When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns for its second season, Director Coulson will have to reach out to some unsavory types in order to keep the organization afloat and battle the nefarious Hydra. One of those he’ll turn to for help is S.H.I.E.L.D. vet Isabelle Hartley, who brings with her a group of dangerous mercenaries.
“She’s tough as all get out,” Lucy Lawless tells EW. “She does what she wants, when she wants for her own purposes. It just so happens that whatever Coulson’s purpose is becomes her No. 1 aim in life, so he knows he can trust her above all.”
While Lawless recognizes similar attributes in Izzy to some of her past roles—like Xena and D’Anna from Battlestar Galactica—she says there’s one big difference: “She doesn’t respect the right to life of any human being on the planet,” Lawless says. “If she’s paid to kill them, she’ll take the gig. Therefore, I’m not sure there are any conventions she’d particularly respect, whereas my other characters have had some boundaries on what they’d be prepared to do.”
However, just because Coulson trusts Hartley and her team—which includes Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Idaho (Wilmer Calderon)—that doesn’t mean Agents May, Triplett and Skye will. “They’re a ragtag bunch,” Lawless explains. “The S.H.I.E.L.D. team is very slick and they’re not keen for any of that stuff, but they get the job done. S.H.I.E.L.D. might not like us, but they know they need us and they can trust us.”
As a big fan of comic books growing up, Lawless was particularly excited to take part in an episode that included Carl “Crusher” Creel (Brian Patrick Wade), even though going up against the more-than-formidable foe puts them all in great danger. “They just have to be smarter than the foe, but the foe is awesome when you’ve got the Absorbing Man to deal with,” she says. “I remember as a kid just thinking that was such an unbelievable concept and what an unbeatable foe a character like that would be.”
Check out a sneak peek of Hartley in action:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. on ABC.