Come now: You didn’t really expect them to do a season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. without Clark Gregg, did you? Last season may have ended with a fond farewell to Phil Coulson, but we already knew Gregg would be returning to the show in the director’s chair for this season 6 premiere. What we didn’t know was that Gregg would also be returning as an actor in a surprise last-second twist! But more on that in a moment.
After saying goodbye to Coulson, most of the crew took off to go find Fitz’s cryo-pod in space. But when we pick up here, only Daisy, Simmons, Piper, and Davis are left on the space mission. Everyone else has gone back to Earth, where Mack is adjusting to his new role as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and trying to figure out why dimensional warp portals keep opening in seemingly random places.
When it comes to the space team, we see why they’ve had so much trouble finding Fitz: His spaceship was suddenly attacked by a spinning blast of energy. Daisy and Simmons don’t even come close to finding him until a year later, when they run into a gang of rough-looking D’Rillian aliens. Simmons is sparing no expense in the quest for Fitz: She and Daisy hang one of the D’Rillians upside down in chains until he points them in the direction of Fitz’s ship wreckage. The team is full of hope when they find Fitz’s cryo-pod inside, but unfortunately it’s empty now. It’s better than finding a dead body, but still a dead end. Davis and Piper have had more than enough of space by now, and are eager to return to Earth even without Fitz. Daisy agrees that they should at least take time to regroup and repair the Zephyr.
Simmons, as you probably expect, thinks otherwise. Desperate for clues to continue the search, she goes so far as to lie in Fitz’s cryo-pod herself. Inside, she suddenly finds coordinates for a new lead. When she proposes they pursue them, everyone else is aghast; they don’t have enough fuel for many more hyperspace jumps and don’t know if they could even return to Earth if they went any farther. But soon a new problem takes precedence, when a massive ship from the Confederacy arrives and opens fire at them. As they prepare to escape with a jump, Daisy orders Simmons to plug in the coordinates for Earth. Can you guess which coordinates she puts in instead? Here we go!
Before we turn to the Earth-bound parts of this episode, just want to note that the post-credits stinger gives us our first glimpse of Fitz: Working in an alien laboratory, speaking an alien language, and now possessing alien-looking green eyes. Guess we’ll find out what that means soon enough.
Meanwhile, on a random playground on Earth, a badass-looking futuristic warrior suddenly emerges on a playground basketball court. He was supposed to come with a buddy, but that second guy’s warp got messed up and he ended up fused to a concrete block. Apparently Mack and his team are getting used to this phenomenon, though, because it doesn’t take May long to show up in a fighter plane. Before the agents can open fire, though, this bearded warrior turns and manages to shoot them out of the sky with one blast of his laser gun.
Later, he meets up with two of his comrades and tells them that the fourth didn’t make it. They’re still waiting for one last member of their cohort to come through: their leader, whom they call Sarge. According to their calculations, a museum stands at the point where Sarge is supposed to come through. They determine to blow up the museum so Sarge won’t end up stuck in concrete like their friend.
In order to make sense of what’s going on, Mack and May recruit a natural sciences professor named Marcus Benson, who apparently is an old friend of May’s late ex-husband, Andrew Garner. Benson examines the concrete block guy, who briefly comes back to life to tell them that someone is coming. The name he gives for that someone sounds like “Pachacuti,” the ancient Incan king — which would line up with the theory currently going around S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters that the locations of these dimensional warp portals match up with ley lines, a theory from Incan and other native cultures that the world is covered in a map of energy pathways.
More importantly for the moment, a beeper-like device falls out of concrete guy’s pocket. When they plug in the coordinates, Mack’s team finds the very Indiana museum that the dimension travelers are planning to bomb. They arrive just in time but get distracted when the female member of the group pretends to be a hostage. As they try to assuage her, the bombs go off, and the museum is leveled. A massive truck with serious Mad Max: Fury Road vibes barrels out of the smoke and rubble, and out of that steps… Coulson???
Well, it’s Clark Gregg at any rate; he’s playing Sarge. Whether he’s an alternate version of Coulson from a different timeline or something else, this Sarge has no knowledge of S.H.I.E.L.D., and shoots an agent in order to rescue his female subordinate. He and his team take off, leaving us with a lot of intriguing questions for this season.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stars on season 6 return: ‘It was like a rebirth’
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ventures into space to find Fitz in exclusive clip
- Clark Gregg vows to ‘burn it all down’ in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 trailer
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