[Warning: This video and article contain SPOILERS for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. up to Season 3, Episode 7.]
Multiple plots are heating up for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Marvel spin off show has supplied three branches of adversaries for the team to battle this season so far and kept the cards close to its chest in terms of which threat could provide the lasting story lines to the expected ultimate battle finale. Last week's episode saw a face-off and bitter sweet resolution to one of those threats at least - the predatory, Inhuman-slaughtering Lash.
The menacing appearance of Lash (who emerged from the shadows to give viewers the full effect this week) was a victory for the show's visual effects team, who had to create an authentic looking transformation from one of the show's main recurring characters. The creators have now released a short featurette highlighting how the metamorphosis was done and how their objectives enhanced the meaning of the episode.
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the Marvel Cinematic Universe series that orbits the events of the Avengers movies, focusing on the agency that help to protect the planet from dangerous alien interference. The team is headed by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who leads the group of multi-skilled (and in some cases superpowered) agents against a range of alien and human bad guys. The show is currently in its third season and has been steadily developing its impressively choreographed fight scenes and utilizing the opportunity to display bolder stunts and effects now more powered characters have been introduced.
In the above clip, Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Kolpack describes how the transformation was created and discusses the responsibility of a show that is affiliated with a big budget movie franchise, to “raise the bar” in terms of visual standards for TV. The character of Lash has been played thus far by American football player turned actor Matthew Willig. However, a recent shock twist revealed the transformed Inhuman monster's identity to actually be friendly team psychiatrist Dr Andrew Garner, played by Blair Underwood, who discusses details of his Lash scenes in the featurette. This recognizable element had to be incorporated into Lash which allowed Kolpack to combine both prosthetic and digital effects to create this transformation that could not compromise either Underwood's performance or the visual result.
This season, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s writers have honed in on the ethically ambiguous territory that is how the world would navigate the existence of a new and scary species with dangerous powers. Lash has served as the polar point of this discussion - scary, deadly and seemingly a mindless predator. In typical fashion that line is now blurred due to another surprise twist involving key characters' true loyalties. Within moments of the Andrew/Lash plot being put to bed (or stasis) another bomb was dropped as A.T.C.U leader Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer) was revealed to have been working with Hydra veteran Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) all along - followed immediately by a Price/Coulson kiss no less. These developments are clear signs that the show's creators truly intend to keep us double-guessing every event and mistrusting everyone this season.
Now Lash is contained (for now) and unless yet another new enemy appears, it is down to the outwardly evil new Hydra and the possibly evil A.T.C.U to pose the most threat to Coulson's team as Season 3 continues. Hopefully the visual effects team will continue to pioneer this element of the show and the upcoming story lines will give them plenty of opportunity.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues next Tuesday with ‘Many Heads, One Tale’ at 9pm on ABC. Agent Carter season 2 is expected to air during the mid-season break in early 2016.
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