Just as Captain America: The Winter Soldier forever altered the DNA of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in season one, Marvel once again used a major blockbuster to change the core of the ABC show in its second season.
But this time, it's the promise of a future movie, 2019's planned release of Inhumans, that is already affecting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as Skye (Chloe Bennet) went through a transition in the final moments of the fall finale, making her an Inhuman herself. Cue the fan freakout!
Skye, real name Daisy Johnson aka Quake, will quickly realizes in tonight's midseason premiere that whatever killed Trip (B.J. Britt) underneath the alien city during the Terrigenesis (aka exposure to the Terrigen Mist) in the fall finale actually changed her in ways she doesn't understand...yet.
"Instead of montaging Spider-Man on the subway having fun for about three minutes learning his powers, we can actually explore what it means to go through that," executive producer Jeffrey Bell told reporters on set of the ABC series. "At the beginning of the season, we tried to take Skye and really grow her up as a character and as an agent [and now through the] birth of a superhero. Now there's a whole new start, entering us into a whole new world of Inhumans and what that means for her and how it effects other characters. Those are all really fun stories for us to explore."
But now that we know Skye's true identity, don't go calling her Daisy Johnson just yet.
"She's still Skye, because she thinks she's Skye," executive producer Jed Whedon said. "Her dad thinks she's Daisy. And we'll see if she ever gets to the point where she believes that that's something that she would want to call herself. But right now, she has her own identity. Now that will change over time, but she's definitely still Skye and everybody still sees her that way for now."
As Skye begins to understand her new Inhuman powers physically, we'll also see how this change, in addition to the loss of Trip, affects her mentally.
"We'll see her dealing with the loss of Trip," Bennet told E! News on set. "She feels extremely guilty over that considering he went down there to save her and then he died. It's a lot of her figuring out that, 'Oh, when I got upset down there, an earthquake happened, and I keep getting upset and that may be happening again.' It's her exploring whether or not it is her that is creating these things, and then her dealing with what she has to tell the team, because people who have powers, from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s perspective, are put on the Index. That's not really a place she wants to be. It's dealing with admitting to her family. It's kind of like she's coming out almost as a superhero to her S.H.I.E.L.D. family and moving forward from there."
And though ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) isn't in the first few episodes back (we know, it's a travesty!), Dalton warns that not everyone on the team will react well to Skye's new powers.
"This is, in fact, the first official introduction of the word and concept of Inhumans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it's a big deal. I imagine there would be pretty strong reactions," Dalton teased. "[As of now], Skye, Raina [Ruth Negga] and Trip, who is no longer with us, are the only ones who knew what happened [during the Terrigenesis]. I think everyone is going to deal with that in a different way."
While Skye deals with figuring out what she's become in secret, the rest of the team will be busy mourning Trip...and for some, that grief will turn to anger as they try to place blame for what happened on each other.
"It's huge. It's a traumatic event," Elizabeth Henstridge, who plays Simmons, said. "He's one of our own. This is like Coulson [Clark Gregg] dying in Avengers, this is the thing that's going to spur and fuel the second half of the season. It's big for every character."
Even though he's not even in the episode, Dalton loved how the midseason premiere "read like eulogy to Agent Trip."
"It's a huge thing that you could feel in every scene," he said.
For some, losing Trip will cause them to lash out at their fellow agents.
"I would say the group is split because they're trying to determine 'Why?'" Henry Simmons, who plays Agent Mac, said. "'What are we chasing and why are we chasing certain things?'"
When the secret of Skye's new powers come out, expect that split to get even bigger as some agents don't know what to think of her new abilities.
"A death in the family or whatever with Trip going and then all this new information coming in, I think you're definitely going to see more of a fractured group and everyone trying to work out where they stand and how they feel about it and conflict coming up from it," Nick Blood, who plays Agent Hunter, said. "Particularly for Hunter it's something he's not accustomed to. It is a big question for him. He doesn't know Skye as well as everyone else."
Adrianne Palicki, who plays Hunter's ex, Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird, agreed.
"I think we all really care about Skye," Palicki said. "Those relationships will be challenged. I think it's definitely going to put a little bit of a crack in the team, [with] people having different ideas, fears about her powers coming out. I think a lot of questions are going to be answered or come to light."
In fact, the team member who will react the strongest to Skye's new powers in a negative way will shock most viewers.
"Some people react in a good way and some people react in a bad way," Bennet teased with a laugh. "I can't give you any specifics but it definitely, what's the expression? Throwing a wrench into things? Is that it? Yeah, that's what happens."
Expect the team dynamic to be forever altered after the events of tonight's midseason premiere.
"Everyone on the team is a ragtag sort of family," Bennet said. "When anything happens, when families go through adversity, everyone is at a heightened level of stress and people's true feelings come out and it's kind of a mess. It will definitely be a lot of seeing people handling things in different ways. And on top of that, Hydra is still out there, Ward still exists."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two returns tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC.