The rift to the Dimension of Dreams continues to cause problems in the trailer for the next episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "The Devil Complex."
It's sadly possible that Season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the end of the road for Coulson and his team. Showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen have admitted that they're preparing for ABC to shut down the series, although ABC President Channing Dungey has insisted she's "cautiously optimistic" about the show's future. Given the degree of uncertainty, it's no surprise that Season 5 is carefully revisiting old concepts, and tying up various loose ends. Recent episodes have focused on the rare element Gravitonium, introduced in Season 1; meanwhile, it looks as though some version of Hydra is about to return.
The trailer for "The Devil Complex" teases that some old enemies are about to return. The most disturbing is the evil version of Fitz created by the Framework, given form thanks to the dimensional rift. This rift is gradually creating all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team's worst fears, and this doppelganger certainly counts as one of them. Season 5 has already subtly teased that Fitz is struggling to rediscover his own identity after his experience in the Framework; it's also easy to forget that the character has previously suffered severe brain damage. Rather than kill the hallucination, the trailer suggests he's making the mistake of interacting directly with it. Even if Framework Fitz is once again defeated, this conversation will leave Fitz deeply troubled.
It seems the Superior is about to return as well, although he seems to turn up "in the flesh" so to speak. Leader of the Watchdogs, the Superior hates Coulson with a bitter passion; he blames Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. for the upsurge in alien activity since 2012. Season 5 saw AIDA create an army of android bodies for the Superior; this looks to be one of those android bodies. It's currently unclear how the Superior fits into Season 5; General Hale seems to love using androids, and the Superior may be the source of her technology.
The final returnee is, of course, the Absorbing Man. General Hale has recruited "Crusher" Creel for her own purposes, and it seems he's about to be brought into play against S.H.I.E.L.D.. So far, Hale's endgame is a mystery; why is she pursuing S.H.I.E.L.D. so relentlessly, and why has she encouraged her daughter to fixate on Daisy Johnson? Coulson and his team need to learn the answers to those questions quickly. After all, the fate of the entire world still hangs in the balance.
Given the complexity of the plot, and the carefully-considered character arcs, it's no wonder Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has become Marvel Television's best-reviewed series on Rotten Tomatoes. This episode looks set to continue Season 5's winning streak, blending the ongoing narrative with callbacks to the show's mythology.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays @ 9 pm on ABC.