Brett Dalton’s character on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the classic case of good guy gone bad. Or rather, double agent gone Inhuman overlord bent on world domination.
Three seasons ago, the 33-year-old actor signed on to play Grant Ward, a “misunderstood, anti-social agent” working for S.H.I.E.L.D., the underground counter-terrorism agency headed up by Marvel fan favorite, director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).
“I thought of Grant Ward as this sort of Boy Scout, the guy who knew all of the stuff, but just didn’t get along with people,” Dalton told ET. “I thought I was going to be playing that for a couple of years, and that was going to be my life.”
Then came the twist. As Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. worked the events of the Marvel cinematic universe -- specifically, Captain America: The Winter Soldier -- into their TV timeline, Ward was revealed to be a Hydra plant, betraying his friends and former teammates and turning fully to the dark side.
Coulson got his revenge during this season’s winter finale, beating Ward to death, but the character was resurrected, in a way, when the parasitic Inhuman Hive inhabited Ward’s dead body and returned to Earth to raise an army of mindless Inhuman soldiers.
“It was a difficult transition to make,” Dalton admitted of making the character switch from Ward to Hive midway through S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season. “I’m playing someone who’s not even human anymore, someone who’s been around for centuries. Someone who obviously dresses differently, but then also carries himself differently, speaks differently. That’s a much bigger transition.”
“Hive is above emotion,” he added. “So, I think it was difficult because of all of the things that I couldn't play anymore. The engine was completely different, it was coming from a completely different place. Hive is almost neutral, in some ways. He’s sort of anti-emotional.”
While the rest of the Marvel ‘verse is scrambling to put restrictions on the Avengers and other citizens with superhuman abilities -- see: Captain America: Civil War’s Sokovia Accords -- Hive’s evil plan is to turn more of the world into Inhumans, super-powered soldiers under his parasitic mind control. And, as fans saw last week, in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s penultimate episode, he’s getting close with a deadly group of half-baked "Primitive" mutants.
“There’s been a huge step forward in terms of Hydra's plan, and Hive's plan, in terms of taking over the globe and making it the best place for Inhumans,” Dalton said.
The villainous Inhuman leader, whom Dalton calls a “brilliant strategist,” also came up against his first formidable opponent last week, in the form of Lash (Blair Underwood/Matthew Willig), who rescued brainwashed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) and freed her from Hive’s sway, before being killed by recently-evolved Inhuman Hellfire (Axle Whitehead).
So, as the epic two-part finale looms, is Hive now unstoppable?
“He’s always unstoppable in my mind,” Dalton admitted, adding that the only threat to his quest for world domination could be Daisy, who potentially escaped with not only a clear mind, but an understanding of all of Hive’s plans.
“It’s kind of a like a prisoner that’s escaped from the jail,” the actor added. “I’ve shared so many things with her and now she has escaped and is seemingly no longer under my control. So, that’s a fly in the ointment, but hopefully it won’t come back to haunt me.”
ET spoke to Bennet back in April after Daisy’s capture by Hive, where the actress revealed that the two-part S.H.I.E.L.D. finale will be the “most heartbreaking [episode] of the whole series.”
“Nothing is the same -- nothing,” Bennet warned. “Everything will change after this season.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s two-hour season finale airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ABC.