The world looks a little different in the “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” season three premiere, thanks in large part to the Terrigen crystals that were dumped into the ocean at the end of season two, threatening to unlock the latent Inhuman DNA in anyone who comes into contact with them (or alternatively turn them to dust, depending on their genetics). That fate befalls an unwitting man called Joey Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Raba) in the opening minutes of the “SHIELD” premiere, which ABC recently posted online.
It’s up to Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) — the SHIELD agent formerly known as Skye — and her allies to track down the newly transformed Inhumans and assess whether they’re worthy of joining her new team, which is loosely based on a group known as the Secret Warriors in Marvel’s comic book canon.
Variety spoke to Bennet ahead of “SHIELD’s” season three premiere to tease Daisy’s new mission, her dynamic with Coulson and what’s ahead for the Inhumans.
Daisy got to make a pretty badass entrance in the episode’s opening moments — how did that feel?
It was really cool. I grew up with six brothers and with comic books and sports and I always wanted to be someone who kicked ass and was part of a team like a superhero, rather than a Barbie or a princess, so getting to do that was an ultimate dream come true.
How has Daisy changed since we last saw her — aside from embracing the name change?
I think most of the changing definitely happened last season. I think the gap that the audience wasn’t there for and I wasn’t there for that was off-screen was really recovering from what happened last season — when your mom tries to kill you and your dad is a monster, things get complicated, and I can imagine everyone’s dealt with parent issues, [even if] these are kind of extreme. (Laughs.) So I think she’s coming down from that and trying to reevaluate and figure things out.
The number one priority is, there’s all of a sudden this outbreak of Inhumans because of the fish oil and Terrigen crystals going everywhere and it’s chaos and the audience is dropped into that chaotic environment of seeing us trying to recruit an Inhuman. One thing that we wanted to make sure came across in the first episode is that this isn’t the first time they’ve done this; this isn’t the first Inhuman they’ve extracted and tried to help. We wanted to have some familiarity behind what we were doing as a team. There’s a level of frustration because she really wants to get this team going and she’s like me, she’s a little bit impatient and wants it to work out now, this Secret Warriors team, and Coulson’s like “calm down, yo, we’re not ready for that – we can’t just put anyone on the team!” I think she feels a level of responsibility because she was the one that pushed that giant crate of Terrigen crystals into the ocean, so it’s kind of all her fault.
Just from the opening minutes of the premiere that ABC released, you do get the sense that Daisy and Mack (Henry Simmons) are a well-oiled machine.
It’s so smart of the writers and of Coulson to put them together as a team. I think they check each other in a way that other people on the team wouldn’t be able to accomplish. He’s the most wary of these Inhumans and powered people, and she’s the most for it, obviously she is one, so they kind of balance each other out in that way, they make a really good team… It’s been really fun to work with Henry – he’s the secret comedian on our show, he’s so funny… he’s also like the most handsome man in the world. He just gets funnier and funnier, we shot a couple of scenes last week where I actually was laughing so hard I needed to rein it in and be a professional, but he was cracking me up.
How is Daisy dealing with the apparent loss of Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)?
That would be number one on everyone’s priorities and then the Inhuman outbreak is so pressing and needs such immediate attention that that’s what they have to take care of. But under everything is the loss of Simmons, and dealing with that. Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) is the one who hasn’t given up on her yet. It’s interesting because the first season, our main problem was Hydra, and in the second season our main problem was a little bit of Hydra and then the Inhumans and Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), and now we have Hydra and the Inhumans and the ATCU (Advanced Threat Containment Unit) and then Lash, so things are even crazier than ever before.
Does it feel like Daisy is on equal footing with Coulson (Clark Gregg) now that she’s a leader in her own right, or does she still defer to him, given his somewhat paternal bond with her?
He’s given her a promotion of some sort and they’ve always had a connection, and I think he’s always had an inkling about the potential that she had when we first met Skye as… a little bit of a sweaty, smelly computer hacker … Now to think that I am Daisy Johnson/Quake and I’m a superhero with powers and in the field and kicking ass, it’s such a crazy evolution of this character and so I think that he’s aware of how much she’s grown, so I think she is in a little bit more of a leadership position.
He’s given her a lot of responsibility in trying to find this team and take care and assess the situation for all of these new and emerging Inhumans. But there’s still this “hey, dad, is this okay?” attitude about it, and she is very honest with him and I think she knows him better than anyone else too, so she’ll be able to call him out on some things that he’s probably not too happy that she’s noticing. There might be some stuff with Constance Zimmer in there, Daisy might feel like “what’s going on here?” so they balance each other out nicely.
Last season saw two warring SHIELD factions — is everyone back on the same page now?
I think everyone, in terms of agreeing on Inhumans, [is] pretty much on the same page — it’s pretty clear what the task is: Finding the Inhumans and helping them, assessing whether or not they could be on the team or making the hard call of whether or not they need to be killed, because some of them aren’t gonna be good people and aren’t gonna have good intentions, so it’s gonna be a lot of working together to figure that out. At the same time, what I love about this season is every character has something different to worry about, the priority is different for every character. At the beginning, Fitz is hyperfocused on finding Simmons; Bobbi’s (Adrianne Palicki) main [goal] is getting back in the field and nursing her bad knee; Hunter’s concern is finding Ward (Brett Dalton) and he wants to kill Ward; and Coulson’s dealing with the ATCU; everyone has these different agendas. And at the same time, I think we’re focusing a little bit more on the emotional relationships between these people, which I’m pretty excited about because I think they could all use a little lovin’.
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. Visit Variety after the West Coast airing for more from Bennet on the twist-filled premiere.