Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk.
There were casualties aplenty in the season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team faced off against the Inhumans.
In a bid to get the Inhumans to side with her in a war, Jaiying (Dichen Lachman) tasks Gordon (Jamie Harris) with stealing a quinjet to attack Afterlife, making it appear as though S.H.I.E.L.D. took the first shot. After Raina (Ruth Negga) subsequently tries to warn Skye (Chloe Bennet) that her mother is dangerous, Jaiying murders her, making Skye realize the truth. Unfortunately, it’s too late to warn S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans infiltrate the aircraft carrier with a plan to kill the entire organization with the Terrigen crystals.
But what Jaiying could never account for is Cal’s (Kyle MacLachlan) love for his daughter. Instead of turning into Mister Hyde and killing Coulson, Cal joins S.H.I.E.L.D. to make sure Skye doesn’t fall victim to her mother’s nefarious plans. Cal ultimately kills Jaiying, sparing Skye from having to do the task herself after her mother tries to suck the life out of her.
As the battle between Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D. comes to a head, Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) accidentally kills Gordon, who drops a lethal crystal, but Coulson dives to catch it, unafraid of the consequences. As Coulson begins to petrify, Mack (Henry Simmons) comes to the rescue and chops off his arm—the producers did warn that Mack had an ax and Coulson would lose something important! In the end, Coulson and Skye ultimately launch what appears to be the Secret Warriors program.
Elsewhere, Ward and Kara torture Bobbi and plan to kill Hunter as recompense for Mockingbird selling Agent 33 out to Hydra. But Bobbi takes the bullet marked for Hunter and decidedly walks away from S.H.I.E.L.D.—though she’s not the only one as May decides to take a hiatus with Andrew. On the plus side, the incident makes Simmons realizes her true feelings for Fitz, and they plan to go on a date—but he’ll be waiting a while since the mysterious Kree stone sucks Simmons up into it. Oh, and Ward becomes the new head of Hydra after accidentally killing Kara. What does this all mean?! EW caught up with Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell to get the scoop on next season: (Also, Elizabeth Henstridge discusses Simmons’ disappearing act here, Brett Dalton talks Ward’s Hydra turn here and we go behind-the-scenes to see how they chopped off Coulson’s arm here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Are you setting up Secret Warriors for next season?
JEFFREY BELL: I would say setting up is perhaps an over statement. Certainly we’re tipping our hat to a woman named Daisy Johnson talking to Coulson about a secret group of powered people.
Any secret organizations within organizations don’t tend to make people happy. How secret would this actually be because of what incidents they’ve faced before?
On the one hand, this whole season on the S.H.I.E.L.D. level was about the price of secrets. When you’re doing a spy show, secrets are your bread and butter. There is always good conflict and tension when there are secrets. Having said that, we just played out, “Oh, I have a secret that I can’t tell you about,” so I think we’ll work very hard so we don’t replicate these people in S.H.I.E.L.D. have a secret and these people don’t know it. Having secrets ultimately causes a lot of pain for people and it rarely works out, as our U.S. government is learning from the Snowden stuff. We’ll find a way to make secrets a great texture to next year.
What does this mean for Skye in regards to the team now that she’s stepping up elsewhere?
Some people will be excited and some people will be a little intimidated or threatened by that. Any time a person grows or steps out of the role that they’re perceived to be a part of, it’s a problem. What happens when the student reaches the level of master or teacher? There’s a lot of good fodder for us next season with that.
Simmons has disappeared! What happened to her?
Oh, this weird alien rock seemed to dissolve and consume her and come back together. No one was more shocked about that than us. [Laughs]
Is it safe to say that Fitz will do everything in his power to get her back?
I wouldn’t limit it to Fitz. Everyone will be very upset and concerned after they figure out what happened. I would suspect our team would not take this lightly and will do everything they can to figure out what happened.
May has taken what I assume to be a temporary hiatus. Are we going to see her back, and can she ever actually be normal?
