After seven exciting years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first live-action series, Agents of SHIELD, is coming to an end tonight. Last week's episode, "Brand New Day," saw the long-awaited return of Iain De Caestecker as Fitz... sort of. After being absent for the entire seventh season, fans were finally treated to some new Fitz footage in the form of flashbacks. Based on the ominous mention of bloodwork and a devastated Jemma, fans are worried about whether or not the character is even still alive. Whatever the future holds for Fitz, it was certainly great seeing him back on our screens last week. While speaking at a recent Agents of SHIELD press event, De Caestecker talked about returning to the set after being away for so long. The actor's onscreen family, Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons) and Jeff Ward (Deke Shaw), also discussed having him back.
"It was a little bit bizarre coming back because [I] had a bit of time away, but I suppose, you know, it's not a huge part of that, [it's] more that [Fitz has] almost taken a bit of a back seat and Elizabeth has gone up and, or Simmons has gone off, and done all the hard work," De Caestecker explained.
“I feel like we all had to be touching you at all times,” Henstridge chimed in.
“It was me and Elizabeth,” Ward added.
“No, but it was, it was weird coming back. It's even weird now just looking back at it and thinking that it's not... It's been a year now... since we finished shooting,” De Caestecker explained. “It's a weird experience, but there's still a part of it that got hindsight on it, but it still doesn't feel like it's over."
He added, "I don't know how to explain. I don't know... [I] kind of liken it to being at school or being at college, or an ex-girlfriend... I don't know what you'd liken it to, but if there's still, I suppose there must just be a grieving process of it being over."
When asked what it was like to film most of the season without De Caestecker, Ward joked, “Brilliant,” before adding that it “sucked.”
“I was there. They just didn't know that all the time,” De Caestecker joked.
“He was living under the trailer,” Ward added.
“That's probably a longer discussion than we have for today, but it was weird,” De Caestecker continued. “Yeah. It was weird. It was, like I said, just there, it was weird coming back. And there was a history between people that I wasn't a part of in a certain sense, but at the same time, it was like just coming back home. And as long as it'd been a big time in between, it was, it felt like 15 minutes.”
“We were so excited to have you back,” Henstridge added. “I mean, it felt very strange, Iain not being there, definitely. But I think with us knowing those last two seasons were going to be our last."
"We knew that Iain would be in season seven. So I think as actors, and you can attest to this too, Jeff, is it wasn't as hard as it could have been because we knew he was going to be coming back," Henstridge added. “I think we're so close as friends that it was like you can, it was almost like having somebody that went to do a year abroad and you could just be like, 'Oh my gosh, brilliant. I can talk to you about this because you're an outside person now.' And it was like that familiarity of a support system that kind of knew everything, but wasn't in it... And then when we got him back, it was just amazing."
"As Simmons, I spent all season seven searching for him or, like he was, he was in every scene with me," she explained. "I basically talk about him all the time. So it kind of was reflective of Elizabeth, just like waiting for Iain to come back.”
“It felt like a reunion,” Ward added. “It was really awesome. A reunion where you switched schools halfway and you weren't even supposed to be there. And then you're there, too. And you're part of the union.”
Agents of SHIELD's series finale airs tonight, August 12th, at 9 PM EST on ABC.