A Masterclass in Acting by Tatiana Maslany (part I | part II | part III | part IV)

daniel sousa in the season finale

i just love the fact that literally everybody started explaining dramatically why they should be the ones to sacrifice themselves and disabled daniel sousa with a crutch didn’t even listen and just did what had to be done without making a fuss and i think that’s one of the reasons why peggy loves him so much 


Marcus Daniels (Blackout) vs. Will Daniels (an astronaut that hasn’t seen the sun in fourteen years)

”Marcus Daniels was an assistant at a physics lab where they were trying to harness the electrical power of something called Darkforce. And nothing bad ever happens when you work with something called Darkforce.“ / “This whole godforsaken planet is evil…[Death] has this way of getting inside your head and just making you crazy.”

Agents of SHIELD: Death World

Where in the All-Father’s name was Jemma Simmons? Ever since Season 3 began, the writers have been taking the ‘slow and steady’ approach to the inevitable reveal. Even the last episode, “4,722 Hours”, stopped short of solving the mystery even though the entire episode took place on that other planet. It’s a lot like that island from Lost, really; whenever it looks like we’re about to finally get the answers, we only ever get some small token victory and a million more questions to replace the one we were asking in the first place.

Though we didn’t get many hard answers as to the nature of Simmons’ nightmare-world, we did get hints. Lots of big, juicy, tasty hints. Many of our crazy theories, sadly, didn’t survive the episode (if my Symbiote idea was dead before, it’s been cooked into a delicious meal and devoured by Volstagg at this point), but many new ones have risen from the ashes. You know me–I’ve never exactly been averse to crazy theories–so I’d like to go through some of the more popular ones. 


“This is hell.”

A slightly more literal interpretation of that line. Niflheim and the Mystery Doom Planet have a lot in common. Barren, sunless waste? Check. Blatant connection to the concept of death? Check. Controlled by a mysterious figure with near-limitless power? Check. It’s no wonder so many people have proposed this, especially with Ragnarok coming up and an Asgardian back in play on the show. 

Unfortunately, the idea doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. In both comics and mythology, Niflheim isn’t just a wasteland–it’s a cold, icy wasteland. It’s also far from deserted, populated by Hela’s servants and the spirits of the dead. Will was there for fourteen years, and the only other sentient being he encountered was It–who, in this scenario, is presumably Hela. ‘It’ only raises further problems, as indiscriminately killing people isn’t Hela’s MO. She functions more as a janitor than a killer in the comics; when Asgardians die, she picks up the mess and escorts their souls to the afterlife. Heavily devoted to her duty, she only takes an active role in things when some idiot really pisses her off.

It’s possible that this is just a wildly different interpretation of Niflheim and Hela, but I’m skeptical about that. Especially since Randolph didn’t recognize the Monolith–Asgardians aren’t fond of Niflheim for obvious reasons, and Randolph is a very paranoid Asgardian. He’s the sort of person that would know a portal to hell when he saw one.  

‘Fraid we’ll have to wait for Ragnarok, guys. But staying on the subject…

The Domain of Death

Death in the Marvel Universe isn’t just a force of nature–it’s an actual, godlike being that will eventually hunt you down and kill you dead. Also: madly in love with Deadpool and occasional one-night stand of Thanos. 

Every phyical being needs a home. This might be Death’s. It would certainly explain a lot–why the planet is so barren, who ‘It’ is and what It wants, how It messes with your head (in the comics, Death is very good at driving people insane)… the glove fits the hand very well. She certainly wouldn’t be happy about us trembling mortals interrupting her R&R.

I’m still fairly skeptical with this one, though. As a very important figure in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, I don’t think Marvel would debut her character on network television. Given the rumors of a behind-the-scenes war between the TV and movie divisions of Marvel Studios, a role for her here would be unlikely. It’s still possible, though. Very possible.

Ego, the Living Planet

“This planet doesn’t have weather, this planet has moods.

Before you ask: yes, that is a planet with a beard, and yes, that bearded planet is an actual part of Marvel canon. But can something so patently ridiculous really show up on mainstream TV? So far, that’s actually a distinct possibility. 

