They say power corrupts, and in the case of General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), it corrupts so completely we can barely recognize the guy we kind of liked underneath the fountain of crazy he keeps spewing. Who would have ever guessed he'd be the final big bad on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
In order to help digest all the bonkers twists of this penultimate episode — yes, even that Philinda kiss! — TV Guide got some help from the show's executive producers Jed Whedon, Jeff Bell and Maurissa Tancharoen.
"In terms of Talbot," Whedon tells TV Guide, "we felt that given the sort of emotion of the end of the world scenario and all that our team would be going through, it would be more impactful if it was someone we'd known a while."
"I think in general, the antagonists we know are always more emotionally satisfying and interesting than bringing somebody in from the outside," Bell adds. "And to see him go from just the straightest, straightest, straight man ever to a full-blast comic-book character — just watching him make those changes from damaged brain to finding his way back to, 'I can fix this,' to emerging as, 'I'm the hero,' was fantastic for us to watch."
It may have been fantastic to watch, but it was also super unnerving. Thank goodness we had some lovely Philinda developments to keep us distracted!
In the midst of a pretty serious fight in space, Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May (Ming Na Wen) took the time to get into a bickering match about strategy; a fight he decided to end by kissing her smack on the mouth behind the protection of an actual shield.
As for what that kiss means for Philinda and their potential happy ending, Whedon explains that there's still a few hurdles to tackle before they can ride off into the sunset together.
"She expressed how she felt earlier in the season, and he seemed to struggle with it, but this seems to be an expression of how he feels," Whedon says. "And now we're left at [the end of the episode] with a dangling question. How that will affect our team is a mystery, but more specifically how it will affect May is the question. They've just now reached a sort of new point in their relationship, so we'll have to see."
All of this could come to nothing though if the team doesn't come to a decision on how to use the centipede serum.
At the end of the episode, the group was faced with an impossible choice: Use the serum to heal Coulson's necrotic tissue and give him a new lease on life, or use it to kill Talbot and save the entire world from breaking apart. We know which way Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) will likely go, but everyone else? Their choices will be harder to pin down.
In case you wanted some extra emotional torture, we're heading into this season finale still not knowing whether Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is renewed for a sixth season or not. UGH. At least it sounds like we won't be left dangling off any huge cliffs?
"We did approach this end as something that we tied up with a bow in our minds and in our hearts a little bit, but if we get a shot at doing more, we will definitely celebrate," Tancharoen says.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 9/8c on ABC.