The ABC series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back for Season 6 and, one year later, the team has had some time to adjust to a new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director, come to grips with the fact that they bent the laws of space and time to save the planet, try to figure out how they’re going to find Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) in space, and come across a new team led by someone who looks just like Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). And while that seems like it’s all in a day’s work for S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, it also doesn’t leave much time for them to figure out what all of that means for their personal lives. The series also stars Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Ming-Na Wen, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Jeff Ward.
Collider (along with a handful of other entertainment outlets) was recently invented to the set, where they’re currently filming the already picked up Season 7, to participate in small roundtables with the cast and creative team. During the interviews, co-stars Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Ming-Na Wen, Henry Simmons and Natalia Cordova-Buckley talked about what’s in store for their characters, Mack’s new role at S.H.I.E.L.D., trust issues and relationship drama, the Daisy and Simmons dynamic, who the biggest FitzSimmons shipper is, May’s reaction to Sarge, and what it was like for Clark Gregg to direct the season premiere. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: What can you say about your character, this season?
CHLOE BENNET: This season, I wanted Daisy to start going back to the original place where we found her. A big thing for Season 6 is the aesthetic of Quake, or Daisy, finding a new place. She’s like, “Yeah, I’m a fucking superhero.” And as a young woman, and so many women can identify with changing and growing through their aesthetics, you get bangs after a break-up. Women are so emotional, with the way that they look and what they wear, and I love that. I love that, throughout all of the seasons, the one constant is that Daisy has been completely inconsistent with her look and how she feels, which mirrors how she’s feeling, in each season. That’s why the purple hair was really fun, this season, and the new suit.
CLARK GREGG: I’m Sarge, in this season. That’s what the people on his team call him. At the beginning of the season, Mack and his team are dealing with the loss of Coulson, and moving on. Things don’t stay quiet long. There are these anomalies, through which beings are bleeding into our space and they seem to have destruction on their mind. They don’t seem too concerned about the cost that that might play on humans. And then, their leader shows up and he’s a very familiar face. Daisy and her team are spared having to deal with the weirdness and pain of seeing that familiar face that they’re grieving show up in this extraordinarily evil person because they’re out in space looking for the cryogenically frozen Fitz, but that’s the world that we stumble into. The mystery of who Sarge is, is what we’re gonna do this season.
Henry, how is Mack adjusting to his new role in S.H.I.E.L.D., and how heavily is he relying on the Coulson hologram?
HENRY SIMMONS: Here’s the thing, Mack started out as a mechanic, and then he graduated. He was a person who just did not want to fight because he didn’t like violence. And then, Coulson was like, “I need you to go out into the field,” so he started fighting. And now, he was elected to be head of S.H.I.E.L.D. That is quite a progression, over a short period of time. And now, we have a situation where we have a team member that’s missing, so half the team is looking, and then we have these occurrences happening around the world, so there’s a lot going on. So, Mack leans heavily on this hologram of Coulson. It’s been a year later and, apparently, it’s been every day that Mack needs to check in and seek advice for different things – for morale, for direction, for a multitude of things. It’s heavy, at first.
What do you think it will take for Mack to get to a place where he can trust his own instincts and not feel like he has to rely on the hologram?
SIMMONS: That’s a good question. What’s going to really thrust him into a situation where he has to have confidence in himself is where his team is directly threatened. At this point, we’re going out and solving problems, but when your house was threatened, you need to make decisions quick. You can’t go and say, “Oh wait, I’ll be right back.” You need to make decisions quickly. I think that’s when Mack will ultimately have confidence within himself, but there will be some second-guessing.
Natalia, how are things going for Yo-Yo, now that Mack is her boss and they have relationship drama?
NATALIA CORDOVA-BUCKLEY: I think Yo-Yo is in a hard place right now. You’re gonna see her learning a new way of being for herself. She was always rebellious. She was always against the norm, hated institutions and bureaucracy, and didn’t answer too anyone. Even though she would go with and help the team, it was always like, “I’m not an agent, I’m a day player.” And now, she’s become an official agent, and diplomacy is part of her learning curve, this season. Her ex lover is now her boss, so there’s a lot of diplomacy to be done there. And she’s now an official Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., so she does respond to an institution. She’s having to fight for the bigger picture and put her own beliefs, opinions and desires to the side. She has decided to play for the team completely, so it’s gonna a big transition, in that sense.
