Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!
It’s the moment Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans have been dreading since the flash forward in the midseason finale revealed that someone would die in a space-bound quinjet.
After a game of hot potato of death, the two-hour season finale revealed that the Fallen Agent is Lincoln (Luke Mitchell), who sacrificed himself to save both Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and the world, as Hive planned to turn humanity into swayed Inhumans, a.k.a. Primitives. EW hit the set on Mitchell’s final day of production to get his take on leaving S.H.I.E.L.D.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you get an early sense that Lincoln would get killed off?
LUKE MITCHELL: When they had initially revealed that someone is going to die, I was like, “That’s a really cool twist.” Part of me was like, “But it’ll probably end up being [someone random].” Then I was like, “Actually, no, maybe it is going to be something big.” That would be a really cool season-ending thing if it was one of the main cast, because that hasn’t really happened. Ward kind of died, but Brett stayed on the show, therefore you’re not losing an actor. Then I was like, “Well, they’re not going to kill off any of the originals. That’s the show. That’s what the core of the show is.”
Then I started thinking about the peripherals around the core members, which I consider myself to be one of the peripheral characters because I came in late in the game. I was like, “Well, they’re not going to kill Yo-Yo because that would be too obvious because it’s her necklace. She’s awesome and she’s a comic book character who they’ve just introduced and barely used.” Then I was like, “Joey, would they kill Joey off? He’s not a comic book character. No, he’s Latino and he’s gay, they better not kill him off.” Then all of a sudden I’m like, “I think it could be me, straight white guy.”
It was a really funny thing. Early on, before I knew knew, I started to get a feeling that it could be me. To be perfectly honest, all things considered, I think it’s the right choice. Dramatically, it’s really interesting. I take my hat off to them for killing the straight white guy. There’s been so much talk about killing off gay characters or killing off minority characters. We have such diversity on our show, which is terrific. When it was me, I was like, “touché.” Obviously I’m very sad to be saying goodbye, but I think it’s good for the story.
Is there some solace at least that he gets to go out like a hero?
Sure. If you’re going to die, I couldn’t have written a better ending for the character. Yeah, there’s a little bit of, “Cool. Save the girl. Save the world. Great.” Knowing what Daisy has seen [in the prophecy], then going, well, “It’s me or her, and I’m not having it be her.” He doesn’t want to be in that position. He’s not suicidal. He’s f—ing scared, even after the events take place and he’s in the quinjet with Hive. He’s terrified, but he knows he’s made the right decision, because if Daisy had sacrificed herself, I’m not sure he’d be able to live with himself.
But, yeah, still sad. As an actor, when you step into a character’s shoes, you really live and breathe this character, and you try to flesh it out as much as you can with the writing that you’ve been given and the limited information about future episodes. You start to see all the possibilities. You start seeing this just grow and build, so from that point of view, I was initially sad, because I was like, “There was more to mine with the character.” I would’ve had fun continuing this journey going into the next season. But now taking a step back, in hindsight, it’s absolutely the right choice.
When did you first find out that Lincoln was going to die?
I found out the day of the table read for episode 21, so we had just done the table read. I was working and at the end of the day, I was just leaving set and one of the [assistant directors] chased me down and was like, “Hey Luke, Maurissa just wanted to see you quickly in her office before you leave.” I go back to my trailer and there was a note in my trailer from another A.D. saying, “Hey Luke, the producers just wanted to have a quick chat with you before you leave today. Good luck.” I was like, “OK, well, what could this meeting possibly be?”
As soon as I had a little chuckle to myself, I was like, “S—, I hope I don’t get emotional in the meeting.” Walking into the meeting knowing what it’s going to be, and having it confirmed even though I had suspicions earlier, I was like, “Oh, this is going to be really sad.” I was like, “No, do not get emotional.” I walked in there and they were really lovely, of course. It was really easy. Maurissa, Jed, Jeph, and Jeff are wonderful people. I was just like, “Just pull it off, guys, rip it off like a band-aid. Let’s not beat around the bush here.” As soon as I sat down, Jeff Bell was like, “This is a sad meeting.” I’m like, “Get it over with! Come on.” They were like, “Lincoln’s the one that’s in the quinjet.” “OK, fair enough.” They went into the explanation of it. “Look, this is a really happy and sad time at the same time — happy because they really like this story, really like the hero sacrifice element, but sad to say goodbye to you.” That was really lovely. They said some nice things. I was like, “OK, guys, I’m going to go.” But yeah, that’s how it went down.
What was shooting your death scene like?
Very strange, because we’re supposed to be in zero gravity. Of course, we didn’t go to a space station to shoot it. Yeah, so we’re on wires and cable. I had a harness on, and we’re dangling like idiots and trying to pretend like we’re floating. Our harnesses were really uncomfortable. You can’t just be hanging there, you have to be in a position, so I had to lean back with my arms out trying to mock that I’m floating. Meanwhile, I’m tensing my abs like a motherf—er because it’s an ab workout. There’s a take where I’m literally shaking. I was like, “Guys, did that look ridiculous?” because I was shaking through that whole thing. [Laughs] It was weird.
The hardest stuff was the goodbye scene between Daisy and Lincoln. I’m in the quinjet and bleeding out, meanwhile Daisy’s run to the control room to try to talk me out of what I’m doing. We have this scene on comms, and it’s a goodbye scene. It was really hard because we had to shoot her half and then my half, but not on the same day. I made sure that I came in to read off-camera for her, and she very kindly did the same thing for me. She’s bawling her eyes out trying to understand why I’m doing that. She thought it was her destiny. It’s a really heartbreaking scene. That was the tough one. Once we got that done, it’s like, “Everything’s easy.”
What’s the feeling like today, the final day of production?
I feel like I’m already done. I’ve got a small fight scene to do with Axle, [who plays James], who I’ve been friends with for a long time; we worked together on Home and Away. We trade blows and then there’s two specialty shots, one where I get to float in zero gravity from the cockpit to where Hive is floating in the back of the quinjet, and then there’s the shot of me electrifying Daisy out of the quinjet, and that’s it. I shot my last dialogue scene yesterday. That was weird to say my last original S.H.I.E.L.D. lines. It feels weird.
For more Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scoop, read our postmortem with the executive producers here and our postmortem with the episode’s other casualty here. Plus: The cast reacts to those deaths on set here.