Director Coulson & Co. may have dispatched the threat posed by Jiaying in the Season 2 finale of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. , but ABC's Marvel spinoff isn't looking to slow things down anytime soon. The network is already casting for the newest threat the team will face in Season 3, and the latest scoop sounds absolutely... unreal. According to Entertainment Weekly, actress Constance Zimmer is joining S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 as Coulson's main antagonist. This is great news, since Zimmer has absolutely been killing it as cutthroat producer Quinn on the summer's biggest surprise hit, Lifetime's Bachelor-spoof series UnREAL .
While I could spend this entire article talking about how amazing UnREAL is and how you should absolutely be watching it if you're not already, instead I'll focus on Zimmer and this very exciting news. Besides, UnREAL is far from the only show the actress has appeared on recently: in the past two years alone, she has recurred on Season 9 of Grey's Anatomy as a financial advisor, on Season 2 of The Newsroom as a Romney spokeswoman, and on Seasons 1 and 2 of House Of Cards as reporter Janine Skorsky. She also had a recurring role for six years on HBO's Entourage — a role which she reprised in this summer's Entourage feature film.
So who will Zimmer be playing in S.H.I.E.L.D.? EW was vague on the specifics, but they did reveal that she will play, "the head of a mysterious new government agency that will cross paths with S.H.I.E.L.D. as both seek out new Inhumans following the events of last season." She'll also apparently be going "toe-to-toe with Coulson" over the course of Season 3. Given S.H.I.E.L.D.'s track record of playing fast and loose with the show's comic book source material, it's entirely possible that Zimmer will be playing an original creation for the ABC series — or someone who resembles a comic book character in name only. But where's the fun in that? Let's assume that Zimmer will be playing a previously established character. Who could it be?
When Season 2 ended with Coulson recruiting Skye (aka Daisy Johnson; aka Quake) for a mission to gather and head up a team of Inhuman heroes, the show kicked off a comics storyline called "Secret Warriors." This will presumably be the focus of the entire third season and, given that, we can make some educated guesses about Zimmer's identity. During the "Secret Warriors" plot, Fury rekindled an affair with an old flame of his named Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine. (Or "Val" for short.) Of course, it turned out that Val had been killed and replaced by an impersonator, and she was simply using him to get at sensitive S.H.I.E.L.D. passcodes. EW's description said that Zimmer's character would be the head of an agency, and Val was the leader of the so-called "Femme Force" for a time.
Another possibility is that Zimmer could be portraying Deidre Wentworth, aka Superia, the leader of H.A.M.M.E.R., a replacement agency created by the government after S.H.I.E.L.D. is believed to be compromised. (Of course, it turns out that Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn has manipulated the creation of the agency himself.) The introduction of H.A.M.M.E.R. could be relevant to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, since part of the organization's goal was to access the S.H.I.E.L.D. database to retrieve the secret identity of every single superhero listed under the Superhuman Registration Act — which is coincidentally (or not) the cornerstone of the clash between Captain American and Iron Man in the "Civil War" plot line.
Many Marvel fans were surprised when Avengers: Age Of Ultron didn't do more to actively set up for next year's Captain America: Civil War. Could S.H.I.E.L.D. be about to pave the way for that sequel with the introduction of the Registration Act?
Then there's the chance that the government agency Zimmer's character is working for is the Sentient World Observation and Response Department — or, if you're following along at home, S.W.O.R.D. That particular organization is led by Agent Abigail Brand, who is generally OK with much harsher tactics than S.H.I.E.L.D. typically employs in her goal of protecting Earth from extraterrestrial threats. If she finds out that Coulson and Skye are actively recruiting Inhumans to join S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Brand might have a thing or two to say about that.
There's another big clue that S.W.O.R.D. and Brand are the direction in which the show is headed: the fictional agency was created very recently — first appearing in the pages of Astonishing X-Men in 2004 — by none other than the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. creator and Avengers director himself, Joss Whedon.
As long as Zimmer gets to keep Brand's signature green hair, I'm totally on board with this casting decision.
Images: James Dittiger/Lifetime