Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., what’s left of the organization took a big hit in the season premiere all for the tiniest of victories.
After the show flashed back to the ‘40s to see Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the Howling Commandos shut down the last of the Hydra outposts, they packed away the very first 0-8-4, an object seemingly at the center of this year’s mystery. The Commandos may have thwarted Hydra baddie Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond), but the villain otherwise known as Kraken got the last laugh.
In the present, Coulson and his ragtag team of agents tracked the 0-8-4 to a government warehouse, where Isabelle Hartley (Lucy Lawless) was forced to grab it lest it fall into the hands of Carl “Crusher” Creel, aka the Absorbing Man (Brian Patrick Wade). Naturally, the 0-8-4 started petrifying Izzy’s arm, but don’t worry, she didn’t have to deal with that pain for long as she was killed when the Absorbing Man flipped their car and took the object for—wait for it—a still alive and ageless Daniel Whitehall.
On the plus side, Coulson’s team stole a Quinjet, so they now harness the power of invisibility, which Coulson didn’t think Fitz could replicate because he now suffers from brain damage as a result of his trip to the bottom of the ocean in the finale. How bad is it? He has full on conversations with a doting Simmons… who left the team ages ago. Say it with us: Whuck?! Even Ward is still with the team, albeit locked up in a cell. EW turned to executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen to get the scoop on what’s next:
EW: Going into the premiere, we knew Coulson would have to lean on some unsavory people to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. afloat, but then you basically kill them all off. Why did you decide to only use Lucy Lawless for one episode?
JED WHEDON: We wanted you to invest in the character and feel like this person was a real equal to Coulson. She definitely fit the bill on that front. Lucy has such a strength to her. We didn’t want people to know what was going to happen. We wanted it to feel like a big deal.
It seemed like you were going to explore Isabelle being the late Victoria Hand’s (Safrron Burrows) love interest from the comics.
Whedon: There were versions, but it started to be irresponsible if we addressed it to not address it with more weight and time and energy.
Maurissa Tancharoen: And then we would’ve been known as the people who killed off two lesbians on the show.
Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) is still alive at the end of the episode. Will he return to Coulson’s team?
Whedon: He does play a larger role, yes. Whether or not he’ll return, we’ll answer some of those questions in episode 2.
What does this mean for S.H.I.E.L.D. now losing so many allies?
Whedon: Coulson does say right at the end that it was a make or break moment. They needed the advantage of cloaking to move forward. While there is a big hit and a big loss, there’s also a bit of a win. We’ll see how that shakes out.
Tancharoen: That win comes at a price with the weight of that loss. It just adds to Coulson’s new position as director and what his perspective is right from the jump this season.
Whedon: Now, every decision that he makes has different consequences than it used to.
Will the original 0-8-4 artifact be an overarching storyline throughout the season?
Will Coulson set his sights on trying to get it back from Daniel Whitehall?
Whedon: I hope so.
Tancharoen: We think he should.
This summer at Comic-Con, you all but confirmed the existence of Life Model Decoys by introducing more Agent Koenigs, which there was a nod to in the premiere. And now, we’re possibly seeing a nod to the Infinity Formula with Daniel Whitehall not aging between the 1940s and the present. Will we find out exactly how Whitehall is still alive?
Whedon: Yes, you will get the reasons why.
Is it a fine line of how close you can stay to the comics for that?
Whedon: There are obviously areas that we can go, but we have to dabble and there are some places we can’t go. Certainly things we’ll answer long term, some in the short term.
Tancharoen: We’re always going to be inspired and influenced by the comics, but of course on the show, we’ll always be doing our spin to it.
Whedon: It’s more of an inspiration as far as generating story.
Why did you decide to go down the route of Fitz sadly being off his rocker?
Whedon: Did you say it made you sad?
Whedon: That’s why.
Tancharoen: We didn’t want him to come out of that experience unscathed. He clearly suffered major trauma to his body. The lack of oxygen to his brain has to have consequences because that’s how it is in real life.
Whedon: When he’s down in that little pod, he told her how he felt about her and made a real sacrifice. We wanted it to be a real sacrifice.
Tancharoen: We wanted there to be a price. Basically, he in his own Fitz way had professed his love for her, and then he came out of that. How do you come out of that experience without any physical damage, there would still be probably a change to their relationship because the feelings are out in the open. But, of course, being the people that we are, we wanted to make it even more painful and compound it.
Will we see Simmons again other than as a figment of Fitz’s imagination or is she off the team for good?
Whedon: We will see her. She will be seen, it’s just that what does it mean? We can’t really say what that means.
Simmons also left the team when they needed her the most. When she does come back, is there some mistrust because of her exit?
Tancharoen: If someone feels that they’re abandoned, there are always complicated feelings. There are always reasons for why people do the things that they do.
Ward appears to have a wealth of information on Skye’s father. Will that be our way into finding out who he is, seeing him through Ward’s eyes?
Whedon: Ward’s certainly hoping so.
Tancharoen: That’s definitely his angle.
Ward came off really creepy. Is he totally nuts now or is there some redeeming qualities left?
Tancharoen: That’s absolutely the question that we want the audience to ask when you see scenes with Ward. Even Skye, in the scene right after she comes back into Coulson’s office, she’s like, “What is his deal?!” because it is partly creepy. You hopefully have some sympathy for him. We want it to be a mix of those feelings.
Whedon: He does seem generally centered about what he’s been through.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.