Jeph Loeb and Elizabeth Henstridge talk Agents of SHIELD Season 3

Head of Marvel TV Jeph Loeb and actress Elizabeth Henstridge talk about the big shake-ups coming on Agents of SHIELD

WonderCon weekend fell at a pivotal time for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Last week’s episode saw the departure of Agents Morse (Adrieane Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood). We know they’re getting their own spinoff, Marvel’s Most Wanted, but there’s still the rest of this season of the team that will have to deal with their absence.

Marvel’s head of television Jeph Loeb and actress Elizabeth Henstridge attended WonderCon for an Agents of SHIELD panel and Den of Geek joined a roundtable with them to talk about current happenings. Loeb became so enthralled, he had to apologize to Henstridge for going on and on while she patiently listened.

Where does saying goodbye to Bobbi and Hunter leave SHIELD?

Loeb: This is one of the things about Agents of SHIELD that we think is so important. It is a show that needs to continually grow and evolve and have surprises and make the audience come to us every single week and not know what’s going to happen. Whether it’s that you find out, hey, spoiler alert, and if you don’t know this you haven’t been watching the show, that Ward is Hydra, or whether it is that Trip is not going to be with us anymore or whether it is that Bobbi and Hunter are going to be leaving, those are the kinds of things that we try to do and we try to do them in a way that’s real and grounded and very emotional.

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The funny part about it was that script that was superbly written by Paul Z, that is what Paul pitched. That scene at the end was in the writer’s room. Then it came out on the page and it played on the day. If you’ve done as many episodes as we’ve done, you don’t always know that that’s going to work but I think I can say safely, I don’t want to speak for the cast, but from everything we saw, it was very real emotion. It wasn’t just the fact that it was playing that way.

Henstridge: Yeah, it was so sad. I can’t imagine a S.H.I.E.L.D. where we didn’t have Henry Simmons and Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood. They just gelled so perfectly. It was just great and we all played off each other but it was a lot of characters to keep juggling. We’re so pleased and so proud of them for this new venture, but just reading the scene we’re all in floods of tears and then shooting it, we’re very lucky to all get on as a cast and to be a family, but then the flip side is when someone leaves, it’s painful. But we’re very excited for them. No acting was required in that last scene.

What does going home with Mack add to his character?

Loeb: It’s certainly something that we’ve talked about from the very beginning. One of the interesting things about SHIELD is that it very much is a show about a family. A very dysfunctional family, a very diverse family and in case you need to figure it out, yes, Agent Coulson is the papa bear. But how that family gets along, and there are different kinds of families. Some families are ones that are at work, but one of the things that we have played a lot of is what you give up when you join S.H.I.E.L.D. Those personal connections are something that you have to give up because if people knew what you did, you would then become vulnerable and the people that you care about and that you love become vulnerable.

So we’ve been very careful about revealing too much because one of the things is, we want to play the reality of what’s happening for them. In many ways, being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is a lonely job. What Phil Coulson’s been able to do is try to make it a place where you don’t have that feeling where you need to go home. But we have seen, like in the story with him and the cellist, we have seen how heartbreaking that can be.

Can you tease any connections to Civil War?

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Loeb: I think the best way of looking at it is, as you continually back me in a corner and force me to say #itsallconnected and then I get yelled at tomorrow, but the reality is that we have in many ways been dealing with a very similar storyline that’s been going on since we introduced the Inhumans. This was a show that started with the idea that not all heroes are super.

Now one of our team members, Agent Johnson, is someone who has powers. And the idea of the question between humanity and inhumanity, how they’re going to get along and whether or not they should be controlled, whether or not they should be cured which is part of the Simmons storyline, is all leading to that inevitable question which is, what do you do in the real world when people are different?

That is the heart of what Civil War is about and it’s the heart of what our show is about right now. How it affects it, I can’t be very specific about but you can certainly see the themes being played out. That’s one of the things that poor Elizabeth’s had to listen to an awful lot today is Marvel always works best when we take the real world and we go through the Marvel prism and you come out and you take things that are happening and give them a different way of looking at it. When you think about it, what’s going on in this country and what’s going on in the world, our intolerance and tolerance towards each other has never been turned up as bright.

Whether it’s about race or religion or gender or nationality, people right now are having a hard time trying to figure out who do I trust? Can I trust? Do I want them eradicated? Do I want them to be people that are my friends.

Are you optimistic for a third season of Agent Carter?

Loeb: I’m optimistic always. 

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