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The second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been so much improved over the first season that we barely even noticed that a fairly important player from that initial series has been missing and largely unmentioned in the first 15 episodes of year two. That all changed last night when Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) found themselves in a jam and were forced to ask an old friend for help. The secret was kept pretty good, and we’ll keep it till after the jump just in case you haven’t watched the episode yet, but for fans of the Joss Whedon repertoire of players, it was a very welcome reprise indeed for the man who basically got the series going.

J. AUGUST RICHARDS

Yes, Mike “Deathlok” Peterson was back in Coulson’s time of need, and J. August Richards took time out to talk to ComicBook.com about his character’s return to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. New costume, new powers, new mission, Deathlok is back with a vengeance (in purpose, not in heart).

“I think I found out a few weeks before returning to work,” Richards explained about his then imminent return. “I had been kind of tipped off that I’d probably be returning, so I had to keep that a secret for a while too. I was really excited to come back. But every time I do come back, I feel like I’m playing a completely different character because there is so much that goes on off camera.”

Among the things that have happened off-camera is that Deathlok’s been a black-ops member of Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. “Yeah, Coulson has had Deathlok in his back pocket since we saw him last,” Richards said. “As you can see, I got a lot of upgrades while I’ve been gone. My costume is very different. There are things that are still the same. The character has been evolving since we’ve seen him last. This is like Deathlok 2.0.”

“I always think about this character’s humanity, so I feel like Coulson is someone that Mike doesn’t want to disappoint and someone that he really looks up to,” he continued. “I also feel from the very beginning he’s been looking for redemption and seeing Coulson as a key to that. Coulson can help him be the hero he’s always wanted to be for his child.”

And although Deathlok’s now on a mission with Coulson and Hunter in a jacked Quinjet, Richards says that fans can look forward to interactions with the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team in the future. “I know, as it was left in Season 1, there was a lot of unfinished business with the other team members,” he said. “I think you’ll get to see that played out a bit.”

You can read more from Richards over at ComicBook.com.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues Tuesday at 9 pm EST on ABC.

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