‘Agents of SHIELD’ Bosses Break Down Hive Reveal and Daisy’s Vision

April 05, 2016 10:00pm PT by Sydney Bucksbaum

Executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen break down how the SHIELD team will cope with learning that Hive has taken over Grant Ward's (Brett Dalton) body. Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen break down how the SHIELD team will cope with learning that Hive has taken over Grant Ward’s (Brett Dalton) body.

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Agents of SHIELD, “Spacetime.”]

Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) may be dead, but his body is far from gone thanks to the Inhuman Hive on Agents of SHIELD. And after months of being in the dark, now the entire SHIELD team knows it.

Ever since Hive escaped from the alien planet Maveth, he’s been living in secret in Hydra’s headquarters. But when Coulson (Clark Gregg), Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and the rest of the SHIELD team came face-to-face with Hive on a mission to save an Inhuman who can get visions of the future, they finally learned the chilling truth about their former friend and agent turned Hydra enemy. 

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Agents of SHIELD showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen about how this revelation about Hive taking over Ward’s body will affect the team going forward, plus the return of Lash and loss of Andrew (Blair Underwood), Daisy witnessing the midseason premiere flash-forward and more.

Now that the whole team knows that Ward’s body has been taken over by Hive, how is this going to change things for everyone going forward?

Jed Whedon: This is going to be the most shocking for Coulson because he did something dark but for a good reason, and now he knows he didn’t achieve much. (Laughs.) Maybe he even did something or created something worse with that act. I think that Coulson’s real feelings about Ward will come to the surface. For everybody else, obviously it’s going to be a very large threat. Simmons lived on that planet and knows a little bit of how evil this thing is and what it’s capable of. There’s a lot of questions and they all have no idea how to handle it.

Maurissa Tancharoen: Up until this point, Coulson has been coping with what he did to Ward back on Maveth by just pushing forward, not really thinking about it. Now, basically Ward’s face filled the screen in his office and he literally came face-to-face with the person that he killed. And he’s no longer a person, so what is he is still a question. We’ve been alluding to the fact that he’s the ultimate symbol of evil, so that’s not good. (Laughs.) He’s basically Ward times a million.

By this point, does everyone know what Coulson did to Ward up on Maveth, or is that still a secret?

Whedon: I think they know, but maybe they don’t know the details.

Tancharoen: The only one who knows it first hand is Fitz.

Whedon: They share the brutality of the act, all the details. We will be dealing with that a little bit.

Hive has all of Ward’s memories, so will he feel any kind of connection to anyone in particular on the SHIELD team?

Whedon: That’s a good question. He might. We know he has at least Ward’s memories, so you’re asking the right questions. That’s all we’ll say.

Tancharoen: We can’t really say much, but you’re asking a very good question.

When she touched the Inhuman on the roof at the end of the episode, Daisy got to witness the flash-forward from the midseason premiere. What is she going to do with this information?

Whedon: We’ll see that she’s rattled by it. Not only did she see that, but it came to her at a moment when it was confirmed for her that she cannot change the outcome of these visions and the future is the future. We’ll see how she deals with that and whether or not she feels like she should share it or if she should try to take it on.

Like you said, Daisy couldn’t stop the first vision she saw from coming true, but should we take it at face value that it’s impossible to stop them all from happening? Or will that question still loom large going forward?

Tancharoen: There is still that question. We’ve been building this theory behind the Inhumans that each one of them serves a purpose. Lincoln says that they’re all by design and each one of them fills a purpose. They have their own destiny. In this episode, Daisy believes her destiny is to alter this future but it’s right on the heels of us building this arc with Daisy where she has this hubris. She has this sense of Inhuman pride. The fact that she thinks she can stop the future is an example of that pride. When we build something up in a character, we like to take it away, and this is an example of that. Whether or not this is also an indication of what happens later, that is still a question of if she can stop this new vision.

Whedon: I think we’re pretty definitively saying that right now, you can’t change it. So it’s a question of if something changes that allows her to. I think that she’s operating under the notion that she cannot.

What can you tease about the identity of the SHIELD agent who dies in that flash-forward vision? 

Whedon: Well, is it even a SHIELD agent or did they just borrow someone’s jacket? (Laughs.) We can reveal nothing.

Now that Andrew has transformed into Lash for what he says is the last time, does that mean Andrew really is gone for good?

Whedon: I think so. It’s a goodbye between Andrew and May, and it’s a powerful one. They were both so wonderful in those scenes. Obviously, this is the Marvel universe, so who knows what will happen?

Tancharoen: There’s always the possibility of the serum working.

Whedon: I think right now, it is goodbye to Andrew and hello to perma-Lash.

How will May be dealing with that going forward?

Tancharoen: May has a lot of pain.

