One of the biggest character developments on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. thus far was a late-night encounter between two agents, and now one of the show's executive producers is explaining why (and how) it happened.
At the end of episode eight of the Marvel series, "The Well," Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) was shaken to his core by an Asgardian staff that not only drove him into an almost untameable rage, but also brought back his worst memory of childhood several times. Ward was comforted by his trainee, Skye (Chloe Bennet), but ultimately wound up in the hotel room of Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) with a bottle of booze and plenty of time to ... you know, talk things out.
It was an interesting, and perhaps surprising, moment for them both, as the two most stone-faced characters on the show finally seemed to be showing a bit of sensitivity. Though it is revealed later that the relationship, at least from May's end, seems to be strictly sexual, executive producer Jeffrey Bell believes there's a little more to it than two people just using each other to unwind.
"It happened kind of naturally, which is fun," Bell said of the idea to bring May and Ward together. "If you can have something that's surprising and natural, you go, 'Oh, that's a winner.' After the Asgardian episode and Ward touching the staff and going to the rage-y dark place, and him really fighting that, hopefully when he gets to the bar at the end you can see Skye is also there for him in a very real way. She offers him a shoulder to cry on -- I don't know about the bars you hang out in, but to me that means, 'Here's my shoulder to cry on.' The fact that he passed on that, I think not so much because of, she's not attractive or not interesting, but he's sort of trapped in his pain and what he went through. When you go to Agent May, who is also haunted by this past, this pain -- and we got a little bit more into what some of that is in 'Repairs' [episode 9] -- I think people sometimes get together to share their pain. 'I don't have to talk, I don't have to think, I just have to be.' And you understand that. We thought there was a nice shorthand with that that made sense, but was also surprising."
As Bell mentioned, Agent May's own pain was revealed a bit more in "Repairs," but we also to got to see a bit more personality coming from her as she hatched a prank on Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and smiled to herself from The Bus' cockpit at the end of the episode. Could that be a sign that she's softening up, and could her relationship with Ward be a part of that? We'll have to keep watching to find out.
Bell also took some time to address the criticism from some fans that the show hasn't yet done enough to incorporate the comic-book universe that it's spawned from into its storytelling. If that's been bugging you, it seems you might be getting some relief soon.
"I would say, in general, I think fans will experience the episodes as being a bit more 'Marvel.' I mean that on several levels," Bell said. "I think we're always looking to find characters either from the Marvel movie universe or the comic universe that fans would recognize. I think bringing the tension and suspense of the movies is something that we're looking to do as our characters become more confident. The other thing that seems to be happening, just based on the fact that what felt like standalone were in fact for us setting up a lot of different pieces of the puzzle, I think you're going to feel more momentum from the stories, episode to episode. Occasional cliffhangers, which I feel are more like a Marvel Comic ending than, 'it's all neatly tied up in a bow.' So I think on a few levels, fans will feel it's moving a bit more in the Marvel direction."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will air its midseason finale, "The Bridge," featuring the return of J. August Richards, tonight at 8/7C on ABC. Will you be watching?