Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
“Can we get more sweat please?”
It’s the final day of production on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season and that seems to be the popular mantra of the morning.
On the darkened S.H.I.E.L.D. base, transformed humans now known as Primitives (Alpha Primitives in Marvel comics) roam the hallways seeking out their prey. Trapped with no hope of escape, Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) decides to, quite literally, turn up the heat, throwing off the Doctor Who-like monsters’ infrared vision. But achieving that TV magic involves Henstridge being doused in fake sweat between takes.
On another stage of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Los Angeles-based production, Brett Dalton has split his pants. Seriously. The original cast member is filming an epic fight scene three years in the making: Hive vs. Daisy (Chloe Bennet), or as some fans like to think, Ward vs. Skye.
As the filming of the intricate and lengthy fight scene runs late into the night — so much so that the wrap party has started without them — various cast members and executive producers drop by to witness what are meant to be Dalton’s final scenes on the series. “It’s a fun and sad way to end my time with Brett, because he was the first cast member that I met before I was even cast on the show,” Bennet says. “I had a chemistry read with him.”
But Dalton’s not the only one bidding farewell. Luke Mitchell is on hand to shoot ancillary shots after wrapping his final scenes with dialogue the day prior. His character, Lincoln, is the Fallen Agent, who sacrifices himself to save Daisy and the world in order to thwart Hive. “I was really bummed,” Bennet says. “We all knew someone was going to die, and then when we find out it was two, it was especially hard for me during the table read. I actually couldn’t even get through the table read. I was reading scenes with Luke and scenes where they both die, and I just started choking up, and I’ve never done that during a table read. Those are the two people I work with the most, so that’s going to change my experience of the show moving forward. It was a big shock to me. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.”
“When Ward came back as Hive, I figured this might cost me this wonderful actor, but then to get that final script and have it also cost us Luke Mitchell, who we all have just fallen in love with, maybe no one more than Chloe, it’s just sad,” Clark Gregg says. “It gets very sad around here. When I read the finale episode, I was pretty thrilled for Luke. The dreamboat heroic stuff they wrote for Luke and the way he’s played it was pretty glorious.”
Most of the cast echoed Bennet and Gregg’s sentiments: The twist that not one, but two would perish was a big shock. “I totally understand why they did it; that doesn’t mean I’m not mad at them for it, but I understand,” Henstridge says with a laugh. “That was somehow a huge blow to deal with. We all get it. We’re cogs in a machine. We serve the plot and serve the story, and that’s the way it should be. But you can’t help but get emotionally hurt and confused.”
“I wasn’t too sad to lose old Hive,” Gregg says of the character. But for Dalton, “We’re all really [sad]. We go through grief around here. Brett Dalton has been with us since the pilot three years ago. He’s family. We all stand in awe of the way he’s ridden more crazy waves in opposite directions back and forth from the lone gun super S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, to the Hydra prodigy, to Ward has risen as Hive. It’s been amazing to watch the way he’s embraced all those challenges. It’s really sad to lose him.”
Sitting in her trailer on the final day of production, Ming-Na Wen tears up over the exits — a stark contrast to her typically stoic demeanor as Agent May. “For me, it’s an incredible heartbreak to lose Brett Dalton, who was one of our original six,” Wen says. “I didn’t believe it in the beginning when it was told to us that Hive was really going to die, because I still thought, ‘OK, so now then Brett gets to play another character? His evil twin comes back? His good twin comes back?’ It was really, really hard for me to understand that aspect.”
“Me and Brett actually started on Day 1 together,” Wen continues. “When I got cast, I was asked to go to a gym and start training because it was a very physical role and we met at the gym. He was the very first cast member that I met. We trained together and learned stunt fighting together. It’s like it’s my little brother. It’s very, very emotional.”
As for Mitchell, Wen effused over getting to work with him much more this season as May became Lincoln’s SO. “Luke is so cute, charming, and wonderful,” Wen says. “I was really thankful for [those scenes], because he’s such a lovely guy.”
“It’s hard,” Wen continues. “I’ve been in this business a really long time. You get so close with your fellow actors and it is a family. They’ll always be your friends and always be in your heart, but it’s just different than being together day in and day out, sharing family stories and good and bad moments together. I’m going to truly miss [them] tremendously and it breaks my heart because I know, as an actor, no matter what is out there on the horizon, it’s very difficult to say goodbye.”