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'Agents of SHIELD' postmortem: Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb on what to expect for season 2

[SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains spoilers for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season finale.]

Now that was a finale.

Are you recovered, agents? Have you had enough time to get some theories together? Are you asking yourself how the heck you’re going to wait until fall? (Or at least until Comic-Con, where we’ll hopefully get some new footage and insight about next season?) If you’re anything like me, I’m betting that you have questions. Questions that need answers. And although we can’t divulge much, we thought that it might be best to let the experts — S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producer Jeff Bell and executive producer Jeph Loeb, Head of Marvel Television — share their thoughts. Read on for more. (And yes, although not finale related, we did ask about Buddy the Dog. In true Marvel fashion, both Bell and Loeb were coy about confirmation of his survival…but let’s just say that I choose to believe he’s living a long, happy life.)

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'Agents of SHIELD': Season finale poster art teases 'beginning of the end' -- EXCLUSIVE

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The title of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season finale is “Beginning Of The End”: thus, it’s only fitting that the final piece of art in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Level Seven series should take us back to the start, with a design that replicates the way we were introduced to our team in the initial series poster. READ FULL STORY

'Agents of SHIELD': Penultimate art offers insight into Ward's past -- EXCLUSIVE

One season, 20 episodes, and a lot of questions later, next week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will finally answer something that’s been on our minds since that game-changing reveal a few weeks ago: What’s the deal with Grant Ward?

“Ragtag” reveals the story behind the man turned Hydra, and during the course of the hour, we’ll learn exactly how Garrett first recruited him and how he was trained. And if that’s not enough, Coulson’s team will finally rendezvous with Garrett and his group of Hydra baddies. It’s all part of setting the stage for what promises to be an exciting, explosive, and huge season finale on May 13. READ FULL STORY

'Agents of SHIELD': J. August Richards previews Deathlok's return

When J. August Richards appeared in the pilot of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Mike Peterson, a single dad harboring some pretty awesome powers, viewers hoped that his presence would translate to a lasting spot on the show’s guest star roster. And Richards himself hoped for the same.

“I didn’t even know if I was gonna come back at all,” the actor admits with a laugh. “Everything is top secret, as you know. I feel like sometimes I find things out at the same time the audience does. But I like it that way, because it forces me to be more honest.”

While we haven’t seen much of Mike lately, that will change during tonight’s episode. In “Nothing Personal,” Peterson — otherwise known as Deathlok — returns to set the stage for the end of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s first season. EW spoke with Richards to find out what we can expect — and what sets this version of Deathlok apart.

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'Agents of SHIELD': Newest art teases Deathlok return as Skye and Ward take center stage -- EXCLUSIVE

To say that this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left our team in disarray would be an understatement. May has abandoned ship, literally, apparently on a mission to seek out Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill (with a little help from her mom). Coulson, Trip, Fitz and Simmons have returned from a mission to find their plane gone. And Skye and Ward are currently on a mission of their own, one that involves Ward’s determination to crack that hard drive once and for all.

As we speed towards the last hours of the season, it’s no secret that things are going to get even more intense. The April 29 episode “Nothing Personal” includes not only Hill’s return, but also the return of Mike Peterson’s Deathlok (J. August Richards). Aside from being significant in Skye and Ward’s journey, the Marvel villain will play a major role throughout the end of the season.

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'Agents of SHIELD': A cellist and a villain take center stage in latest art -- EXCLUSIVE

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“The cellist” — it was meant to be a throwaway line, a small piece of insight into Agent Phil Coulson as he took more of a center-stage role in Marvel’s The Avengers. Instead, viewers latched onto the idea that their fan favorite might have a bit of a mysterious love life…and ever since, speculation has swirled over if we would ever hear more.

With the idea becoming a reality in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s 19th episode “The Only Light In The Darkness” (airing April 22 at 8pm ET), it’s no surprise that the third piece of art in Marvel’s groundbreaking initiative, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Level Seven,” focuses on S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s protagonist and his famed lady love. This week’s gorgeous rendering was designed by Pascal Campion, an accomplished artist and animator. In addition to teasing the introduction of Audrey (Amy Acker), it also subtly hints at the villain in next week’s outing — none other than Marcus Daniels, aka “Blackout.”

