Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. Sorry not sorry, but I finally caught up on Agents of SHIELD and I’m high key in love with all the characters, so it’s gonna be AoS for awhile. Today’s bae: Lance Hunter.
Who is Lance Hunter?
We first met Lance Hunter in season 2 of AoS. The end of season 1 saw the effects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Namely, Hydra took over SHIELD, and our heroes, led by Phil Coulson, had to work hard to wrestle control back. They were ultimately successful in stopping the worst of Hydra but needed to reboot SHIELD in order to have any shot at continuing to protect the world.
Unfortunately, with the Hydra takeover, SHIELD lost many agents. Either they were secretly Hydra, or Hydra killed them. So Coulson needed new blood when he restarted as director of SHIELD. Enter Lance Hunter. Hunter was a mercenary who worked with Isabelle Hartley, a former SHIELD agent. When Coulson recruited Hartley for a job, Hunter came along.
Hunter was brash and overtly mercenary but good at his job. Hartley and her crew stuck around, helping Coulson with a mysterious artifact. However, the job went south and Hartley ended up dying. Hunter was the only one of her crew to survive and swore revenge. He stuck around at SHIELD to get that revenge, even going so far as to shoot Agent May to have his way.
Coulson was less than happy with Hunter for that, but couldn’t help but be impressed. He offered for Hunter to stick around for awhile. Coulson needed good, skilled people; trust could come later, if necessary. Hunter stuck around and began to bond with the main SHIELD team.
Luckily, Hunter was already friends with Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, who he had a prior acquaintance with. Mack’s steady presence helped Hunter integrate into the larger team. Soon, he found himself feeling at home with SHIELD. The real test was soon to come, however, when Bobbi Morse showed up.
One of the things the team quickly learned about Hunter was that he loved to talk trash about his “hellbeast” ex-wife. So you can imagine his shock when a high-ranking SHIELD agent left an undercover job at Hydra… and turned out to be said ex-wife. Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter were previously married, and it didn’t end well.
To be fair, it didn’t exactly start well, either. Bobbi had encountered Hunter while undercover on a mission for SHIELD, back when Hunter was still with special forces. The foundation of their relationship was a lie, and Hunter lost a lot. That’s how he came to work with Hartley. However, despite their bad past, there’s a definite connection between Bobbi and Hunter that neither can deny.
They begin a “frenemies with benefits” situation that may lead back to a real relationship, with one caveat: Hunter knows Bobbi isn’t telling him something. He soon finds out what that is when the “Real SHIELD” story unfolds. Bobbi — and Mack — have been working for a rival SHIELD faction against Coulson.
When Hunter looks like he might discover their subterfuge, Mack kidnaps him. Hunter’s furious to know that not only was Bobbi lying to him, but Mack was too. The rival SHIELD faction tries to recruit Hunter, but he won’t have it. He soon escapes and goes to Coulson. Real SHIELD was the push Hunter needed, and he “officially” signs on as an agent of SHIELD, for Coulson.
Hunter becomes Coulson’s right-hand man for the duration of the Real SHIELD story, the rival faction having captured most of Coulson’s team. They work well together, and soon rescue Leo Fitz, who escaped with valuable information. The three work together to bring SHIELD back together and find a resolution to the conflict.
Bobbi and Hunter’s relationship took a backseat during Real SHIELD. As things wrap up, however, former Hydra operatives capture Bobbi, intending to punish her for her actions while undercover at Hydra. Namely, Bobbi had been responsible for the capture of a SHIELD agent, who was then tortured and brainwashed into working for Hydra.
Bobbi will not cave to the torture, so they figure out the best way to punish her: Hunter. They set a trap, knowing that Hunter will come to rescue Bobbi. In the end, Bobbi sacrifices herself, literally throwing herself in front of a bullet for Hunter. Seeing the love of his life nearly die is a wake-up call. The two agree to make things work and move forward.
Hunter goes on a campaign of revenge against Grant Ward, the Hydra agent who tortured Bobbi. He works with May, and we see a darker side of Hunter. The mercenary with no attachments nearly returns, but Hunter cannot deny that he has become softer by his association with the team. They have become his family.
That family will lead to heartbreak. On a mission to Russia, Bobbi and Hunter are captured. Both face severe punishment, possibly even execution, for their actions. They decide to sacrifice themselves to save SHIELD. Although Coulson manages to spare them from death, they are blacklisted and can no longer stay with SHIELD. They lose their new family, but at least they have each other.
After that, Bobbi and Hunter go off on their own. Hunter pops back up in season 5 when Fitz is in prison. Fitz gets out messages through football magazines, and football-crazy Hunter is able to decode them. He breaks Fitz out and the two of them work to figure out how to help the rest of the team.
