Agents of SHIELD: Natalia-Cordova Buckley and Ming-Na Wen Explain Why “After, Before” Is Such an Important Episode

Tonight's Agents of SHIELD episode, "After, Before," is a big one for May and Yo-Yo. This week, ComicBook.com had the chance to chat with Ming-Na Wen and Natalia Cordova-Buckley about the episode, which sees the women traveling to Afterlife to enlist help from Jiaying (Dichen Lachman). With the Zephyr in trouble, it's vital Yo-Yo regains her powers, and she'll need some help from her friend May to do it. While talking to Cordova-Buckley, the actor confirmed that "After, Before" is her favorite episode of the new season, and explained the importance of showcasing the May-Yo friendship.

“Number one, the idea that we have a female friendship, whether it be in real life or in fiction, 'the catty man,' 'the competitor,' 'the mean girls,' 'you can't sit here'. It just flips the tables completely on that narrative. It puts women in a really strong [and] powerful 'I-know-myself' position. And then in their friendship, dang, it's strong, it's powerful, but it's a friendship based on individuals, not on stereotypes.”

She added, “It really showcases women in these sort of soldier positions of being willing to constantly be in a personal search to better themselves. Then, knowing that that personal search, and what it leads you to heal, is going to be for the betterment of everyone. I love that about both May and Yo-Yo... there's very little protagonism, if not none, in their characters in terms of the institution of SHIELD. They're always just willing to be a team member and to do the best that they can do for the rest of the team and for humanity, and this episode really focuses on that. And in terms of what we're living through, I just think it's so important to do self-healing to be a better asset to humanity.”

“They both are willing to go through that in this story, to find out how best they can be for everyone else, and they do it together as women, as friends, and they spar and they kick each other's butts, but it's all in the search of being better as individuals and as a whole. And I love that about these two characters. They really flip the tables on the narrative that we've been watching in this industry and everywhere else in terms of women.”

She concluded, “And it's my favorite episode, not just because of that message, but because I got to work with Ming. She's a dear friend and someone I really admire. So there's a lot of things that I love about my life and in about doing this job that came together in this episode.”

Wen added that "After, Before" is also important because it showcases three women of color.

“It's still, unfortunately, a rare thing on television to have a majority minority-casting, but what I love about it is that that's not the focus," Wen explained. "The focus is about these particular women who have such great confidence in themselves and security, and yet they are there to help each other, and that's what May's there for. She is not just Yo-Yo's SO, she's also her friend, and her friend needs her."

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Stay tuned for more from our interview with Cordova-Buckley and Wen about "After, Before."

Agents of SHIELD airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 10 PM EST.

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