Ever since the end of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mid-season finale, fans everywhere have been asking questions about Skye’s powers, the status of Hydra, why is everyone keeping secrets from each other and so much more. If there is one thing the writers and cast have been able to do, is keep those answers to themselves and give just enough to take fans along for the ride.
This week, Marvel invited members of the press to grill cast members & the executive producers about what fans can expect heading into the back half of the second season. What we’re able to share sheds some light into the internal conflict the team will be facing and what kind of crazy we’re going to expect.
Later today and over the course of the next few days, we’ll be sharing our chats with the other cast members which we’re sure only stokes the fires of anticipation. Then, after the first episode back, we'll have even more for you to take in.
First up, our chat with Marvel's Head of Television Jeph Loeb, and Executive Producers Jeff Bell and Jed Whedon.
If you aren't caught up on the show, spoilers lie ahead. Consider this your warning.
On Ward's status since we last saw him at the end of the Mid-Season Finale.
Jed Whedon: Well, last we saw him, he had walked off with another broken person.
Jeph Loeb: And was riddled with bullets.
Jed Whedon: And was riddled with bullets.
Jeph Loeb: And looked oddly like Agent May.
Jeffrey Bell: Look. We're doing 22 episodes, which is a lot when you realize, "Oh my God, their whole season was six episodes" and so what we're trying to do, honestly over that, is to find different colors and different flavors to play over that time, so you don't get tired of seeing the same thing. And suddenly Grant goes off with Agent 33 and what's that about? And so we're hoping to bring in some new questions. I think we answered a lot of questions at the end of 9 and 10 and so in answering questions, hopefully we ask some new ones and we'll be playing those forward from here.
Jeph Loeb: And are super proud that this concept of 22 episodes, that we've managed to find a way that we think is both exciting and digestible so that we had 10 in fall that came to, as I'm sure everyone here agrees, an amazing climax for the winter finale, as they say. And then what we're super-excited about is that starting on March 3rd, we come back for 12-in-a-row, no interruptions, Tuesday night, 9 o'clock ABC appointment television.
Jed Whedon: And it's a little bit, like you're saying, because it's divided that way, it's a little bit a new adventure begins, because we've answer so many questions, it's sort a new starting point for us.
Jeph Loeb: It's sort of Inhuman what's happening.
Jed Whedon: It is.
On Raina and what's she's dealing with moving forward.
Jeffrey Bell: Raina's a character who seems to have gotten everything she every wanted through the first season-and-a-half. She successfully manipulated or moved everyone quietly, efficiently to get what she wanted. When she finally got what she wanted, it turned out to be that, which wasn't what she wanted. So we thought it was interesting to take a character who sorta had always succeeded and giving them an apparent setback and see how the character reacts in those situations.
Jed Whedon: And also she's clearly someone who feels that she always has control over any situation, partially because of her ability to charm and that's maybe taken a hit. Harder to charm when someone's like, "Ow, you're poking me."
On how new fans can jump into the season now, and what they need to know about Inhumans.
Jeffrey Bell: This second half of the season can be pitched as the "Birth of a Superhero."
Jed Whedon: Yeah, the origin story, regardless of how she [Skye] got to that point, we are coming into 11 with the very beginning of her realizing what really is going on and unlike a film, we have many many hours to play that out and to explore the different sort of emotional aspects of grappling with that huge change for someone who we've already seen is on a journey trying to find herself and trying to find a place in the world.
Jeffrey Bell: Right. Instead of doing a montage of Spider-Man on the subway having fun for about three minutes learning his powers, we can actually explore what it means to go through that. At the beginning of the season, we tried to take Skye, who wasn't a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent at beginning of last year and, coming in this season, really grow her up as a character and as an agent and I think Chloe did a lovely job of that through the first 10 and then, birth of a superhero, now there's a whole new start and sorta entering us into whole new world of Inhumans and what that means for her and what that means, how it effects other characters, those are all really fun stories for us to explore. We think people get a kick out of that.
Jeph Loeb: But we also do feel like, while we are picking up some of the threads, we do feel like there were an awful lot of cards that were put down in the fall finale and so this is a great place to jump on, if you haven't been around, if you've been watching "Agent Carter" and now you're a new viewer and you want to find find out what's happening. And then there's also, let's be honest, between the ABCWatch and Netflix, you can catch up really fast in terms of where you're at and jump on board on what's obviously now an incredible roller-coaster ride.
On the introduction of the concept of Inhumans and what it means for the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Jeph Loeb: I've said this before and that is that people look at the Marvel red box and they perceive it as this giant octopus that's going to swallow up the entire galaxy. But, in fact, what we are is a very small company and that was never more clear than when we were doing "Carter" and Kevin Feige and Lou D'Esposito were actually part of that on a day-to-day basis. We talk all the time, whether it's publishing or whether it's games or it's movies or it's film and so this is just part of that process. It's very exciting for us to be able to be telling this particular story, but like with anything else, we're telling S.H.I.E.L.D. stories that existed both within the world of the movies and has its own mythology to it and opens up all kinds of doors for us. I think that's sorta the best way to look at it.
Jeffrey Bell: Piggy-backing on that, it's not so much that we have to explain it. By just having it be in our universe over time, it will become something that people understand and that resonates, so I think it's much more about that than us having to lay pipe or anything.
Skye or Daisy? What should we be referring to her as?
Jed Whedon: She's still Skye, because she thinks she's Skye. I think her dad thinks she's Daisy. And we'll see see if she ever gets to the point where she believes that that's something that she would want to call herself. But right now, she has her own identity. Now that will change over time, but she's definitely still Skye and everybody still sees her that way. For now.
