It’s been put on the back burner due to the arrival of Hive and the exit of some beloved team members, but Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will address the elephant in the room during Tuesday’s episode.
Though viewers know that Lash (Blair Underwood) is hardly the most dangerous Inhuman on Earth at the moment, Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are unaware of the threat facing them in the form of Hive (Brett Dalton). Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) still has her sights set on catching her former husband, Andrew, who is still undergoing his transformation into the Inhuman-hunting villain Lash.
“She’s come to the understanding that it was something he had no control over,” Wen says. “The betrayal might be not sharing that information of what happened to him with her. She understands that, in a way, he was scared and trying to be protective of their relationship and doing it all for the wrong reasons. Ultimately, Agent May is shut down when it comes to Lash and Andrew at this point. That’s why she’s re-focusing all her energy back into S.H.I.E.L.D., back being by Coulson’s side.”
But when May realizes she’s not the only one with strong feelings about Lash being free to hunt Inhumans across Earth, the normally steely agent will open up to Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who also harbors guilt over the situation. “It’s a recurring theme for her that she needs a man to save her,” Henstridge says. “On the planet, she only got back because Will sacrificed himself for her. Now, she let [Lash] out because she wanted to save herself, and she didn’t know how she was going to do it. She knows she doesn’t have the combat skills to be able to take on all those Hydra soldiers. Selfishly, in hindsight, she sacrificed all of those Inhuman lives to save her own.”
“She’s just done with not being able to look after herself in that way,” Henstridge continues. “She didn’t know that that was going to happen, she didn’t know he was going to kill the Inhumans. She trusted him in that moment. She was speaking to Andrew rather than to Lash, but she definitely feels very guilty. I also think she’s beating up on herself that she allowed herself to make an emotional decision with someone she felt like she trusted, who then betrayed her, because making emotional decisions, she’s still kind of new at it. She doesn’t trust that instinct in her as much as she trusts the scientific side, and it came around to bite her in the bum a little bit.”
With that in mind, Simmons will take a step toward better learning how to protect herself with the help of May. “She has a maternal role in wanting to protect them, because as things get more dangerous and heightened, she feels they need to learn some new skills,” Wen says. “May’s main objective is to make sure every S.H.I.E.L.D. member can protect themselves against the Inhumans or Hydra. There’s just too many threats out there right now. They don’t have enough manpower or resources. Every person has to contribute.”
“[Simmons is] going to try to better arm herself against those situations happening again, but I think it’s also a case of Agent May has said throughout the different seasons that it’s never easy; failing at something is never easy,” Henstridge adds. “Killing someone, even if they’re bad, never feels good. We’re seeing that now with Coulson. Yes, she’s going to try to arm herself, but also it’s a period of growth for her to realize you make mistakes and you make decisions in an instant. It’s another thing she’s got to carry on her back. It’s another motivating factor to keep being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and keep trying.”
In the meantime, Hive continues to build his Inhuman army, unbeknownst to Team S.H.I.E.L.D., as the season barrels toward what’s gearing up to be an all-out war. “The days are coming where we will need to know exactly where everyone who is Inhuman who has crossed our path are, while we sort out if they’re going to be friend or foe,” Gregg says. “That’s our version of Civil War, I think. And Lash is one of those people we’re going to have to find that out about. Just as a fan of the comics, I feel like anyone who thinks they’re really positive about exactly what Lash is – and this is not a spoiler because I’m just guessing – there’s more dimensions to Lash coming than we’re aware of yet.”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.