Hive, Civil War, Deathlok? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunners tease what's next for Season 3

Spoiler warning: The following discusses last night’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and contains teasers about the rest of Season 3.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has only been back from its winter hiatus for two episodes now, but the second half of Season 3 already appears to have an Inhuman amount of momentum behind it. In Episode 12, "The Inside Man," just when it seemed as if Phil Coulson’s spy organization was finally regaining some legitimacy on the world stage, Hydra head Gideon Malick sets him up (along with coerced help from Gen. Talbot) at a diplomatic international Inhuman summit.

Meanwhile, Hive-Ward powered up by sucking the life out of innocents, in what amounted to a pile of bones, and a whole lot of goo. And at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Fitz and Simmons just may have locked on to a potential Inhuman “cure.” That stokes some tension between Skye and Lincoln – tension that also leads to them consummating their romance. Oh, and “Crusher” Creel, aka Absorbing Man, returned to the show, and as a pseudo good guy.

S,o what does this all mean for the rest of the third season? Well, we can’t tell you all of that, but last week at a MAOS set visit, I gathered in the S.H.I.E.L.D. common room with a small group of press and showrunners Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jeffrey Bell.

You turned Creel from a bad guy into a somewhat good guy. How long are you going to maintain that? Are we going to see more of him as the series pushes forward?

Jed Whedon: Well, we have a lot of characters now in the hopper. Deathlok is an example of someone we always have on the shelf. I think Creel sort of fits in that category. One of the things that was interesting about his character is, he was the first indicator of this Whitehall brainwashing thing. So it really wasn’t his fault. There is some debate about that in this episode. We also love his power. We wanted to bring it back just to see that and to do a little bit of the turn of expectations.

Maurissa Tancharoen: We tend to bring characters back we like, at least once.

You mentioned Deathlok. Will we get to see him again this season?

Tancharoen: It’s always a possibility.

Jeffrey Bell: A behind-the-curtains peek is, there are times when we want to bring people back, and as you know, there are 400,000 shows on TV right now, and sometimes you want a person, and that person’s not available.

Whedon: Because now, if they are good, they have their own TV show.

Bell: So, we’re still figuring it out at the end of the season. But sometimes, there are people we’d like to come back, and we can’t have them because they’re not available.

Tancharoen: Just logistically, it’s a puzzle.

Bell: Like the handful of times we had Patton Oswalt is because he had two minutes in his schedule of doing 30,000 things a week.

Tancharoen: Oh, my God. He’s the most employed person we know.

Bell: So, it’s not because we don’t love people or because we don’t think the fans would enjoy, or even it’s not because we think, oh, this would be a really good story to insert this character. There are real world logistics that in general, we don’t want fans to think about, but that does play into it sometimes.

Coulson, in the last episode, seemed like he was getting back, stepping back toward legitimacy, but this episode seems to throw a significant Malick-shaped monkey wrench. Will that continue to play out?

Whedon: Well, yeah. They’re sort of on the fence, now, trying to figure that out. I think that part of the Malick-shaped monkey wrench is that, once you have the president on your side, it feels like you’re pretty well-stacked. We wanted to make Malick equally dangerous. His international reach and his influences are far and wide. So, it’s not as easy as getting the secret blessing of the president. He says, my hands are tied. Yours aren’t. He says, your gloves are off. Go nuts. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. But he is trying to work towards some sort of...I think that he doesn’t want S.H.I.E.L.D. to be hunted anymore. So, he is trying to work towards legitimacy. But it’s not an easy road.

We saw Skye and Lincoln debating the potential antidote or vaccine connected to Creel’s blood. When that kind of spreads to the rest of the team and they find out about it, is there going to be conflict about, OK, we should definitely institute this, and force this on these Inhumans?

Whedon: Well, I think it’s a powerful idea, and whether or not they find something that works is a question. But I think at the center of the show now is sort of this question of, if you could choose it, would you want to? Would you choose to have this happen to you? Is it a choice? People who change, how do we treat them? Do they immediately have freedom to be who they want to be? Or is it a very dangerous weapon that we have to control or at least understand?

That’s a lot of the stuff that we’ll talk about really moving forward forever because that’s the dynamic between regular humans and empowered, enhanced humans, or Inhumans.

Will you bring in any elements from Civil War with the documents and the power of people becoming public knowledge?

Whedon: It will definitely have a ripple effect. I mean, it is one world. So, if there’s a giant event, it will definitely have a ripple effect in our world.

Lincoln was starting to struggle with his powers within S.H.I.E.L.D. and his own place in the team. So, is he going to continue to struggle going forward?

Bell: Yes, but not in the same way. I mean, there’s an arc to him sort of...because he has a lot going on. He has a power that he’s not sure he wants. He has a power he has trouble controlling. He also has other issues in his past that are amplified by the power. Like, his issues of anger and authority and control. And he likes Daisy, who is in a weird way his boss. So, I think all of those things.

Have we seen all the feels like there’s still something percolating there with Coulson asking Fitz how he feels. The first half of the season, we had a lot of, oh there’s something dark about him and I’m just curious, has that been fully explained?

Whedon: It has not.

Tancharoen: It has not.

Bell: But wait, there’s more.

There’s also a chance that Bobbi/Hunter may be following their own path come the fall. So, is that something you’re looking at on the story level, now? Or will you cross that bridge when you sort of need to?

Whedon: They are currently on our show. Our plan to have them on another show, so we’ll have to address it in the story. Where that happens will be for you to find out.

You kind of set them up on their own journey right now with them heading out in the airplane. Can you tease a little bit? Is this kind of a back door pilot in a sense?

Bell: All I will say is, we hope one day they may have their own show. But while they’re on S.H.I.E.L.D., we want to take advantage of who they are, and give the audience as much of their relationship with one another, and with other people, as possible to make that really satisfying. So, we are aware that there is a potential imminent end, and so they won’t be neglected. That’s a crappy answer; I’m sorry. 

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