‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’: Ming-Na Wen on Agent May’s Bond with Coulson and Lash’s Betrayal

     March 17, 2016

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With everything the team has to deal with now, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is forcing the agents to decide what’s most important to them. No longer able to keep powered people out of the public eye, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Mack (Henry Simmons) are working to track down Inhumans for a team of Secret Warriors whose mission it is to train and protect powered people, all while the existence of Inhumans is polarizing public opinion. At the same time, Hive (Brett Dalton) is pushing forward with his plan, the motivations and goals of which are still unclear.

Collider (along with a handful of other outlets) was recently invited to the top secret set to try to pry details out of the cast and executive producers about where things are headed. Even though that’s a difficult and risky proposition, we got a few tidbits from actress Ming-Na Wen, aka Agent Melinda May, who talked about the betrayal of Lash/Andrew, whether characters can always be redeemed, May’s bond with Coulson (Clark Gregg), finding common ground with Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), where May would fall in the upcoming conflict between Iron Man and Captain America, and what’s driving the rest of this season. Be aware that there are some spoilers.


Question: What can you tease for the next time May comes face to face with Lash/Andrew?

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Image via ABC

MING-NA WEN: Well, does she come face to face with Lash/Andrew? You’re trying to trick me into answering a question I can’t. Hypothetically? If I was writing the story? They would just make out. Make up and make out.

Is there hurt and a feeling of betrayal there for her?

WEN: I think she’s come to the understanding that it was something he had no control over. The betrayal might be not sharing that information of what happened to him with her. I think she understands that, in a way, he was scared and trying to be protective of their relationship, but he was doing it all for the wrong reasons. Ultimately, Agent May is shut down when it comes to Lash and Andrew, at this point. That’s why she’s re-focusing all of her energy back into S.H.I.E.L.D. and being back by Coulson’s side. That’s where she’s most comfortable. That’s where she can be most effective, in contributing her skills to whatever task is at hand and not dealing with those emotions that would probably continue to devastate her.

May didn’t really have time to process what happened to Andrew. Is that something you’d like to see?

WEN: It’s tough playing a character like this because I’m always having to either justify or understand why she doesn’t go through the process of grieving or coming to terms with what she’s done. I think there’s that whole denial that is also their protection. These are tough positions they’re in. I always equate it to the real soldiers out there – anyone who’s in the armed forces, the police, or any field that requires you to make very, very tough decisions about life and death – and I’m glad I just pretend.

Is there a point of no return for some of these characters, like with Lash/Andrew or Ward/Hive, or is there a way that those characters could somehow be redeemed?

WEN: That’s what’s interesting about Marvel. There’s the unknown of everyone’s personal journey. It’s hard to say. So far, what has happened to Ward has been one shocking transition to the next. There is no way of really telling you a definitive, “Yes, he will never be able to turn.” In reality, what does he turn into? He’s no longer Ward, really, but we can keep that hope alive that inside that monster there is still some parts of Ward. Now that we know Ward has also been Hydra all this time, that would be one character that I would think would be hard to find redemption. Then again, redemption comes in so many different forms. Forgiveness is a big question mark. How far can we go, in forgiving someone? You hear that all the time. People who have had family members killed are able to forgive the murderer because that’s the only way they can move on. I don’t know. I can’t give you a straight answer. That’s what’s so cool about Marvel.


Knowing the consequences of Coulson’s decision to kill Ward, will that continue to be an issue between them? Will they ever even discuss it?

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Image via ABC

WEN: I think it bonds Coulson and May a little bit more rather than separating them. Many times, I believe Coulson wants to take the high road. He wants to make the right choices and the right decisions. May is really his right-hand person to pawn things off on that he doesn’t want to do. Basically, he’s not the executioner, but he’s had to make a decision that might not be morally correct, under any circumstances. It doesn’t feel good, at all. I think it brings them closer together.

Will Coulson turn to May to help him deal with the continued repercussions of what he did?

WEN: I don’t think these people really share that much, in that way. Sometimes with these characters, they don’t wallow in their emotions or in their grief, which is so noble about them. If they did, then they can’t function or make really tough decisions. In that sense, that one moment is enough. He knows there is somebody on his side that’s not being judgmental or blaming him for what happened.

In the episodes ahead, does May’s relationship with any of the other members of the team change or evolve? Does she get closer or have any issues with any of the others?

