‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Producers Break Down The Mid-Season Finale’s Inhuman Twists
After watching the mid-season finale of “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was probably jumping out of their skin with excitement after the gigantic implications for the show going forward… Even if it was tempered by one traumatic loss, and the dire straits the whole team finds themselves in at episode’s end.
To help you walk through all your emotions, and unpack what this all means not just for Coulson, Skye and the rest of the gang – but the MCU as a whole – MTV News hopped on the phone with “S.H.I.E.L.D.” masterminds Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen for an in-depth break down of all the moments that will make the wait until the next episode more agonizing than a session in Daniel Whitehall’s torture chair.
Gigantic spoilers for “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” past this point.
MTV News: You guys have been pretty open about how you had to hold certain things back last season for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” So given the revelations at the end of this episode, what is it like being four years ahead of the game with “Inhumans?”
Jed Whedon: [Laughs] We can’t say anything about what you’re talking about! [Laughs] This is definitely different. We are opening up a new world and introducing it on our show — and we couldn’t be more excited about that. We are still going to be cagey about it, but we think that the episode delivers some good answers and good questions, mysteries of things to come.
MTV: Well, speaking of answered mysteries, you finally revealed Skye’s real name, Daisy, and she got certain, shall we say, earthquake powers. So it turns out you were playing out the Calvin Zabo/Daisy Johnson arc from the comics, but in a different way. I was curious how you guys made the choice to hit that a little bit differently, versus, say, the Absorbing Man — who was a little bit more of a straight-forward take on the character at the beginning of the season.
Maurissa Tancharoen: It’s something that we do on the show all the time. We take elements from the established Marvel mythology, and we spin them to fit our own. All of us here, and all the writers on staff, we just love “Secret Warriors.” Daisy Johnson has been a favorite character of ours, and we always knew from the beginning of the series that we would evolve Skye into something else.
When we were able to acquire Daisy Johnson, we were all very excited. So we shaped everything to lead up to this moment, shaped everything over the past season and a half to lead up to this moment.
Whedon: We are not just introducing her, we are introducing another concept along with it, so that’s why we changed the origin of it to sync with that. We’re killing two birds with one stone, in terms of introducing the concept of the crystals and everything that Raina has been talking about — so we adjusted it based on that. Also, partially, we do that so when we start a story, the people who are big fans of the comic books don’t go, “Oh, I know what this is!”
MTV: You mentioned you acquired Daisy, so was Skye not always necessarily going to be Daisy Johnson? Was that something developed a little later in the process?
Tancharoen: Daisy was always our goal, but you know there are rules and things that have to be cleared — and pretty early on we knew that our track was Daisy Johnson.
Whedon: But as you can see, they announce movies five years ahead of time. So in terms of Marvel, when we have our eyes or hearts set on a property, it’s still a process making sure that it is not going to bump with anything that they are planning to do on the feature side, making sure we’re not putting the cart in front of the horse in any way. It was definitely our goal, but we have to do due diligence.
MTV: You’ve had a bunch of elements from the “Secret Warriors” comics on the show… Now you have Daisy Johnson, but also the Kraken/Daniel Whitehall, John Garrett and more. Are we going to see more elements from that series play out through the rest of the season — and potentially beyond?
Whedon: One of the reasons we pulled from that: we are “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and we are fans of it, because it closely hits on the vibe that we were trying to create with our Agents… So it’s safe to say that it will influence a lot of different folks.
Tancharoen: As it already has.
Whedon: Yeah, and even as we’re inspired by it, we always try to find a way to do it on our own way.
MTV: On the same note, I’ve talked to Jeph Loeb quite a bit about how Raina, and how you were initially surprised by how well she popped as a character — and ended up using her more as a result. So given that she ends up being, shall we say, un-human, when did that become part of the plan? When did you know she was going to end up in the chamber at the end with Skye?
Tancharoen: With that character we knew very early on that we wanted her on the same path as Skye. You heard her speak about evolution and destiny and what they will become, so it’s something that she longed for her entire life. And she’s also someone who, up until this point, has all the power when she walks into a room. So we will see what this transformation brings her in the back half of the season.
Whedon: And that’s an example of us creating a character we thought could be interesting moving forward in our season as we saw Ruth [Negga] playing it. We fell in love with the character… And when that happens, in the room, usually exciting stories start coming out. So immediately she started to become more of a major player on our show as soon as we started highlighting those things Maurissa just mentioned.
MTV: On the opposite end of the spectrum, what led to the decision to kill off Trip? You give us this great, incredible superhero moment with Skye… And then Trip crumbles into dust.
Tancharoen: It was heartbreaking for all of us. If we were going to sacrifice somebody, we needed it to have a big emotional impact and the audience has grown to love Trip over the course of a season and a half as much as we have — and we wanted Skye’s origin story to be filled with complex heavy emotions.
So the juxtaposition of the moment where she breaks out of petrification — and it’s such a glorious moment and she looks super awesome — and then to see her witness Trip crumbling before her very eyes, we now know that her origin story will be compounded by the weight of his death. It is not something we take lightly, it was a very hard decision to come to… But it happens!
Whedon: It’s a show where anything can happen, so it’s important for us to feel that there are genuine stakes for even our beloved characters. But yeah, this one, it stings. Stings for us, stings for the cast and hopefully it will sting for the audience. But B.J. Britt is still around!
MTV: Oh good! I’m glad you didn’t crumble him into dust in real life… Slightly more satisfying and certainly less heartbreaking, you killed off Daniel Whitehall — who up until now seemed like the Big Bad for the season. Where are you guys going villain-wise, now that he’s out of the picture?
Tancharoen: You’ll just have to wait and see! We’re opening up a whole new world, so you’ll see where that goes.
MTV: Before I let you guys go, when I talked to Adrianne Palicki a little earlier in the season, she was unsure about how long she was going to be on the show. Is there a chance of her becoming a regular on the show?
Tancharoen: There’s always that chance. We love Adrianne, we love her character. She has obviously become an essential part of our team and story — and you will see more of her in the back end of the season.
What did you think of the “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” mid-season finale? Are you excited to see where the show goes next?