is a combination between the two.”
Clark Gregg (Coulson) went on to add that Hive has “a lot of dimensions”, and that he’s got a “much deeper, bigger agenda”.
Gregg said of the character, “I see a lot of dimensions there. He’s the perfect villain for this show because he carries with him the memories, desire, hatreds and agendas of Will and of Grant Ward. At the same time, he’s got a much deeper, bigger agenda that’s thousands of years old, and gave birth to Hydra. The whole runner about what it was on this planet and what it has meant in this multi-generational story of Hydra, I think is insanely cool. I never had any idea — maybe no one did — that the Hydra logo might represent Hive.”
Of course, Hive isn’t the only threat to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team these days. There’s still the case of Lash, an Inhuman that we briefly met and saw wreak havoc across the lives of many characters early on in the season, who is on the loose. While he’ll still be considered dangerous to S.H.I.E.L.D. when, and if he returns, there’s at least one person that’ll understand that there’s more to the dangerous Inhuman than meets the eye – his ex, Agent May (Melinda May). While discussing how May took the reveal of Lash being Andrew, the actress stated that she felt the character understood that he had no control, but that she’ll have to continue focusing her energy into S.H.I.E.L.D. to keep from shutting down.
When asked how Melinda May has handled the reveal that her ex-husband Andrew is the killer Inhuman, Ming-Na Wen said, “I think she’s come to the understanding that it was something he had no control over. The betrayal might be not sharing that information of what happened to him with her. I think she understands that, in a way, he was scared and trying to be protective of their relationship and doing it all for the wrong reasons. I think, ultimately, Agent May is kind of shut down when it comes to Lash and Andrew at this point. That’s why she’s re-focusing all her energy back into SHIELD, back being by Coulson’s side. That’s where she’s most comfortable.”
And while the threats of both Hive and Lash are enough to worry the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, when it comes to Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), the character will still have plenty to deal with outside of those threats as she comes to terms with the events that took place on Maveth. As we saw during “Bouncing Back”, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) was still struggling to accept the fact that he’d killed Will, even though Will had long since been dead at that point and overtaken by Hive. So how has Simmons been coping with it all after discovering that Will, someone she tried so desperately to help, was gone? According to the actress, we can expect Simmons to “better arm herself” going forward.
“She’s going to try to better arm herself against those situations happening again,” teased Elizabeth Henstridge, “but I think it’s also a case of Agent May has said throughout the different seasons that it’s never easy; failing at something is never easy. Killing someone, even if they’re bad, never feels good. We’re seeing that now with Coulson. Yes, she’s going to try to arm herself, but also it’s a period of growth for her to realize you make mistakes and you make decisions in an instant. It’s another thing she’s got to carry on her back. It’s another motivating factor to keep being a SHIELD agent and keep trying.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesday’s on ABC at 9 PM EST. Be sure to tune in! And as always, for all things S.H.I.E.L.D. be sure to follow along here.