Marvel's flagship TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be coming to a close with 2020's seventh season - but as the cast and crew tell Newsarama, they've been able to end it on their own terms.
"We got a call at the middle of season 6 from the network. She called and said 'Do you think there’s a season 7?'" Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb told Newsarama. "We sort of stopped and talked about it and said 'Look, every year we had to guess whether or not this is our last year. We’ve never been able to tie it up and do it on our terms.' We went back and said 'We’ll do it this way but then let us finish the story for now.' As you all know, I believe every great Marvel story ends with 'To be continued.'"
Series lead Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson/Sledge) mentioned how he and the cast thought the series wouldn't be renewed after the 2017-2018 fifth season - with the show's writers even writing it as a finale.
"We kind of did our goodbye at the end of Season 5. We hadn’t heard if it was going to be picked up, and the show was called, 'The End', that episode," Gregg said.
"We thought we were dead with Season 5," executive producer Jeff Bell said. "The show started with Coulson in Tahiti and we thought we would end with Coulson in Tahiti, but the real place. If we thought there would be more, we wouldn’t have put him there then."
But that was not to be the case, as ABC greenlight two more seasons.
"It was very moving and we did that goodbye, and then we came back to do two more 13-episode seasons, which we were thrilled to do," said Gregg. "I heard about the stories. I heard what they wanted to do to kill off Coulson and have this other evil guy show up. It was very exciting."
And now we're just a few days out from season 6's season finale on August 2, which Gregg said is "pretty mind-blowing and explosive."
"It really rips the entire rug of the first six seasons out from under people. Season 7 is a big departure. So with the ending, a lot will be reflective of that and the changes that happen before that," the actor said. "It’s very interesting to be saying goodbye, putting on these costumes for the last time, especially for me because I’ve been doing it for 11 years now, playing this guy, dead and then back, dead and then back - and God knows."
"The ending will be much more reflective of a place there as and a direction they may or may not be heading in individually and in groups – I hope I’m even allowed to say that," he added."
Prying into this seventh and final season, Bell said the show is taking "big storytelling risks" they wouldn't have done otherwise, and like Gregg said, sets the characters up for potentially more, somewhere else.
"For Season 7 we have nothing to lose, so we are swinging for the fences," said Bell. "I mean, we took some big storytelling risks that we think are very entertaining that we hope other people find entertaining. Knowing when it’s going to end for real has allowed us to build towards that ending that leaves our characters in a place that we hope will have fans go, that’s cool I appreciate that."
Natalia Cordova-Buckley, who plays Yo-Yo Rodriguez, wouldn't say much about season 7 - which just finished filming - but did say they'd be on the road.
"It’s very different – seven from six. There’s a lot of traveling in seven," Cordova-Buckley told Newsarama. "I’m not going to say what type of traveling, but we do a lot of traveling."
"There could be people or elements that you’ve seen come back," said Henry Simmons. "I can say that you’ll meet Mac’s parents."
As for the two actors and their characters' recently-fizzled romantic relationship, they each have opinions on it - and admits they didn't understand it at first.
"From Mack’s perspective we learn that they separate because Mac felt like he couldn’t do his job properly worrying about the safety of Yo-Yo," Simmons said.
"It goes back to what we were saying about him being a leader, that choice is not ego-centric,"
Cordova-Buckley said. "It’s I have to do it for the betterment of her, of the team, and he lets go of his own desires and needs to cover that. It was hard for us to even understand it, I think, at first when they told us that they were going to break us up. We were like what, but then we had to make sense of it and that’s the sense of it I’m making."
With filming of the seventh season now wrapped and the finality of it sinking in, Gregg has a lot of feelings about the family the show developed - both in front of the camera and behind it.
"There’s a lot of complicated feelings. They are tearing down the place we shoot. It’s very much like the Framework at the end of season 4 – buildings are disappearing," Gregg said. "People are going to other jobs, so suddenly the sound guy, Tom, he’s gone. People are disappearing around us - like Infinity War."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s season six finale is scheduled to air August 2, with season seven to be broadcast sometime in 2020.