Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone full-on cosmic. We've met Kree and Asgardians in the series already, and it's alien blood that saved the show's protagonist while fueling another, but now we're officially seeing other planets.
One of Director Coulson's (Clark Gregg) team has been stuck on one for a while, transported there at the end of the season 2 finale, as we learned in the season 3 premiere. Now in episode 2, "Purpose in the Machine", Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) has been recovered, but where she was and what happened there remains a mystery.
What we know is that an ancient artifact, a large monolith believed to be of Kree origin has been on Earth a very long time. In 1839 British scientists were in possession of this object, knew what it did, how to activate it, and were conducting experiments in secret to no avail. They knew it was actually a portal, a doorway to somewhere not in our solar system but they had no success in bringing someone back through it.
The object is solid except when hit with the right sonic frequencies which turns it into a liquid wormhole of sorts, a passageway through space and time as Agent Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) surmises. That's a key note since this place Simmons has been on for what seems like six months might not actually be six months. It's also possible that while she's definitely somewhere else in the galaxy, she could theoretically be in the past or future, or even another dimension.
The device is on Earth with a purpose, likely tied to the origins of the Inhumans who've also been on Earth as a secretive advanced society for millenia, since the Kree aliens first created them. The texts and symbols from a related ancient parchment Fitz recovered, seen again in the British castle in this episode, label the monolith as something related to "death" or "punishment" almost as if it's a doorway to a prison - a place to exile someone or sentence them death. We know this thanks to Earth's local Asgardian resident Elliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol) who makes a second appearance in the series. He noticed the symbol in that very castle back in 1853.
But its origins are much older than that and the place the monolith wormhole leads to is even older which lends some credence to the idea that it could be a passageway through time as well as space. Carbon dating indicates that the sand on this alien planet is a billion years older than Earth. With that in mind, we're curious how long Simmons was really there, sporting the exact same clothing. We didn't see any structures or other life in our brief glimpses of this planet so it's hard to say yet how she survived and who or what she was running from in fear, using mud to hide the scent of her blood. According to producer Jeffrey Bell however, Simmons was indeed there for six months.
Questions About The Alien Planet & Monolith
We've touched on what's been revealed about the object and planet/moon so far in the show but it could be something explored slowly throughout the course of season 3. Here are some of the questions we have at the moment:
- How long has the Monolith been on Earth?
- Is the Monolith something the Kree created?
- Is it meant for imprisonment, for the Inhumans to return home and help lead the Kree to evolutionary salvation, or something else entirely?
- What habitable planet is it (or does it orbit) and does the location hold relevance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
- What or who else was on this world that Simmons was frightened of?