EXCLUSIVE: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Showrunners Talk Avengers Ties, Future Connections & More

agents of shield

The latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “The Dirty Half Dozen,” was packed to say the least. The episode set up the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, reunited the original Season 1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team member for one last mission, blew up the Bus, killed a major villain, and shifted the balance of power among the divided S.H.I.E.L.D.

That’s a lot to chew on, which is why we felt particularly lucky to speak to showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon about the episode. They took time out of plotting S.H.I.E.L.D.’s next struggle to tease what’s still to come this season on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., how the show might further tie into other Marvel Studios projects, and hint at how relationships and balances of power have been shifted after the series’ latest developments.

Check out the interview below, and catch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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I realize you weren’t the directors on the episode, but can you talk at all about what went into Skye’s big over-the-shoulder action scene? It felt like watching an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first person shooter/action video game.

M: That was all Kevin Tancharoen and our stunt team.  They put together a previz version of that fight and said, “How about something like this?” And we said, “Put it in the show please and thank you.”

In some ways, “The Dirty Half Dozen” – at least in part – feels like a prologue to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Is it the only episode this season that plays in that sandbox?

J: Because we air before and after the release of the film, we think it’s important for the die-hard fans who will see both as soon as they are released to be rewarded for that.  So we do want the lead in and out to interact with the film more than most episodes.

There was a certain tonal shift in the season one episodes that followed Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Similarly, how will the show change post-Age of Ultron?

J: Unlike Winter Soldier, the events of the film won’t completely derail our narrative, our organization and possibly the name of our show.  This year, the tie-in is more nuanced as we had to maintain our Inhuman storyline that is separate from the films and isn’t finished being told. 

When the original six agents come together before the Hydra base mission, Ward somewhat ironically speaks to a sense of nostalgia he has for the “good old days.” How was the atmosphere on set? Did the actors themselves share that sense of nostalgia in those scenes?

M: It was great to get the gang back together, in the holo-com room, just like the old days.  That was all by design.  And the cast had fun doing one of those round table mission briefs again.  With a little more tension than before of course.  They had a grand old time.  And then we blew up the plane.

How does the episode change Ward’s relationship with his former teammates, for better or worse? Did he earn back any of the trust and respect he lost through his actions, or do they still see him as the traitorous scumbag they all thought he was from the start?

J: You’ll have to wait and see.  But we do want the audience to know that Ward genuinely does care, especially for Kara, and wants to do the right thing. 

Ward leaves Agent 33 in Coulson’s custody at the end of the episode. What will her role be like going forward? Could she become part of the team?

M: She could.  She’s a victim of Whitehall’s brainwashing who then fell into the wrong hands with Ward.  Any wrong she has committed can be forgiven at this point.  If not a permanent part of the team, she could at least become an ally.

Coulson warned Robert Gonzales that Nick Fury would be coming to reclaim the Toolbox. Is this an altercation we should look forward to seeing on screen before the end of Season 2? And how does the knowledge that Fury is alive affect the landscape of S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point? Is Fury reclaiming the Toolbox a sign that he may be stepping back into a leadership position in the organization?

J: At this point we were just using the Fury reference to let Coulson one-up Gonzales with knowledge that Fury is alive.  Fury will not show up, but it does serve as a turning point in Coulson and Gonzales’s relationship.

Raina’s supervillain rant at the end of the episode was interrupted by her vision, but it seems like she’s about ready to cause an insurrection in Afterlife. What will her relationship with Jiaying be like going forward? Is this a moment of reconciliation, or are we seeing Raina step up as a major antagonist for the rest of the season?

M: Raina has proven herself to be, ironically, the Clairvoyant.  And the Inhumans will consider this a very rare and valuable gift.  Whether or not that puts her in a power position… you’ll have to wait and see.

We know that Marvels’ favorite hashtag is #ItsAllConnected. Coming up on the last few episodes of the season, should we be looking for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to leave some plot threads dangling for other movie or television projects to run with?

J: That you should, my friends…  That you should.