Plus Interviews with Showrunner Jed Whedon
Aaah!! Spoilers ahead for the third pod of season 4 of Agents of SHIELD, and episode 15 if you haven’t seen that yet!
This is so exciting! Self Control was an amazing episode, and I’ll have my recap up
in a few hours (it’s up), but I wanted to put up the interviews and promos that are being published first. I’m not sure yet if the pod title is Agents of HYDRA or Agents of Shield: HYDRA, but HYDRA flashes in place of SHIELD at the end of the episode and in the promos, so it’ll be something like that. I was so happy to see the Triskelion intact at the end of the episode, and then to see the HYDRA logo! The showrunners are saying in interviews that the arc will be split between the real world and the Matrix Framework, so we’ll get to see what the world would be like if HYDRA had won at the end of Winter Soldier. There’s nothing like a good canon AU! It would be incredible if they would mention what the Avengers are all doing in this brave new world, if they aren’t dead.
The interviews, promo and teaser videos are under the cut.
Okay, now that we don’t have to worry about spoiling anyone, let’s talk about Grant Ward/Brett Dalton. People have been wondering if he would turn up again this season, and hypothesizing potential storylines, me included. I’m ashamed that I didn’t consider him being a part of the Framework as more of a possibility. The question is, how much is he “him,” and how much is he just a simulation? Does the Darkhold have access to the soul or some kind of essence of the dead that it can place in the Framework, so that this could really be Grant, or a very close approximation? And, whatever he starts out as, he’s presumably as much of a person as the Aidas and LMD May, and could jump into an LMD of his own by the end of the season, like I have been hoping for since LMDs started being discussed. I didn’t know where his brain scan would come from, but they’ve solved that problem. Daisy didn’t look unhappy to see him, but we’ll see how she reacts when the show comes back. Last time she saw “Grant” in the flesh she was unwillingly addicted to Hive. Anything that would allow us to keep Mallory Jansen and Brett Dalton for a possible 5th season is okay with me.
IGN: What are you doing differently with Hydra this go-around that made it worth revisiting in such a big way?
Jed Whedon: It’s more that we’re exploring “what if” scenarios with our characters. We wanted to show that this world was not what was intended, and what really symbolizes the opposite of SHIELD or the ultimate evil in our world is Hydra. It’s more about our people than it is about the organization itself this time around. No better villain in SHIELD than Hydra, so why not?
IGN: We know that Radcliffe and Aida changed one “regret” of each of our main characters for their life in the Framework. Are these actually our characters’ regrets, or are they what Radcliffe and Aida consider to be their regrets?
Whedon: I think that they are true to our characters. We can glean some of that from what we see. But that’s the idea. In their warped view of things, they were trying to do something kind, and we’re about to see the result.
IGN: Why bring back Ward again? Have you always been planning to bring Brett back into the story?
Whedon: Well, we’ll see what happens with him. We see at the end there that his picture’s on the dresser. What would a Hydra world be without him?
IGN: You did give a great end to that storyline at the end of last year. How are you bringing back those characters and those elements in a way that won’t undermine the emotional farewell we got in Season 3?
Whedon: One of the things that we’re exploring in the Framework is the nature of reality and the nature of identity, and what makes you you. Anything that we put in there is going to be a reflection of our characters and sort of feed their emotional journey — and possibly their neuroses. So it’s all there in support of our characters and continuing their season-long arc of discovering who they truly are.
TVLINE | The Grant Ward reveal obviously was huge. As the director, was it simply your preference to reveal that with a framed photo, or was this a case of Brett Dalton not being available at the time to roll over in bed and say, “Hi, honey”?
Bret is a huge diva. No, there are multiple reasons — some of it is scheduling, but truthfully it more has to do with Daisy walking by [the photo] unaware. We want the audience to know [it’s not Lincoln], but her not necessarily to know yet, when we come back.
TVLINE | Will Daisy’s psyche choose which Grant Ward is there — what he knows, what he has and hasn’t been through?
This is a world that is up and running, so [Daisy and Jemma] are entering what Radcliffe and Aida thought was a duplicate of our world. Somehow, using the “magic” — but we know it’s actually hardcore science! — of the Darkhold, they were able to duplicate everything in our world. What that means, we’ll see develop, but we can tell from her reading that text and her reaction, she’s aware where she is, unlike some of the glimpses we got. She’s clearly aware that she’s in this alternate reality, whereas I don’t think anyone she encounters will be.
TVLINE | Talk about the look that washed over Daisy’s face as she entered the bedroom. It seemed like relief, happiness. Is there a danger that she might forget her mission?
Well, it seems like a pretty well fleshed-out world, and the goal of it was to create a reality indistinguishable from our own. So there is that danger. That look on her face I think is hope — “Oh my gosh, am I getting my own dream to come true?” And then we see the picture and we know. “Maybe not, sweetie!”
TVLINE | Meanwhile, Jemma! Did she materialize six feed under, the poor thing??
They were plugging themselves into those avatars, so… she did not wake up in a warm tub. We’ll have to see where she appears, but that was not the end of Jemma Simmons, just to make that clear.
TVLINE | I hate to think she’s now knocking from the inside of a casket, “Help me!!”
That might be the story. I don’t know how many times we can cut to that [gravestone] before it runs out of its drama. But that might be the story that’s coming.
TVLINE | It was interesting that LMD Fitz brought up marriage, during that incredible series of scenes between Iain [De Caestecker] and Elizabeth [Henstridge]. Does that mean that marriage is something that’s on the real Fitz’s mind?
I think so. In that moment, he doesn’t need to manipulate her. We know that with these LMDs, they’re mostly based on the person. These LMDs seemed a little bit more Terminator than the MayBot, but he seemed to be genuine in that moment, which is part of the thing that makes it haunting.
TVLINE | Iaian was so great in that moment where he coolly flips the blade up and then drives it into Jemma’s leg. The two of them were just fantastic, and Chloe was amazing, too. Your cast as a whole really did great.
There were some great performances. It was very fun to be in the trenches working with them. We’re all such good friends, but we had a lot of fun making the episode. It’s funny to think that we were laughing as we were shooting him strangling her, as she stabs him. “Let’s try this!” It was like playing make-believe, but it came out so creepy.
Well, you know, Hydra is sort of the opposite of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the simplest version of the anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. And we’ve told a lot of Hydra stories, but this story is more about our characters and sort of dealing with questions of identity and the nature of reality and whether or not you have a true nature or whether or not you’re made up of your experiences. If you’re made up of your regrets. Is there a true you or are you just an assembly of your experiences?
I can’t tease much, but all I can say is it is not Jemma. It’s also a reflection of how steeped into this world he is that he doesn’t seem to be troubled by the fact that she’s in a grave, which was sort of the point of that moment. He looks like he’s on top of the world.
Earlier in the episode, during that wrenching scene between Fitz and Simmons as they dance around which of them is an LMD, the LMD Fitz mentions that they’re cursed. Are they? Every season we get this really tragic thing that happens between these two!
Well, I think that FitzSimmons is dear in our hearts, as they are in the hearts of our fans. We think of them as—their love is a forever love, to use a phrase that we use sometimes. I don’t think anything will come between them, but that’s why we constantly put things between them, because the longing for them to be together is sort of the feeling that we’re addicted to as writers and hopefully the audience is addicted, too.