INTERVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S6 – Natalia Cordova Buckley

The sixth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. commenced last week, but there are still plenty of questions left to answer. In order to clarify some of them, Natalia Cordova-Buckley sat down to discuss her character Yo-Yo’s (AKA Elena Rodriguez) trajectory after the time jump. Not only does has she ended one relationship and secretly begun another, but she’s still getting used to her hands and settling into the new dynamics in the office.

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When it comes to the shift between her and Mack (Henry Simmons) Cordova-Buckley didn’t want to give too much away on the personal front, but she was certain of Yo-Yo’s professional priorities. “I think she’s going through a lot of transitions in season six,” the actress said. Whereas in previous seasons she would place her judgment above a superior’s, this season “she’s allowing the bigger picture to be her goal.” What does that mean for her and Mack specifically, though? “It means that she’s putting her relationship, or whatever she’s feeling, a bit at bay. Because she knows there’s something bigger to fight,” Cordova-Buckley answered. “She’s trying to be very diplomatic, which she’s never been. Which I’m not very good at being.”

It’s certainly going to be a treat to watch Yo-Yo try to navigate the politics of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. now that she’s an official member of the team, but one person she won’t be polite with is Sarge (Clark Gregg). When asked how her character feels about him, the answer was quick and fierce: “Hates him. Who doesn’t, right? …You all will hate him at the end too. Which will be a big shift for you to see that change from loving Coulson for so long, and now having him be this bad guy.”

In the meantime, Yo-Yo’s got a new romance brewing with Agent Keller Lucas Bryant), but Mackelena fans probably don’t need to worry in the long run. Even though Cordova-Buckley couldn’t share how long he’d stick around, she did speak of him (glowingly!) in the past tense. “Lucas was just so wonderful as an actor, in person, to work with. He always wished they would stay forever, and that the story lines could continue, but he stays a good amount of time. I’m just going to say we get to enjoy those pale blue eyes for a while.” Mack probably won’t be happy with it, but Cordova-Buckley confirmed that it wouldn’t turn into a high school fist fight. “What I love about Henry as an actor is that he plays Mack so strongly and grounded, but there’s always something behind. There’s always this subtext that you can read, and he’s going to continue doing that.” There’s a lot of nuance at work, since he’s the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. but he’s also a man in pain. “There’s something else going on besides him just trying to be director,” she hinted.

Her relationship may be new, but her hands are not. The actress explained that Yo-Yo couldn’t get an enhancements done because “the team is separated and the people that could give her the hands are in another place.” That’s another thing she’s having to get used to. “Season six has a bit [of] her finding her way as this person with robot parts,” Cordova-Buckley added. Someone who might help her do just that is Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), who fans saw helping Yo-Yo train in the premiere. “May is always a mentor to all the women in S.H.I.E.L.D. The silent mentor, which is wonderful,” she gushed. It sounds like Yo-Yo will be the recipient of May’s wisdom throughout the season, as the actress teased, “We’re going to see much more of that in Season 6. Now we’re shooting Seven, and there’s even more of that in Seven.” Part of the reason she loved the dynamic so much was the actress she was working with. “I think [Ming Na’s] one of the best human beings in Hollywood that I’ve ever met. I just love working with her.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at  8/7c.