Whedon: She carries a lot with her.

Tancharoen: This might be the ultimate pain for her. Her one and only source of love and happiness is now gone forever and in the form of a monster. There will be an emotional toll.

Whedon: And she wasn’t ready to forgive him. She already lost him when it was revealed that he was Lash. So to then hear him retract some of his words sort of brought up that pain again.

Tancharoen: But we finally give them a moment of closure, and then he transforms forever.

Now that SHIELD has Lash in containment (again), what are their plans for him?

Tancharoen: That is also a good question.

Whedon: Right now we have him because who else are we going to give him to? (Laughs.) But he does say that he thinks that Lash is fighting for a cause that he doesn’t understand yet, just as Ward is revealed to our team. So maybe those two things are tied together in some way.

Coulson and Lincoln debated a lot over how Inhuman powers could exist for some higher purpose, or they could just be random. Will that debate be explored further?

Tancharoen: Yes.

Whedon: It’s an interesting aspect of the Inhumans. In the comics, these things are made, they’re not random. There’s a lack of something that needs filling and an Inhuman will be created that fills that niche. It’s an interesting concept we like playing with, and that plays into the idea of fate, which with our future visions, we’re hitting pretty hard. We like the idea of people who have been lost in their life, looking for an answer, actually having a direct purpose and trying to find what that is.

After his showdown on the roof with Daisy, Hydra baddie Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) sounded “scared” on the phone. Is he scared of Hive, or what he saw SHIELD is capable of, or something else entirely?

Tancharoen: He’s glimpsed the future.

Whedon: The Inhuman touched him, so he saw something.

Tancharoen: It’s scared him to the core.

Next week’s episode deals a lot with a mysterious, “shameful” secret from Malick’s past. Does his future vision have anything to do with that?

Tancharoen: We’ll begin to uncover what he saw in that glimpse of the future by looking at his past.

When are we going to learn more about Malick’s Hydra-loyal daughter (Bethany Joy Lenz)? Is she going to become a bigger threat moving forward?

Tancharoen: We will know more about her pretty soon.

Whedon: You won’t have to wait long. (Laughs.)

Tancharoen: We definitely wanted to explore what it’s like to be a family that grew up in the religion of Hydra, if you will. How that is the backbone of their beliefs and their bond. It’s a very interesting dynamic, this father and daughter relationship in that world of Hydra.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Sydney Bucksbaum

Sydney Bucksbaum

THRnews@thr.com

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‘People v. O.J. Simpson’s’ Cuba Gooding Jr. on Polarizing Verdict and Why the Trial Still Resonates

April 05, 2016 8:33pm PT by Amber Dowling

"The verdict had a lot to do in representing the state of race relations in 1994-95 and looking back on that verdict today, we still have similar feelings," the actor tells THR as he looks back on the FX mini as a whole. Courtesy of Prashant Gupta/FX

“The verdict had a lot to do in representing the state of race relations in 1994-95 and looking back on that verdict today, we still have similar feelings,” the actor tells THR as he looks back on the FX mini as a whole.

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The People v. O.J. Simpson finale, “The Verdict.”]

Over the past nine episodes of FX miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, much of the focus has been on the legal teams, the judicial system and the jurors who were tasked with deciding the fate of the Hall of Fame football star. During Tuesday’s finale, that all changed when the focus returned to Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) himself.

“O.J. got what he thought was a victory, but [we wanted to] illustrate that his life was going to be ruined; he could never go back to being the guy he once was,” series co-writer Larry Karaszewski told The Hollywood Reporter. “This was a bit of a tragedy for everyone, even people who thought they were the victors at the time. The only person who could possibly make a claim for any kind of real victory was Johnnie Cochran, who used O.J. as this imperfect vessel to get a bigger message out about police and the African-American community.”

Sure enough, as Simpson attempted to return to his regular life in the final episode, it was clear between the protestors, lack of friends and the fact that his own children weren’t allowed to welcome him home that his life would forever be changed.

To break down those scenes and revisit the entire 10-episode run, THR caught up with Gooding to dissect the finale.

Has your perspective of the trial changed at all through this process?

Every day. With every script, every day of research that I did. There were things that I specifically thought I knew were facts that weren’t; there were certain facts that I thought were rumors that were confirmed. It was one of these journeys that you go down with preconceived notions and as you get into the minutia that was not only the trial but the events of his life and his relationships with certain people and his behavior and the behavior of the lawyers and the things that were admissible as evidence and inadmissible and the relationship the judge had to certain members … it was really everything. It always was something else that I would hear that would truly blow me away.

What kind of feedback have you been getting for the role?