Let’s start by discussing Ego’s powerset. Being, of course, alive, he has complete control over his ‘body’, meaning he can conjure storms and rearrange terrain at will. He also has the ability to create powerful humanoid beings (’anti-bodies’), which he uses to repel invaders and conquer planets that piss him off. In the TV show, that would be ‘It’. His core is also known to be extremely hot (which Will pointed out when explaining why he and Simmons weren’t freezing to death), allowing him to survive in the sub-zero temperatures of space and hey, don’t those two moons on the top-right corner of his picture look kinda familiar?

Next, his temperament. Ego has a long and spirited history of killing the shit out of anyone that tries to colonize him. An alien civilization called the Rigellians have been trying for centuries; they never succeed, but they just can’t take a hint. At one point, a group called the Wanderers (refugees from planets destroyed be Galactus) were allowed to settle on Ego’s surface. The minute nobody was looking, he killed them all. He’s not just doing this for self-defense, either–whenever colonists attempt a retreat, he always tries to sabotage their escape route, and never allows any survivors if he can help it. See, Ego can absorb the ‘life-force’ of his victims, using them as a food source. When Simmons mentioned the idea of sacrifices, she might have been onto something–Ego would see anyone that goes through the Monolith as a tasty midnight snack. 

Tl;dr: many planets can claim the title ‘death world’, but only one can say that it’s actively trying to kill you. 

Jiaying said that the Monolith was created by the Kree to deal with the Inhumans. If that’s the case, the Kree deserve a pat on the back, because that plan is damn near foolproof. If they tried to kill off superhumans the normal way, with guns and bombs, they might survive and take a shot at vengeance. Send them to Ego, and they’re screwed. The only way out is through a portal that incapacitates any Inhuman in close proximity, and if your powerset includes near-immortality (ala Jiaying), Ego has all the time in the world to figure out your Achilles Heel, tormenting them all the while. 

And Simmons wants to go back there. I’m suddenly very, very scared for her.

A Kree Prison

Not quite as flashy as the other three theories, but a possibility nonetheless. Going back to what Jiaying said about the Monolith, I had a sudden thought: what would the Kree do if they created an Inhuman they couldn’t kill? We know Terrigen is capable of producing some pretty powerful figures–Black Bolt, for example, can wipe out a small landmass with a friendly hello. And he’s not even the most powerful; high up there, yeah, but there are still bigger fish. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Kree experiments produced something more powerful than the Kree themselves.

The planet and the Monolith might be their solution to that little problem. The only way on or off is through the portals, which would no sell any Inhuman that tries to get through on their own power. The Kree themselves (as well as any other being with ‘normal’ DNA) could presumably pass unimpeded, so if it’s a prison, it’s a prison that only works on one very specific group of people. 

That would make ‘It’ an extremely powerful (and possibly immortal) Inhuman, one that’s extremely angry at the universe in general and probably has no idea how to control their powers. That ties in nicely with the other story arcs going on SHIELD right now, with Lash and the ATCU, while giving the season’s big bad an instant tragic backstory. It could also allow the show to give us another major character from the comic–when Simmons encountered ‘It’ for the first time, my thoughts went to the Unspoken

Who’s he? An Inhuman king, extremely powerful, overthrown by Black Bolt and exiled to parts unknown. His accomplishments, his great deeds, and even his name were struck from history. He survived on the fringes of society for a long time, making a few half-hearted power plays against all the while. Needless to say, not very friendly. 

I’m not quite sure if he’s a viable candidate, though. While he’s more than a match for heavy-hitters like Black Bolt, he’s only able to keep up if he has a steady supply of Terrigen (he absorbs the stuff for power boosts, an ability unique to him). If the Kree really did lock him away, they wouldn’t stash him away anywhere near his greatest weapon. So how would he get powerful enough to conjure gigantic sandstorms?

Fortunately, I’ve got another longshot theory ready, too. The uber-powerful Inhuman prisoner is… Will himself. Yes, I know it sounds stupid, but bear with me. 

