'Agents of SHIELD' EP Explains What's Next After That Shocking Midseason Finale Death

"But how it happened, Coulson doesn't feel great about that," executive producer Jeff Bell tells THR. "That's going to be something he'll have to figure out and come to terms with in the back half of the season."
Greg Gayne/ABC

[Warning: This post contains spoilers from Tuesday's midseason finale of Agents of SHIELD, "Maveth."]

The saga of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) has come to an end on Agents of SHIELD. Or has it?

By the end of the fall finale, director-turned-agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) used his robotic hand to kill Hydra agent Ward on an alien planet after thoroughly beating him up. He could have just left Ward alive and stranded, but he made the conscious choice to press down on Ward's chest until his heart stopped beating. But after that intense death scene, the Marvel series revealed that the mysterious, ancient Inhuman that Hydra was trying to bring through the portal took over Ward's body and made it to Earth to ally with Hydra. So while Ward may be dead, his body isn't gone from the show.

Elsewhere in the action-packed episode, Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) learned that Simmons' (Elizabeth Henstridge) love Will (Dillon Casey) was killed by the Inhuman on the alien planet, leaving them free to finally explore their feelings for each other. While captured by Hydra, Simmons ended up setting Andrew/Lash (Blair Underwood) free to save herself, resulting in a lot of dead Inhumans. And Daisy (Chloe Bennet) kissed Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) after SHIELD deemed their mission a success. 

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Agents of SHIELD executive producer Jeff Bell about the shocking Ward twist, what the Inhuman who took over Ward's body wants, and more. 

Once again you guys sure know how to leave fans on a cliffhanger going into the long hiatus.

And it's just the middle of the season! Ever since they split us into two seasons, we feel like we have to build like two whole seasons each year.

Last season, the show changed drastically from the fall finale to the spring premiere with the introduction of the Inhuman mythology. Will this season follow that same structure?

Not completely. Obviously something big happened at the end, so what does that mean? But in general, 22 is a lot of episodes to serialize. So as we did last year, we tried to bring up a lot of interesting threads and tie together a whole bunch of them but not all of them off by the midseason. And then we launch something exciting for the back half. That's certainly our intent again, the promise of more to come.

By the end of the episode, Ward is dead by Coulson's hand, but the mysterious, dangerous Inhuman took over his body and made it through the portal. What does this mean for the character of Ward going forward? Are we going to see Brett Dalton play a completely new character?

I don't know how much I can say, but if whatever was there had been "Will" for the whole episode, and Will seemed to recognize Fitz and have memories and know things about Simmons — I think there are some clues in episode 10 about that. I'm not going to say how personal or how much. The beauty of having Brett Dalton and the body of Grant Ward around: A) it's easy on the eye, and B) there are personal relationships between him and everyone else on the show. Coulson believes he left that person dead on another planet as does Fitz. Should they happen to run into each other in the back half, I think it will be fairly explosive and interesting.

We hardly know anything about this mysterious Inhuman that took over Will's and then Ward's body. Now that the Inhuman has made it to Earth and linked up with Hydra, what can you tell me about what it wants or what its next move is?

We don't know much at this state except that it seems to be very, very old and that people from Hydra have been paying it attention and trying to bring it back for centuries. I think something with that kind of history potentially has a lot of power and baggage. And we haven't said it explicitly but Simmons had the feeling that that thing was responsible for decimating that other planet. We should be very, very afraid that that thing is back on this side. Beyond that, I'm not allowed to say anything else.

How will killing Ward affect Coulson going forward? Did that satisfy his need for revenge or are we still going to see this darker, more emotional and rash Coulson stick around for a while?

For us, what happened in that moment is as important if not more for Coulson's character than it is for Ward. We wanted to provide Ward's character with a meaningful, powerful death scene. But we also have been taking Coulson on this arc this year where he's been wrestling with his humanity and what it means to be a leader. He lost a hand and he never felt his robotic prosthetic was quite right. And then becoming director, he's had to make decisions he's not completely comfortable with. As Ward made his attacks more personal, Coulson has had trouble distancing himself as the director. He literally stepped down from director so he could behave in a much more vengeful, personal way. And then having defeated Ward, he could have walked away. He doesn't feel good about that. He's not proud of it. He's going to question his own morality.

It was shocking to see Coulson pause and take the time to kill Ward when the portal was already starting to close. That was a risky move for him.

First season, Coulson would have beat Ward up and then thrown him over his shoulder and brought him back to Earth and locked him away. Season two, Coulson would have defeated him and left him there on the other planet to fend for himself. But where Coulson is now is a much darker place, having lost someone who clearly meant the world to him in a way he didn't know he could feel again. The fact that Ward took Rosalind away from him enraged him in such a way that he compromised his character, albeit in a very cool, epic way. I don't think anyone would argue that Ward didn't deserve to die after the way he'd been behaving. But how it happened, Coulson doesn't feel great about that. That's going to be something he'll have to figure out and come to terms with in the back half of the season.

Was Ward always destined to die by Coulson's hand, literally, or was there ever a question in the writers room on possibly redeeming Ward in some way?

I always say that no character is too high to fall or too low to be redeemed, theoretically. It's a great tribute to how Brett Dalton has played Grant Ward, that there are people who still thought he could be redeemed after the horrible, horrible, may I add another horrible to the list of the things that he's done. But for someone to be redeemed, they need to ask forgiveness, or want to be redeemed. You can't be forgiven if you don't ask for forgiveness. You can't be redeemed if you don’t feel you've done anything wrong. So it's really on Ward. You have to first believe you did something wrong, and he thought what he did was totally justified. He never felt like he needed to apologize for what he did. He felt his actions led him to where he ended up and it was all fate.

It is fascinating because over the course of the series, Ward started off as a heartthrob hero. But even after it was revealed, he was in Hydra the whole time and he did all those reprehensible things to his own team and killed so many people, some fans still want to see him rejoin the SHIELD team and end up with Daisy.

It is fascinating to us as well. There are some really passionate fans who want that. But the thing is, Ward would have to want that first. And I don't know that he did.

Simmons really went through the ringer in this episode, getting held hostage by Hydra, learning the truth about Will and putting her trust in Andrew. Will she blame herself for Andrew's actions now that he's out killing Inhumans again since she was the one to set him free?

Jemma Simmons will blame herself for any problem ever in the world, whether she's truly guilty or not. You will see her character continue to react to how she behaved and continue to question that decision in the back half of the show.

Agents of SHIELD will return Tuesday, March 8 at 9 p.m.

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