Spoiler alert: This interview contains plot details for the Agents of SHIELD Season 5 finale, “The End,” and Avengers: Infinity War.
Ever since Agents of SHIELD hinted at Thanos’ attack on Earth in Season 5, episode 19, “Option Two,” fans have been curious how the Marvel series would handle the dramatic ending of Infinity War, which saw half of the universe wiped out by Thanos’ snap and the immense power of the Infinity Gauntlet.
We got our answer in the Agents of SHIELD Season 5 finale: It didn’t.
At the end of “The End,” Phil Coulson retired to Tahiti (for real this time) to live out his dwindling last days with Melinda May, while the younger generation of SHIELD agents – including Daisy, Mack and Simmons (don’t get us started on Fitz) – flew off to face new adventures, seemingly unconcerned with Thanos’ current assault on Earth over in Wakanda.
“It seems like our finale ended pre-snap,” star Clark Gregg told IGN when we caught up with the man behind Coulson earlier this week.
While the show has been renewed for a shortened Season 6, it’s not scheduled to return until midseason, meaning, according to Gregg, “Agents of SHIELD would come back in the summer of ’19, I believe after the second chapter of Infinity War, so I don’t know how that goes. Maybe there’s only half of them left, then it wouldn’t be so lonely for Phil Coulson in the afterlife. But that remains to be seen, that’s another way that the timing of what ABC’s doing leaves some interesting possibilities. It’s also after Captain Marvel.”
Captain Marvel – which is slated for release on March 6, 2019 – takes place in the ’90s, and has been confirmed to feature a “younger, fresher” version of Agent Phil Coulson, according to Gregg. “It’s so nice that Marvel was so willing to send me to this very secretive youth spa in Finland that no one can get into – they do some amazing stuff to make you look significantly younger,” he quipped. “It only lasts for the month it took me to shoot Captain Marvel.”
Avoiding Thanos’ snap altogether was probably the smartest play for Agents of SHIELD, especially considering that, according to Gregg, “We never know at the end of the season if we’ll do another one, and we didn’t know this time, and this was very much written as a conclusion and it felt that way.” Ending with half of our heroes disintegrating certainly would’ve been a bummer if the show had been canceled – it was upsetting enough in Infinity War, even knowing that we have Avengers 4 on the horizon to hopefully fix Thanos’ mess. But you can’t help but feel like it was a little bit of a cop-out after Graviton namedropped Thanos several times in episode 20.
By debuting Season 6 at some point after Avengers 4, the show can conclude on its own terms – but Gregg doesn’t expect Coulson to be on the team when the series returns: “When we were shooting our scenes at the end of our show, it felt like the end of him to me.”
For more on Agents of SHIELD, check out our Season 5 finale review, and if you’re curious, here’s everything we know about Avengers 4 so far. What did you think of the choice to end the season without tackling Thanos’ snap, and do you think Coulson will survive to see Season 6? Share your theories in the comments.
Laura Prudom is the Executive TV Editor at IGN. You can talk to her on Twitter at @LauinLA.