The ‘Will Is Evil’ Theory

Remember way back in Season 2, when that Kree warrior with the wonky hammer tried to kill Daisy? He said two very important things: that the Inhumans had serious issues with controlling their power, and that the Kree didn’t care about control in the first place. They were designed to be living weapons, meant to kill anything that got too close whether they liked it or not. Any Inhuman in that first batch would have some serious control issues, and nobody to help them learn. 

There are a lot of theories floating around that Will was secretly the entity all along. Being a walking, talking spanner-in-the-works for the FitzSimmons ship, that’s only to be expected (I’m surprised people aren’t more upset, actually–in other fandoms, we’d be burning effigies of Will’s likeness by this point). But I think the truth could be a bit more complicated than that. Will isn’t evil. He just can’t control his powers.

Depending on what Will’s powers actually are, they can manifest in a lot of different ways. Take the example of Sentry and the Void. Sentry, in the comics, is a ridiculously powerful hero, more powerful than any of his coworkers by a pretty wide margin. But that sort of power has dangerous effects on the human mind–Sentry just couldn’t handle it on his own. To compensate, he unconsciously created a being called the Void. The Void is a dark alter-ego, a manifestation of Sentry’s own destructive tendencies. Sentry fought a constant Jekyll-and-Hyde-style battle in his head against the Void every day, trying to keep it contained. Three guesses as to how that turned out.

Despite technically being nothing more than Sentry’s imaginary friend, the Void functions as a separate, entirely autonomous being when controlling their shared body, with its own goals and desires. Sentry himself has very little control over the thing once it gets loose, and it usually celebrates by killing as many people as it can before Sentry is able to reign it in. 

This, I think, might be how ‘It’ works. ‘It’ isn’t Will himself, but an unconscious manifestation of his power. This kill-crazy alter-ego embodies every negative feeling Will’s ever had in his eternal prison–the anger, the loneliness, the murderous insanity that only comes with eons of complete isolation. Off-loading this baggage (unconsciously) onto his imaginary friend is what allowed him to stay sane this whole time. 

But problems began to arise when other people came through the Monolith. Will would have been overjoyed at the prospect of company. His perpetually-insane counterpart? Not so much. Will tries to hold ‘It’ back and keep his new friends safe, but he still can’t control his powers or the eldritch death-god that he accidentally created, so he fails. He scavenges their belongings, uses the information he learned from the last ones (when he met Simmons, he asked a lot of questions about how the world changed after he’d gone–if he’s always been here, this might have been his way of keeping tabs on Earth) to establish a believable backstory, and when the next explorers stumble through the Monolith, he introduces himself as a survivor from the last group. 

NASA’s team was the most recent, so he established himself as a NASA astronaut after ‘It’ wiped them all out. Every reference to modern (by 2001 standards) culture he made was stuff he learned from the NASA scientists that came before. They clearly lasted a while (his attachment felt pretty genuine), enough to get the gist of what they were talking about… though not enough to operate any of the technology they left lying around. No idea where he learned modern English, though. 

This theory explains a lot about his behavior. 

  • Why did he trap Simmons in a cage when they first met? He was protecting her from ‘It’, but also wanted to keep Simmons at a distance. He’s been through this enough times to believe that she’s a dead woman walking–of course he wouldn’t want to get attached… at first. 
  • Why did he argue so heavily in favor of not making a run for the portal, even though he should have been jumping for joy at the prospect of going home? The portals are Inhuman-proofed. He goes near one, he gets the nosebleed to end all nosebleeds. He didn’t want Simmons to go either, but took the “if you love something, set it free” approach when he realized she’d die a horrible, painful death if she stayed. 
  • How does he know so much about ‘It’ and the ‘no-fly zone’ if he’s never had a prolonged encounter with either of them? He has expert knowledge, but he’s pretending he’s an amateur. 
  • Why does he withhold information from Simmons? Because he believes Simmons would leave him if she ever discovers the connection, and wants to keep her in the dark as much as possible. This is probably something that happened before, and whoever it was that walked away almost certainly died as a result. 

