10:00 am EDT, May 12, 2019

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ cast and crew confirm Coulson’s fate – plus who’s Sarge?

Is Coulson really dead in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6? The cast and crew give us their answers.

“Coulson is dead.”

That’s the sentiment expressed in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 premiere, and that’s the line that showrunner and executive producer Jed Whedon is sticking to. Phil Coulson is dead.

It’s a line emphatically echoed by the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Speaking for Agent May, Ming-Na Wen emphasizes the finality of the event. “She buried him,” Wen says. “She saw him die, and a year has passed.”

Wen knows that there may be some natural skepticism toward the permanence of Coulson’s deaths. “She’s had experiences where he’s died and come back, and died and come back,” she notes. But this time is “different” — and soon to be fraught with more emotional turmoil as Coulson’s doppelgänger Sarge storms onto the scene.

“To go through that grieving process and then seeing this other entity that looks like him, you know…” Wen laughs. “She’s just pissed!”

Leading man Clark Gregg is no less emphatic. Though he returns as the still-mysterious Sarge (or at least, “That’s what the people on his team call him!”) Gregg makes no bones about dividing his two roles on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Regardless of his name, this man who looks so much like Coulson is “clearly not Phil Coulson,” he says. Gregg describes his new role as “q very dark, powerful force wearing the skin of someone [the team] just lost… Later in the season, we learn why this creature is wearing a familiar face.”

“The things that are true of Coulson are not true of Sarge,” he adds. His team “seems to have a great deal of faith, and a fair amount of terror when it comes to Sarge” — an obvious divergence from Coulson’s firm-but-empathetic leadership.

So what’s going to happen when this definitely-not-Coulson meets up with the stunned S.H.I.E.L.D. team? Gregg considers.

“He seems bemused that these people, who seem to be the prime hunters of he and his team, are so freaked out by him,” he says. “And he’s curious, because as he says, he’s been to many worlds, and nobody’s ever recognized him before. But it doesn’t ripple much, because he is fanatically devoted to the reason he came here… which seems to be pretty dark.”

Yes, destroying-the-world-level dark, if the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 trailer is any indication. But this is could it really be quite that simple?

“I wouldn’t think so,” Gregg says, carefully.

Meanwhile, Chloe Bennet put serious thought into the impact of Coulson’s death on Daisy.

Related: What the heck is going on with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. timeline in season 6?

“She’s dealt with so much loss,” Bennet observes. “I wanted to make sure that the mourning of Phil Coulson is obvious, and obviously a huge impact on her.”

“But,” she adds, time has wisened Daisy to the concept of loss. “This is life,” Bennet says firmly. “Loss happens. This sucks. I’m gonna go do me and do exactly what [Coulson] would probably want me to do, which is the right thing and move on, and live life, and find love, and be with the people that you care about.”

So: For the time being, it definitely seems that Coulson is as dead as the cast and show runners of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. claim. But when asked if the beleaguered leader could ever return properly to the story, Jed Whedon politely demurs.

After all, he muses, there’s a guy running around now who looks exactly like Coulson. No one expected that.

And hey, this is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Anything is possible.

Do you think Coulson is alive or dead on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’?

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