NYCC 2017: Cast of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Discuss Season Five

The cast of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – plus Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb – had a lot to say at NYCC this year. We sat down with them to learn what they can say about the upcoming fifth season, as well as their thoughts on the characters and show as a whole.

Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge started us off with a discussion of where their characters Fitz and Simmons are going to be next season. Apparently the two characters are once again going to be facing physical separation, as Fitz will not be in space with the rest of the team. Fitz is also still dealing with a lot of guilt from all the terrible things he did as Aida’s boyfriend in the Framework, according to De Caestecker. Simmons, meanwhile, will get to make use of her greater experience and knowledge of being in space as she helps her teammates. Henstridge and De Caestecker also have nothing but love for their fellow cast members, comparing them all to family just like the SHIELD team is a family. Along those lines, we also got a tease from these two on how great and natural an experience it was to be directed by Clark Gregg for one episode.

Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Henry Simmons were next. These two agree that Yo-Yo and Mack are closer than ever, though any emotional conflict or further development will have to take a backseat for a while. Why? “Because we’re in space,” as Simmons pointed out several times (to Cordova-Buckley’s and our amusement). That setting also means they as actors have to be more creative and imaginative, since they’re not acting across from super-powered people or other threats that are physically there on set.

Cordova-Buckley also stated that while this upcoming season might not be as overtly political as the references that were sprinkled throughout the Framework episodes last year, the show itself is political in nature. By this, she’s referring to how all of its women cast are powerful: either Inhumans like Yo-Yo and Daisy, or a super-smart doctor like Simmons, or a badass fighter like May. That in itself is a view that Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and the writers are all trying to portray. On a related note, both Cordova-Buckley and Simmons discussed the importance of their characters representing minorities on-screen. They’re aware of the responsibility they have toward their fans, which is part of why they use social media to engage with fans as well as make their own opinions known.

Ming-Na Wen and Marvel’s Jeph Loeb chatted with us next. They both assured us that there’s a possibility that our SHIELD team could run into other (Marvel) heroes while they’re out in space. Loeb went on to say that the “fun” space setting is for the first ten-episode pod. The questions that will drive these ten episodes are: where is the team exactly, why are they there, and how will they get back home? Wen added that she’s looking forward to this direction for the show. This includes how each character will deal with the new challenges that come from being in space – including the Kree, “how strong they are, and how blue they are,” and other aliens. Wen also discussed the Coulson-May relationship. She said that since they’ve always had a deep friendship, and always been there for each other, the idea of moving further into more romantic territory might be a little scary for both of them. She’s been enjoying the slow-burn aspect so far.

Another intriguing tease for season five came from Loeb: whereas in previous seasons, the audience always knew more than the characters (e.g., meeting Robbie Reyes as Ghost Rider, seeing his family, and then the SHIELD team catching up to that knowledge later), this season is going to be different. We as the audience will be just as in the dark as the team, discovering answers to the mystery at the same time as they do.

Lastly, Loeb said he’ll never say never to the possibility of a crossover with some of Marvel’s new shows, like Runaways or Cloak & Dagger. However, there are logistical challenges to that idea, given that they’re not all on the same network. He did promise that there will always be some level of connection between them all. Loeb would want any potential crossover to be organic to the story, not just a crossover for the sake of there being a crossover. Plus, it’s only fair to give viewers a chance to get to know the newer shows on their own merits, like they have with Agents of SHIELD – “the heavyweight champions of the Marvel television universe”.

Our time with Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennet was unfortunately a bit short, but still packed with good stuff. Gregg started us off by saying that when we last saw Coulson – on the ship at the end of season four – he’s gotten to the point of knowing some of what’s going on. For instance, he joked that Coulson “knows that he’s working for Thanos”! But in actuality, when we first see the team in the coming season, all of them will be pretty in the dark.

When asked if viewers will ever get to see the team just being happy, Gregg pointed out that that doesn’t usually make great TV. Bennet disagreed, though, stating that she wants an episode where the women of SHIELD just go out and get their hair done together. That could explain how they “all have really nice highlights”. But even without those kind of carefree storylines, Bennet loves how resilient the characters are, and that there are always moments of lightness and humor throughout the show.

If this were to be the last season of SHIELD, neither Gregg nor Bennet would be ready to say goodbye. Gregg has been playing the character of Coulson for nine years now(!). He would hate to leave Coulson behind, but would be even sadder at the prospect of saying goodbye to his castmates, whom he views as family. Bennet agreed. Daisy was her first major breakout role, and she said she would probably cry for weeks if the show ended. Gregg suggested that after the show ends, they all could take a short break and then do the movie.

Lastly, the two discussed the possibility of Daisy as the new director of SHIELD. Gregg is strongly in favor. Bennet wasn’t sure that Daisy would truly want that role, but that she’s learned a lot about what it means to take responsibility over the years. For example, last season Daisy started out by running away to try to keep her SHIELD family safe, but she knows now that that’s not how families work. Gregg said that Coulson himself would love to have Daisy as Director. He would see her, the person he’s closest to in the world, as the best candidate to help show the world how human Inhumans are.

It was wonderful to have this chance to hear from each of the cast of Agents of SHIELD, as well as Jeph Loeb. We’re at least as excited as they are to see how season five unfolds. What are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments.

Agents of SHIELD premieres with a two-hour event on December 1 starting at 8pm on ABC.


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Photos by Sharlene Mousfar