The fact that I lived in the Brentwood area where the crimes took place, I would go to restaurants and certain establishments and people would just tell me their personal encounters with O.J., encounters with Ron Goldman or Nicole Brown. It’s a theme of my life that has continued since the onset of this project, where people now come up to me and they either tell me their opinions of the show or their personal interactions with O.J. back in the day. Certain things that they saw and experienced. One that blew me away was a personal conversation with a director who was driving and saw the police and the commotion out in front of the condo. He was picking his kids up from school and saw what appeared to be a body in a black gown with a leg sticking out and people marking the area off. He asked his kids to look the other way. Little things like that really shocked me to my core as I walked through this journey.

Did any of the facts that you came across particularly shock your or stand out?

A lot of stuff. We shot this thing over six or seven months and there were 10 scripts that came down the pike. I remember shooting the scene where he was writing a suicide note and I was getting into character and pacing the room, and I asked them to just bring me the real note so that I could take a look at it. I said, “No, no this one isn’t it, this one has a happy face on it.” But he did, he drew the happy face. Little things like that kind of suggest the psychosis that he was in during that time and really affected me.

You didn’t reach out to O.J., but have you heard any reactions from him or other players in the original case?

No, not personally. There’s been no direct contact or requests to me personally from them.

A lot of the series has been about people reacting to O.J. and the trial, but there were a lot of weighted scenes in the finale with you. How did you prepare for that?

The way you might have felt given my performance in that 10th episode was the culmination of me; I’m assuming the accumulated effect of the performance through the previous nine episodes. The culmination of that performance might have given you a visceral, emotional response to my performance. That was the mindset I had to be in the entire six months. There was no additional preparation for that episode, it was just another day’s journey going down that dark path. The request of me from [executive producer and director] Ryan Murphy on that particular day shooting those scenes had resulted in what he needed to relay the intent of what my character was feeling and expressing. But there was no additional, “OK, here we go with this emotional moment.” That was just that journey. It’s almost like asking somebody after they finish laughing, “You know that second chuckle, what was that second chuckle motivation?” No. Through 45 seconds of laughing you can’t explain each particular chuckle.

What about in the final scene with the statue. What sense were you hoping to leave viewers with?

It took me a while to finally step out of that darkness. I remember the A.D. walking me across the lawn and up to that statue and Ryan saying, “OK, it’s going to be on a crane and there will be close-ups so we’re going to get you as soon as you exit the house.” I remember exiting that house and thinking back on O.J.’s fate … the tapes and the videos and how his posture was and I focused on that. Him looking around the backyard and seeing the pool and finally as he approached the statue and beyond that to the courts and maybe placed some memories, wondering if he thought of the last time he played tennis there — if it was a happy time and how in contrast it was to what he was feeling now. That’s what acting is, asking questions and then living up to the face; what he must have thought.

Do you think he was expecting the reaction he got when that not guilty verdict was handed down?

I think he was handed the tip that the jurors were going come in with a not guilty. … That’s why when I saw it years ago, I remember thinking it was more of a relief as opposed to a thank you. I wanted to make sure I remembered his reaction as close as I could with my performance.

Looking back, do you think the verdict had any lasting effect on the issues of race the trial presented?

At the time, that verdict polarized many people and people on certain sides of the joy at hearing it and the angst at hearing it. Those feelings were racially motivated and having been 20 years removed now and going through the recent events of police corruption and whatnot, the dissection of that time period — not just the Simpson trial but the Rodney King beating and certain governmental actions back in the day that are still represented in our society today that cause people to want to know more about that time period. Last summer, we had Straight Outta Compton and people were shocked that it made so much money in the box office. But I believe people were touched again at all these issues of race relations in Los Angeles during that time period. The verdict had a lot to do in representing the state of race relations in 1994-95 and looking back on that verdict today, we still have similar feelings. But in addition to those feelings we have a lot more information about society and society’s behavior.

What did you think of the finale? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

Amber Dowling

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‘American Idol’ Special Looks Back at Past 15 Years

April 05, 2016 6:39pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

With the two-part finale on the horizon, the series revisits some of the most memorable moments.American Idol  Courtesy of FOX

With the two-part finale on the horizon, the series revisits some of the most memorable moments.

Tonight, the farewell season of American Idol celebrated the end of an era with a special honoring past Idol moments and stars.

The special brought back original judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. “We didn’t know what to expect,” Jackson said of the first season. Cowell’s mean spirit defined the early seasons of the show, but present-day Cowell defended his attitude, saying he thought he was doing people a service by telling them that singing wasn’t right for them. His cynicism was balanced by Abdul, who said she really wanted to believe in and encourage the people who came out to audition in that first season. “She was really, really good at spotting talent,” Cowell said of Abdul. The special revisited Kelly Clarkson’s original audition, and Abdul, Cowell and Jackson all recalled how impressed they were in that moment. As Idol’s first winner, she remains one of the series’ most influential artists.

