Clark Gregg: The 'True' S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Coming -- Plus: Teases About Tahiti, Captain America Tie-In

Agents of SHIELD SpoilersThe truth is out there… and will soon, finally, be revealed on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

When last we tuned into ABC’s freshman drama (returning tonight at 8/7c), a confrontation with Centipede’s front woman Raina took an unexpected turn, when it was revealed that the mysterious group wants Coulson — but to what end? TVLine spoke with Clark Gregg about how Coulson’s crisis will uncover the unpleasant truth about Tahiti aka his apres-Avengers “resurrection,” a possible tie-in with Marvel’s next big-screen adventure and how the “true” S.H.I.E.L.D. is yet to come.

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TVLINE | Have you, at this point, mastered the art of revealing things without revealing anything?
[Laughs] You know, every time I get cocky I slip up….

TVLINE | The people who have nabbed Coulson…. Is Centipede perhaps not necessarily as evil as we think they are, or are they exactly as evil as we think they are?
I am so much like Phil Coulson in that I only know a bit more than you do, because I am only like two or three scripts ahead. They seem pretty damned evil as far as I can tell. Yet on the other hand, there is this tremendously interesting and charismatic person at the center of it in The Girl in the Flower Dress, played by Ruth Negga. In a [real-world] climate where there are groups that have the secrecy level of S.H.I.E.L.D. that are doing questionable things, where there are people who believe that that kind of secrecy shouldn’t exist, she makes some very interesting points.

TVLINE | The best kind of bad guys are the ones who make you go, “You know what? They kind of have a point.”
I’ve always thought that was a really interesting part of the nature of conflicts. Look at the American Revolutionary soldiers — their tactics were considered terrorist by the Brits. It really depends on your perspective.

TVLINE | Of course, there’s much ballyhoo about how in this week’s episode, we’re finally going to get kernels of information about what exactly happened to Coulson after he “died” in The Avengers. Is it because of his abduction that he uncovers this information?
He gets put in a very interesting situation, in that these evil people are led by a mysterious figure called The Clairvoyant. Though Coulson and his team, and even S.H.I.E.L.D.’s RUTH NEGGA, CLARK GREGGvast repertoire of special people, have never come across any evidence of psychic ability, this person seems to know more than anybody should be able to know about a lot of things. And as we found out at the end of the midseason finale, even more than The Clairvoyant wants a stabilized super-soldier in Mike Peterson, he wants Agent Coulson, because he or she seems to believe that there were things that went on to bring Coulson back to life … that have deeper, darker and more mysterious purposes than anyone, including Coulson, is aware of. So Coulson gets put in a situation where the people who are holding him, interrogating him and at certain points brutalizing him want the same information that he’s desperate to have himself — and they have technology that gives him a window into the memories that he seems to have lost. So, it becomes for me a very, very interesting and well-crafted dilemma, in that Coulson has to try to get this truth without revealing this truth.

TVLINE | Is it a sobering experience for him, to uncover this information?
I think Tahiti is far more magical than he had any idea it might be, and not always in pleasant ways. When Joss Whedon first called me up about doing this show, our concern was we didn’t want to do some convenient resurrection of this guy, unless it actually became really an integral part of the mythology and really added to the stories. To go from the pilot of this show, where Coulson has this very glib, convenient version of his near-death experience, and have that gradually peeled back to reveal that there are, to some extent, implanted memories that are traumatic has been one of my favorite parts of the season so far. Because to have these kind of conflicts and wounds and psychological battle damage is very germane in a country where so many soldiers are returning from lengthy conflicts overseas. It’s great stuff to explore.

TVLINE | Was it at last summer’s TCA press tour that you told us that Joss had given you the broad strokes of what Coulson’s secret was…?Captain America Winter Soldier
He told me basically the pitch of what you saw in the pilot…. They had a “North Star.” They had strong ideas. They have the giant lexicon of the comic book universe and all these materials to gradually play into, and the really fun part for me is we saw a bunch of apparently standalone episodes with various “bad guys of the week,” and it’s all connected. It’s all part of a vast anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. conspiracy that’s going to be revealed and, I have a feeling, connects very deeply into the cinematic universe, to some of the stuff that might be involved in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (hitting theaters April 4).

