When Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD hit San Diego Comic Con, the news that season seven would be their final season had only been public knowledge for a couple of days. It’s no surprise then that when the cast and executive producers sat down for interviews, the mood was nostalgic and contemplative. In fact, they’d just had their final table read on Monday, July 15.
“It was very emotional,” Ming-Na Wen said about the table read. “Everybody was just trying to cope with the overwhelming experience of a family that will eventually have to graduate and go their separate ways.”
“It’s seven years of my life as an adult,” said Chloe Bennet. “Seven years of my life, seven years of this show, seven years of growing with the fans, seven years of growing with the cast and creators and crew of the show. It’s a huge, huge thing. It’s emotional.”
Even though they may be sad to say goodbye, the cast is also grateful to have the show end on their terms. “The writers got to end the show properly,” Jeff Ward pointed out. “For the last two seasons, we’ve known that they were guiding it in.”
“It’s a special thing to get to choose to end your show,” Bennet added.
For Gregg, Agents of SHIELD is the end of an era that he believed had ended twice before. He thought Coulson was dead after The Avengers and dead again after season five, only for his role on the show to continue.
“They said, ‘Look you’re going to really die at the end of season five’ and that was tremendously moving and we kind of thought the show was probably done. That episode was called ‘The End’,” he said. “And then, boom, I’m back playing this other guy who has Coulson’s face who couldn’t be more different, super evil, that was really, really fun but then the origin story! And then, oh my god, I just got killed again! I wouldn’t be surprised if I get killed more before the end of the season.”
“Nine lives!” chimed in Wen.
A lot of the show has changed since season one. Although the show started out linked to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, those tie-ins are almost non-existent at this point. Bennet and Ward agree that they’d like to have Spider-Man on Agents of SHIELD, though Bennet would prefer to simply have Tom Holland or Zendaya as themselves. But don’t count on anyone from the MCU showing up in seasons six or seven.
Executive Producer Jeff Bell said, “We’re working hard to sometimes bring back characters who have been on our show previously.” Doing that is a “much higher priority to us”, he said, than finding ways to fit in MCU characters.
Established characters have changed in major ways too since the series began. Bennet started out as Skye, a hacktivist, and is now a super-powered superhero. “I auditioned to play a hacker in a van and they were like, ‘Just kidding! You’re gonna be a superhero and do these stunts!’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I would’ve auditioned for that,’” she said, chuckling. “But here I am.”
In Ward’s opinion, Bennet/Daisy’s transformation is a major reason why fans and the show have stuck around. “For Chloe to have taken on, to shoulder, so much of the show physically with the crazy amount of stunts that she does, I give a lot of credit to Chloe. I think a lot of the reason the show is as successful and people gravitate towards it as much as they do is because of her.”
Gregg acknowledged it’s strange to be so close to finishing the series when audiences haven’t even seen the rest of season six, let alone season seven. “Honestly, these days, we feel how the fans are reacting to stuff and make almost like course corrections,” he said. “Season six has been almost completely wrapped for months and months before the first episode aired… and so it’s odd to be finishing a very, very different, really surprising season seven that no one has seen a stitch of.”
It’s been a surprising season six, if we’re honest. Mack is the Director of SHIELD and he’s having a hell of a time in his first year. Thankfully, Henry Simmons is up to the task. “I love the challenge, as an actor,” he said. “I love the responsibility. I relish it. It’s something I look forward to. That’s the way you grow as an actor. It also allowed me to step into my strengths instead of holding everything back.”
Simmons teased that his (and maybe Mack’s) full strength hasn’t been unleashed yet. We did see some of his obvious physical strength in Mack’s fight with Sarge a couple of episodes ago. “It was a great fight,” Natalia Cordova-Buckley said. “I would’ve loved to fight Sarge! Just give him a couple smacks to the face.”
Simmons enjoyed filming the scene too, although he was initially a bit skeptical about it. How could Sarge, even briefly, overpower Mack? “I was like, look at this little guy! Ain’t no way in the world…” he said, pulling a face that clearly says Mack would destroy Sarge. “It would be over in two minutes.”
“I don’t think two minutes,” Cordova-Buckley piped up. “More like 30 seconds!”
But when Simmons learned more about Sarge’s character and why he’s strong, he understood.
There is still a lot to discover about the Man With Coulson’s Face, or, as Gregg described him, “[May’s] dead boyfriend” who has a “shaved head and a bad attitude.” Last Friday’s episode started to peel back the layers of Sarge’s backstory but there’s more lurking beneath.
“The mystery of Sarge was really tricky for me because there were secrets about him that even I didn’t know. Sarge has big gaps in what he knows about himself and some of that is starting to come to life,” Gregg said.
What can we expect to see in the remainder of the season six?
Executive Producer Jeph Loeb says they’re very proud of the two-hour finale for season six, commenting that it “feels like a movie.”
“At the end, we’re trying to cram a lot of things together because we start setting up so slow,” Cordova-Buckley said, referencing how she feels each season tends to go. “I think at the end of this season, a lot is going to happen that you guys are going to be like, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”… But it’s going to be fun.”
Will we see Mack’s signature shotgun-ax? Simmons was cagey about the weapon’s return, saying only, “Maybe… we’ll see, we’ll see.”
Cordova-Buckley also teased something big for Yo-Yo in the finale. “I loved shooting the last episode of season six. Yo-Yo goes through something that I haven’t had a chance to go through as Yo-Yo on this show and I have a couple moments that are really physical that I really enjoyed doing. She gets pretty dark.”
Agents of SHIELD’s sixth season continues this Friday at 8/7c on ABC.
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