See what executive producer Jeff Bell has to say about this week’s art and its tie in to next week’s episode in EW’s weekly conversation below. As a reminder, this art — as well as all future art in the series — will be available for purchase as a limited edition high quality print exclusively through MarvelStore.com starting at 1am PST tomorrow. READ FULL STORY

'Agents of SHIELD' postmortem: Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb on what [spoiler's] new role means for the series

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Tuesday’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and for that matter, if you’re even halfway interested in the Marvel-verse and haven’t yet seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier), do not read beyond this opening paragraph. This post contains massive spoilers concerning the plot twists and character developments in “Turn, Turn, Turn,” as well as speculation on future storylines. You’ve been warned…

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'Agents of SHIELD' first-look art teases Clairvoyant reveal -- EXCLUSIVE

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In anticipation of the episodes that will culminate in the conclusion of the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel is rolling out a new initiative that will bring the series together with top artists from around the world: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Level Seven.” According to Marvel’s press release, a different image will be released each week, timed to coincide with the show’s upcoming episode. Each piece of art — commissioned from a popular comic artist — will feature a “first look” at an episode’s “key” event, offering fans clues about the show’s characters and plot. New art will be released every Thursday in advance of the series’ remaining six hours.

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Watch a clip from 'Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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With Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron all coming our way starting next month, Marvel’s “Phase 2″ is poised to deliver some of its most exciting and action-packed films yet. And in the new ABC special Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe, viewers will get a chance to see firsthand how their favorite stories are brought to life on the big screen.

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'Thor' warrior Jaimie Alexander previews 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' guest role

Asgard comes to earth in Tuesday night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Yes Men,” where the team will see their highest profile guest star yet in the form of Thor’s Jaimie Alexander.

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'Thor' warrior Lady Sif coming to 'Agents of SHIELD'

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Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is doing another crossover with a big-screen Marvel property: Thor heroine Lady Sif is coming to the 15th episode of the season, ABC president Paul Lee told reporters at the TCA press tour Friday.

Jaimie Alexander, who played the Asgardian goddess in both Thor films, is shooting her appearance on the show. Unlike the tacked-on throw-away addition of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury last fall, Lee assured that Lady Sif’s role is “integral” to the episode.

Lee also teased that fans will find out who the Clairvoyant is this year, and that producers have a “very cool” plan for the back half of the season. Though the show’s initial ratings plummet was worrisome, the executive said he’s feeling “very good” about the show creatively.

So SHIELD, which returns Feb. 4, is one new ABC drama this season that’s sure to return next fall. Lee noted that the network’s latest struggling drama effort Killer Women will end its run early and will be replaced by newcomer Mind Games, about two men (Christian Slater and Steve Zahn) who can tailor a plan to influence any life-altering situation.

'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' recruits Bill Paxton as guest star

The world of Marvel is about to get a dose of big love.

Bill Paxton will join the cast of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for an arc of at least four episodes beginning in late February. Paxton will play Agent John Garrett, who will work alongside agents Ward (Brett Dalton) and May (Ming-Na Wen). “He is the type who wants to stay out in the field no matter how high-level he gets,” executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen told TV Guide, which first reported the news.

“We wanted to bring in a rough-and-tumble former cohort of Agent Coulson [Clark Gregg] with a little bit of attitude and cigar-smoking swagger,” added executive producer Jed Whedon. Some of Garrett’s backstory is mentioned in the comic Elektra: Assassin, but all that Whedon will say is “when Garrett got his promotion to Level 7, he refused to sit behind a desk and doesn’t like the formalities of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s going to help Coulson solve some mysteries and is not afraid to rig an explosive or two.”

Netflix, Disney partner for live-action series starring Daredevil, Luke Cage

Four of Marvel’s most storied characters — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage — are getting their very own TV shows.

Well, sort of.

Netflix and Disney announced today that they’ve joined forces to develop a live-action “four series epic,” plus a “miniseries event,” based on a quartet of beloved Marvel characters. Each hero will star in a separate thirteen-episode series. Their storylines will converge in a miniseries evidently called The Defenders, which will “reimagine a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters” — much like Disney’s 2012 big-screen blockbuster The Avengers, which brought together plot threads from five previous films.

The epic tale of the new Defenders begins in 2015 with a serial that spotlights Daredevil, the blind New York City crusader last played onscreen by Ben Affleck in a poorly received 2003 film. Daredevil will be followed by series about Jessica Jones (a superheroine turned private eye), Iron Fist (a martial arts master), and Luke Cage (an indestructible Harlem native whom Old Spice spokesman Isaiah Mustafa campaigned to play a few years ago).

Last year, Netflix signed an exclusive deal with Disney for subscription TV rights to all its live-action and animated films starting in 2016. Another live-action Marvel-based TV series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., can currently be seen on Disney-owned ABC.

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