AGENTS OF SHIELD CREATORS ON SEASON 3’S FINALE DEATHS AND SETTING UP SEASON 4
SHIELD’s Maurissa Tancharoen ad Jed Whedon on paying off the promised death.
Warning: Full spoilers for Agents of SHIELD: Season 3 finale follow.
For months now, we’d gotten glimpses at a death occurring by Agents of SHIELD’s Season 3 conclusion, as Daisy was given a premonition that someone on the team would die. And as we saw in the Season 3 finale – click here for my review – that was indeed true.
It ultimately was Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) who perished, sacrificing himself to stop Hive (Brett Dalton). I spoke to Agents of SHIELD co-creators Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen to discuss how they decided to kill both Lincoln and Hive and the tricky nature of keeping the audience on their toes when they know a major death is coming. Plus, with the final moments of the finale teasing some big changes, we chat about the set up for Season 4.
IGN: So let me jump right into it. Did you know it was Lincoln from the start? We’ve had that tense the entire back half of the season. So how early did you map out where that was going?
Jed Whedon: We did know who was going to be in that Quinjet. We didn’t necessarily know how we were going to get them into that Quinjet. We like to paint ourselves into corners but we did know from the beginning who it would be and then as we were talking about that flash forward is when we designed the moment that it would be – which we hit on in a single afternoon and all were in agreement that it was ice and poetic and we felt good about it.
IGN: How did you decide that it would be Lincoln?
Whedon: There was a lot leading up to that decision. Partially it came from the end of Hive and the idea that we knew we were going to end his storyline at the end of the season and it would be the second ending for Grant Ward. We wanted to give it weight and we wanted to give it meeting because he is not only a huge big bad as Hive, but it’s Brett Dalton, who has been with us from the very beginning. It couldn’t just feel like a victory. It had to feel like a loss at the same time because that’s how we were feeling about it. We live Brett and had managed to maintain him as an antagonist for three seasons but we knew it was time for his character to meet his end. We knew someone was going to make the her’s sacrifice play. And the most meaningful and logical choice was Lincoln because he’s a lost soul and there’s something nice about someone finding their purpose in their last moments and doing the ultimate hero act, because they don’t believe they really are a hero. That to us — those were sort of the deciding factors.
Maurissa Tancharoen: When we first met Lincoln he was just a nice guy that Daisy meets in Afterlife and over the course of the past two seasons, we’ve come to know a little bit more about him and that he’s struggling to find a place to belong. A bit of a lost soul much in the way that Daisy was when we first met her and I think we just knew that it would be a heartbreaking choice, just as the audience and our team come to know who he is, just as it’s very clear that he and Daisy are in love and have a strong connection, he sacrifices himself.
IGN: As you mentioned, Brett has played a lot of evolutions. He sort of played three characters. He played what we thought was Ward and the real Ward and then Hive. Did it just seem after three seasons that this was the right time now to really take him off the board?
Whedon: Yeah. We would love to have Brett and we spend time with him when we’re not working. But in terms of character, we want to leave people wanting more. We don’t want there to be burn out.
Tancharoen: He sustained being our antagonist for the past three years and it was very clear that we did not want to let go of him. [Laughs] but in making him Hive we just knew that we would have to close this chapter eventually.
Whedon: Grant Ward’s end came at the middle of the season and it’s only at the end of this finale that he rears his head back up when his memories are brought to the surface. In that last moment when he’s revealing that all Hive wanted was connection — and that’s the thing he has in common with Ward who wanted that with Skye and he’s sitting with the only person who sort of had that with Skye now, or Daisy.
IGN: It’s a very peaceful ending for the two of them. You could have had them fighting as the ship blows up ending but did this seem like a more appropriate note to end this on for the two of them?
Whedon: When we talked about it in the room, the idea sort of fell out of “what is the last moment?” There’s no turning back. We knew that part of the plan is that there’s no way out of it. There’s something nice about these two people who could be strangling each other just saying “Well, here we are.” We just thought there was a beauty to it that we wanted to capture.
IGN: So it sounds like we should infer this is definitely the end of Hive? Because he’s pretty powerful!
Tancharoen: There’s never a definitive end to any character in the Marvel universe. Our show is centred around someone who was clearly stabbed through the chest and is alive and well. [Laughs] So we can’t definitively say that. I think in Hive’s death we are trying to imply that we will be moving to another form of an enemy. A new chapter, and we’re excited about that. But yes, we may at some point see Brett Dalton’s face once again – and it’s not a bad face to revisit.
Whedon: We see it when we close our eyes.
Tancharoen: Jed especially.
IGN: You had a game you were playing, in a way, with the jacket that was the telltale thing in the flash forward – the SHIELD jacket on whoever was dying. What was it like to map out who would be wearing it, when they’d be wearing it?
Tancharoen: We did want to play a little game of hot potato with that jacket, and the cross.
Whedon: And the necklace, yeah. I have to give it up to the writing staff because we got to this ending, and we knew what it was, we previewed it in 311, but the puzzle of how to get everyone in there, having you not know who it was going to be, and to have everybody have a jacket! Solving that was one of our big puzzles. But it was fun playing with audience expectations and having Fitz and Simmons plan a vacation just before Fitz finds the necklace – I mean that’s just messing with people.
IGN: Sure. Your brother alone makes us worried about newly happy couples!
Whedon: Right! Yeah, exactly.
IGN: So of course you’re well aware of all these thoughts when you’re doing something like this. Is it interesting when you’re trying to get ahead of the audience on a situation like this?