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TVLINE | Is the show we’re watching thus far now what S.H.I.E.L.D. is destined to be? Or are we still kind of getting there?
I don’t think we’re there just yet. There were hints at the end of Episode 10 at how deep and rich the fabric of this is, how much it connects to the cinematic and comic book universe. And I think only in the back half of this season will all of the things that we’ve started to set up, and really the true nature of the show, get fully revealed.

Want more scoop on S.H.I.E.L.D., or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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  1. Jake says:

    Was he killed of by mistake on avengers or was that the plan all along?

    • Jerri says:

      According to interviews, Mavel execs wanted him killed. Joss joked about it, he said something along the lines of “great, you know they’ll be blaming me for this one, right?”

  2. Gwen says:

    I don’t think this show has lived up to its potential yet, but I’m hopeful that it will very soon. Wouldn’t it be great if Colbie Smulders could join the cast now that her “Mother” gig is ending?

    • Patrick Maloney says:

      No it wouldn’t, I don’t see what her character character could add to the show besides this irrational ideal that the show is solely there to be a companion to the show.

    • Alan says:

      initially i thought so but now that ive seen how the show works i dont think she would fit. this team is supposed to be the rapid response team who can pick and choose what they do and dont have to run it by the higher ups in the organisation so i dont see how the assistant director can be a regular part of that set up. appearing in 5 or 6 episodes a season would be enough for the character or any other shield higher ups like fury.

  3. Allen says:

    Seems like we’ve been waiting all year just for this show to find its footing. Cleary the ratings indicate people are growing short on patience.

    • Geo says:

      Yeah, we’ve been waiting patiently a long time for the “true nature” of the show that Gregg mentions to appear, but it needs to appear quick as even a lot of diehard Whedon and Marvel fans are giving up and dropping the show. Maybe it’s not so great an idea to withhold the “true nature” of a show until the back-half of the season– if that’s what they’re doing and this isn’t just revisionist excuse-making.

    • That and airing it opposite against the biggest drama on television was a really stupid idea.

      • Katherine215 says:

        I never understand this thought process – *something* has to air opposite NCIS. Why wouldn’t ABC choose the show with the biggest buzz of any of its new ones to take on NCIS?

        • justsaying says:

          seriously. who and why do people watch NCIS? Is it even possible for it to have any sort of non derivative storyline at this point in its career?

          • Brian says:

            I FINALLY gave up on it last season. I can’t really tell you why I stuck around for so long. It’s exhaustingly repetitive and boring.

          • Jack says:

            could not agree more! I am so lost why people watch that, predictable show. How many more plots could they possibly have that have people watching every week.

  4. I’d be curious to know the cast etc’s un-biased views on how the show isn’t performing, rather than the general cut & paste interviews most of them seem to be doing.
    Apart from Ward, he’s actually a cardboard cutout they put in a cupboard at the end of each day’s shooting.

    The show has a lot of potential which it’s missed by about 90% or so – the best thing so far has probably been J August Richards.

    Let’s hope the latter half of the season improves a lot following on from the full season order etc.

    • Aimee says:

      Ha! Your comment about Ward is so true. It’s also one of the reasons I gave up on this show. At this point the only thing that would bring me back is if they got rid of most of the original characters and started fresh!

      • justsaying says:

        I think casting was one of the biggest fails of this show. That and some of the writing – dialogue and plot inconsistencies- is just sloppy. Still hoping it gets better. Remember, Buffy season 1 wasn’t all that great. ABC was the wrong channel for this show to air on too. The show needs to stop trying to appeal to EVERYone and just tell a good story. If you tell a good story, the ratings will come. Or at least critical acclaim will come. If you don’t. you end up with neither.

        • Jason says:

          Blashpemy! Season one of Buffy is awesome! There may be an episode or two of clunkers but most of the episodes are great and even the worst episodes have some hilarious original moments.

  5. Patrick Maloney says:

    I’ve loved this show, I think it has great characters and a great pace of doling out their storylines

  6. cj says:

    I love it… (sarcasm)… the show has stunk so far so they say oh well the “real” or “true” shield is coming still! yet still same writers and with Jeph Loeb sucking it up at the center of it all. LOL.

