Warning: This story contains major spoilers from “The Inside Man,” Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!
S.H.I.E.L.D. may have found a way to prevent the Inhumans population from growing out of control.
During Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team once again came face-to-face with Carl Creel, a.k.a the Absorbing Man (Brian Patrick Wade), who has now turned to the light side working as Talbot’s (Adrian Pasdar) personal security.
Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) discovered that Creel’s blood can actually prevent the effects of terrigenesis, meaning it can be used as a vaccine, though can’t reverse those already infected. Suffice it to say, the potential Inhumans cure became a divisive topic among the team.
“If the [people] that society considers anomalous, in this moment, could take a shot and be like everybody else, would you take it? That’s a fantastic question,” Gregg says. “There are those who think, ‘Oh, yes, this is great! We can stop people from turning into something different.’ And Daisy and a lot of people who are already different and are suffering the consequences of it, but who also have new powers, feel like, ‘That already implies that you think something is wrong with us.’ That feels topical to me.”
For good reason. The producers are using the subject of Inhumans as an allegory to real-world events. “We’re aware that we’re doing that, but what people put on that is sort of the fun of people interpreting the story,” executive producer Jeffrey Bell says. “Depending on your particular issue or where you come from, you can read into that a lot.”
“There’s two aspects to it,” adds EP Jed Whedon. “There’s what it’s like to be different and to be treated different because you’re different. And then, as well, we have the debate at the table of what happens when a weapon’s in the wrong hands. Both those sides of the argument have equal weight.”
Even the Inhumans can’t agree when it comes to the vaccine, as evidenced by Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Lincoln’s (Luke Mitchell) reactions. “In terms of the argument he has with Daisy, I think he’s just proposing an alternative argument, not necessarily for the sake of argument,” Mitchell says. “It’s a very interesting topic. If you could have a prevention, if we could track down every single person who had Inhuman DNA and present them with the choice of, ‘Hey, you might turn into a horrible bad person or you could have awesome powers and potentially save the world: which way do you go when it’s not guaranteed one way or another?’ I’m not sure that Lincoln necessarily has a side, but Daisy certainly seems to take the side of ‘everything is a gift.’ “
That topic only heightens the potential tension between the new couple, especially considering that Daisy is basically Lincoln’s boss on the Secret Warriors team. “With any relationship, if you work together and you’re in a relationship — whether you’re an Inhuman or in S.H.I.E.L.D. or you’re [executive producers] Maurissa [Tancharoen] and Jed [Whedon] — there’s going to be problems just because you’re with each other all the time,” Bennet says. “Overall, it’s probably a good thing. Being Inhuman and being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, it’s not just work, it’s so personal because it’s her blood, it’s who she is. Having him on the team helps her open her eyes to seeing other aspects, because he’s been an Inhuman longer and he’s not as sensitive to it or used to the criticism and is able to handle it in a less emotional way, so maybe it helps her a little bit.”
Even the rest of the team, Inhuman or not, will have trouble with the vaccine, particularly the scientists at the center of the discovery. “They usually agree on most things, but they have clashed in the past, certainly when it came to Inhumans,” de Caestecker says. “But they seem to be able to get over most obstacles. Throughout their relationship as well, which I think has always been quite nice, is they can always have a big fight and shout at each other, and then 10 minutes later be all right. It’s that kind of relationship.” However, Henstridge counters: “That makes sense, but I do think that would be something that they would disagree on.”
“It’s a powerful idea, and whether or not they find something that works is a question,” Whedon says. “At the center of the show now is this question of, if you could choose it, would you want to? Would you choose to have this happen to you? Is it a choice? People who change, how do we treat them? Do they immediately have freedom to be who they want to be? Or is it a very dangerous weapon that we have to control or at least understand? That’s a lot of the stuff that we’ll talk about really moving forward forever, because that’s the dynamic between regular humans and empowered, enhanced humans, or Inhumans.”
With that said, even if you choose to have powers, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up a superhero. “We’re definitely coming up on an episode where we meet somebody who has been granted a gift that has been at least as much a curse as it is a gift,” Gregg teases.
The problem now is finding those Inhumans, which is the drive for the back half of the season. “The main challenge is learning about who we can recruit as the Inhumans continue to grow in numbers and who we might need to put down,” Ming-Na Wen says. “Those are really tough decisions because it was really no fault of these people that ended up having the Terrigen, whether it was in the fish oil or something. It’s building up a new force. When we do discover more about Hive [Brett Dalton], that becomes the major challenge.”
Building the Secret Warriors, however, won’t be easy. “It’s really just about being weary about who she picks for this team,” Bennet says. “Obviously, they have a few trust issues with some people. It just makes it harder to find people who are going to be able to fit the team vibe, the stress levels, and want to have the same mission that S.H.I.E.L.D. does — and weeding out the bad out people.”
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The team may get more insight on that front after Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood) report in from their reconnaissance mission. At the close of Tuesday’s episode, the duo stowed away on Gideon Malick’s (Powers Boothe) plane in hopes of learning more about his current operation. “Hunter prefers it when he’s not working under the jurisdiction of S.H.I.E.L.D., and this is an opportunity where they’re on their own, they can make up their own rules, just turn their phones onto airplane mode and ignore the calls from back home,” Blood teases. “Hunter’s probably the one that’s more inclined to put focus on their future and their relationship, whereas Bobbi kind of sees the greater good as a more important focus for her. When they’re off on their own together, you see how they compliment each other. You start to see in episode 13 how the goodness in Hunter isn’t necessary linked to S.H.I.E.L.D.. Not everything S.H.I.E.L.D. does is necessarily the right thing or the moral thing to do, so disagreeing with it doesn’t make you immoral or ungood or whatever. He’s willing to ignore the rules and regulations to get the right thing done, and that sometimes Bobbi needs a little bit of that kick in the backside to send her in that direction. By the same token, Hunter needs Bobbi’s rationale to make sure he doesn’t go and get himself in trouble again.”
Their journey could be the makings of the potential spin-off, Marvel’s Most Wanted, though the powers that be are staying mum. “We hope one day they may have their own show,” says Bell, an executive producer on both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Most Wanted. “But while they’re on S.H.I.E.L.D., we want to take advantage of who they are, and give the audience as much of their relationship with one another, and with other people, as possible. We are aware that there is a potential immanent end, and so they won’t be neglected.”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.