WARNING: Spoilers for tonight’s two-part Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season three finale. May Hive have mercy on your soul if you read before watching. Just kidding, Hive is a merciless Inhuman parasite. You’re screwed.
Here we go again!
After a nail-biting two-hour finale, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally revealed which team member met their end on Tuesday, as Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell) sacrificed himself to save the team -- and the world -- flying a quinjet loaded with a nuclear warhead and the villainous Hive (Brett Dalton) above the atmosphere, hoping to explode the Inhuman overlord and his plan for global domination into the vacuum of space.
The heartbreaking plan was seemingly successful, but Dalton -- who’s already “died” once before during S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season, when former double agent-turned-Hydra leader Grant Ward was killed by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) -- isn’t so sure. The actor admitted to ET that facing his character’s fate this time around felt “a little bit different,” but he’s already prepared to feed conspiracy theories.
“You never see the death,” Dalton protested. “You see a blip on the computer disappear. So secretly, I think Hive is still floating out there in space.”
It’s certainly not an unthinkable theory in the Marvel ‘verse. In fact, as the actor points out, it’s one of the reasons Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. exists in the first place.
“The whole reason we have a show is because somebody named Agent Phil Coulson dies in one of the movies and then is resurrected and brought back to life by the fervor of our fans,” Dalton explained, recalling the fan-driven “Coulson Lives” social media phenomenon that helped spur the creation of the ABC series after the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was shot and killed in the first Avengers film in 2012.
And he wouldn’t be a great bad guy if he didn’t have an evil contingency plan. Dalton’s already got his own version of #CoulsonLives all thought out: #HiveSurvives.
“So, I would like to unite -- or recruit -- all of my fans,” the actor said with a laugh. “Start tagging and using that hashtag, because I want back on the show, and/or my own TV show.”
It’s certainly feasible that Hive could rise again -- the parasitic creature has existed for centuries, inhabiting different human hosts -- but the outlook is decidedly less rosy for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s newest agent, Lincoln, who was already in pretty bad shape before deciding to hop in a quinjet alongside a nuclear warhead and an evil Inhuman with nearly “unstoppable” powers.
Dalton said he wasn’t surprised that it was the young agent who ended up making the ultimate sacrifice for the team, explaining that the volatile, electrokinetic Lincoln had a hard time fitting in within the tight-knit family of S.H.I.E.L.D., despite his feelings for fellow agent and Inhuman Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet).
“In a way you could kind of say this about everyone on the team, but they’re all looking for a family, they’re all looking for a connection,” he explained. “It felt like, with Lincoln, that he wasn’t getting that at all. Not even in S.H.I.E.L.D. And S.H.I.E.L.D. is already a ragtag group of people who don’t fit in anywhere else. So, if he’s not feeling it there, he really only felt it with one other person and that’s Daisy.”
Ultimately, Lincoln gave his life for Daisy, thwarting her determination to sacrifice herself with his surprise plan. “Saving the girl I love and the world at the same time? Feels pretty right to me,” he said as Daisy tried to get him to turn back, in a moment that broke many Marvel fans' hearts with its parallels to the tragic ending of Captain America: The First Avenger.
“The story is built so that [Lincoln] just has so few options, that he feels like at least he’s sacrificing himself for something,” Dalton added. “He really only cares about Daisy, and this is the one way that he can show his love, through this incredible sacrifice.”
While his fate on the show may be up in the air, Dalton said he had one of his “best experiences” on S.H.I.E.L.D. while shooting one of the most powerful scenes in the two-part season three finale, when Hive gets his brain scrambled after the agents rig up a high-frequency light beam that flashes the Inhuman through memories of his past hosts.
“I came into it with an idea and said ‘This is about what I want to do with it,’ and he [director Billy Gierhart] said ‘That’s cool, but you’re like, at a four. I’d love to see this at an 11,’” Dalton recalled. “And so we did. There were hours that we spent at 11, and then there were a couple takes too, where we were at a one or a two. If you smash those two together, you get some really interesting, crazy things that happen.”
It’s been a wild ride for the actor, who says he had no idea what the future would hold when he signed on to play “misunderstood, anti-social agent” Ward three seasons ago.
“I would have been thankful. I would have hugged them then,” he said of series creators Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen. “I’ve been very thankful for every opportunity.”
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return for its fourth season this fall on ABC.