Jeph Loeb: It's very much what happens in the real world when an adopted child finds out their birth name and it's their choice as to whether or not they want to embrace that or whether or not they want to continue with the name that everybody knows.
Jed Whedon: And it comes down to which name is cooler. Really, in the end, you're like, "That's a pretty cool name."
On the guest stars: Edward James Olmos, Drea de Matteo and Blair Underwood.
Jeffrey Bell: I keep joking that guest actors are our best special effects this year. We've had Kyle and Edward James Olmos and Blair Underwood and Drea and a whole bunch of other folks, and our cast has had such a great time with them and they've been such a vital part of our storytelling. Usually you need other people to tell your story, but we've been grateful to have these people. I think you'll be surprised by all of them in some way.
Jeph Loeb: The part that has been sort of remarkable is, and I really have to give credit to these guys — each of the characters are surprising and different than you may expect out of these actors, and yet at the same time they fit so perfectly within the way our show works. You don't all of a sudden feel, "Oh, there's a special guest star and we should do that." I think certainly Bill gave that to us as Garrett last season. He just sort of walked on and we were like "oh, there's Garrett." That's the kind of feeling we are going for. We're just making a gigantic cast more gigantic.
Jeffrey Bell: Mr. Olmos needs to remain a mystery for now. Drea is someone on the index. Delightful, and she gets to spend a lot of time with Cal and they have sort of a shared love of SHIELD.
Jed Whedon: As with any person, she has a reason. She's misunderstood. I don't think she's a dark character. I think she has a heart of gold.
Jeffrey Bell: As with Cal, there's an episode where he finds similar people on the index who aren't happy with SHIELD. What I love is how endearing they are all treated. They are all misfits and they're really fun together.
Jed Whedon: That's something we found with Cal. That's something we were aiming for but he really brings it to life in way that exceeded our expectations.
Jeffrey Bell: I think we should start a Kyle MacLachlan guest star Emmy campaign, because I think he's awesome. I think he's brought so much to this role. He's an antagonist; he's not a villain. He wants to put his family back.
Jed Whedon: He breaks your heart. His performance is constantly riding that edge of "I don't know what he's going to do" to "Oh I should probably take him in and feed him."
Jeph Loeb: And everybody around you is dead and you go "oh maybe that wasn't a good idea. He takes us into a world that we haven't gotten to go into very much in the past. So we try to find ways to bring humor and scary and thrilling and loving and emotional into it, and his character has taken us into the world. And Drea has been a big part of that.
On format would a third season take, if given the green light.
Jed Whedon: We would always consider doing like three. Three episode-seasons.
Jeph Loeb: And I would like there to be fifty, so we could do an episode every week.
Jeffrey Bell: The network model feeds off "the more the better" and we feed off "Ok, if we do more we're going to die, and the stories are going to start to suck." So right now it's at 22.
Jed Whedon: We have a great staff and we haven't had trouble this year generating stuff that really interests us. I can't speak to another season and going "Oh, well that was it! That was all the stories." Right now we're not having trouble with that. We have a lot of great characters to play with. One you have all that in play, you can sort of mix them up, and mess it up.
Jeph Loeb: The fun is putting different characters and different combinations together. "We haven't really had Skye and Mac hang out yet" and what it would look like to get those two characters together .
Jed Whedon: We're now writing the end of the season and are finding ways to platform that into season three.
On the loss of Agent Tripp and the decision making behind his character's fate.
Jed Whedon: You want it to have an emotional impact and we knew with Tripp it would. Truthfully, he came in and was around so long because he was loved and because we loved him.
Jeffrey Bell: He really came in with Garrett and was going to be someone to go pretty quickly because he was under Garrett. But we liked BJ [Britt] a lot and what he brought as Tripp and so as we brought him in, he lived a long time.
Jeph Loeb: We love that people care about these characters. It means that the show has succeeded in the best way possible. You’ve become invested in a person, character, an actor, and a storyline that is wholly original. That’s a victory. And the fact that that story took you in a direction that you didn’t expect, is also a victory. The question just is, okay what’s going to happen next? Hopefully, what it does is it makes you watch the show and wonder is anyone safe.
Jeffrey Bell: The other thing I loved about the end of ten was something wonderful happened as something terrible happened and the two of them happening together and you having to feel “oh god no, Tripp-- oh my god she’s…” - when we can do that, as writers, that’s the best we can do.
Jed Whedon: It was one of the great moments for us, as a staff, watching that with the effects and the music in. It’s a culmination.
Jeffrey Bell: Because we were all crying.
Jeph Loeb: Literally everyone came down. The writers room… You’ve got to understand, the editing bay is about the size of a table. So putting ten, twelve people in a room in order to show what those last few moments were going to be.
Jeffrey Bell: And then they all cried.
Jed Whedon: We were a little bit teary. But a lot of work goes in. Everyone works on every aspect. We talked about different things, everyone pitches in ideas, Bell wrote a killer script, and then they shot well and the music was great and the effects worked and everything kind of came together and we’re sitting there watching it going “all right.”
Jeffrey Bell: We try and do that throughout the show. The idea is something wonderful happened, oh god something terrible happened. And that’s something that we’ve always loved in stories. So anytime you talk about funny and sad and strange and beautiful and if you can get all of those things into one story, It’s really lovely and so we continue to do that. There’s pain with Tripp dying and beauty with Skye coming out. The more we can do those kinds of things, the more we feel like okay.
So there we have it folks, some insight into what fans can expect from those putting the stories together. Like we mentioned before, be sure to check back to ComicBook.com throughout the day for more about the show and it's future.
Are you excited for the show to return? Let us know in the comments below!