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The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast on final fates, missed chances, and (not) saying goodbye
After seven seasons of putting its heroes through hell, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has come to an end. The series may have begun firmly entrenched in the larger MCU, but as it went along, it decided to tell it’s own story. The time-hopping Season 7 definitely went this route, as did the series finale.
The members of the team are the very epitome of a found family, especially as far as Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) is concerned. New members joined over the years and quickly became vital members, and the actors are just as close (if not closer) in real life. How do the actors feel about laying down their character’s burdens, their final fates, and saying goodbye?
SYFY WIRE caught up with actors Chloe Bennet, Clark Gregg (Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (May), Elizabeth Henstridge (Simmons), Iain De Caestecker (Fitz), Henry Simmons (Mack), Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Yo-Yo), Jeff Ward (Deke), and Enver Gjokaj (Sousa) during a press event to celebrate the end of an era.
**WARNING: From this point on, there will be huge spoilers for the finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you are not caught up, jump in Lola fly out of here. **
On the show breaking away from the larger MCU...
Gregg: I liked when the focus really was just like, "Look, what's the best way to tell stories with these characters, using whatever pieces of the Marvel Universe aren't already spoken for." And I felt like that really freed up our writers to take chances, and take chances they did.
After they’ve all gone their separate ways, the agents caught up with each other in one final scene.
Bennet: It was rough to shoot. It mirrored exactly what we were all going through as a cast. We were this ragtag group of people shooting this version of the Marvel world that's never really been touched before, in a very different, limited resources. We've just grown together, onscreen and off.
And things just change, and the gravity of how real that felt for us is accurate. Or at least for me. It just wasn't hard. It wasn't hard in the sense that I don't feel like many of us were acting. It felt very like that was the cast saying goodbye to each other, and it was really special.
The finale saw Daisy and Sousa off on a new mission together, May becoming a teacher, Mack and Yo-Yo still working for S.H.I.E.L.D., Deke staying behind in the '80s, and Fitz and Simmons finally finding peace and having a child.
Wen: I was happy... for her to end up running the Coulson Academy and being there to uphold the standards and passing on her knowledge and experience to the new recruits of S.H.I.E.L.D., I felt that was very apropos for May. And to be single.
Cordova-Buckley: I thought it was appropriate for Yo-Yo to become a leader of her own squad. And she's kind of been building up to that position and she's finally there and she's happy with who she's with — the president and the first lady.
Simmons: I was a little bit surprised because I thought that we would see everyone in their private lives quite honestly, moving on from S.H.I.E.L.D. I liked the fact that we still continue to fight for justice. It's weird because we're all kind of in separate places. But I guess that is a nod to life itself because it's very rare where individuals working collectively towards something stay together forever.
De Caestecker: [Quoting Henstridge] It’s kind of a fitting end, but the beginning of something as well, the beginning of another life for them.
Henstridge: It was a lovely ending for them, and it helped to explain why Fitz was away and it had to be something bigger than them, and for them, that would be their daughter. And it was just so lovely to get to play characters that at the start were just kind of doing everything they could not to think of each other romantically, to ending at Season 7 with them having this daughter that they've both laid their lives on the line for.
Ward: The only thing [Deke] ever wanted was a family, and saying goodbye to that family is the most selfless and good thing he could have done. And it was pretty cool, I feel like, to get to leave him with that and for him to be strong enough to do it by himself and to say goodbye and sacrifice himself for those people.
Deke also proved selfless in just wanting Daisy to be happy, even if it wasn’t with him.
Ward: That was a really cool thing, too, because Chloe and I were talking about it and it feels like there are so many of us, that you don't get the girl, and you can have this huge journey with a person and really be in love with them, and most of the time it does not happen that way. I thought it was a really cool indication of the heroic moment for the guy who doesn't get the girl.
Agent Sousa of the late Agent Carter series joined the show mid-season, and stuck around to the very end.
Gjokaj: It was a tremendous, tremendous privilege. When you're starting a show up — just the crew had been working together for so long. The cast had been working together for so long. I just had the privilege of walking onto such a well run ship. And also being in the position where they wanted to let me explore a part of this character that never got to be really explored in Agent Carter and really play that out.
Clark Gregg also mentioned that he was glad that Daisy ended up with the "stud muffin" Sousa. Did any of them have unfulfilled hopes for their characters?
Cordova-Buckley: I always wanted her father to be mentioned... he’s such a great character in the comic books, and I always sort of was so interested because he's not just a person with superpowers. He turns into a full gargoyle-looking, flying lion. But it was never done.
Simmons: Initially when they paired Mack and Yo-Yo together, I thought they were going to make my character Stonewall, who was part of the Secret Avengers... I’m glad they didn't give me a superpower. I like the fact that I'm a normal guy in these unusual situations where you don't know if you're going to win.
Wen: I didn't get to hang out with Thor. I mean as the character.
On the importance of family and saying goodbye:
Bennet: It’s a rare opportunity... to experience such a spectrum of emotions with people who ultimately aren't your family. And it's why we call ourselves family now, because we've all personally and professionally and onscreen and offscreen lived so much life. The wide range of conversations that Clark and I have had as friends for the past seven years, as him being a mentor to me... you can't really put that into words. You don't get that without time, and without time spent together. We have our families and then we have the S.H.I.E.L.D. family and that's what's so special.
Simmons: When all is said and done, we're not going to remember storylines. What we will remember are the relationships... those are the things that are going to be in our hearts and that we're going to carry forward.
Cordova-Buckley: We might not even remember our character's last name at some point in our life. But I will always remember what it felt like to drive onto that set and see everyone coming in and out, and just knowing that you're about to do what you love with people you respect and admire and learn from, who are friends and teachers and mentors, and then leaving set when you're bruised and beaten up after doing a fight scene with Ming. All those feelings will forever be a part of my heart and the woman that I am.
Bennet: I think the goodbye was very typical S.H.I.E.L.D. fashion, which is like, it's goodbye, but it's not. It's goodbye, but we're all going to still talk and when you see us talking and... I think I have mixed emotions about how much we captured that, really. I think I can't really look at it without being a little biased in that I wanted a little bit more of a goodbye with each character on screen. We had a lot of time loop stuff to figure out. So it's goodbye, but it isn't. Kind of.