Credit: ABC
ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." - Season Three

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season 3 premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasted no time in revealing exactly where Simmons is during Tuesday’s season premiere — but that doesn’t mean she’ll be reuniting with the team anytime soon.

Missing in action for most of the premiere, Simmons was finally revealed to be in the desert … on another planet, that is, and definitely not in our solar system. “It can’t be because of the terrain and what you see,” executive producer Jed Whedon tells EW. “There’s very few planets that have that configuration that she would not be dead if she were there.”

During the season 2 finale, the recently discovered Kree monolith suddenly turned into liquid form, absorbing Simmons before reforming as if nothing ever happened — causing S.H.I.E.L.D. fans to spend the summer pondering what happened to the intrepid scientist. “It was so cool,” Elizabeth Henstridge says of her first reaction to the planet reveal. “I hadn’t thought of that. Everything that happens, I hadn’t thought of that as an option.”

Because she’s been stranded there for six months, executive producer Jeffrey Bell says this is a “profoundly different” Simmons than the one we last saw in the finale. “She’s definitely still her essence — she doesn’t just completely change,” Henstridge says. “But she’s been through so much. She’s hardened. She’s had to face things that she never would’ve imagined, also by herself without Fitz [Iain de Caestecker], so she’s definitely changed, stronger and kind of damaged.”

Finding out how Simmons landed in a galaxy far, far away won’t be revealed right away, though. “There will be some breadcrumbs, and then at some point we will fully explore what’s happened to her in a way that is maybe the craziest thing we’ve done,” Bell says. “We’ve very excited. It’s a different kind of episode for us — to give Elizabeth and Simmons the chance to really show what she went through seems really cool.”

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Until we get the origin story of Simmons landing on this mysterious planet, we can look at a few clues provided during that tag scene:

  • It appears that Simmons is on the run. “That is fair to say,” EP Maurissa Tancharoen says, though Henstridge adds: “I don’t know what she’s running away from. She thinks she’s not alone.”
  • Simmons smeared mud across a cut on her head, potentially covering the scent of blood from whatever may be following her. “Very good idea, yes,” the actress coyly responds.
  • While we only got a brief glimpse, expect to explore that planet more throughly soon. “What you see in the first show is literally a taste,” executive producer Jeph Loeb says. “It’s a little tiny nugget of what it is to come.” For the record, our recapper Andrea Towers totally thinks this is the Blue Area of the Moon — and I may have to agree with her.

Despite her dire circumstances, Simmons hasn’t given up hope that she’ll find her way back home. “When we see her, yes, she has hope,” Henstridge says. “She definitely goes through periods of absolute dejection, but she has hope when we see her.”

Back at home, Fitz clearly feels the same. Exhausting his final lead, Fitz reached another dead end after a scroll buried with the Obelisk that should’ve provided answers revealed just one word: Death. “Probably in that precise moment” Fitz feared the worst, de Caestecker says. “But he’s someone who won’t give up hope too readily.”

The only thing seemingly standing in Fitz’s way is Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) insistence that he face facts and get back to work — but even Coulson hasn’t given up completely. “There’s a lot of ways where he cares about her in very similar ways to how he cares about Daisy [Chloe Bennet],” Gregg says. “He’s really trying to help Fitz get over the fact that it doesn’t look good that we’re going to ever see her again, but deep down, I think he’s really wrestling with the enormity of what that loss would mean. The idea that she’s anywhere unsafe and he can’t protect her just tears him apart. These young ones are like his kids.”

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

Episode Recaps

ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." - Season Three
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.

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