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'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' return tells the birth of a superhero

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Kelsey McNeal/ABC

For the last three months, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans have been left to ponder what it means that Skye (Chloe Bennet) was revealed to be both Marvel comics hero Daisy Johnson, a.k.a. Quake, and an Inhuman. When the ABC super series returns on Tuesday, the audience will be learning exactly what it means alongside Skye, who has been quarantined following the events of the midseason finale at the Temple and is unaware that she actually caused the earthquake that helped claim Agent Triplett’s (B.J. Britt) life.

What’s in store, executive producer Jeffrey Bell says during EW’s recent trip to the S.H.I.E.L.D. set, is the “birth of a superhero.” “Instead of montaging Spider-Man on the subway having fun for about three minutes learning his powers, we can actually explore what it means to go through that,” he says.

While Skye’s transition will evolve over several episodes, her portrayer didn’t have nearly as much time to cope with the coming change. “They told me probably about two [weeks] before,” Bennet says with a chuckle. “I thought I was She-Hulk for a while, so I’ve been working out a lot. Growing up with six brothers, I’ve never really seen any Disney princess, so I’ve always wanted to be an action star or action hero more than I ever wanted to be any sort of Disney princess. It’s been a dream for a while, so it’s been cool.”

As Skye copes with what her new change means, she’ll soon find some assistance from fellow Inhuman Lincoln (Luke Mitchell). “He helps Skye adjust to her new powers in a way that makes her more comfortable with them,” Bennet says. “And they might like each other at some point… He’s going to be a breath of fresh air to the show and change things up. He brings on a whole other part of the show that people are going to be excited about. His powers are dope!”

“He’s reasonably confident in his own abilities,” Mitchell coyly adds of Lincoln. “He’s quite knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about the whole Inhuman thing.”

Despite this new change, executive producer Jed Whedon stresses that she’s still the Skye we’ve come to know and love over the last two seasons. “Her dad thinks she’s Daisy,” he says. “We’ll see if she ever gets to the point where she believes that that’s something that she would want to call herself. But right now, she has her own identity.”

However, not everyone will see her the same as things get heated in the wake of Trip’s death—the group is fractured as they start to question why Coulson was chasing the Temple in the first place. “It’s a traumatic event,” Elizabeth Henstridge says of Trip’s death. “Trip was one of our own. This is like the Coulson dying in Avengers kind of thing. This is the thing that’s going to spur and fuel the second half of the season. It’s big for every character.”  

“[Skye] feels extremely guilty over that considering [Trip] went down there to save her and then he died,” Bennet says. “It’s a lot of her figuring out that, ‘Oh, when I got upset down there, an earthquake happened, and I keep getting upset and that may be happening again.’ It’s her exploring whether or not it is her that is creating these things, and then her dealing with what she has to tell the team, because people who have powers, from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s perspective, are put on the Index. That’s not really a place she wants to be, I don’t think. It’s dealing with admitting that to her family. It’s kind of like she’s coming out almost as a superhero to her S.H.I.E.L.D. family and moving forward from there.”

Coming out as a superhero won’t be easy for Skye, especially since the concept of Inhumans is unheard of in their world. “Some people react in a good way, and some people react in a bad way,” Bennet says.

“It’s certainly not something that Coulson knows about,” Gregg says. “Coulson doesn’t know anything about Inhumans. No one in our world does yet. Something happened that has put her in quarantine, which [puts] her in jeopardy, which is the most terrifying thing to Coulson that can happen because of their emotional bond. [It’s] also, potentially, a threat and connected to something bigger than we understand yet. The exciting and very scary part of it is it seems destined to really challenge how real their connection is.”

Coulson and Skye, meanwhile, will also be dealing with the MIA Cal (Kyle MacLachlan), who will soon learn the truth about his daughter. “Let’s just say that he was definitely right about how once you change, things aren’t going to be the same and people aren’t going to treat you the same way,” Bennet hints. “There’s definitely a level of discrimination against Inhumans. I wouldn’t say that she turns to him, but I would definitely say that their relationship changes a little bit.”  

Unfortunately, Cal has also been fuming since Coulson stole his chance to kill the man who killed his wife. “[Coulson’s] love for Skye is deep enough that it’s hard to wrap his head around killing her father,” Gregg says. “At the same time, he’s not so happy with how the last fight went. There’s a score he wants to settle, and he wants to protect her from whatever stuff he’s got going on. To a certain extent, he seems to be connected to whatever’s happened to her.”

That’s far from the only thing Coulson & Co. are dealing with in the second half of the season, however, as the threat of Hydra is still very much present—a logline about the show’s return released by ABC insinuated that Hydra may have another traitor in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s midst. The obvious answer would be Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Mack (Henry Simmons), who have been keeping a dangerous secret from Coulson. “When the secret does finally come out, it’s going to have massive repercussions on the entire team,” Palicki teases.

Plus, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent-turned-Hydra spy Ward (Brett Dalton) is still breathing, despite Skye shooting him multiple times—though don’t expect to see Ward during the first handful of episodes. “I kept my promise to Skye and reunited her with her father,” Dalton says. “As a thank you, she shot me four times, but I did not die. To my rescue came Agent 33 [Ming-Na Wen], who just lost her mentor as I had lost mine in Season 1. What we’re seeing now is an unlikely duo, who have both lost someone who gave them orders. So, both of us have this question that we’ve been forced to answer: Who are we when someone’s not telling us what to do?”

Find out when Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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