As Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hurtles towards its Season 5 finale, Glenn Talbot's Graviton is gearing up to end the world -- whether he realizes it or not. Talbot's delusions of grandeur have led him to seek out Earth's untapped gravitonium reserves, and Phil Coulson's team must stop him before he inadvertently cracks the planet apart, as they personally witnessed when they traveled through time to the year 2091. However, Graviton's arrival and mission are more than the season's closing salvo; it is also the culmination of a storyline five seasons in the making.
Ahead of the Season 6 renewal, S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producers Jeff Bell, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon spoke to CBR about the upcoming Season 5 finale, which was written as a series ender in the event the show didn't return. They teased a "satisfying" end with "a little bit of something for everybody" and recalled how they intentionally wrapped up dangling plot threads in order to bring the show "full circle." They also explained why it was "the right time" to introduce Graviton, why it had to be Talbot and more.
CBR: With this finale, we're coming to the end of what's been an incredible five-year journey. How does it feel?
Jed Whedon: Feels good! We're tired.
Jeff Bell: We're proud of having made it past 100 [episodes] and sort of look back at how far characters have come. There's a certain amount of satisfaction with that.
Whedon: Also, you know, there's a real sense this year over here that -- when we got to the 100th, we started reflecting on everything we've created, not just story-wise and character-wise, but with the people around us. There's a real sense around here lately of family and of gratitude for the fact that we all get along and we all enjoy coming to work. It's separate from the creative. Just the process has been great this year and coming to the end of this season has been a rewarding experience.
Bell: I would say, getting to the 100th, we really looked back and we wanted to bring some of the stories full circle, which is why we went back and brought Mike Peterson back into it and referenced a lot of touchstones along the five years. We put up a big list on the board of "here's the things we've talked about over the years and are still a question or not." So, starting to see those end towards the back half of Season 5, we hoped would be satisfying for the fans.
What made Graviton the right villain for Season 5?
Whedon: Well partially, we had it still out there. It was one of our dangling threads, and Megan Thomas Bradner at Marvel would have been furious with us if we never did it.
Maurissa Tancharoen: Yeah, we did it all for Megan Thomas Bradner. [laughs]
Whedon: You know, we don't like to leave things dangling. Honestly, the only time we do it, really, is when there's a scheduling conflict or something that's keeping us from tying it up. This was one we knew we had out there and, if we ever got to a place where we thought it could be over, we were going to bring it back. So, going into our fifth season not sure if there's a sixth, it felt like the right time to do it. In terms of who became Graviton, we wanted someone who'd been on the show the whole time. Talbot's one of the only characters who has been in every season.
Tancharoen: We find antagonists are more impactful if we've had a relationship with them. Also, Talbot in all his iterations -- like, he was an antagonist when we first met him, and then he became a partner of ours, but sort of an uneasy alliance, and then of course he was shot in the head and he went through some brain damage and we see him trying to sort through all that.
Bell: It's not like he shows up hating us!
Bell: He really does have a higher calling in his own head in terms of, "I'm going to fix this. I'm going to fix this!"
Tancharoen: "I'm going to fix this, and you will align with me and it will be okay, but if you get in my way, that's worse than the other thing."
Whedon: And last on the list of "why" would be Adrian Pasdar, who can absolutely pull it off.
Whedon: When you add all those things into the mix, it's like...
Bell: Who will look cool in the suit? Who can pull off the facial hair?
What are you most excited for fans to see in this episode?
Whedon: I mean, we can't really say without spoiling it, but I will say that I think we are happy with how the season has been tied up and that there's good rewards for people who have been with us the whole season and for people who have been with us the whole run. Obviously, there's a little bit of something for everybody.
Airing Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 stars Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Ian De Caestecker, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Elizabeth Henstridge.