Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted on ABC back in 2013 as the first series to bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe to television, although it would later move away from the larger MCU. The show closed on a satisfying note rather than killing a slew of major characters off. Ming-Na Wen's Melinda May got to retire from the action and become an instructor at Coulson Academy, and The Cavalry's era of action came to an end. Now, nearly a year after the finale aired, Wen has opened about how the show ended.
Fan reactions to the series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in August 2020 were generally positive, with the bittersweet ending of all the heroes surviving but the group splitting up for the next stage of their lives (and Deke being left behind alive but in another reality). Ming-Na Wen recently spoke with CinemaBlend's Adam Holmes about her role in Star Wars: The Bad Batch, and she took the time to share her feelings on S.H.I.E.L.D. coming to a close, saying:
It’s such a mixed bag of emotions. We’ve spent seven seasons together growing and becoming friends and a family. There’s a void, there’s a definite void, but I’m also used to this kind of lifestyle that I’ve chosen for myself where I work with a bunch of people very closely… it’s like a gypsy. You live this life where you know that it’s not gonna go on forever, and that’s ok. You love that experience. And I’m just grateful that the fans had a chance to see these characters come to a finale like we were able to experience it. It’s very rare that a TV series has that opportunity to know that it’s their final season, and for the writers to have a chance to make that a real button on the storytelling.
I think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans can definitely relate to Ming-Na Wen's sense of a "void" after the end of the show, even if fans didn't have the same experience of working with the group of people who brought the characters to life on television. As Wen noted, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team went into Season 7 knowing that it would be the last, so it was able to set up the ends of the characters' stories from the beginning, which was especially useful in handling Fitz's absence and the ultimate payoff when he returned to the group.
It also set up the idea of May being ready to move on, even if her descending from the ceiling as The Cavalry one last time was one of the most epic parts of the finale. And while her story when it came to Coulson himself wasn't necessarily over, S.H.I.E.L.D. gave her a peaceful ending that still allowed her to train the next generation of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as a teacher. Ming-Na Wen shared her thoughts on May becoming a teacher:
I think she always was. She was always the nurturer, you know? She just had a lot of roadblocks her way. And one of the best moments for me was I had suggested to the writers that she accepts her title of The Cavalry, that that would be a wonderful way to round out her character, that she finally has come to accept about who she was and all the mistakes she made or didn’t make. And I just love that the fans also loved that moment.
Over the years, May truly did show her nurturing side even as she wasn't exactly the most openly emotive character on the show. She helped Daisy become the superhero she was by the end of the series, and had to power through some very personal losses in the process of fighting the good fight.
And she did overcome some of her demons, as seen by her big Cavalry moment in the finale, when she took the title that she previously hated and embraced it to help save the day. Honestly, I don't know how Coulson didn't burst into cheers when May dropped from the ceiling – I certainly did watching from home! Like the rest of the team, Ming-Na Wen's May was still alive as of the end of S.H.I.E.L.D., so fans can always hope that she turns up again in the MCU.
That said, Ming-Na Wen is going strong in another Disney franchise thanks to her Star Wars role as Fennec Shand, who she debuted in live-action in The Mandalorian, reprised for Disney+'s animated The Bad Batch, and will play again in live-action for The Book of Boba Fett later this year. You can find Wen as Fennec Shand on Disney+, and relive her days as Melinda May with all seven seasons of S.H.I.E.L.D. streaming on Netflix.