Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3: Secret Warriors creation will be a 'slow burn,' say bosses
Plus: Daisy's a leader, Simmons is still MIA and May is ... happy?
Where is Simmons? How is Coulson dealing following the loss of his hand? What’s the deal with this new shadowy organization led by Constance Zimmer? Is May actually happy? Will Bobbi return to S.H.I.E.L.D.? Seriously, where is Simmons?!
The creative minds behind Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have kept unsurprisingly and relatively mum about the upcoming season, which features the rise of the Secret Warriors. Fortunately, EW got a chance to grill executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen to get some of these questions answered:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where is the new season picking up?
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN: Three months have passed — you’ll feel that as soon as the first episode begins. There are new partnerships within the team, there’s definitely a new mission and you’ll feel the state of the world and what’s happening and you’ll understand the time shift right away.
What’s the team facing with this influx of Inhumans popping up around the world?
JED WHEDON: Our mission has always been to help with the strange occurrences that happen in a world of superheroes, but the mission’s become a little more clear with this pressing threat. Everybody on our team is put in a new position because of it. They have to face it in a new way and almost nobody is in the same headspace or even physical space that they were last year. Everybody’s had to adapt.
TANCHAROEN: Last we left with the image of the fish oil on shelves — that is an indication perhaps there will be more Inhumans popping up all over the place. Our team has to deal with that and figure out who they can help through this process, figure out who’s good and who’s bad.
When the terrigen crystals touch humans, there is a bad side effect. Are we to assume that going through the fish oil process caused the crystals to only affect Inhumans?
WHEDON: That will be answered in the first episode.
TANCHAROEN: That’s a good question.
What can you tease for the origins of the Secret Warriors team?
TANCHAROEN: It’s going to be a very slow build to what you see in Secret Warriors. It’s in very, very nascent stages when we first come into the season. Daisy [Chloe Bennet] is the only power person on the team.
WHEDON: And while there is a desire to put a team together like that, there are so many complications and so many aspects to it that make it difficult that it will not be up and running right away. It’s something that’s a long-term goal of Coulson’s [Clark Gregg], but right now they’re in such emergency mode and there are so many things standing in their way. They need a solution to this problem that they don’t have yet. We’ll see that that desire to fill it is potentially a problem too because they don’t want to rush into things, so it will be a slow burn.
How does the S.H.I.E.L.D. team feel about Secret Warriors?
TAUCHAROEN: There’s varying opinions. They are aware, but any sort of new thing brought into their world there’s going to be conflict and different feelings about it.
WHEDON: Right, but again it’s something that there are a lot of steps on the road to getting there, so we’ll see how they deal with each coming new development.
Daisy is taking a leadership role within Secret Warriors. What’s that dynamic like as she’s coming closer to fulfilling her comic book destiny?
WHEDON: It’s a new color on her we haven’t seen yet. So much of her time was, in the first two seasons, spent reeling from new information.
TANCHAROEN: And still searching for answers. At the end of last season, she finally we reunited with her parents. It, of course, was very complicated and didn’t really go as she had hoped. But now she’s resolved for all that and she’s grown up a ton over the past few seasons and now taking on a leadership role is not only refreshing, but she handles it very well. We’re partnering her up with Mack (Henry Simmons), so there’s a fun new relationship there.
WHEDON: The person who’s skeptical of alien stuff and the person who has it inside of her.
They’re like the Mulder and Scully of S.H.I.E.L.D.
TANCHAROEN: Yeah, pretty much. [Laughs]
Coulson came close to dying again, but only lost his arm. What’s his mindset when the show returns?
TANCHAROEN: Again, good question. An overall theme that we’re exploring with each character this season is they are all trying to get back in touch with their humanity in a world where Inhumans are popping up. Coulson, of course, is the center of that. He was brought back to life, he has alien DNA in his system, and now he is without an arm. Last season, in his role as director, he felt further and further away from everyman he was as he was faced with making the hard call — it put him at odds with members of the team. Now he is trying to get back in touch with what it means to be that everyman when perhaps this is when he’s moving even further away from that.
We have another government agency hunting these Inhumans. What can you tell us about them and their leader, played by Constance Zimmer?
WHEDON: We have this new development of terrigen in the mix. There will obviously be a lot of interested parties. One of the obstacles we will face is trying to clear that field. With Constance’s character, we’re hoping to give Coulson a new foil; someone who is his equal in a way, and give him a new dynamic with someone who he doesn’t know how much he can trust. Especially in first episode, we’ll see that she is definitely formidable and someone to be feared. Hopefully the two of them will go head-to-head in a new way that’s exciting.
