Well, it has been a couple of crazy last weeks for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD hasn’t it? With the premiere of the third arc of their season — why do TV shows today need to have multiple arcs for one season?) — “Framework” takes the team into an augmented reality created by Radcliffe and AIDA. We’ve learned since jumping back into that world that the Triskelion never fell, that Hydra is now the new world order, May saved the girl, Daisy is Skye again, and surprising no one Grant Ward is back and he’s a double agent again!
We spoke with the cast and creators of the show during Wondercon to see what we could glean from them for this final arc of the season. Jeph Loeb, executive producer and executive VP at Marvel Television, emphasized the permanence of what happens in the Framework. Despite it being an alternate universe, what happens to everyone in that universe is real and has an effect and after leaving the Framework it will be like they led two lives.
For Chloe Bennet (“Daisy Johnson/Skye”), it will be about keeping it all straight. After jumping into the Framework completely aware that the world is a farce, she’s forced to play a Hydra agent and has to deal with everything that’s happening and will leave the Framework remembering everything that happened. While Daisy is in the know, most everyone else isn’t. We saw in the last episode that Coulson is definitely not the seasoned agent we’ve all come to know, and while it might be a while before we even see the resolution to his relationship with May, Clark Gregg (“Phil Coulson”) did say that we would get to see a different side of Phil, one that is more enthusiastic and definitely reminiscent of Skye in the first season.
It’s no secret now that Mallory Jansen (“Aida”) is Madame Hydra in the Framework, adopting the name of Ophelia and the position at the top of the organization. But Jansen talked a little bit about how the reveal surprised her when she found out about the role and also about how playing a villain on SHIELD differed from playing one on Galavant. On the topic of villains, Jeff Bell, an executive producer and writer for the show, spoke a little bit about bringing back Grant Ward to the show and flipping the narrative into making him a secret agent for the resistance and putting him back together with Skye.
We’ve definitely got to experience a whole new side to Iain DeCaestecker’s (“Leopold Fitz”) character, but DeCaestecker seemed to emphasize that the character is still him, and again talked about the permanence of what happens in the Framework. He also elaborated on working with John Hannah (“Radcliffe”) and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the good doctor after the last episode and what Fitz did to him. And while we were certainly surprised by Fitz’s actions, Elizabeth Henstridge’s Jemma Simmons seemed to be rocked to the core by the character shift of Framework Fitz. Henstridge also talked about the elaborate stories that have now been woven into the plot and keeping the real world and the Framework straight.
I guess it won’t be particularly difficult for Brett Dalton (“Grant Ward”), who left the show after last season and now has made a return as a fixture of the Framework. His return shouldn’t be too surprising given how many times Ward’s character has been instrumental in a plot twist on SHIELD, and this time it’s no different. He talked a bit about playing the good guy this time, and also discussed with Jed Whedon, executive producer and creator, on the moral grey aspect of playing Ward over the years.
Co-creators Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen talked at length about creating stories within the MCU while also maintaining their own entity and now planning stories within the Framework arc that callback to earlier seasons and episodes for those of the fans who have been around since the beginning.
No stranger to playing many versions of the same character, MingNa Wen (“Melinda May”) talked about how emotional this season has been for May, first in playing an LMD and now playing a Hydra version of May. Ultimately though, she decided that playing the younger version of May was her favorite iteration. And while Jason O’Mara (“Jeffrey Mace”) is a newcomer to the show, he’s no stranger to how weird stories can get for SHIELD, having played an LMD version of Mace himself. He talked about Mace’s loyalties and how they’ve changed in the season, and also about playing both a fake inhuman and the leader of the Resistance within the Framework.
While the Patriot has made his appearance in the Framework, Natalia Cordova’s (“Elena Rodriguez”) Yo-Yo hasn’t yet. She’s outside in the real world, but it seems like we could possibly see her enter into the alternate world if Daisy and Jemma are truly trapped. Cordova expressed desire to play her character with a dark streak, and both she and Henry Simmons (“Alphonso Mackenzie”) teased a little on the potential of seeing the team working back together towards the end of the season. And we saw at the end of the last episode evidence that family man Mack has been driven to the Resistance as well, so the team is already reassembling.
Nothing’s ever for sure in the Marvel world and in a season with three huge arcs, I’m sure we’re just getting started with the Framework storyline. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs 10pm Tuesday nights on ABC! Watch the new episode “No Regrets” on April 18th!