'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Stars Tease FitzSimmons' Reunion & Reflect on the Show's Legacy
After seven seasons, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is about to say goodbye.
But they do still have a world to save and there does still have to be one more FitzSimmons reunion, which is only fitting considering how many times the couple has been separated over the years.
Ahead of the two-part finale, the stars and executive producers spoke with reporters about the series' legacy and teased what to expect as it says goodbye.
FitzSimmons' Finale Reunion
Scientists Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) have been separated for the entire final season. She's been with the team, traveling through time, while her husband's whereabouts are unknown. Looking ahead to the reunion, "it's not exactly what you might hope for, at least to begin with," Henstridge previewed. "It's got a nice FitzSimmons complicated filter."
"It's the typical roller coaster that comes along with their relationship," De Caestecker added.
And reflecting on their characters' past separations, both actors pointed to the first one — when Simmons was undercover with the evil HYDRA and Fitz had suffered brain damage while on the job — as the toughest one. "I remember just finding those scenes so hard to get through," Henstridge said. "It was the first time I couldn't help Fitz. I wasn't the one who was helping him through it, and Iain played that so well."
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Legacy & Saying Goodbye
While the Marvel brand has grown over the years, when the ABC drama premiered in 2013, there was an immense pressure and expectation on it. "We turned into the underdogs. We've just been scrappy and made it to Season 7, and the whole team has crafted the show to be organically what it was always meant to be," Henstridge said. "We accomplished something phenomenal and rare."
Jeff Ward, who plays FitzSimmons' grandson Deke Shaw, attributed the series' success to its ability to blend humor and action. "The way that they would seamlessly be able to do incredible action, especially when you consider on the budget and time constraints all of the action was done in and how it would just flip so effortlessly and seamlessly to really tugging on your heartstrings or really making you laugh," he noted. "It's genuinely thrilling. It's genuinely heartbreaking. And it's genuinely really funny."
"Every character that came in … revitalized the show and sent it in a different direction," De Caestecker added.
For Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez), she hopes the series will be remembered as "a beautiful representation of a group of people, yes, with superpowers and talents, but whose true superpower is a love for humanity, a love for this world, a willingness to die for it ... [and] the love that we have for each other."
Ming-Na Wen (Melinda May) agreed, adding that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s codename was "Ragtag" because "it represents a ragtag group of people who are a lot of times outsiders or don't fit in and yet they're able to create their own family and their own world where they can support and root for each other and live up to their potential and encourage each other to live up to their potential."
Chloe Bennet (Daisy Johnson) admitted that she didn't think they "got enough credit." "It's really been the heartbeat of the Marvel universe for a really long time," she explained. "We did something really special that a lot of shows aren't capable of doing and a lot of things in the Marvel universe haven't been able to put their finger on. We've been able to function in a really specific space that it's much harder to do than people think. I think that'll be appreciated more with time. I think we're like a fine wine, and hopefully we'll age and just get better and people will look back on it with a lot of love."
Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson) agreed, noting that he was brought back after dying in the 2012 film, The Avengers, because fans campaigned. And like his character, the show "became impossible to kill," he added. "From the beginning, one of the key ideas behind [it] was it was going to be a team of regular people working with superheroes that looked like the world. There has been a level of diversity and the strongest characters in the show were women early on."
Looking back at the series as a whole, executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Jeffrey Bell have a hard time picking a favorite season or guest star, but Bell credited Bill Paxton coming in in Season 1 and "jumping in with both feet" [to play John Garrett] as "opening the door for a floodgate of other really high-profile people."
Final Season Nostalgia
The final season saw the team traveling through time on their mission, which allowed them to pay tribute to the show's mythology and characters as well as introduce new perspectives. "We approached this year with the idea of trying to make sure we hit all the notes we wanted to before we were done," Whedon explained. "There was a lot of thought about the fan experience this year and trying to make a free-for-all kitchen sink season," exploring loose ends and rewarding fans who tuned in over the years.
It wasn't just about nostalgia, Bell added, though that did play a significant role. Examining the characters and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s pasts "allows us to look at those things ... with a fresh lens," he said.
"I think the writers did a good job with giving everyone a little bit in the last very few episodes we had," Cordova-Buckley noted. "Everyone got to have their emotional climax and it be related to the superpower, hindering them, somehow." It gave them each something to "work through humanly, not just as a superhero or within S.H.I.E.L.D. or how we're going to fix this problem, universally."
And in Episode 11, a moment between his character, Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie, and Daisy allowed for the series to "reflect real life," Henry Simmons noted, as they discussed the team parting ways after the mission was over. In that moment, Mack "was just being truthful" while Daisy was more emotional about it being time to move on," he said. "'This is something we shared. It was great, and it's time to move on.' That's quite honestly the truth."
Will This Be the Last Time They Play These Characters?
After Henstridge named Black Widow as the Marvel property she'd like to play Simmons in, De Caestecker noted that she "chose" for them since they're a package deal. Ward, on the other hand, thinks it would be fun to see Deke in Black Panther.
Gregg, Bennet, and Enver Gjokaj are all open to reprising their roles at some point in the future as well. "I feel like I've really put in some time," Gregg joked, but added, "it's hard for me to imagine saying no" to playing Coulson again.
After all, he's played a few different characters over the years, from "nervous Cap fan boy" in the 2012 movie to the Coulson we met at the beginning of the series, who thought he'd just had a close call with death to "evil stone-cold killer from another galaxy" Sarge. "But really to come back to synthetic AI original gangster Coulson for this last one, with his family, saving the world before they say goodbye, I really don't think it could've been better," Gregg said.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Series Finale, Wednesday, August 12, 9/8c, ABC