The opening moments of this trailer for Agents of SHIELD Season 6 don’t dance around it, and get right to the point: “AGENT COULSON IS DEAD,” they display in giant white letters.

Throughout Season 5, SHIELD leader Phil Coulson slowly rotted away from a terminal disease, but told no one, holding the opinion that any attempt to save him would be a distraction from the larger issues (like stopping the whole world from blowing up). SHIELD saved the world, but as the credits rolled on the season finale, Coulson’s fate was left up in the air.

Now we know, definitively, that Coulson is absolutely, positively, without a doubt……wait, never mind, this is a comic book world. Indeed, it doesn’t take long for shenanigans to occur in this trailer.

Mack has stepped in as leader in Phil’s absence, and he’s having a rough time of it. Melinda May is rather sore, having only recently gotten to kiss the man. Daisy and Yo-Yo are working out their grief through — what else — karate-kicking things and blasting their powers at bad guys. And then, of course, someone who looks a lot like Phil appears out of nowhere.

So is it truly Phil or is it one of the many established ways this series has to create a duplicate of someone? He doesn’t know who SHIELD is and he probably doesn’t remember any of the other agents….or did he ever meet them to begin with? Depends on what kinda Phil this is.

Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD returns this summer, with another guaranteed season to follow.

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