  7. Rick Katze says:

    I agree with one of the previous comments: Dumbest thing ABC did was to put it opposite NCIS. Thus I watch it regularly but on tape delay since I also love NCIS.

    I see tonight’s episode as critical. I hope they are not just teasing the answer. Not only should it be reasonable but it needs to be part of the greater story. Seen hints but, at this time, unfortunately, it has not lived up to its promise of what cold be a long-lasting, anchor show for ABC.

    And, while adding my vote for Cobie. unfortunately, not sure if there is space for her in the narrative. But who know, maybe Josh can surprise us with his creativity.

  8. Drew says:

    They’re kicking the can with this show. Each episode is supposed to be the one where we really see what the show is meant to be and when that fails to impress, they move on to the next episode. Truth is, we know what the show is going to be… horrible.

    And the Coulson resurrection is the most boring, drawn out mystery ever. It is a McGuffin to get the guy on the tv show. No matter what they do with it, it is ultimately a pointless cheat. They are drawing out and bringing all of this attention to a weak point that should have been resolved with a throw away line in the pilot so that we would all forget that he died and move on with as little effort as possible. Stretching it out just makes the plot more painful and a lot harder to accept.

  9. choco says:

    I’m about to drop this show. I’m giving it one more episode and if it’s bad I’m done.

    Actually this show isn’t really “BAD”, it’s just one of the most boring shows I’ve seen ever.

  10. jk says:

    I have an idea: recast the role of Skye, I would love to see Lyndsy Fonseca in this show and she can really kick ass. Fitz and Simmons bore me. I have fallen while watching this show, they need more action

    • Jason says:

      I don’t think they should recast. if anything kill her off and replace her with another similar character. But the bigger problem is the Himbo and his emotionless girlfriend.

    • Mikael says:

      They should bring in Lyndsy and Maggie Q! I think I want the Melinda May character to be as engaging as Nikita was, which is why I’m so frustrated with the show. They need better casting. Skye is pretty, but her storyline is boring. Ward is awful, but he improved a little when they began the whole Ward/May thing. FitzSimmons is the only one I really like.

  11. Kim says:

    I like this show. And I like the characters. FitzSimmons are hilarious. Maybe it’s because I have Scottish in me, and I know the accents are just… so to hear them speak science babble with that accent. I find it hilarious. I want to know their backstory though. I find them incredibly interesting. How do you go from super studious fancy phDs to working at an agency like S.H.I.E.L.D.?

    I kinda’ want the big Coulson reveal to be like “oh Loki’s magic staff sent him away…” or something stupid and in this big action sequence where you don’t realize they revealed it until a second later. And then you need to rewind it.

    I want Stan to be the Watcher. That’d be awesome

  12. Sam says:

    I’ve honestly lost interest, writers seem to forget that hey need storyline arcs and hooks to keep us coming back or characters that we can care about.

    • Drew says:

      I watch on Hulu normally and at the end of each episode there is that part that says “Agents of SHIELD will be right back”… without fail my reaction has always been “why?”
      That is not good for them.

  13. charlotte says:

    I have grown to really like FitzSimmons and even Skye. She’s improved A LOT and so has Ward. Just don’t know if it’s enough to keep it going. I’ll still keep watching on Hulu but I won’t be holding my breath on another season.

  14. TD says:

    Re: the final question an answer–“And I think only in the back half of this season will all of the things that we’ve started to set up, and really the true nature of the show, get fully revealed.” Even if this is true and the show will really kick in in the latter half, this seems to be a mistake too many shows are making, especially in these days of shorter and shorter time frames to find an audience and for a network to maintain patience. I’ve heard too many times, “Oh, wait until later episodes–then we’re really going to get to the good stuff and what this show is all about.” Shows need to get to the good stuff and demonstrate what the show is all about from the start.

    • Mikael says:

      Agreed. Sleepy Hollow pulled this off brilliantly. If they’d gotten a full 22-ep season and waited until the 2nd half to get going, Fox would’ve cancelled it. SHIELD probably should’ve gone for a 13-ep season and really went all out on the plot.

  15. jimmy jones says:

    Haters going hate. Fanboys going whine like the little girls that they are.