Does Zimmer’s character have a name yet?
WHEDON: She does. But it won’t interest you in any way.
TANCHAROEN: Or it will, I don’t know. Hopefully it will interest you once you come to know the character.
WHEDON: Once you know the character it’ll be great, yeah.
In the comics, Lash (Matthew Willig) is a supervillain. What’s your take on this character?
WHEDON: I would just say that we’re doing our own take on it. There will be some elements from the comics for sure, but as we always do, we want people to not know what’s coming, so we’re changing it up a little bit.
TAUCHAREON And on a very basic level, we were interested in putting a monster in the mix, because he is not human and his looks are pretty crazy and scary. We wanted to put our team up against something like that.
WHEDON: We have two Inhumans [Bennet and Luke Mitchell] who are regulars on our show, and they both are fairly attractive.
TANCHAROEN: They look like they can be on the cover of Vogue.
WHEDON: Right. It looks like if they had a baby together, that baby would rule the planet. We want to also show the other side of the change that bad things can happen.
Might we see some other familiar Inhuman faces from the comics besides Lash?
TANCHAROEN: You might.
WHEDON: Always might, yes.
Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is still missing when the show returns. Is the team still actively searching for her or have they exhausted their options?
TANCHAROEN: You will learn their feelings about the Simmons of it all pretty early. They’ll probably be asking the same questions that our audience is asking.
WHEDON: We can’t tell you anything, but all we can say is that you won’t have to wait long.
TANCHAROEN: Yeah, you won’t have to wait long to know what happened.
What’s Fitz’s (Iain De Caestecker) mindset during this?
WHEDON: He’s not stoked. He’s not super stoked about it.
TANCHAROEN: But he may still be focused on figuring out what happened and trying to get her back.
Ward (Brett Dalton) is head of Hydra and wants to take out Coulson. Does S.H.I.E.L.D. know that Ward is the new leader?
WHEDON: We don’t know everything, but we’re going to be asking some of those same questions.
TANCHAROEN: He is definitely one of their main problems. They are very aware the Inhuman issue and Ward is still out there. So, he is absolutely on their radar.
They were willing to work with him at the end of last season, but has he gone too far that we wouldn’t see them as the Dirty Half Dozen again?
WHEDON: I can’t imagine that after everything he’s done—
TANCHAROEN: After everything he did to Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and what he tried to do to Hunter (Nick Blood), I can’t imagine them wanting to work with him again.
WHEDON: But you never know. Sometimes you’re put into a really, really, really tough spot.
Is May (Ming-Na Wen) trying to balance a work and personal life in the new season?
TANCHAROEN: Yes. She left on vacation and she might want to rekindle things with her ex [Blair Underwood]. Did that work out? Who knows. But all of our characters are in a new place in their lives.
WHEDON: And a new head space, yeah.
TANCHAROEN: For May, it’s just a question of what she wants more.
Is she a little bit happier now? Might we see her smile maybe?
WHEDON: You’ll have to wait and see
What’s Bobbi’s role when the show returns?
WHEDON: When we come back we’ll see that she’s in S.H.I.E.L.D. and she’s still recovering from what were pretty brutal injuries.
TANCHAROEN: And for someone like her, who’s used to being a badass and working at a 150 percent, it might be a little frustrating for her to be debilitated in any way.
WHEDON: But we will be wondering what she meant when she said, “I can’t do this anymore.” We will answer that question in the first episode.
Bobbi is not just a kickass agent, but also a brilliant scientist in the comics. With her sidelined, is this a chance to see her in the lab?
WHEDON: Perhaps. That’s a good idea. That’s a cool idea.
Since Ward aimed to kill Hunter in the finale, will Hunter want to repay the favor when the show returns?
WHEDON: He’s certainly pissed off. Along with S.H.I.E.L.D. being focused on all the different threats that they face, for Hunter it’s far more personal.
What’s Lincoln up to this season, because he was never a big fan of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
TANCHAROEN: All of these things you’ll see early on.
WHEDON: He is not on the team when we come in, just to say that. You’ll have to wait and see.
Aside from everyone finding their humanity, what are some themes you guys are exploring this season?
WHEDON: One of the things that we have this year that we haven’t had before is some couples — there are some that have broken up in the past episodes, there are some maybe getting back together, there’s potential for some new ones. We do have a fair amount of people on our show, and when you’re stuck with people and they’re fighting the good fight, those heightened situations tend to throw you together. So I think we’ll be feeling a little bit more of that this year.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
To continue reading more about EW’s Fall TV Preview, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here.
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