This Friday, longtime Marvel veteran Clark Gregg will be stepping behind the camera for a jam-packed and pivotal hour of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that brings S.H.I.E.L.D.’s trip to space to a head.
“I had been so nervous,” Gregg tells EW of directing the episode. “They had mentioned a couple of times asking if I wanted to do one, but I was too daunted by the whole prospect. I wanted something kind of nuts and fun, and I think they forgot the kind of part because there are two crazy fights, and some really big moments between characters that we’ve all been with for almost 100 episodes.”
This season, S.H.I.E.L.D. traveled roughly 70 years in the future, where they have struggled to acclimate to this new reality, in which Daisy (Chloe Bennet) apparently destroyed the world, and what’s left of humanity has been enslaved by the Kree on a nearby station called the Lighthouse.
Their arrival was actually a foreseen prophecy, which has caused more harm than good. For instance, Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) has been enslaved by the station’s Kree leader Kasius (Dominic Rains), Daisy is also his prisoner, whom he plans to sell to the highest bidder. May (Ming-Na Wen), meanwhile, was recently captured by Kree assassin Sinara (Florence Faivre), while Coulson (Gregg) has tried to keep the rest of the team’s existence incognito on the lower levels. But that will all change now that Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) has arrived, posing as a bidder who wants to buy the Destroyer of Worlds and has called for a fight to the death.
“It’s a bloody episode, with a bunch of people saying goodbye,” Gregg teases. “I read it and I was squealing. ‘This is going to be fun!’ and it was.”
But the hour also provides what Gregg calls an original story for Coy Stewart’s Flint, who is actually an Inhuman character from the comics who has the power to move rocks. “During this episode, he gets his powers,” Gregg reveals. “That’s going to be incredible.”
Combine all those moments and viewers are in for a non-stop hour that will both please and terrify long-time fans. “‘Please don’t mess this up,’ was in my head more than once,” Gregg jokes. “The show has been firing on all cylinders, so I was just hoping to live up to the incredible stuff that [writer] Brent Fletcher had served up on the page with the reunion of Fitz and Simmons potentially, and this incredible fight.”
“I also looked forward to quietly — although I was anxious about it — getting to play with the actors whose work I get to watch, who I love and have worked with,” Gregg continues. “It’s a bit of a trust exercise, because normally I’m their fellow actor, so to let me come in and say, ‘Let’s try this’ and get into that collaboration, I was nervous about it, but it ended up being really special. There’s a different way that we get to collaborate, almost like as doubles partners, who are both tennis players, as opposed to a coach and a tennis player. That ended up being really thrilling. I felt like our shorthand allowed us to find some subtext in some of the moments that was fun and exciting.”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.