Agents of SHIELD co-showrunner Jed Whedon made his directorial debut with the episode "Self Control." The episode was the finale of the "LMD" story arc and has been widely received by fans as one of the best episodes of the series to date.
Part of wrapping up the "LMD" storyline involved setting up the third and final storyline of Agents of SHIELD's fourth season, "Agents of Hydra." The episode closed on as series of surprising moments that established the main characters' status quo in the world of the Framework.
ComicBook.com spoke with Whedon about the "Self Control" and what fans should expect from "Agents of Hydra.
The big reveal at the end of the episode referenced a lot of different things from all four season of Agents of SHIELD, which made it feel, in a way, like a summation of everything the series has been so far. Is that how you’re looking at the next arc, or is it just the next chapter for you?
Jed Whedon: I mean, it's a little bit of both. One of the things that are fun about doing an alt-world story is that you get to reward long time viewers and we get to revisit some things that we miss from the past. Also, it's a great way, 81 episodes in, to shake things up and give the actors something new to play and let them flex a new muscle and sort of clean the palate. We don't think of it as a sum up, but that is part of it. The history of our show will definitely play a part in the framework.
Obviously, one of the big things people are talking about is that Brett Dalton is back.
JW: Oh, they're talking about that?
I've heard a thing or two.
JW: Okay, good, good, that's the goal.
Was this always part of the plan for the show? Did Dalton know at the end of season three that he’d be back in season four, or was this something that you guys realized you could do as you were working on season four?
JW: It's, I would say, a little bit of both. With anybody on our show, the ability to come back in the Marvel Universe is higher than normal. Our show is founded on it, on a man who was killed. We had already brought Ward back and we didn't want to bring him back in a way that negated his ending, which we thought was poetic and we wanted to honor. We didn't want to undercut that. When we were talking about a simulation world, sort of newly created reality, his is the first name that comes up. There were a lot of options of things we could do, but that was sort of at the top of the list in terms of rewarding our fans and rewarding us and get to tell more Grant Ward stories. It wasn't something that we, at the end of last year, said, "And that'll come later." You always know in the back of your head that there's that opportunity.
Ward is a character who had a lot of different sides to him. Since he’s dead, we know that Aida didn’t brain scan him into the Framework. What is Aida basing her version of Ward on and how similar is this Ward to the one we knew before?
JW: Well, I think that the Darkhold has somehow given her the ability to duplicate our world. That's the good thing about moving into the Doctor Strange realm of “science we don't yet understand” being basically magic, is that we have a magic book right now that somehow gave them the ability to duplicate our world and populate it. I think that everybody who's in the world is just as they would've been in our world. Now, that doesn't mean that circumstances haven't changed because, as we know, they repaired a little bit. They tried to change just one little thing for each of our people and there seems to have been a ripple effect. How he reacts to this new environment and how empowered he feels by it and how dangerous he is is a question you'll have to wait to get the answer to.
Will you be revisiting the Secret Warriors concept? Will we get to see what that team of Inhumans could look like in a world where Hydra replaced SHIELD?
JW: Anything's possible. One of the things that we like about that ending is that it allows people like you and our other viewers to speculate for the five weeks that we have to wait to come back on April 4. Yeah, there are those possibilities. That's part of the fun is anything's possible now. While I can't say what's coming, I'm happy that you're speculating cool ideas.
When Quake and Simmons entered the Framework, they left Yo-Yo and a group of previously unknown SHIELD agents behind in the real world. Will we get to know these new agents a little better, and possibly see Yo-Yo take on a leadership role?
JW: Well, a show like this, you're always focusing on your heroes and your main characters, but SHIELD is a big place populated with a bunch of nondescript lab people and TAC agents and all that. We felt that it was a good time at the end of this episode to highlight the fact that they're people, too, and even though we don't focus a story on them, there are still lives that have to be saved and they still have their own opinion about things. We thought it was kind of a nice way of highlighting just how alone Daisy and Simmons felt and to show that they're not alone. They have other agents with them, it's just that we don't know them as well. We will get to see a little bit more of them and we'll get to pop back to what their reality is while our main characters are in this virtual reality.
This episode took the Superior and turned him into a head in a jar, which is a very comic book super villain type of thing to do.
Is the Superior, particular this new take on the character, based on something specific from Marvel Comics, or was it something you came up with independently?
JW: I can't really answer that. I can say it's a little bit of both. Basically, we've done a lot of LMD stuff, but one of the things that we realize in that tag is that, for Aida, she wouldn't want to take someone's humanness away from them. That seems to her to be more valuable than anything. She's had a way to make the people LMDs, but this guy clearly cares about his ability to be a human being intact, so she kept it intact. It's not exactly what he probably would've wanted, but it does create a good comic book image of a head in a jar. I think it speaks both to the Superior's desire to be the ultimate human and Aida's desire to mimic or understand human behavior.
This episode was your directorial debut. How did you enjoy the experience, and should we expect to see more of that from you?
JW: I enjoyed it very much. We have a very great team here and I'm surrounded by people who set me up to succeed, from the writing staff to production to editorial. Kelly (Stuyvesant) cut it beautifully. I like to think of it as, yes, I got to quarterback, but I didn't have to run the show. I kind of could just hand the ball off and watch them run. It's a great team and so it couldn't have been an easier situation to step into. It was rewarding and most rewarding to get to work with the actors, who I'm good friends with now, four years in, but I got to be in the trenches with them and do some scene work. It was a delight.
More Agents of SHIELD: The Superior Shares The Fate Of A Classic Marvel Character / Agents Of Hydra Teaser / Major Character Returns
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD returns to ABC in April.