After a devastating midseason finale, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returns Tuesday with an appropriately named new episode, “Aftershocks.” When last we left the team, we learned Skye (Chloe Bennet) is actually an Inhuman by the name of Daisy Johnson and our beloved Agent Triplett (B.J. Britt) was scattered to the wind. Now Skye is under quarantine due to her exposure to the Obelisk and everyone else is simply trying to hold it together.
We caught up with Agents of SHIELD star Ming-Na Wen, who, just like her super spy character Melinda May, was hard-pressed to reveal any of Marvel’s secrets. We chatted about learning May’s history through ex-husband Andrew Garner (played by her longtime friend Blair Underwood), who her dream Marvel guest star is (hint: Think Avengers!) and got some behind-the-scenes insight into how she filmed that infamous May versus May fight sequence.
The TV Junkies: So, the midseason finale — one of the biggest moments on TV last December-
Ming-Na Wen: Earth-shattering!
TTVJ: Skye and Raina (Ruth Negga) gained their powers and, of course Trip. We lost Trip.
MNW: Believe me, B.J. is a dear friend of mine, he’s like my little brother and when we found out he was going to do a heroic thing as Trip but pass on, it was a very, very sad moment for the SHIELD family.
TTVJ: Any chance that we’re going to see B.J. Britt again in the future?
MNW: I can call him right now if you want! No, I don’t know. In the Marvel universe, like Coulson (Clark Gregg), you just never know.
TTVJ: During the hiatus so many guest stars were announced, including Blair Underwood, who’s playing May’s ex. What can you tell us about him?
MNW: That’s right. We had a great time working together. We have a history together from being friends from way back, he’s one of my college buddies. I think it lent a lot to the development of these two characters because they have a lot of history.
TTVJ: So what is their relationship dynamic; is it different from Bobbi (Adrienne Palicki) and Hunter’s (Nick Blood)?
MNW: I think so, it’s a very mysterious relationship and … yep, he’s her ex! [Laughs.]
TTVJ: Mysterious is the key word this season — Bobbi and Mack (Henry Simmons) are having a mysterious side mission. How is that going to affect the team?
MNW: It’s crazy because when we first started this series it was about this tight group that had one agenda and one agenda only, Coulson put them together. Slowly this comfort of this one family dynamic started unravelling and shattering and, even when we brought in new people we thought we could trust, we end up finding out you can’t trust anyone. It becomes a much more dysfunctional situation and I think it adds so much to the characters and to the storylines. I’m excited for the fans to discover what’s gonna happen and who Mack and Mockingbird are really working for.
TTVJ: So who is the big threat going into the second part of the season?
MNW: Well, Hydra’s always going to be the big threat. And, you know, who knows, we really don’t know what the Inhumans are capable of and we really don’t know if they’re good or bad. So I think that’s one of the mysteries that will hopefully be exposed.
TTVJ: I’ve noticed this season the show has taken a bit of a darker turn, it’s not as light as it was. Are we going to keep those lighter moments in this season?
MNW: Yeah, yeah, I mean, I think that’s Marvel’s trademark and I think, like anything Marvel does, there’s always a reflection of humanity that’s in the real world. With any tragic situation we always try to make it easier to cope through humour. I think that’s something we won’t ever lose.
TTVJ: Can you tell me about any moments that you’re excited for fans to see in the next few episodes?
MNW: Gosh, every episode has something spectacular. I’m just excited for our fans to be sitting in front of their computer or television sets and sharing the lives of these characters with them. That’s the number one key and to hear what their reactions are.
TTVJ: My personal favourite scene from this season was the May versus May sequence. How difficult was that to film?
MNW: It was very challenging because on top of doing the May versus May fight scene we also had to learn, Clark Gregg and I, we had to learn how to ballroom dance. It was a lot of hours rehearsing for the dance as well as for me to learn the fight sequence because I had to learn both sides, not just the one side, and it was a pretty lengthy one. The toughest thing was it was a three-day fighting shoot where a couple of them were about 16 hour days and it was tough because I kept having to change clothes between the lingerie to the silver dress and I was very, very nervous about having to fight in lingerie, but by the second day I couldn’t wait to fight in the lingerie because that silver dress was so hot. Not like, ‘Woo!’ hot. It was me basting in tin foil — like I was the chicken in tin foil in the oven. Yeah, that dress was very, very warm.
For television, when we have an eight day shoot, that’s a lot of time to focus on one sequence, but it was worth it, it was so worth it. The stunt team, Matt [Mullins] was amazing as our choreographer and my stunt double Sam Jo was amazing, you know, we had so much fun doing that sequence together.
TTVJ: In the second episode, Lady Sif (Jaime Alexander) is coming back — are we going to be seeing any other Marvel guest stars in the future?
MNW: Hmmm, how can I answer that … you have to wait and see? [Laughs.]
TTVJ: Is there a dream Marvel guest you’d like to see?
MNW: Oh yeah, a lot of people. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), I’d love to see. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) would be great. The Hulk … Mark Ruffalo could pay a visit. Maybe he’s Fitz’s cousin, who knows?
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returns to the small screen Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CTV and ABC.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.