Agents Of Shield 02
Credit: Adam Rose/ABC

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Blame Hydra if you get spoiled.

The mystery behind the alien carvings came to a head during Tuesday’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Coulson (Clark Gregg) finally uncovering the truth that the equation was actually a blueprint for a mysterious city that the blue alien was apparently hell bent on venturing to.

Basically, after the mysterious tattoo man (Brian Van Holt) carved the equation into a woman who also knew about the drawings, Coulson started to suspect that he had memories of who these people are, so he jumped in the memory machine to uncover the truth. Basically, tattoo man, aka Sebastian Derek, was also a Tahiti patient, among several others, who all started to deteriorate before S.H.I.E.L.D. wiped their memories. But the urge to carve the drawings all resurfaced in each of them, who remembered different pieces of the puzzle.

After getting out of the machine, Coulson basically goes crazy himself and tracks down one of the other survivors, which culminates in a showdown with Sebastian, eventually leading to the discovery of the final puzzle piece and the end of their craziness. Apparently. To find out what’s next—including whether Ward (Brett Dalton) can be trusted now that he’s handing over Hydra assets—we caught up with Gregg to get the scoop:

How happy are you that you are potentially done playing crazy Coulson?

It’s tiring, crazy Coulson, but he seems to get a little less crazy. There’s some satisfaction to the payoff of that episode.

When Garrett (Bill Paxton) seemingly figured out the answers to the equation, he was still pretty crazy. Is Coulson really back to normal now?

That’s a really good question. I don’t know. He really felt like he was loosing it in the first part of this episode. Since he was going around trying to figure out who was going to pull his plug, that’s a real concern. I don’t want to die again. I was so surprised when it got to that bit in the script at the table read. I was like, “Oh, am I better now?” And they went, “Well, let’s just say you aren’t crazily carving anymore.”

Will Coulson go as crazy trying to find the town or is the drive different now?

I think it’s pretty intense. One of the really cool sci-fi elements of this show is that whatever this is, it seems to have been around for a while, and once it gets into your system, it starts to influence your behavior. I’ve seen a couple of really creepy, scary nature specials lately about insects who do this, that infect another species of insect and get them to do their bidding, often in a suicidal way. There’s something kind of sinister about it like that. I don’t know that having solved the carving element of it or figuring out the city part of it is going to completely mean that that alien tissue is done with him.

How soon will they actually find this town?

You’re trying to get me killed, aren’t you? [Laughs] I think things are ramping up. If there are any kind of lessons that I’m learning from reading the scripts in season two is that things that might have taken a lot of episodes to pay off in season one, they’re heating up really damn quickly in season two, so I’d be surprised if we went a hell of a lot longer without seeing where we were going.

If this blue alien is searching for a town, who’s to say the town is even on earth? Is that a question that will arise?


Does the government really trust S.H.I.E.L.D. again or will other issues arise?

I haven’t seen that the government trusts S.H.I.E.L.D. at all. Hydra is doing everything they can to poison anybody’s impression of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it does seem like Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) is developing a grudging respect and/or trust for Coulson, so at least there’s an ally pretty high up in the U.S. Military. I don’t know how much politics you’ve been paying attention to, but to whatever extent there’s any parallel to our world and the real world we’re living in, it strikes me that our government or other governments could plausibly be riddled with Hydra.

Ward is handing over Hydra agents. Can he be trusted or was it his plan to get Bakshi into that bunker for more nefarious reasons?

Ward seems to think that he’s redeemable, and yet for every step he takes that seems to be about mending fences with either Skye or Coulson, he seems to do something that’s equally psychotic. The speech that was in last week’s episode, the bit between the two of them before he turned Ward over, it seems like Coulson takes the deaths of Victoria Hand (Saffrons Burrows) and others very seriously. I don’t see how Ward is going to explain that away, from Coulson’s point of view.

Would Coulson want to kill Ward?

That question actually goes right to the heart of Coulson. Would he want to? I’m sure Coulson does, but I also feel like there’s a cost to not being Hydra. To Coulson, there’s a very clear line that you cross over when you indulge your more primitive retribution-based desires, that suddenly really starts to rupture the membrane between you and what you’re fighting against.

Skye knows that her father (Kyle MacLachlan) is dangerous, but she’s still somewhat in contact with Ward. Will her curiosity get the best of her or will Coulson be able to prevent that?

He seems to be getting really frustrated with her, the way she keeps sneaking down to the basement to talk to her evil boyfriend. It’s hard not to have a little bit of empathy for the fact that she grew up an orphan in foster care.

What lengths will Coulson go to protect Skye?

I think it’s been established very clearly is that the people who do this job don’t get to have families. You don’t go home at the end of the day. It’s a sacrifice they make because they believe in what S.H.I.E.L.D. is meant to stand for. That’s why Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) brought him back to life and made him the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson is somebody who really believes that without this, really bad things would happen. What’s developed from these characters that were introduced last year is this workplace family. This is as close to a family and a daughter as Coulson will ever have. At the same time, his job and the thing they share is this devotion to an idea, which requires him to send her out into the field, often in incredibly dangerous situations. It’s really hard to wrap my head around. I have a daughter. I certainly feel a paternal, nurturing, caring, protective feelings about Chloe [Bennet] and Skye. The relationships that Coulson has involves life and death situations all the time. It feels a bit like Saul and Carrie Bradshaw. Wait, not Carrie Bradshaw. That’s Sex and the City. Saul and Carrie Mathison. Now that’s a mash-up show that I want to see. [Laughs]

It seems like they’re setting up for Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) to use the memory machine to get his brain back on track. How will Coulson feel about that?

That’s an interesting idea. That makes a lot of sense. That machine is so painful and I don’t wish it on anybody, but if there’s anything to be done to get Fitz back to his former intellectual glory, I think Coulson would risk anything.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Episode Recaps

ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." - Season Three

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.

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