Warning: spoilers for last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode are ahead!
Last night, "The Inside Man" followed many of the traditional beats in an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode. Action, deception, revelation, the usual stuff. It was near the end of the episode that we got one of the weirdest scenes--not just of the season, but of the show's whole run. After spending an undisclosed amount of time binging TV and reading books, Hive ended his portion of the episode being covered in weird goo. It was a bizarre moment, and despite how short it was, it was extremely tough to pull off.
The cast and crew called this substance "honey," and Hive being covered in it was supposed to symbolize birth. However, while actor Brett Dalton was originally looking forward to shooting the scene, he made his discontentment with the actual experience to TV Line quite clear. He said:
I was all for it — ‘Put me in, coach! Let’s do another!’ And all through the day they were telling me how they’re warming up this goo…. It got everywhere you imagine goo could go. This was as close to a nightmare as I’ve had on this set!
Despite Dalton’s intense look during the actual scene, it certainly didn’t look fun being coated in the sticky "honey." Showering off after multiple takes must have been a godsend for the actor, eager to get that goo out of all those areas. Surely I wasn’t the only one who thought of the first Austin Powers movie, when the International Man of Mystery was being unfrozen and went through the "warm liquid goo phase?"
The reason for Dalton being dipped in "honey" was so Hive could get some much needed rejuvenation. After refusing Gideon Malick’s suggestion to simply set up shop in a healthier host or take over another Inhuman (in that case, he can’t feed on his own kind), Hive commanded Giyera to bring him five healthy humans. Later in the show, we saw that those HYDRA goons had been turned into his charred skeletons, with Hive having taken their life force and restored Ward’s corpse, i.e. it not looking starved and bony anymore.
In the crew’s defense, the "honey" was supposed to be warm, but unfortunately for Dalton, it cooled down to the point that being drenched in it was really uncomfortable. As showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen put it:
Brett actually did not have a good time. We promised that the goo was going to be slightly warm, and we attempted to warm it, but after a while it got… a little cold.
It wasn’t made clear in "The Inside Man" whether the process was permanent or if Hive need to infect more victims later on to keep Ward’s body healthy. Either way, he’s at peak physical capacity for the time being, and has moved forward with the next stage of his plan with HYDRA’s support. Eventually the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is going to learn that the enemy they thought was dead is back in a freaky way.
New episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.