Why is Lance Hunter Bae?
There’s not really much to say about Lance Hunter, as far as looks go. I mean, he’s a generically attractive white guy. Not to say that he isn’t good looking! There’s something appealing about Hunter’s classic good looks. Nick Blood is certainly easy on the eyes.
But in a show full of attractive people, it takes more than a pretty face to stand out. Luckily, Lance Hunter is definitely more than just a pretty face — he’s got character for days.
One of Hunter’s best qualities is that, despite his rough exterior, Hunter secretly has a good heart. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Lance Hunter is a secret angel or anything. He’s not perfect; he’s snarky, salty, and a little bitter. His exterior is no sham; he really is a bit rough and tumble.
But when it comes down to it, Hunter is a genuine sweetheart. So much of what he does is motivated by a good heart, despite what he may argue. He tries to play a mercenary, who cares about nothing but money. But right from the start, that facade is undermined by his response to Hartley’s death. Hunter is actually shaken, and takes steps to make things right, even helping Hartley’s sister.
Hunter’s actions during the Real SHIELD fiasco show a strong sense of loyalty. The rival SHIELD offers Hunter a position with them, with some degree of power. He would be working with Bobbi and Mack, but he turns them down. He is appalled that they would turn on Coulson (and perhaps a little miffed that they kidnapped him). So he goes to Coulson and offers his assistance.
We really see Hunter’s good side in his relationship with Fitz. When they first meet, Fitz is suffering from brain damage and can barely communicate. Yet, Hunter looks past that and they form a real friendship. Hunter respects Fitz’s intelligence, and he’s the biggest FitzSimmons shipper (besides maybe Daisy).
When Fitz needs a rescue from prison, he knows he can count on Hunter. And Hunter doesn’t just show up, he helps Fitz find the information he needs to save the team. It’s not all business, either. Hunter gives Fitz some good advice on dealing with his dark side, and they talk about their girls. It’s sweet.
The best part of Hunter’s character, though, is his relationship with Bobbi. Agents of SHIELD has some of the best ships out there, and Huntingbird is no exception. There’s a lot to love with these two.
Their shared history is fantastic. We don’t wallow in flashbacks of what happened, but we know. Lance Hunter, special forces, honorable, good guy, loses everything because of a girl — or so he tells people. But he doesn’t seem to mind. For all that he calls Bobbi a hellbeast, Hunter is clearly captivated by her. It doesn’t take them long to start things back up.
Hunter knows that getting involved with Bobbi is a bad idea, but can’t help himself. Despite everything, he loves Bobbi; there’s a reason they got together in the first place. It would be easy to write it off as physical chemistry since they have that in spades. But there’s a real emotional connection between the two that humanizes both characters.
When Hydra tortures Bobbi, Hunter is distraught. They were at odds over Real SHIELD, and now they might be over before they can sort things out. He is furious that Bobbi sacrificed herself for him, but knows that he would have done the same. They agree to make things work because they really do love each other.
Bobbi and Hunter’s ending in “Parting Shot” is tragic, but not as bad as it could have been. Sure, they had to leave the family the found at SHIELD. But they still have each other. We don’t see Bobbi again, but when Hunter rescues Fitz, he tells Fitz that he and Bobbi are still together. They have to work for it, but it’s worth the effort because of how much they care about each other.
What’s Not To Love?
Hunter wasn’t around for long. He popped up in season 2 and was gone halfway through season 3. But he definitely made an impression in his 36 episodes. There’s a reason he and Bobbi were going to get their own spin-off; the two were both very popular. It’s less clear whyyy they didn’t get the green light. Hunter showing up to rescue Fitz is definitely one of the highlights of season 5.
Lance Hunter is an unexpected delight. He sticks out in SHIELD — surrounded by people dedicated to the mission, determined to be “the shield,” Hunter cares about the money, himself, and his select few people he cares about. That’s what puts him at odds with Bobbi so often, as she is as SHIELD as they come. But over time, Hunter reveals that there is more to him than a simple mercenary.
Hunter cares, deeply. He loves Bobbi with all he has, which is why their relationship works. No matter what, he can’t leave her, because she is a part of him. Though he doesn’t want to, Hunter cares about other people, too. He cares about Hartley and Mack. He cares about Fitz, more than just because Fitz is useful — they are actually friends who bicker over football teams and gossip about girls.
Bobbi and Hunter leaving are still one of the most heartbreaking moments in AoS — which is saying something — because they both became amazingly integral characters. I would love to see them come back in season 6. The team could certainly use the help, and the show could benefit from bringing back fan favorites.
If we never see Lance Hunter again, we are worse off for it. He became a great part of a great show, with his mercenary snark and heart of gold.