That’s a good question. One of the things that we talked about with our finale was though there was a lot of plot, there were also a lot of emotional resolutions. We’ve given May an emotional resolution. It’s not riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after, but it’s at least a moment of contentment and to consider the possibility of what’s next. We love Blair Underwood and he came in and fit very nicely into our universe. The possibility to tell some more stories next year, if that works out, is exciting to us. Whether that means we see a very happy, content May or not is to be determined.
I feel like there’s still a lot more story to be told with Lincoln and Skye. Do you plan to hang on to Luke Mitchell for a while?
We loved Luke this season. We have a lot of ideas for Luke. The writers are getting back together in about three weeks to start shaping the next season. He was a nice addition this past season, so he’s definitely being considered for all that.
Bobbi has decided to give up on S.H.I.E.L.D., but since the spin-off is not moving forward, can we expect her and Hunter to be back on this team or will we see some parallel storytelling for a bit?
When she said, “I can’t do this anymore,” we intentionally made that very ambiguous. Does it mean her and Hunter, or does it mean S.H.I.E.L.D.? The whole intention of the possible spin-off was we love these people as characters and feel that they’re a great part of our universe. When they return, we expect to have great stories for them both as a couple and within the larger team, whether they’re part of it or parallel. Twenty-two episodes makes for a long season, so there are opportunities to split people off and bring them back together.
The Terrigen crystals are basically out there in the world now. How dangerous could this be to Inhumans and humans alike? And is this your indication that we haven’t seen the last of the Inhumans on S.H.I.E.L.D.?
This was a way for us to remind people that anything can happen at any time. Anywhere in the world, this sort of thing can happen without going so far as to dropping a Terrigen bomb and turning a whole group of people at one time. The idea that the possibility is out there allows us a lot of story opportunities for next year. And for the audience, it teases the promise of more Inhumans next season.
Because you’ve already delved into S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Inhumans this season, do you want to take on a different villain next season?
I don’t think of Inhumans necessarily as villains. With Jaiying, this is a woman who got sliced apart by someone who called himself S.H.I.E.L.D. even though he was really Hydra. Then she moved her group to the middle of nowhere to be left alone and S.H.I.E.L.D. showed up again. She certainly was justified in whatever she was feeling. We used a very small corner of the Inhuman universe. It’s not so much about this community as an antagonist as it is about individuals who don’t know what’s happening with them as we move forward.
The description for next season says Coulson embarks on a deadly new secret mission to protect the world from new threats in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s wars with Hydra and the rogue faction of Inhumans. What can you tease about these new threats?
They’re hinted at in the last couple of episodes. The Kree rock would be a good place to start. Any time you end a season with an image of something, in our minds, that’s the promise of there being more story to be had. It seems to open up a new world of questions.
Those new threats also include Ward and his Hydra faction, I’m sure. Is he just dead set on revenge? And is there no redemption for him at this point?
I love Dostoevsky, and one of the things that I love about his books is that nobody is too high that they can’t fall and nobody is too low to ever be redeemed. It takes a long time. I would say no one is ever beyond redemption., nor is anybody above a horrible turn. Ward is a complicated figure that some people think is a victim and some people think is a psychopath. It does seem, at the end of the season, that he doesn’t want to reconcile with Coulson and the team after the death of Agent 33—God forbid he take any responsibility for that. In blaming them for what happened and in his desire for closure, he’ll be a pretty good adversary.
Is that the last we’ve seen of Cal for now?
Cal is in a good place for now. He had a great season. He got to live a happily ever after in a beautiful way. We would never write off the idea of finding more story for him down the road, but we had a great time with Kyle this year and feel like that was a story that ended nicely. At least for now, we’ll put that down.
Are you guys already in discussions about what new characters you might be bringing on for next season?
We are. This year, we had a slew of antagonist. We had Whitehall, we had Ward, we had Cal, we had Jaiying, we had Gonzalez—not a bad guy, but certainly an antagonist—we had Raina, we had a bunch of people who came and went at different times over the course of the season before we got all together at the end. That seemed to work well. The idea of some familiar faces with some new faces is something to look forward to. I also think finding some new Marvel characters to pull into the universe would be cool. Fans seems to respond when there are characters from the Marvel comics and Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ll also continue to create our own mythology as we’ve done. It’s a whole new world.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return to ABC this fall.