[SPOILERS ahead for those not caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..]
It’s easy to forget that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has yet to resolve one of its longest-running mysteries, what with everything else happening on the Marvel TV show – such as the reveal that Deathlok (J. August Richards) has been out working in secret for Coulson (Clark Gregg). This week’s episode “Afterlife” dropped another bombshell on top of Mike’s return – namely, that Skye’s mother Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) is alive and an elder in the Inhuman community that Skye/Daisy (Chloe Bennet) now belongs to following her “transformation.”
Still, that aforementioned unanswered question remains – what, exactly, did Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) do, in order to earn the nickname “The Cavalry”? That answer will be provided at last in the next episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two, appropriately titled “Melinda”. Hence, the latest installment in the ongoing “Art of Evolution” artwork series is a poster featuring Agent May – under the cover of the shadow cast by some yet-to-be-identified opponent.
Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos), during his exchange with Agent May in “Afterlife”, indicated that Melinda earned her nickname following an encounter with a super-powered individual – one that ended badly, leading her to take a desk job at S.H.I.E.L.D. thereafter (sometime before when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started). Series producer Jeff Bell had the following to offer EW, when asked if May’s past experience (as we’ll learn about in “Melinda”) will affect her approach to the situation with Skye:
Absolutely. And it’s not just about Skye, but about Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. and secrets. There’s stuff that’s happening back then that’s happening now. DJ Doyle wrote this episode, and the same way that 15 was a big episode—you saw Bobbi back in the day, and you saw Bobbi now—it was about finding ways to transition and make those stories relevant. And in 17, we have a similar challenge. We have a backstory, but the backstory needs to be compelling enough so that you don’t mind it being a backstory, so that when you come back to the present story, you’re equally interested. Anytime you’re telling two or three stories, you’re always worried about one being more interesting than the other. And I think this episode does a very nice job in that you’re happy to be in any of them.
You can check out the aforementioned “Cavalry” poster, below. This particular one-sheet was designed by cover artist Jenny Frison, who is currently designing covers for Image’s Revival comic book series – though, in the past, she’s contributed to various comic properties from Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, among others.
“Melinda” will feature another appearance by Blair Underwood as Dr. Andrew Garner, May’s onetime husband – previously introduced to viewers in the S.H.I.E.L.D. season two episode “One of Us”. Andrew’s presence in the show’s present-day setting didn’t exactly bring out a entire new side of May’s personality (though it did bring out hints), but it sounds as though the story will be different when (presumably) he appears via flashbacks with a younger May in “Melinda”. Here’s what Bell offered, on that subject:
Without going too much into the story, because this episode tells the story of May’s past, she’s a very different May in this episode. This is the May before this incident happened. And so there are qualities that Ming[-Na Wen] brings to the role. Seeing her married back in the day… we’ve already met Andrew (Blair Underwood), but to sort of see what May was like back at that time is a different color, and I think Ming does that beautifully…
Bear in mind, “Melinda” won’t be hitting the breaks on the plot threads already in play in S.H.I.E.L.D. season two; the synopsis for the episode specifically mentions that Skye will continue to explore her Inhuman heritage, only to discover something that “will send her in a new direction.” Based on a story that broke earlier today, we have a theory about what that “new direction” might well be…
Agents of S.H.I.EL.D. continues next week with “Melinda”, airing next Tuesday, April 14th on ABC.