Agents of SHIELD: Brett Dalton on that Hive ending
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. promised a Fallen Agent, but that wasn’t the only death in the two-hour season finale.
Though Hive (Brett Dalton) nearly accomplished his plan to disperse a serum that would turn humanity into swayed Inhumans, a.k.a. Primitives, Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) decided to sacrifice himself to save the world, thus ending Hive’s reign of terror — and ending Dalton’s time on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Yes, Hive is really dead, and yes, this does mean that Dalton is no longer a series regular. To get the scoop on Dalton’s reaction to this turn of events — especially after his original character Ward was killed in the midseason finale — EW hit the set for his final day on the ABC super series:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you find out that Hive was going to die and your time on the show was done?
BRETT DALTON: They called me in the episode before, as they have done with every other significant change this character has had. I have walked what I thought was the Green Mile twice now, and I’ve already done the things like, “Goodbye trailer, goodbye everybody,” as I’m silently walking there thinking this is the end. I’ve sat in that chair and I’ve dodged two bullets. First they told me I’m not dying. “Hey, your character is not dead — there’s just a really big change, and here it is.”
But this time, I walked in, and they closed the door. There was a huge silence. They gave me the nod, because that’s the first question I had. “So, why am I here? Am I dying?” And they were answering that with their silence, really. It was a very emotional half an hour in the room. But everybody here is really respectful with those changes. Everyone was there, the big executive producers, and they handled it very well.
It was an incredibly sad thing, but we’re all here serving the story, at the end of the day. If the more interesting story is that Hive goes, I’m happy to be a part of that narrative rather than Hive sticking around past his expiration date and just hanging out. I kind of knew once I turned that evil that I couldn’t stay there forever. I was really wondering what in the world they were going to do in season 4, because they’ve really upped the ante with his villainy. I guess we don’t have to worry about that now.
How are you feeling right now in the midst of shooting your final scenes?
There are so many emotions. This is not how I wanted to end the day. There was this beautiful shot, which is the last shot of Hive and Lincoln in the quinjet when they’re seconds away from a nuclear explosion, and they’ve both accepted their fate. It’s this beautiful moment. We wanted to end on that. It would’ve been really beautiful, and it would’ve been the last shot of Hive and Lincoln, and it also would’ve been the last shot of our production here. But that’s not how it went, and instead we’re doing a giant fight [scene between Hive and Daisy], which has upped the epic-ness of our fights. This is a fight that’s three years in the making. It’s Skye vs. Ward vs. Hive vs. Daisy. It’s all of this crazy stuff. And Kevin [Tancharoen] is an incredible director — and he’s related to the executive producer [sister Maurissa Tancharoen]. That dude is legit, and his camera work is incredibly special. I’m loving every second of working with him.
Are you happy that you got to at least explore another facet of this character?
Yeah, absolutely. I saw it as almost a reinvention. I’ve gotten to play three remarkably different characters in this show. That’s an incredible opportunity as an actor. If I was on a show about lawyers or doctors, I don’t think I’d get those opportunities. Instead, every season, I’ve more or less gotten to play a different character.
As an actor going to class, to have as much range as possible, I did not know that on my very first big show that I’d get to show that much of my range. I thought when they cast me, I was more or less going to be that guy on the show who’s the boy scout, as some people called him. Little did I know they had all of this stuff up their sleeve. It’s an incredible opportunity. That’s how I saw it. It wasn’t, “Oh shoot, here we go again.” For me, it was always just really special, and they really trusted me with material and big shifts like that. That’s an honor, really. I’ve never wanted to take that for granted.
Because you’ve gotten to explore so many different sides of this character, are you ready to say goodbye?
It was really hard for me to say goodbye to Ward. Right now, I’m saying goodbye to the cast and crew. I love Hive, but I got to play Ward for longer. He’s closer to me. Hive is an Inhuman creature who has been alive for centuries and has completely different motives in mind — I shouldn’t say completely; there’s some overlap with Ward. That’s definitely a character. Ward, I feel like, was definitely closer to who I am. It was really hard to say goodbye to him in the read through of episode 10 when Coulson pushes his robotic hand through my chest on Maveth. It was very difficult.
Was getting the chance to have Hive and Daisy work together, inadvertent or not, a way to satiate SkyeWard fans?
Absolutely. It is the SkyeWard reunion that has been years in the making, but it is the most twisted version of it you can possibly imagine. Every once in a while, there’s these strange overlaps that happen, where you’re like, “Is that Ward coming through?” There was a couple times in season 1 where they’re holding hands and walking through some scenes, then in this very last episode, the hand over the shoulder. There is this relationship there that, in some ways, parallels what SkyeWard had. It’s been a special thing to subvert that as well.
What’s been the hardest part about letting go?
It’s the family. It’s saying goodbye to my family. These guys took me when I didn’t really have a ton on my resume. I had a ton of theater training, but that doesn’t always translate to TV and film. I remember Clark, during the pilot, was showing me the ropes. He was explaining shots. I was really worked up because I didn’t think I nailed it, and he was like, “Bro, it’s a wide. That’s at the top of the scene. And we come in closer. Wait for the close-up. You get more opportunities.” I’ve learned so much on the set.
We’re all really one big happy family here. There’s not a lot of drama. From what I understand, that doesn’t always happen with every other show. We’ve been told from the very beginning that this was a very special show. They have a “No asshole” policy that is strictly enforced. So everybody who has ever come on set has been just a delight to work with; not only good actors, but incredible human beings as well. It’s hard to say goodbye to that. And the consistency! I had 10 months of work throughout the year. Now I have to go back and audition.
Given that Ward did die in the midseason finale, and then you came back as Hive, do you think he had to die at this point?
That was my fear when they gave me the part, actually. As with Ward, too. Once I killed Rosalind, I thought, “Man, his days are numbered. How much longer can S.H.I.E.L.D. stand me picking these people off?” You know, stuff happened on Maveth. [Laughs.]
For Hive, once I got that part, I thought it was a really cool way of playing another whole character that was completely different from Ward — the posture, the clothes, even the way he spoke. All of that was really interesting. It’s interesting, too, to see how people are reacting to that. He’s always in power. Ward was always struggling for power. Yes, he was in power, but also he surrounded himself with these alley cats, these dented cans, and he had a group full of all of the people that nobody else liked or wanted. That was a cool thing, but he was really scrappy. Hive just assumes his power.
I knew that in playing the big, big bad and not the anti-hero that my days were numbered. I enjoyed every second of it. They’ve given me a lot of cool stuff to do, especially in this finale. It was a beautiful send-off. There were some moments in there where I got to go crazy, and that’s every actor’s dream. I really went there, and the director really pushed me. I thought that I could get away with coming in and doing some stuff, and he was like, “No, I want you at an 11. I want it to be big.” I got to show all of these crazy bits of range. It’s been a lot of fun.
You basically had nine lives on this show and only used a few. Do you think or hope you could someday come back, maybe for a flashback?
I hope so. I would be back on this show even if they didn’t pay me. Don’t tell them that, but I would simply because I love these people and I love this show. I love what we have here. It feels like my second home. I think that we’re in a world where nobody ever really dies. The whole reason we have a show is because Agent Coulson was killed in one of the movies, and there was this whole fan effort that insisted he was still living. #CoulsonLives.
What I’m saying here is I hope that people will have that same kind of enthusiasm with Hive and start tagging #HiveLives or #HiveSurvives, which is even cooler because it rhymes, and I can get back on the show or maybe have my own show — [laughs] not really. There’s always that possibility, and I think the writers are really good at leaving every door open they possibly can and not shutting any doors.
I truly don’t think Hive is dead even after a nuclear blast. I think the host body that he’s in is certainly dead, because humans can’t survive a nuclear blast, but I think that Hive still exists in particles somewhere in space, and there might be a way that those things come back to earth, and there’s another host body is inhabited. Hive could be this thing you just can’t get rid of; that would be super fun.
What’s next for you?
As I said, a lot of auditioning. There is a short film that I’m doing with Simon Kassianides, who played Bakshi. We’ve kept in touch. We crowdfunded it and raised a significant amount of money. It’s a short film that will come out soon. There are two other films coming out this year that I shot during both the hiatuses on the show. Both of these are romantic comedies. Both are completely different sides of me. I get to be funny, and I dare say charming in some scenes. It’s back to the drawing board after this.
For more Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scoop, read our postmortem with the executive producers here and our postmortem with the episode’s other casualty here. Plus: The cast reacts to those deaths on set here.
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.