When it comes to season finales, casualties are an inevitable part of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
When the ABC series' two-hour season finale airs tonight, the ancient Inhuman entity/god known as Hive is closer than ever to achieving his master plan and transforming humans into primitive Inhumans under his control. Only S.H.I.E.L.D. can stop Hive, but they are in no shape to do so. Daisy is suffering from severe withdrawal following her time under Hive's sway; May is grieving over the death of her husband, Andrew/Lash; Mac is still recovering from injuries inflicted by Daisy; and poor Lincoln remains unsure of his place in S.H.I.E.L.D., not to mention where he stands in his relationship with Daisy.
The stakes have never been higher, and the team must somehow pull itself together, regroup and refocus if they hope to survive, much less survive. However, Daisy's cryptic vision predicted that in their effort to save the world, an agent will die -- and she's about to be proven right.
Ahead of tonight's season finale, executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen spoke with CBR News about Daisy wrestling with her guilt as she and her fellow agents face off with Hive for their most important battle to date. The pair also tease the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. and explain the importance of pairing victory with tragedy, particularly with regard to the series' season ending storylines.
CBR News: A lot of this season revolved around Hive's agenda and how to thwart him. What was your endgame for the finale?
Jed Whedon: We wanted to put a close to that story. We knew going into this season what our plan was for both Ward and Hive. Our goal was to make it not just feel like victory -- we like to get a victory and also a loss at the same time. We love those mixed emotions.
Daisy has been put through the emotional wringer, lately. Where are her heart and head during this showdown?
Whedon: Daisy is aware of what she's done; it's safe to say she does not feel good about it. Lash has just sacrificed himself in order to give her a second chance. How she handles that, and how she handles facing off with her friends, is one of the questions we're going to answer in the finale.
The team does manage to slow Hive down. What does a frazzled Inhuman god look like?
Whedon: Apparently, he's dashing all the time.
Maurissa Tancharoen: It's Brett Dalton. He looks as handsome as ever.
Whedon: He looks horribly haggard, and yet, somehow perfect. I think we will see S.H.I.E.L.D. go at Hive the only way they can think of. Hive has maintained a pretty even keel throughout all of this. He hasn't really shown much anger or much fear. We'll see a little of both [in the finale].
The series spent two seasons setting up and exploring the Inhumans. How much of that chapter is closed by the events in tonight's finale?
Whedon: We think of it as never closed. We like that we were able to open up that world and make Inhumans a permanent part of the universe. Now, we have a quick-fire way of introducing people with powers. It gives us a lot of leeway in our world, and it lets us explode the metaphors of what it is like to be different. We will never close that chapter.
Tancharoen: It's a permanent part of our universe now.
When did you know an agent would perish in the finale, and why was it important to serve the story?
Whedon: We knew at the beginning, early in the year, what we were planting. It's important on a show like this to maintain stakes. We want people to really feel like they don't know what's going to happen -- and that anything can happen at any moment. Unfortunately, in order to maintain that sense of danger, there has to be actual stakes. People have to pay the ultimate price.
Tancharoen: Sometimes it's hard to maintain real-life consequences within a world of people with powers.
Whedon: Especially when one of our main characters was brought back from the dead at the start of the show.
At the end of the day, our characters are agents. They put their lives on the line. If we didn't show those consequences, we wouldn't be honoring them.
Tancharoen: The vision you saw at the mid-season point will be answered. You will see what that means. This season, we've explored a lot of different themes: There's the notion of purpose. We also introduced an Inhuman who has a strong sense of faith. We talk a lot about destiny and all these things intertwine.
Whedon: We'll be exploring all of them in the finale.
Tancharoen: Hopefully, what happens in the finale will be game-changing. I think it's safe to say, our team will be changed forever.
Starring Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet and Ming-Na Wen, the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Season 3 finale airs tonight at 9 pm on ABC.