WEN: Yeah. She still wants to protect her family. One of the bonds with one of the less-skilled but really smart characters on the show will change. She has a maternal role in wanting to protect them because, as things get more dangerous and heightened, she feels they need to learn some new skills.

Does she feel particularly connected to Simmons because they both feel this connection to Lash, especially with Simmons having let him out?

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Image via ABC

WEN: Yes. Ding, ding, ding!

With their connection to Lash, will they think about hunting him down together?

WEN: I don’t know if I can answer that question. Right now, May’s main objective is to make sure every S.H.I.E.L.D. member can protect themselves against the Inhumans and Hydra. There are just too many threats out there right now. They don’t have enough man-power or resources, so every person has to contribute.


Will May and Simmons have a chance to talk about the stuff they’ve gone through?

WEN: What’s really wonderful is that, even though they skirt around issues, there are just so many emotions between Fitz and Simmons. It’s a lovely relief. It’s almost like the dichotomy of what Coulson and May have, with their bond and their incredible friendship. They’ll go through hell together, but it’s never dwelled on. With Simmons, May is just not very comfortable. She’s not comfortable with anyone, when it comes to sentimentality or talking about things. She’s more like, “Just give me a gun and let me show you how to work a gun.”

We’ve seen the fun dynamic between May and Lincoln, with her being his S.O. Is that something we’ll see more of?

WEN: I hope so. I just like that she has that as part of her character development with the family. It’s also weird to play because, on the one hand, she is so stand-offish and so detached, yet all of her actions prove otherwise. It’s weird to have to play that. You would think she just doesn’t care.

Is Coulson going to be struggling with a more dark side?

WEN: T hat’s the worst case scenario, for Coulson to no longer be the shining leader, but instead become someone driven by anger and revenge. I don’t think May would let that happen.

Looking forward to Civil War, where would May fall in the conflict? Would she be more Team Cap or Team Iron Man?

WEN: Whoever is closer to Thor.

As this world gets crazier, do you think May will ever reach the point where she feels out of her depth?

WEN: I’m always like, “Maybe I can drive the car. I can still fly the plane!” It’s tough. The only good thing is that not everyone they come in contact with are Inhuman. It’s a constant concern. How can she fight against these people with superpowers? Sometimes we don’t even know what superpowers they have or what they’re capable of. You just keep discovering all these new possibilities. They’re everywhere. I think it’s a major concern for May.

We’ve seen May come within a heartbeat of Directorship, a couple of times. Do you think we’ll ever see May take the reigns of S.H.I.E.L.D., what do you think that would be like?

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Image via ABC

WEN: I don’t know. I think she definitely has all of the merit, intelligence and experience to do it. Sure, why not? A female Director.

Do you have an especially bad-ass action sequence coming up, in the next few episodes?

WEN: I have a few.


Are you excited to do as much of it as you can, or do you hand it over to your stuntwoman?

WEN: It depends on the day. No. I’m always excited to do the fight scenes. Sometimes the frustration comes from, “How do we make this one different? How do we make it more special? How do we visually excite the audience with it?” That’s always a constant challenge. We just shot one where it really was a tough one to do because it was a pretty clean set. That was a challenge. You can’t hide any of the punches. It’s great. It’s fun. With the Inhumans, it brings on another level of stunts for us.

What would you say is the driving momentum for the back half of this season? Is it inevitable the S.H.I.E.L.D. team will find out about Hive?

WEN: I think the main challenge is learning about who we can recruit, as the Inhumans continue to grow in numbers, and who we might need to put down. Those are really tough decisions because it was really no fault of these people that ended up having the Terrigen, whether it was in the fish oil or whatever. When we do discover more about Hive, that becomes the major challenge.

How will May react to Hive taking over Ward?

WEN: I don’t think she’ll be too happy.

Do you think May will try the fish oil?

WEN: No. For sure, she wouldn’t, especially with what happened to Lash. She’s not dumb, like Hunter. Well, I don’t want to say “dumb.” That’s a terrible word to use. Mischievous? Irresponsible? He’s careless.

How would May be as a future potential host for Hive, if he ever decides to leave Ward’s body?

WEN: Wow! That’s an interesting question. It’d be the end of the world, man. That’s a really interesting question. I don’t know. She might be able to control him. It would be interesting. I like that question.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on Tuesday nights on ABC.

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