On most shows, I wouldn’t give this kind of theory the light of day. It’s a very ballsy move, and most TV writers don’t have the backbone to try pulling it off. But this show has a history of twists like this. A slightly-flawed moral paragon, whose actions seem completely bland and predictable until we find out about their darker, hidden motives? Where have we…

…seen that…


Is this going to happen? Let’s be honest: probably not. But would it be awesome if it were true? Yes. Yes it would. 

As always, remember that none of this is canon. Will could be Inhuman, Death could be stalking Simmons, Rosebud could be the sled… but the only ones with the truth are the writers themselves, and they’re taking their sweet time with setting the record straight. All of these theories, likely or unlikely, crazy-stupid or crazy-awesome, are guilty until proven innocent. 

But I’ll be damned if they aren’t fun. 

Some thoughts on Will

“Yes, we’re aware of that,” Daniels laughs when asked if he’s concerned that the procedure will take place on Friday the 13th. “We’re not really a superstitious crew, so I think we’ll be safe.” (From one of the articles Fitz has open on his computer)

I think there’s a distinct possibility that Will is not who he says he is. But have we considered the equally plausible explanation that perhaps his experience on the planet scarred him from wanting to open up to Jemma about his former self? If his story is true, then he witnessed two members of his crew commit suicide, and had to kill the third out of self-preservation. Can you even imagine? Then, after all of that, after burying his comrades and finding himself spared by “Death,” he’s stranded on a barely hospitable planet, all by himself, for fourteen years

I don’t know if you can comprehend how long fourteen years is. But for me, that’s over half of my life. I hardly remember who I was back then, let alone the values I held or the people I surrounded myself with. It’s still there, of course, and certain memories I will recall as vividly as if they’d occurred yesterday. For the most part, though, it’s kind of a blur. Something similar probably proves true for Will too.

Imagine dedicating your life to science, to exploring the unknown. Imagine finding yourself trapped on an unfamiliar planet, your only company that of a non-corporeal entity whose supposed purpose is to kill you. Imagine dismissing superstition as unrealistic, because you’re a scientist, because there’s always been an explanation. Imagine having your core values ripped from you, as you realize that science can’t save you from “it.” Imagine coming to the conclusion that you’ll never see your family again. Imagine someone showing up after all that time, giving you hope when you thought you’d had absolutely none left. She’s a scientist, but that’s a part of your life you’ve left behind, so you feign ignorance. She talks about her father, how she gained her love from the stars from him. And there’s something tugging at your memory, a time when you were still innocent, when you and your own father built a telescope and you decided you were going to visit the stars, not just study them. But you keep that memory to yourself because this is her story and her story isn’t over yet. Yours ended a long time ago. You tell yourself you’re okay with that, though, because at least you got once last glimpse of sunlight.

I’m not saying there’s not something fishy going on with Will. I’m only saying that if he is real/not evil/telling the truth, I can understand why he might not have disclosed everything to Jemma.

So...predictions for the “game-changing” mid-season finale

* Grant Ward is Hellfire. He also betrays Malick.

* The “It” monster is revealed to be a good guy. It’s not the founder of HYDRA, it’s the jailer keeping the HYDRA founder on the planet. Speaking of the founder…

* Will Daniels is the Inhuman founder of HYDRA. His ability is immortality and shapeshifting (he took on the form of the real Will Daniels, who died years ago). Due to this, Will is the MCU equivalent of a Skrull. 

* Jemma Simmons is revealed to have been brainwashed since season 2, retconning why she approached the Monolith. HYDRA’s plan was for her to be sacrificed, which is why she felt compelled to approach it. Also, maybe it’s a state of mind that you need to be in in order to be taken by it. The only times she manages to break free from her brainwashing is around Fitz, which is why she abandoned Will for Fitz during her blitz a while back. 

* HYDRA fully brainwashes Jemma and she becomes the MCU version of Madame HYDRA. Will comes through, reveals his true colors, and after Ward kills Malick, Will takes over HYDRA. For part 2, the main big bads are Will Daniels and Jemma Simmons/Madame HYDRA.

* The team is rescued by DEATHLOK (not really a prediction, just wishful thinking). 

* At least one person remains stranded on the death planet. Most likely, it’s going to be Fitz.