Henry Simmons Talks S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Captain America 2 Flashbacks, Mack vs. Coulson and Lucy Lawless' Encore

Agents of SHIELD Spoilers

This Tuesday on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, 9/8c), as “the real S.H.I.E.L.D.” makes life difficult for Coulson & Co., flashbacks will reveal to us the experience that first bonded Mack, Bobbi, Isabelle Hartley and Robert Gonzales — circa Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when the organization first was brought to its knees.

Here, Henry Simmons previews for TVLine the illuminating hour, makes a compelling argument to unseat Phil Coulson as S.H.I.E.L.D. director and teases the “return” of Lucy Lawless’ incredibly able agent.

TVLINE | How is Mack’s cover holding up there on the Bus?
[Laughs] Uh, Mack thinks it’s going well, but…. I don’t think it’s going too good. It’s not going too good.

TVLINE | There are some people you should just never underestimate?
That’s the truth. That’s the truth.

TVLINE | What’s extremely interesting about this week’s episode are the flashbacks, to when S.H.I.E.L.D. first fell. What sort of things will we learn?
We’re going to learn what makes everyone loyal to one another, in terms of Bobbi and Mack and [S.H.I.E.L.D. director Robert] Gonzales (played by Edward James Olmos) and the reason why they’re going through everything that they are together. The real S.H.I.E.L.D. emerged from everyone wanting to see the organization go in the right direction. Everyone is operating with good intentions.

TVLINE | That’s what separates this from, like, a HYDRA situation. These people believe they’re doing the right thing.

TVLINE | Would you say Mac and Bobbi are equally loyal to “the real S.H.I.E.L.D.,” or is one of them perhaps a bit wavering?
They’re both extremely loyal, but I would say that Bobbi might be a little more conflicted, because of her relationship with Hunter. In a previous episode, EDWARD JAMES OLMOS, ADRIANNE PALICKIthat’s what Mack had a problem with. When emotions are involved, things become conflicted.

TVLINE | What, if anything, will it take to reverse Mack’s ideology, his stance in this situation? Obviously, for the show to move forward we can’t have two rival, opposing S.H.I.E.L.D.s.
Honestly, I’m kind of waiting for that answer myself – if there is an answer. If anything turns it around for Mack.

TVLINE | What does Mack really think of Coulson?
He respects Coulson. And I think he genuinely likes Coulson. But I think he just believes that Coulson is not the right man for the job. And listen, I can’t blame him, because like Mack said, Coulson was trying to find the answers to the alien blood inside him, and those side projects weren’t for S.H.I.E.L.D. They were  his own personal thing.

TVLINE | And we saw what it did to Mack in that one instance, at the underground city.
You saw what it did to me, you saw how it affected Skye, and Trip died…. So look, I’m loyal, but if the head is going about doing things that really aren’t in our job description, and he’s using us to do things for personal reasons, and then one of my brothers dies because of it? Yeah, I have a problem. And everyone else should, too. One thing people might forget is that in [Season 2’s “The Writing on the Wall”], when Coulson is in his most crazed state and on the verge of killing Sebastian Derik (played by Brian Van Holt), no one has ever seen Coulson like that. Skye witnessed it, but she has a different relationship to him; there’s like a father/daughter thing going. So out of the whole team, I was the only one to see him like that, completely out of control. I tried to explain it to Hunter — if that happened in that instant, what’s going to happen when everything is on the line? How is he going to act? — and Hunter kind of brushed it aside. But that’s another reason why Mack is very, very deeply skeptical.LUCY LAWLESS, ADRIANNE PALICKI, EDWARD JAMES OLMOS

TVLINE | This week’s episode will also reiterate for us what a badass Isabelle Hartley (played by Lucy Lawless) was?
Oh gosh, yeah! I’m so glad they got her back for that. I hope they have even more flashbacks, to bring her character back into the fold. She’s a great actress and a great person, and her character is wonderful. I wish they could explore her more.

TVLINE | She does love her knife.
She sure does. And she’s good with it, too!

TVLINE | Mack begrudgingly engages in violence. It’s not his go-to move. But we haven’t yet gotten into why that is, have we?
No, we’ve never discussed that. I can tell you that Mack really is a guy that does not like violence at all, but, when pushed, it’s “by any means necessary.” He doesn’t enjoy it, but he’ll do what he has to do.

