Agents of SHIELD Pivots to Another World Takeover

We spoke to the Agents of SHIELD showrunners to get a better idea of what it is we really saw in the surprising season 6 finale.

Christopher James Baker as Malachi in Agents of SHIELD

This interview contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD season 6.

The Agents of SHIELD finale left us with a lot of questions, and while we did our best to explain the ending ourselves, we had to at least make an attempt at getting some answers from showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Jeff Bell. They were noticeably tight-lipped with some of our probing inquiries, but we did succeed in getting them to speculate about audience reaction, the impacts on various characters, and the specific context of where things will begin in season 7. DEN OF GEEK: How unusual that for this Agents of SHIELD season 6 post-mortem, you already know what’s going to happen in season 7!

JED WHEDON: Yeah! We not only know what’s coming but how it ends!

So we heard lots of mentions of Ghost Rider in the latter part of the season, but Sarge ended up being something else entirely! Was that a misdirect?

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WHEDON: It was more frame of reference… Once we entered the world of Ghost Rider and magic and the Darkhold, we started having spirits and possessions and those sort of things, so it was a way for us to talk about some of that and illustrate how it works with Sarge and how it exists in our mythology. But it’s not bad to keep talking about him because he will have his own show!

JEFF BELL: After he “Terminates.”

What about the defeat of Sarge? May believed that Coulson might be in there, but would viewers really have been satisfied with that if he was?

BELL: Whether they would have been satisfied with that or not, we certainly tried to steer them towards believing that before pulling the rug out.

WHEDON: As writers we felt that it would not be satisfying to have a half version of Coulson, and so that was part of the reason we went that route. But hopefully the audience were feeling what the characters were feeling which is they wanted him back, and as soon as there’s any sort of inkling that it might be him, they started to believe it. We’re hoping the audience felt that way so that we can pull the rug out from under them but also so that we can reward them in the very last shot of the season with the real guy showing up.

So what was the deal with Izel being part of Incan lore? Was that a prophecy or did she visit Earth in ancient times?

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WHEDON: I think it was more of a prophecy, a discussion of her history and what she had done on other planets. I don’t think she had visited Earth yet… it was more people’s awareness of her.

Simmons says in the epilogue that they lost the Lighthouse, but Zephyr One has personnel. Were they able to recover those they had sent to the 21st floor?

WHEDON: Those are some of the questions that we will answer in season 7.

further reading: Agents of SHIELD to End with Season 7

Okay, but Flint was presumably among them, right? We’re not finished exploring his question of identity and existence, are we?

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WHEDON: No, we brought him back, and as long as he doesn’t get stabbed through the heart he should be around… just in time for us to abandon the timeline and go on a new adventure. No, we have not seen the last of him.

As for the Chronicoms, why do they want Earth in particular to create Chronica-3? Aren’t there other empty planets out there?

WHEDON: There’s just the one Earth!

BELL: The short answer is it’s where we set our story.

WHEDON: It would be super boring for us if they took the moon! But yeah, it gives us a new villain, and it gave us a way to get what we wanted: a time machine.

Based on the Empire State Building being under construction and Daisy’s mention of Prohibition, we must be in 1931. Is there anything special about that time period we should be aware of?

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WHEDON: It’s pre-SHIELD, which is a bit of a mystery.

BELL: It’s also something you can figure out, like you did, based on a visual cue without us talking about it. “Oh look, there’s the Empire State Building! It’s not quite finished yet. What does that mean?”

But even the SSR didn’t come around for Agent Carter until after World War II, right?

WHEDON: Well, if you want to kill a weed, you pull out the root. So we’ll see what they’re doing; we don’t know what they’re up to next, but we’ll find out soon enough!

BELL: Well, next year.

MAURISSA TANCHAROEN: Yeah, in 2020.

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There was a core sample taken from the time monolith in the finale. Does that have something to do with how this new engine works?

WHEDON: It just might.

more: Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Finale Review: The Sign & New Life

As for LMD Coulson with his Chronicom upgrades, won’t he be indistinguishable from real Coulson, even to himself?

WHEDON: Yeah, part of what is fun for us to explore with LMD Coulson is we get to have our guy back, but it does give us a whole new outlook, a whole new attitude for him, and new rules for his existence.

BELL: Yeah, he had been very clear that he didn’t want this to happen, so we have that. We’re all big fans of Blade Runner as well, and we like those existential questions that can be answered in a science fiction context. Who am I? Why do I exist? Why am I here?

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WHEDON: Is there a soul?

BELL: How long do I have? Can I be loved? All those questions.

Speaking of being loved: it looks like the Fitz-Simmons curse continues?

WHEDON: We think of Fitz-Simmons as a forever love, so yes, the curse continues. But yeah, we don’t know what’s up with Fitz and why she can’t know where he is.

And what about Deke? Does his arc end with his admission that he built his company because nobody likes him?

WHEDON: Yeah, he’s a bit of a lost soul, a man out of time trying to find his way. He’s always been scraping by with whatever he can get his hands on, and now that he’s back in time, he has a huge advantage that has ended up netting him hundreds of millions of dollars. But that doesn’t speak to the reasoning behind it… He’s ridiculous, and he’s hilarious, and he’s selfish at times; but we wanted to get at the root of why  he’s that way and the hole in his soul that he’s trying to fill with all that money.

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Are Daisy, Mack, Yoyo, and the others that were in the temple going to need some time to adjust to life on the upgraded Zephyr One?

WHEDON: Yeah, they’re going to have questions of their own, but one of the things that’s hard about SHIELD is that you can ask us those questions, but before you even get an answer there’s a new problem you have to solve. They’re going to get thrown into the deep end right away. And a new adventure, our last adventure, begins!

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Fortunately, we did get some reassurances from the executive producers at San Diego Comic-Con that season 7 would end in a way that will satisfy fans, and the many mysteries that were posed by the end of the season 6 finale will leave fans guessing for months to come. The answers we were able to glean from our discussion with the showrunners give us just enough for us to sink our teeth into and to allow us to anticipate the jaunt into SHIELD’s past that lies in wait for use when Agents of SHIELD comes to close for good next summer.

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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and coordinates interviews for The Fourth Wall podcast.