On a bright and sunny WonderCon afternoon fans packed into Anaheim Convention Center’s Arena to gain secretive spy insight into Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season Six.
The Saturday panel for the upcoming season began with moderator, and Agents of SHIELD Executive Producer, Jeph Loeb hyping up the audience with the announcement of the premiere date, May 10th. Afterwards, he thanked many of the people behind-the-scenes who help bring the television show to life; this included a sweet moment of gratitude towards the late Stan “The Man” Lee, who made a brief cameo in Season One.
Then it was time for much of the main crew and cast to report in for duty: this included Jeff Bell (Executive Producer), Maurissa Tancharoen (Co-Creator), Jed Whedon (Co-Creator), Jeff Ward (Deke Shaw), Henry Simmons (Alphonso ‘Mack’ Mackenzie), Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Elena ‘Yo-Yo’ Rodriguez), Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons), Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz), and Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson).
Loeb notified the audience that it was Gregg’s birthday soon and encouraged them to sing “Happy Birthday;” hilariously, due to the sheer size of the audience in attendance, the celebratory tune sounded as though it were sung by a chorus of Walking Dead zombies.
The moderator then asked Gregg if he had a birthday wish. “I would like to know what song people just sang,” he joked. “I was really lucky that in Season Six I got to direct the first episode, which was an incredible episode, written by our own Jed [Whedon] and Mo [Tancharoen]. Is there any way we could see a few minutes of that?”
Following a bit of fun stage banter from the cast and crew, the lights were soon dropped and the audience was given the opportunity to watch the Season 6 premiere titled “Missing Pieces.”
Note: Spoilers for Agents of SHIELD Season 5 and light spoilers for the premiere of Season 6 follow.
“Missing Pieces” takes place a year after the heartbreaking finale of Season 5 of Agents of SHIELD with the last hurrah of Phil Coulson, Fitz being stuck in space, and Mack taking over as director of SHIELD.
Tancharoen and Whedon do a fantastic job in their writing jumping into the SHIELD agent’s present day status quo while also including moments that showcase how the events of last season have affected them. While Mack and agents such as May and Yo-Yo try to rebuild SHIELD from Earth, Agents Daisy, Simmons, Piper, and Davis search for Fitz in the vast depths of space aboard their small space craft.
Throughout the episode there is a palpable sense of scrappiness as we see how far various characters are, and have been, willing to go to help each other or to take on new roles within SHIELD; in one moment we see how Mack’s current status as director has affected relationships he has had among the team.
As mentioned by Agents of SHIELD’s Transmedia Producer Geoffrey Colo on Twitter the episode was showcased in DCP format with 5.1 surround sound which created an incredibly cinematic experience. This format helped show off Gregg’s direction; throughout the episode he displays a handle of traditional Marvel spectacle but also helps get strong performances from the cast.
After the showing the cast and crew engaged in a Q&A with the audience. One highlight was when a fan asked what had been their fondest memory being a part of the SHIELD family.
Maurissa Tancharoen said for her there is a lot wrapped into the show as she works on it with her husband, Jed Whedon. “It’s our first show together,” she said. “It was sort of like our first child I would say; we were very precious about it when we started Season One and then we became a family with all these people [on stage] and then we started our own family. For me, I think the birth of my daughter during the show has been a wonderful moment.”
Clark Gregg said his fondest memory stems from the fans themselves. “I can’t think of anybody else who got the bad call that I got from Marvel which was ‘You’re going to have a lot of fun in The Avengers – until you don’t’ to then have people like you at cons and online just say ‘No. No. F**k you. #CoulsonLives’ and boom, here we are seven years later,” he said.
There was nothing but pure fandom love expressed at the Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD panel with an energized audience and gracious cast and crew. Judging by the premiere, Season Six looks to be perhaps the show’s most intense yet as its characters are being pushed to new and exciting limits.