Last season, nobody was listening to Yo-Yo and there were a lot of trust issues, but now she’s one of the head figures of S.H.I.E.L.D. How is that transition going?
CORDOVA-BUCKLEY: Because of those moments in Season 5, where she was right, by the way, and they were all being bitches, it’s the bigger picture. In Season 5, she fought for what she believed in. She tried to be heard. She told them, and she yelled and screamed, but she didn’t get very far. Now, she’s gotta play the game. As a human being, I hate to say that because I would say, to any young person, never play the game, and always stick to your beliefs. But in diplomacy and these big, worldly things, where the world’s fate is in our hands, you’ve gotta be more willing to collaborate
Chloe and Elizabeth, how are things between Simmons and Daisy, especially with Simmons making rash decisions for the team?
BENNET: I secretly think Daisy was like, “Okay, girl, I’m gonna look this way, so you go that way. Just do it.” That’s how I played it. I feel like, if Daisy wanted to really stop Simmons, she would have. It’s Fitz and Simmons. The number one drive for her, this season, is to get them back together. She stans that ship. She’s the captain of that ship. Daisy is the biggest captain of the FitzSimmons ship, for sure.
ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE: There are repairs coming that have to be addressed, and they’re actually addressed in such a fun way. Simmons and Daisy have such great stuff, in the first half of Season 6, really, ‘cause they’ve been together for this whole year. So, we really get to see more of their friendship. I spend a lot of time with Chloe [Bennet], at the start of Season 6, which is just so fun. They mirror our friendship, in a way. They were flung together in this team and Chloe and I were, as well. We’ve been here, since the beginning. There’s so much that they’ll write about friendship where we go, “Oh, we’ve had this conversation in the restroom at whatever party.” It’s been really nice to explore that.
Elizabeth, how will Simmons smooth things over with the rest of her team? Will her actions have consequences, in that regard?
HENSTRIDGE: She’s reckless, at the moment, and that’s dangerous. Daisy is leader of the team, and she has the responsibility for the whole team, and she knows that all Simmons is thinking about is Fitz. She’s not even thinking about her own safety, and that’s a terrifying position for Daisy to be in, to try to manage that. The thinking is that we started off with more crew, and now we’re down to the bare bones of the people that have carried on or survived whatever year we’ve just had. So, yes, it definitely causes damage. Her actions have repercussions, in terms of trust and friendships. She does have some making up to do, at some point.
In the Season 6 premiere, we see Fitz in a weird place. Do you think FitzSimmons have become different people, in the year that’s passed?
HENSTRIDGE: Yes and no. In a way, they’ve both become less human this year because they’ve both had as such a singular drive to find each other, that they have sacrificed other parts of their humanity, to be able to do that. So, I don’t know if that’s them becoming different people, or they’ll have to re-learn to have empathy a bit more again, once they finally get what they want. They both just have one goal and don’t really care what it takes to get that, which is really fun to play. [Dark Jemma] is the best. I wish I could be her more.
How did you feel, when you first found out about what would happen with Fitz?
HENSTRIDGE: I’m a loser, and I took it really hard. We thought that was it, so I went, “Wow, you’re ending it. That’s too much for me.” And then, I wasn’t that when he died. As Elizabeth, I was gonna come in, but I couldn’t. We spend so long with these characters, and the crew spends so long with us, especially the camera guys and focus pullers. They’re seeing every tiny detail that you do. And the next day on set, it was like somebody had actually died. It was so somber. Everybody was talking about it, and talking to me about how he just broke everybody’s heart, in that moment. And then, you watch it and you see Henry [Simmons], and you go, “Oh, my god, Mack is crying. What am I going to do?!” So, yeah, I was devastated.
Did you shoot any more reaction scenes for that?
HENSTRIDGE: There were different takes of that, but we maybe only did it three times. It went longer, but there was never any more words. It was actually really nice, how they cut it ‘cause you just see the realization, and then we’re out. But, that scene was always just that moment. You obviously role for a bit longer than maybe you would use, and we did that like three times. That whole episode was [difficult]. We’ve kept most of our crew for the whole time, so it was just so heavy filming that whole episode. Everything was just so weighted, and everything was the last time that we were gonna be doing it. There’s so many outtakes where we all had to just take a breath, do a group hug, and then get back on it again. This show changed every person’s life. You sign those contracts and you’re like, “This is gonna last maybe a few seasons,” but every year, it’s just been the little train that could, and we just keep going. But that scene was as written.