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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. postmortem: Elizabeth Henstridge talks Simmons' return

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ABC

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just six months later and two episodes into the new season, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) back to Earth, though it was a long road getting there.

After Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) heartbreakingly stepped into the monolith enclosure in hopes of joining Simmons, he discovered that the Kree Obelisk was actually a portal to a different planet. Coulson (Clark Gregg) then tracked down Asgardian Elliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol), who provided insight by taking Team S.H.I.E.L.D. to an old English castle, which housed a machine that could control the Obelisk.

With the machine destroyed after the first try, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) uses her Quake powers to open the portal, which Fitz jumps through and manages to bring Simmons back. But this is not quite the Simmons we used to know. EW hit up Henstridge to get the scoop:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, is this actually Simmons that has returned?

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE: Yes. I mean, as far as I know it’s Simmons. She’s definitely changed, but this is her.

You never know on this show! How did her time on that planet change her?

She has PTSD. She’s been through something, which, for her especially, was just unthinkable. She’s not been sure about any of the Inhuman stuff or the alien everything. Now all of a sudden she experiences it. Not to say that she’s an Inhuman, but she has experienced alien things first hand and it has changed her. It transported her to another place and she doesn’t understand how that’s possible. Maybe we’ll find out what happened while she was there. She’s been in survival mode. We see her and her clothes are tattered, she’s dirty, and she’s obviously been through it. She’s reliving those nightmares. She’s suffering from PTSD when we see her in this episode.

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Will Simmons’ PTSD cause a divide between her and Fitz or will she be leaning on him even more?

I think she’ll be leaning on him even more. The first word she says when she comes back is Fitz. All she wants to do is be close to him. She has a nightmare and he’s by her bedside. She crawls over and then can fall asleep because she’s close to him. It’s so far away from being romantic at the moment. He’s just there for pure comfort.

How does she feel about the team all but giving up on her during that six months?

At this point, she doesn’t know that, but she’s a pragmatist. It’s because of their close relationship, she just knew Fitz would never give up. I’m not sure if she’ll ever really know, but she’s a scientist too, and she would’ve looked at the evidence and gone, “We’ve tried every avenue, it translates as death, so she’s probably dead.” I don’t think she’s too concerned about that. She’s just all swept up in what she’s been through, being back and trying to piece together what happened to her.

Simmons wasn’t a big fan of superpowers or aliens before her trip, so is that heightened now upon her return?

Where she is at the moment, she’s just trying to function and trying to sleep through the night. We’re going to see her really struggle with every day activities and people thinking she can’t really handle stuff now because she’s been traumatized. Hopefully out of that will come strength. I would think having experienced something that she would be potentially more inclined to empathize with alien tech and alien experiences. Maybe once she starts wading through the trauma, she’s potentially going to be really fascinated by it, but that’s a ways off. At the moment, when we see her back, she’s a shell of her former self and she’s just trying to process everything that happened to her.

Will we see more of her time on that planet?

We might.

Could whatever was possibly chasing her on that planet still be hunting her while she’s back on Earth?

She’s definitely afraid of that. That will for sure feature. Now that she’s back, it’s not like, “I’m fine, moving on!” It will have a huge impact on the rest of the season. Psychologically, she’s petrified that she’s not safe.

Does she jump straight back into work?

It will take her a while, by her own choice. Her whole identity is her work, science and experimenting. She just can’t string a sentence together at the moment. She’s completely back to square one trying to almost learn how to walk again, learn how to sleep again, learn how to eat normal food. She’s completely at zero, so it’s going to take a second. She’s really struggling. We’ll definitely find out why she’s struggling so much in later episodes.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.