“If you can’t handle Simon Cowell, you can’t make it in this industry,” Clarkson said. She noted that he was harsh but honest in all of his critiques. Former producers acknowledged how Clarkson wasn’t necessarily the best from the beginning, but she improved over time, finally winning Cowell — and America — over. According to season one’s runner-up Justin Guarini, the first season of Idol was put together “with prayers and chewing gum.” The show and format were so new, but viewership grew rapidly. “When it came down to the final pregnant pause, it just became so evident that this was her moment,” Guarini said, reflecting on how Clarkson won in  the season-one finale. “The first season of American Idol really set the standard,” said current judge Harry Connick Jr., who was in the audience for the first finale.

Then it was time for season two. “We were totally unprepared,” said executive in charge of production Wylleen May. The show had to keep expanding its audition venues as time went on. The special revisited Jennifer Hudson’s original audition. Hudson finished seventh during season three, and she eventually went on to win an Academy Award for her performance in Dreamgirls.

Cowell said that the closest final that the show ever had was in season two when it came down to Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. As many as 37 million votes were cast for that finale, and according to producers, the difference came down to about only 130,000 votes. Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe noted that there are times when host Ryan Seacrest knows the results ahead of time and other occasions when the results are just as surprising to him as they are to America.

The special also revisited one of the most iconic and controversial moments of the series, when LaToya London, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino were in the bottom three in season seven. Hudson was eliminated during that iconic episode, which prompted Elton John to describe Idol as “incredibly racist.”

The special explored some of the technological advancements throughout the series, like when the show started incorporating text-message votes. Former Idol producer David Goffin remarked how live-blogging became such a strong facet of Idol culture in the early seasons. Several artists reflected on the impact of the show on their fanbase. “It was surreal,” season-eight runner-up Adam Lambert said about his Idol performance of “Mad World” being a top-downloaded song on iTunes. Hudson explained that viewers have been watching their journeys since the beginning. “They’ve been a part of it,” she said.

“When we started, there was a lot of resistance in the music industry,” said May. Jackson added that labels did not necessarily agree with the process. According to Connick, one of the critiques of the show has been that the contestants are on the fast track to fame. But he highlighted the intensity and seriousness of the competition. Idol is the real deal. Carrie Underwood referred to it as boot camp, acknowledging how much the show taught her about the industry. “I used you guys as an audition for record labels,” Chris Daughtry added. Lambert acknowledged that the show allowed him to go straight to the people instead of having to just go through business channels. “Being on the show was a great way to sort of trial-and-error what being an artist was,” Lambert said. Competing on the show was just the first phase for most of these artists. “You don’t become the star by just being on a reality show,” industry mogul Clive Davis said. Idol gave a lot of the contestants the tools to succeed, but they still had to work to define and establish themselves as artists after the competition.

“The show became No. 1 every single year,” Seacrest said of Idol’s high ratings in the past. Underwood added how flattered she is by the fact that her awards and record sales have been used so frequently as a measure for the show’s success. Lambert added that he recorded with Lady Gaga shortly after coming from Idol. Lythgoe said that the social impact of the show has continued to amaze him. Once upon a time, the show’s ratings were truly unbelievable.

The special also touched on some of the series’ temporary judges, like Ellen DeGeneres, who served as a judge during season nine after Abdul left at the end of season eight. DeGeneres maintained some of Abdul’s heart and compassion, but she wasn’t as invested in the competition. 

Cowell left the series shortly after, which marked a major transformation for Idol. “When Simon decided to go, all of us weren’t quite sure what that meant for the show,” said Seacrest. Jennifer Lopez joined the show with the perspective of an artist and performer instead of an A&R person. Steven Tyler then brought something new to the series, adding an uncensored and open perspective. “Simon left and our ratings barely changed,” creator Simon Fuller said of some of the judge shake-ups.

But then Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey joined the show, and their tension never quite clicked with viewers. “Working with Nicki and Mariah was exceptionally challenging,” said Lythgoe. Recently, the series has shifted toward judging that has less conflict. Current judges Connick, Lopez and Keith Urban are overall very nice in the critiques they give to contestants. 

“It is a trendsetter,” Connick said of Idol. At the end of the special, Studdard, Hudson, Lambert and Guarini all reiterated just how important the show was to their personal journeys, with Guarini emphasizing the power of Clarkson’s presence. The program revisited her moving performance of “Piece by Piece.” “It’s the story that everyone wants to have when they come on American Idol,” said Guarini.

The two-part finale kicks off Wednesday night with an elimination based on last week’s voting and performances from the top two contestants. What did you think of tonight’s emotional and revealing special? Sound off in the comments, below.

Kelly Clarkson American Idol

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

THRnews@thr.com

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