Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Most Wanted writer Jeff Bell spoke to Hypable about saying goodbye to one adventure, and beginning another with Bobbi and Hunter.
Sending off Bobbi and Hunter is a huge step for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can you take me through the process in the writer’s room?
Well, as you probably know, the episode was written by Paul Zbyszewski, who co-wrote the [Most Wanted] pilot. As the whole room talked, Jed and Maurissa, and the rest of the writers, we talked about a couple of things. One was, audiences didn’t know that this was going to be happening here, so we had to earn it. And two, we wanted to do it in a way that really honored the characters, and sent them off in a hopefully surprising but emotional way. That their leaving didn’t just effect them, but it also effected characters on the show. And I think we’ve created that, but that’s where it started.
I have to ask: Who came up with the “Spy’s Goodbye”?
I wish I could take credit for it, I’m sure Jed and Maurissa [do too.] That was Paul. That was Paul’s pitch. Paul was like, “This is how I think it should end.” I think as he pitched it out, we were all emotional in the room, just talking about it!
Were you on set that day?
I did not go to set that day, because I didn’t want to weep like a little baby. It wasn’t here on stage, it was on a location, but Paul was there, and all the actors, everything was very legit. And then Bear [McCreary]’s score to that scene is also perfect and beautiful, and one of the best things he’s done for our show. And all the actors delivered, and Henry just tears your guts out there at the end. But I’ve gotta give credit to Paul for that.
Well, I cried.
Oh good. Good, yay! Paul will be very happy. Something about writers, doesn’t really care what the emotion is, makes you laugh, makes you cry. It’s like, “Ha! Take that!”
I think this development was especially surprising because it’s relatively early in the season. Why did you decide to have them leave S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point in the story?
The answer for that [is], they had to go away to shoot the pilot [of Most Wanted.] And so we couldn’t delay it until later in the season, because they literally had to stop doing this to go get ready to do the other thing, and it didn’t make sense for us to have them here, and them drop out for a few episodes, and then come back, and then go away. So for us, this was the most organic way for us to find a cool way to exit them from the series.
And that’s it for Bobbi and Hunter on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season?
Yeah, the idea is, the way they leave from S.H.I.E.L.D. is, there’s no going back. That’s the intention of sending them off the way they did. Otherwise, why cry? Why say goodbye, just to go, “Hey! We were kidding!”
How do Bobbi and Hunter move forward from here? They seem pretty happy and relaxed at the end of “Parting Shot,” but…
Well, you know. Happiness doesn’t last real long in the Marvel universe! I can’t really say much about the pilot, because right now it’s just a pilot, we don’t know if there’s a series there or not. But Bobbi and Hunter, at least in leaving the show, seem to be together and of a like mind. And how we see them in the pilot, that’s for future us.
And how will the rest of Coulson’s team react to this loss?
One of the things we’ve tried to do on the show, you know, we started with this handful of characters, these six characters, and since then the cast of regulars has grown quite a bit. And [we have] lots of recurring characters — we’ve got the Secret Warrior characters, and Mack’s come in, and all these others. So the idea is that the show is a living, breathing thing in the way any kind of workplace is. So people will come in, and people will come out.
And so it will definitely effect the show and affect the characters, and I think from the end, it also shows you who it affects more than others in some ways. Mack came in with Bobbi in season 2, with Hunter, and so there’s a history there with him that I think you can feel at the end, is big to him. And they have particular skill sets, and so those will be missed.
But hopefully you’ll be excited about how that affects the other characters and the new characters we bring in, and at the end of the day you go, “Oh, that was awesome!” and not like, “Oh God, I wish they would come back!”
How do you think Most Wanted will be different from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
I would say, we’re looking to make an adult show that centers on the relationship with these two people that shares a lot of qualities with a lot of shows in the Marvel universe. So we want there to be action, we want there to be humor, we want there to be fun, we want there to be earned emotions. And so we’re trying to do all that in a different corner of the sky than we’ve seen. Netflix has their areas, they’ve got their neighborhoods, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has its, and Agent Carter has its own vibe and feel, and we’re hoping to do the same with this.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. initially began as quite episodic, but has become strongly serialized. Do you have an idea of which way you hope to take Most Wanted if it’s picked up?
Well, any show is always trying to walk a balance between the two. And Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in particular, we were coming onto a network that was looking for an audience that included non-Marvel fans, and we were coming in with, other than Agent Coulson, they were all new characters, and we had to find a way to introduce them and find a balance.
If the show ever gets too serialized, it’s inscrutable, and it’s only enjoyable for a handful of people inside the umbrella, so we try and balance it. And right now, with the new show, it’s a pilot. So I think once there’s a series to talk about, we an talk about the series. Right now, it’s just one episode of TV that we’re hoping [the executives] like.
Going back to the idea of tone, what kind of tone do you hope fans take away from the pilot of Most Wanted, setting off into a new series?
I don’t think Marvel would be happy if I got too deep into that! What I think I can say is, at the center of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in many ways is the metaphor of a family. Where you’ve got Coulson and May as the more senior agents, and you’ve had a lot of younger agents come in, and a lot of the dynamics that we play are based on those kinds of relationships — particularly Coulson and Daisy has a very paternal aspect there. And in season 2, we literally played the biological father/surrogate father and mother reality, and so that’s been at the center of it. Whether it’s a happy, joyous, fun-fun show, or “Oh my gosh, really bad things are happening,” those metaphors were at the center of it.
And this, we’re spinning off, and I think it’s much more of an adult couple relationship show. Couples get into relationships, and there are secrets and there are lies, and there are histories and pasts. And when you amplify that with people having spy history, and like, “Oh, I didn’t know you did that,” or “I didn’t know you’d been here,” or those kind of reveals, there’s a rich mine to vein. But beyond that, I don’t think I can talk about, it’s a happy show, it’s a dark show. Hopefully, it’ll have all of them! Funny, sad, strange, and beautiful — hopefully we get all of those things into every episode.