TVLINE | S.H.I.E.L.D. has to be the most fun role for you since…. when? Fill in the blank. NYPD Blue obviously was an important part of your career.
It sure was; that role was one-of-a-kind, it really was. But I did a show called Man Up (on ABC in 2011) that was a lot of fun — it was a comedy, it was challenging. I will say that this particular role is one that incorporates so many different dimensions as an actor. You have the action, you have drama, you have light comedy…. This is the one role that really encompasses all of that, and where my size is not a detriment, where it’s actually useful. This is the one role where you can really fire every cylinder. It’s a lot of fun, and what makes it fun is not just the material but the people that I work with.

TVLINE | Are you hearing any wonderfully vague things about the Season 2 finale?
If you hear anything, let me know! I just know it’s going to be big. I think it’s going to be a showstopper, just incredible. I’m trying to find out some details, but they’re not telling me anything.

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

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Joey Padron says:

    good interview with Henry. can’t wait to watch new episode tonight!

  2. John says:

    Agwnts of S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting better with each episode. I’m looking forward to the ones leading up to Age of Ultron.

  3. Mr. Tran K says:

    Hope his new role on SHIELD is going to be bad-ass than he was on NYPD Blue.

  4. iceonthefringe says:

    I really like this secret “real” shield subplot. As much as one might want to role one’s eyes at yet another secret organization within an organization gag- the boardroom scene with hunter really sold me, these other characters seems solid and they bring up legitimate points. And i’m curious how the inhumans and team ward 2.5 play into all this. Between Agent Carter, MAoS and the upcoming Daredevil mini series Marvel is really bringing it this year!

  5. Jim says:

    He was one of the best additions to the cast of Another World in its final few years (late 1990s) as Tyrone. I’ve followed his career ever since. It’s nice to see him constantly getting offered similarly good roles.

    • Brigid says:

      He was great on Another World! When he came on the show and my mom and I saw him….instantly in love. The man is so gorgeous and a really good actor too. Love him!!!

  6. Tricia says:

    I’m worried about how Fitz is going to handle this; after Ward this betrayal by his newest friend will be quite the blow. And as great of a job that Iain is doing with the brain damage plotline, I like my Fitz with a big helping of comedic relief.

    • Deena says:

      I thought the exact same thing! Plus with his strained relationship with Gemma and Skye being shipped off, a betrayal by Mack might be too much for him to take. I hope he doesn’t regress.

      • The Kaibosh says:

        I hope he DOES regress because it will drive him to use Raina’s memory machine. That will drive a nice plot twist.

    • Sara says:

      I totally thought the same thing last week, that Fitz is NOT going to like this betrayal from Mack.

  7. smartysenior says:

    With all the danger out there you’d think the two SHIELDS could organize as one unit with a common enemy – maybe two departments with different management. Not sure I’m going for the second “real” one, it looks more like vanity than sense.

    • Elf says:

      A nickel says it’ll all be solved by the “miraculous” return of Nick Fury. Even if Gonzales’ SHIELD isn’t a big Fury fan, Fury can bring them in line.

  8. Sara says:

    I’m hoping this episode explains why they didn’t just try to bring Coulson’s team into the fold, because they really probably could have all worked together, instead of sneaking around behind his back.

  9. Kristina says:

    That’s where I know him from! I loved Man Up. Interested to see how the rest of the season plays out.

  10. Mada says:

    The only thing about ‘The Real Shield” that bugs me is the grounds it was founded upon.

    The argument that Coulson’s unreliable and too conflicted worked. That’s fine.

    The argument that Nick Fury kept too many secrets and that “The Real Shield” is all about transparency….really doesn’t hold up when coming from a shadowy and previously unknown organization that uses double agents and isn’t even known to exist to anyone outside of its member base. At least Coulson’s SHIELD has a working relationship with the US Government and maintains a level of communication with them.

  11. ? says:

    Mack is a really interesting character. Much more interesting than Hunter, who I just can’t make myself care about. I hope he sticks with the show beyond this season.

  12. Anon says:

    Mack’s my favorite character. He’s been a great asset to the cast. Make him a series regular please!

  13. At first I thought it would be a flop, but this is getting so good and connected with all movies at the same time in such a way. This is getting genius!