With the latest episode of the ABC series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., entitled “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics,” the team had to come together to rescue the Ghost Rider and destroy a weapon that Eli created to vaporize the city. And Aida’s actions at Radcliffe’s lab are sure to have serious consequences for everyone at S.H.I.E.L.D.
During a recent press junket held on the top-secret set, Collider (along with a handful of other outlets) spoke to executive producers Jed Whedon and Jeffrey Bell about closing the Ghost Rider chapter (at least, for now) and delving deeper into the Life Model Decoy storyline. In the interview, they talked about what they’re looking to explore with the LMDs, how these LMDs will differ from what we’ve seen before, why now was the right time to interview Ghost Rider and whether we might see Robbie Reyes again, and what’s next for Daisy and the Inhumans. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: What kind of shift can we expect to see from the transition between the Ghost Rider storyline and the LMD storyline?
JED WHEDON: We’re breaking it into smaller chunks, so that we try to make it feel different. We came out with Ghost Rider, which had a lot of fire and cars.
JEFFREY BELL: We were thrilled. We have to deal with the movie people and the television people, and we all negotiate for what we get. Sometimes they go, “You can have Left-Handed Man.” This last year, we said, “We’d really like to do something special.” And they said, “How about Ghost Rider?” And we were like, “He’s cool, but does he fit in our world?” And we felt that he does. Twenty two episodes is a long time to hold a big bad or a single plot line, especially for an audience, because you just build up so much weight in so many things. So, the last couple of seasons, we’ve had a nice break between the two [halves of the season], which allows us to introduce a big bad. And then, something happens and we rise somebody new, and in the second half, we pay that off. That’s helped us tell stories a lot. Now, there’s three of those.
WHEDON: I feel like, this year, we’re getting to play with a lot of the toys that we were hoping to play with. And as we move into the second pod, there’s another one in play, which is something that we’ve been wanting to get to and now we’re finally able to get to. In terms of how it will feel and how big of a transition it will be, we want everything to feel like its own mini-world and to have its own flavor. We do think you’ll come into the next section and immediately feel like, “Oh, this is a different kind of story.” So, we’re excited about that.
Are you revisiting the issues of trust from the HYDRA storylines with the LMDs?
WHEDON: Trust will definitely come into play.
BELL: Any time you do a spy show, secrets and trust are bread and butter, but I hope we’re doing it in a different way and we’re not really coming at it, specifically, from that issue so much as who you are, what you want, and what makes you who you are.
WHEDON: And there are issues of reality and identity. Trust is always an issue in a spy organization. It’s much worse when you don’t know if the person next to you is the person next to you. Obviously, we want to not just tell scare stories of things popping out of closets, but emotional stories. When you get into trust, that’s when things get emotional.
How are these LMDs going to differ from Ultron or Vision? What’s the key element with these LMDs and what significance do they bring to Marvel, as a whole?
WHEDON: We said, at the beginning of the season, that they were mimicking human behavior, and we’ve seen that Aida took some a leap and built a brain of her own. So, the real difference is that they represent people that we know. It’s’ not a big robot baddie, although there is some of that, obviously. But right now, we know that there is one among us, who is someone we know. How much they know and how much their agenda is mixed with their own emotions are the sorts of questions are what we’re going to dive into. But, the main difference is these are our people. That’s what makes it scarier.
BELL: They’re not omniscient. They don’t have access to all knowledge, all information, and all other machines, in the way that Ultron and, to a lesser extent, Vision did. We’re much more interested in the knowledge that that person has, and how this being deals with that.
WHEDON: They also won’t build 10,000 versions of themselves, mostly because we don’t have $200 million, but also because we’re telling emotional stories.
Is this the definitive end to Robbie Reyes’ story on the show?
WHEDON: I will say that he is trapped in another place, which usually means that he’s not dead.
BELL: Coulson says, “I’ve got a feeling that this isn’t the last we’ll see of him. That was true of the last Ghost Rider.” And Daisy is like, “What?!”
WHEDON: There are multiple reasons that we are putting that down, for now. One is to tell the stories that come next, but there are also financial considerations.
BELL: Honestly, if we were doing 10, 12 or 13 episodes, you could do a whole Ghost Rider arc, but that’s a lot for 22, especially with everything else that we like and care about on the show. I think it would feel like one flavor over a long period of time. But, we’ve certainly left it open. What helped us this season was Doctor Strange coming out, where it opened doors to other kinds of storytelling within the Marvel Universe. Yes, there’s science, but less of it. There’s a lot of stuff in quantum physics that ties to Eastern religion and ties to a lot of the stuff that’s in Doctor Strange. We’ve tried to lean into that as well, which has allowed us to tell Robbie and Dark Dimension stories. As opposed to going to a hell world, you’re in a different dimension, and there’s science to back that up. We didn’t make it up.