"Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" is close to kicking off filming on Season 2, which means that there are a whole new batch of secrets that showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon and executive producer Jeffrey Bell are trying to keep under wraps.
"We started hashing out the second season before we even wrapped [Season 1]," Tancharoen tells Zap2it and a few other reporters at ABC's summer TV press tour party. "We have our arcs, we have our tentpoles, and we have quite a few off the board. We're starting production on our first episode next week, so that's pretty fun."
One thing the executive produers aren't afraid to discuss is the new Coulson (Clark Gregg) that viewers will meet when Season 2 picks up. Tancharoen says Coulson is in transition from being "the kind of man to leave no man behind" to someone who has a hard time trusting others.
"Once we could say 'HYDRA' and there were double-crosses and spies in our midst, the show got really interesting, and so [we're] continuing that with SHIELD and Coulson not willing to trust people and not willing to bring people in, but having to because he doesn't have as many resources; we think we can keep that 'trust no one' alive," Bell says.
But with SHIELD destroyed and Nick Fury pretending to be dead, there aren't too many allies out there for Coulson, regardless of whether he trusts them or not. Fury tasked him to rebuild SHIELD at the end of Season 1, so Tancharoen says Season 2 picks up exploring, "What does it mean to be the director of something that's fallen apart?"
"Last we saw them, they were being hunted. They were no one's friends. They're in a bit of a pickle when we find them," Whedon says.
Austin Nichols only appeared in one episode of Season 1 as Rising Tide member Miles Lydon, but he's stayed in the "Agents of SHIELD" family as boyfriend to Chloe Bennet, who plays Skye. Tancharoen says there's a possibility they'll bring back Miles in Season 2. "A huge part of Coulson's job right now is to sort of reach out and try to find all the resources he can get. Does the Rising Tide play into that? Maybe," she says.
Since Miles was a romantic interest for Skye, it would be good to have him back as a foil to Brett Dalton's Ward. After it was revealed in Season 1 that Ward was a double agent working for HYDRA, his purpose in Season 2 has been kept Level 7 classified.
"He's in the mix," Whedon hedges. Bell says, "We love who he's become. He's really fun."
According to the producers, fans are very divided about the Ward and Skye relationship. "Half the people go, 'Just tell me he and Skye are not going to end up together,'" Bell admits. Tancharoen continues, "And then there are people who say, 'Tell me they will end up together.'"
But Skye has bigger problems to deal with than Ward. One of the final shots of Season 1 was the reveal that Raina (Ruth Negga) found Skye's mysterious father. All that Bell would say about that character is "he needs to wash his hands better." Tancharoen, meanwhile, wouldn't confirm whether viewers will find out more about him anytime soon, or if an actor will be cast to play the part.
Marvel is beefing up its TV slate in the 2014-15 season will the release of "Marvel's Agent Carter" during "Agents of SHIELD's" midseason break. That will divide the "SHIELD" season a bit differently than last year. "When we break and go to 'Agent Carter,' we're not going to leave you with something that is not satisfying, hopefully," Tancharoen says.
There is the chance that "Agents of SHIELD" will tie into "Agent Carter," which has Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas as showrunners. The "SHIELD" producers aren't ruling out that opportunity, or a tie-in to "Guardians of the Galaxy" after that movie comes out Aug. 1.
"It's a very cool opportunity that we have. Marvel, their whole thing is 'it's all connected,'" Tancharoen says. "Do we connect with 'Agent Carter'? Do we connect with 'Guardians'? Do we connect with anything else coming up?"
Just don't expect any movie-TV crossover to be quite as big as the "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" one in Season 1. "Fortunately there will not be a movie that comes out that destroys SHIELD, so our approach is definitely different this year," Whedon says. "In terms of game-changers, that's hard to beat."
"Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" Season 2 premieres Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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