Whedon: There’s always many layers to the audience. We never sell them short. There’s the face value version where people are just watching to see what happens next and aren’t thinking about the writing or their own expectations or red herrings or anything like that. But we’re also aware of how intelligent our audience is and that they’re going to see stuff coming so we have to give them the twist that they feel like they see coming. There’s an extra level of work for us because our audience is savvy.
IGN: When did you let the cast in on who was going out in the finale, specifically Luke and Brett? How close to the finale did they know?
Tancharoen: Fairly late in the process. There had been much speculation on set for the back half of the season. But with Marvel security we have to keep things very tight and locked.
Whedon: But also, everything is always in flux. We never want to tell them something without being absolutely positive it’s going to happen. It was a very emotional thing for everybody and for all of us.
Tancharoen: For everyone involved. Everyone who works on the show never likes to get the call that the bosses would like to see you in our office, so when Luke and Brett both came up for their meetings, it was with very heavy hearts that we told them the news.
IGN: You mentioned moving on to a new villain in regards to the different characters that Brett played. It also seems like for now, you’re wrapped up Hydra. Is that a safe assumption going forward?
Whedon: Yeah, we’ve put that down for a little while but Hydra is Hydra. It always finds a way. But again, that’s also been three seasons. We’re excited about the stores we’re planning to tell next year. We’re moving in sort of a different direction. We want to put that down for the time being so when if it comes back it’s thrilling and not just always there.
IGN: Okay, so let me see how good you are – and you’re probably very good at this point – at not quite answering my questions about the final scenes.
Whedon: Oh yeah… Get ready for vague!
IGN: Clearly we get the inference that Daisy has taken off on her own. The Quake name is now in play but the newspaper seems to infer that she’s a criminal or terrorist almost, based on what we’re reading. What should we infer about what Daisy has been up to in those six months?
Whedon: Well, I can’t say much but it is safe to assume, from what you see, that she is on her own, maybe returning to her roots of being a loner. Maybe in the wake of everything that’s happened, feeling like having friends and having a team is a terrible idea. Yes, she’s doing some questionable things but, as we see from her interaction with Charles Hinton’s wife and daughter, she’s still trying to make good on her promise to protect Inhumans and more importantly, make good on what Lincoln at the end says. “I believe you’re meant for more than this.” I believe she’s trying to make good on his belief in her and make sure that what he did is not meaningless. At the same time, I think she feels like she has nothing to lose, so those two things make an interesting combination.
IGN: At the same time we got the glimpse of Radcliffe. It’s exciting to see an actual LMD coming into play. It seems he’s giving a body to Ana, the voice he’s talking to, but who that body is we didn’t see. Anything you can say about where that might be going?
Whedon: We can say very little, but we can say Radcliffe, he has a good heart, but he’s dead set on scientific advancement. He thinks he’s solving a problem right now and he says “Fitz and Simmons had friends die, maybe they didn’t have to.” I think he thinks there might be a solution to some of these problems they’ve faced. Whether or not he’s creating a solution or a new problem, we’ll have to wait and see.
IGN: We heard him say he’s working with Fitz in some capacity. Obviously there have been several losses but is the team otherwise still functioning as they were? Or have they changed up anything of their MO or location or anything like that?
Whedon: That’s a wait and see right there.
Tancharoen: It’s pretty clear in the six-month jump that things have definitely changed.
IGN: Let me ask a couple of things on the Inhumans front. Where was Joey during the final episodes?
Tancharoen: Joey was on another show.
Whedon: He was a Navy Seal [in History’s upcoming miniseries, Six]. One of the things people don’t think about when they watch TV is there are what, literally hundreds of dramas being made. So we try not to have you think about that by weaving the story around but that’s one of the reasons —
Tancharoen: And giving a reason why the character isn’t present. We very much would love to have Juan Pablo [Raba] him play in the back half but logistically, sometimes that happens. It’s happened many times on our show.
Whedon: It’s also one of the many reasons why we never tell the cast what’s happening because you never know what’s going to happen and it seems that everybody who is great — and we have a lot of them on our show – they get their own shows now.
IGN: That being said, actor availability always being a question, do you think there’s a place story-wise with the whole Secret Warriors idea? Obviously none of them are active members of SHIELD as the season ends but would you like to see Joey and Yo-Yo still be able to play a role and sometimes help the team going forward?
Whedon: Absolutely. We both love those characters and now the question mark of James and Deathlock… We have a lot of people out there who we can run into and that makes us happy.
Tancharoen: We have a fair amount of people we can call to our aid if we need them.
IGN: You also have some nemesis out there, or some that have towed the line. You’ve got Donny, aka Blizzard, and I have to ask — and it’s a Season 1 lingering question — bit you never went all the way with the Graviton of it all.
Whedon: Well, it’s still out there. We do not like to ask questions that we don’t answer and we don’t like to introduce things that we won’t pay off. We are aware of its existence and haven’t forgot about it. Gravitonium, Quinn, and then hand that came out of the Gravitonium at one point…
IGN: Meanwhile, given all the questions those final scenes of Season 3 raised, are you excited to fill in those blanks in Season 4?
Tancharoen: Yes. Or we just painted ourselves into another corner!
Whedon: We can’t say what we’re excited about but we’re very excited about next season.
For more on the Agents of SHIELD: Season 3 finale, click here to see what Brett Dalton told us about saying goodbye to the series.
Original article at IGN