‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ EPs Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen on Hydra’s History and Ward’s Plans


Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will have their hands full when the show returns on Tuesday. As the episode two weeks ago revealed, the ATCU is actually being run by Hydra—seemingly unbeknownst to Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer)—and aren’t curing Inhumans as much as turning them into an army. Meanwhile, Gideon Mallick (Powers Boothe) informed Ward of Hydra’s long history and the grand plan to open another portal to the mysterious blue planet and bring back the alien creature on the other side, which is a powerful Inhuman.

With so much happening, we caught up with executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen to discuss some of the show’s most recent reveals.

We got a Hydra history lesson in the last episode. How long have you known that the organization is as old as it is?
It’s an idea that we came up with as we incorporated Inhumans into our show. The Inhumans are an ancient story, and we wanted to find a way to bring those two concepts together. So that’s what sparked the idea some time last year. We like the way we were developing what seemed like three separate storylines and then united them for one moment.

Does Mallick know that Fitz is behind bringing someone back from the other side? Or do they just know it’s something that’s happened in general?
Well, we don’t know totally what they know. We know that Mallick did ask Dr. Garner if he would fill him in on anything else that S.H.I.E.L.D. was working on, anything the government should be worried about in that scene where he was playing Mr. Nice Guy with Andrew.
MT: He might have gotten that intel from Andrew.
JW: So we don’t know totally what they know.
MT: Also, it’s very clear that Mallick has operated like that for a very long time, where he’s behind the scenes and under the radar among the elite, so he has people to give him information from all sides.

Now that the team knows the ATCU is activating Inhumans to form an army, what is their biggest concern: rescuing Andrew or stopping Ward?
 That’s a good question.
JW: The good thing about S.H.I.E.L.D., in terms of heroes’ stories, is that their motivations can always be to stop the bad guy. [Laughs] So all those things are sort of coming together. Their desire to stop Ward, who they sort of have a personal feeling about, is aligning with the greater good fight that we’ve been battling all year, which is the ATCU trying to control this Inhuman situation. Now it seems like those two missions, or enemies, are intertwined. So it makes our mission statement all the simpler. Just go get them and try and stop them.

Daisy was very adamant about putting together the Secret Warriors. How will knowing that the ATCU are trying to create an army of Inhumans affect her personally?
Being an Inhuman, she doesn’t feel okay about Inhumans being held against their will. So that’s one of her main goals is to stop that from happening.
JW: She’s in an interesting position with Dr. Garner too, where she believes that Inhumans have a right to exist and that if you get to them in time, they’ll do the right thing. But she’s going to face the realities when [Inhumans are] working for the enemy.

We know that Hydra hunted Daisy as a baby. Was this because they knew she was Inhuman and wanted her for their army?
Well, they knew that she was the offspring of Jiaying and Jiaying had been acquired by Whitehall. If anything, if they weren’t aware of the bigger picture of the Inhuman that was on the other planet, they were aware of the mission to acquire Inhumans. [Daisy] being a direct offspring of Jiaying at the time, she would have been a clear target.

The team had their own approach to dealing with Inhumans, and now they’ve learned Hydra’s approach. How will it affect how they might handle Inhumans in the future?
It validates their position that they have to get these people in their custody or control first because it’s no longer just the ATCU and the question of, “Will this all be tied up in bureaucracy of what their real plan is?” It’s Hydra. So whatever they’re planning, it has to be terrible. There’s no great “public works” version of Hydra. So it validates their mission, which is, “We have to get there first. If we don’t, terrible things can happen.”

How is Coulson doing with all this information? It’s basically a S.H.I.E.L.D. director’s worst nightmare.
He’s had a rough run. One of the things we like about Episode 8 is that he’s been blindsided by a lot of traitors, [but] in this situation he gets ahead of it. And right when we revealed to the audience that Rosalind has ties to Hydra, he immediately susses it out and smells a rat. So this is one that he saw coming a little bit. He’s getting pretty used to the idea that if there’s people around him, someone can’t be trusted.

Can we trust Rosalind now? Or is that still up in the air?
We’re leaving it up to the audience. In this moment, she’s proven herself trustworthy.
JW: Right. How complicated that will get, and whether or not that will put her in a dangerous position is yet to be seen. But, what we see in that episode is that she’s on our side, as is her right-hand man, Banks. So, moving forward, we’ll see what they’re able to achieve with the fact that they’re working for the organization that has Hydra right at the top of it.

That means for once, S.H.I.E.L.D. will have a mole within Hydra.
Right. That’s one of the things that going forward one would assume, we would have an opportunity to maybe get one up on Mallick and Ward because of that.

Has Ward’s primary goal switched to bringing back that Inhuman or is he still gunning for Coulson?
MT: His revenge against Coulson is one of his main priorities. Now that he has had the Hydra history lesson with Mallick, we’ll see how that influences his goal.
JW: When [Ward] said, “Why should I even believe any of this?” Mallick says, “You don’t have to” because now they want the same thing. They can work together regardless of whether or not they have the same goal because they’re goals are at least in line or parallel with each other. Whether or not [Ward] believes in all the stuff Mallick is doing, they’re running in the same direction [so] they’re twice as dangerous.

What can you tell me about the Inhuman on the mysterious planet? Is there anything you can tease?
There is not much we can tease. [But] you will know more about the Inhuman very, very soon.

Knowing that Hydra sacrificed Will and those other scientists to that Inhuman, can we trust that Will is who he says he is? Or could he actually be the Inhuman?
On our show, there is always the possibility that someone is lying. But we really got the sense that when he volunteered for a NASA mission, he was unaware of the nefarious plot behind it. So in our minds, he was who who he says he was, and is not aware of the big plot there. Now obviously, on our show can anybody ever be trusted? We don’t know. For now, he was speaking honestly with Simmons and they have a genuine connection.

In the promo, it looks like Coulson might be going solo against Hydra. What can you tell me about that?
MT: It’s very good editing. [Laughs] I’m kidding.
JW: A lot of people have taken on Ward and have tried to solve that problem and we’re getting to a point where Hunter, May and Bobbi have been sent out. Coulson’s beginning to feel like it’s time to take matters into his own hands, especially considering the increased threat of the new Hydra with Ward and the old Hydra with Mallick coming together. In a way he’s sick of delegating and wants to solve the problem once and for all.


Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC.