Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Heroes fighting themselves is all the rage right now.
During Tuesday’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) met her match when she was forced to fight… herself. Here’s how it all went down: After Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May went undercover to recover a priceless painting with the mysterious alien language inscribed on the back, they ran into Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), who enlisted their help in deciphering the writing instead of arresting them on sight.
However, it wasn’t actually Talbot, but Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) wearing a high-tech mask. When May discovers the truth, she’s knocked out so Agent 33 (Maya Stojan) can impersonate her. Naturally, it isn’t long before Coulson deduces that this isn’t his longtime often-grumpy friend, which leads to an epic battle of May vs. May when the original escapes capture.
Despite their bonding session throughout the mission, Coulson is very insistent that May must kill him because he doesn’t want the alien serum to make him go crazy like it did with Garrett (Bill Paxton). Will she go through with it? EW caught up with the actress to get the scoop:
What was your reaction when you read the script and saw that you were fighting yourself?
My jaw dropped. We read so many scripts where that happens, but this one in particular, I was very, very excited because I’ve always wanted to play a twin. This was an amazing opportunity. Then I got really scared because I realized there would be a lot of work involved.
How did that fight scene come together? Was that the most difficult thing you’ve done on the show?
Yeah. Me and [Samantha] Jo, who is my stunt double as well as my trainer, worked at least 20 hours training for all the choreography and the fight scenes, and making sure we had them nailed down. The hard part is when you’re on set, you don’t want to become confused when you’re doing one side and then you have to switch over and do the other side. We really trained. I got very, very fit and very, very tired.
Without having Melinda May actually become Hydra, was it fun for you to slip into that bad guy role?
Absolutely. Because the Hydra agent becomes May, I had to find nuances of her personality and her movements to try to subtly incorporate it into the bad May. That was really, really fun. You can see it in the fight where May is just being May, nothing seems to bother her very much. She’s very confident and tough. Then, the other May starts to lose it after a while because she’s panicking. May would never panic. [Laughs] It’s never more fun than wearing a disco ball while you’re trying to fight.
Not only did you have to work out these character details and choreography, but you had to wear a dress on one side and lingerie on the other.
I was really afraid to fight in the lingerie, but after doing it for hours and hours, I couldn’t wait to be the real May so I could be in that lingerie. That silver dress is beautiful, but it is heavy and hot. It’s like being wrapped in tin foil and roasting in an oven. That’s how I felt. I felt like I was dinner after a while. [Laughs]
Coulson comes up with a contingency plan that includes May shooting him in the head. Do you think she could actually do it?
She certainly did everything she could in her power to avoid that as a choice for her to make. I think those scenes with May and Coulson at the end really showcase her heart and her love for Coulson as a friend or as something else—that’s always been a bit ambiguous. I don’t think she is able to do it until Coulson gave her the final ultimatum. As a soldier, she has to follow those rules. It would devastate her more than [whatever happened in] Bahrain, more than any experience that she’s gone through. This might destroy not just Coulson, but her. Hopefully we’ll never have to come to that. We can’t kill Coulson twice. But, you know, maybe that alien blue blood will make him immortal. Who knows?
They know someone else is out there who is also sketching that alien language. Does May look at that as a possible way out from killing Coulson?
Yeah, that’s our mission. Hydra is such a huge opponent for us. We’re still rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. We’re still striving to put back together an incredibly powerful force that has been annihilated. There’s a lot of challenges ahead for all our characters.
Would you say it’s a race between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra to uncover the truth of the alien writing?
Completely. We have limited resources as opposed to what Hydra has, so we need to use our intelligence and our ability to find the source of what this alien writing is. Amazingly, with Coulson being immersed in it, I believe we have the advantage, because he’s more tapped into the actual alien force, whatever it is. It’s just solving that mystery and hopefully solving it before he falls apart.
Did Agent 33 survive, because if so, she knows that Coulson is now the director and where they’re located. How much danger does that put them in?
Don’t you just love how we leave everything a little bit unclear? [Laughs] I don’t know if I can answer that. What’s the Hydra thing? “I will comply.” [Laughs] I’d like to keep my job. Next question.
We’ll be getting into May’s background this season. Have you reached that point yet?
No, that I can answer. We haven’t had that episode yet. I’m waiting on pins and needles. But this episode was such a Valentine’s Day present to me as an actress and May as a character and the fans who love “Philinda.” We have such an amazing core group of Team Philinda fans out there. I’m just relishing in it. It’s a wonderful afterglow. I’m so, so happy that I was given this episode to play with. It was an incredible challenge and I hope the fans love it as much as I loved shooting it.
How much have the producers told you about May’s backstory?
I will comply. [Laughs] Our writers are as bad at revealing to us as they are to the fans. In a way, a lot of times, I feel like being the fangirl that I am of this genre. I’m working in the fan box, but I’m still outside of it as an audience member. Every script that comes along is like opening up that new comic book for me. It’s exciting because we don’t know. In a way, I enjoy that. I’d rather have this happen because then everything is fresh and new.
We haven’t seen May go down to Ward’s cell yet. Will we see them interact?
He definitely had ulterior motives that even May couldn’t fathom. I showed him my distaste for it in the [season finale], but I would love for us to have another scene together. This season, in particular, Brett [Dalton] and I haven’t had a chance to work together at all. In a way, we keep joking with each other, like, “Oh hi, what show are you on?” This year has been a bit strange.
Skye’s father is out there. May knows how dangerous this man is. Will they have any interaction?
I hope so. [Kyle MacLachlan and I] actually worked on a film together years ago that had Iron Man, Robert Dowey Jr., and Wesley Snipes called One Night Stand. I love how, in a way, it is like Marvel. It’s all so connected. I’d love to work with Kyle again. We just give each other air kisses on set because we had such a lovely time working together back then. I certainly hope we have some scenes together because he’s a lovely actor to work with.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.