Agents of SHIELD season 6 is drawing to a close, but episode 11 still leaves a lot of mysteries unresolved. "From The Ashes" is largely about getting all the pieces into place for next week's two-hour finale, and that involves finally resolving the mystery of Sarge's identity.
The stakes are higher than ever before for SHIELD. This time round, they're not just dealing with a threat to the planet; Izel aims to open a portal to her home dimension and allow her race to attack the entire galaxy. Meanwhile, the SHIELD team desperately attempt to work out how to stop Izel, and both Daisy and May are convinced Sarge is the solution. They force Sarge to face the reality of what he is at last - and essentially give Clark Gregg his chance to play a super-powered hero at last.
Nina Lopez-Corrado has become one of Marvel Television's best writers, and in Agents of SHIELD season 6, episode 11 she effortlessly blends action and character moments. There's a sense in which this episode is all about facing fear, with Doctor Benson defeated by his, while Quake overcomes hers. Let's explore all the key questions raised by "From The Ashes."
8. Is Coulson Finally Back?
Agents of SHIELD season 6, episode 11 sees Sarge confronted with his true nature. Episode 10 explained that Sarge's body was created by the power of the Monoliths; it takes Daisy to place this in context, as she deduces that he was the manifestation of Coulson's fear of dying. Daisy concludes that SHIELD need the ancient alien within Sarge's body, Pachacuti, and so she goes to pretty extreme lengths to awaken him.
To Quake's surprise, her actions have the opposite effect. The Coulson persona appears to be becoming stronger, to the extent that Sarge accidentally calls her "Skye." This is a nice touch, since that was the name Daisy was going by when Coulson first met her, and he frequently complained that he couldn't get used to thinking of her by any other name. What's more, Sarge takes the same self-sacrificial approach that Quake realizes Phil Coulson would, encouraging Daisy to kill him so she can find out how to stop one of Izel's race.
It's important to stress that this isn't really Phil Coulson, though. It seems that Pachacuti and Coulson have merged into one psyche; Coulson is dominant, but the ancient entity is still there, and Sarge increasingly possesses its powers.
7. Who Stopped Izel From Opening The Portal Millennia Ago?
Izel's story is becoming clear as well. It seems she emerged from her dimension millennia ago, in the time of the ancient Incas, and she used her abilities to create the Monoliths. Her goal was to allow her race to make their way to Earth, and to this end she enslaved locals in order to create a temple that would focus the power of the Monoliths.
But why did Izel's plans fail all those thousands of years ago? Until Agents of SHIELD season 6, episode 11, it had seemed as though Sarge was the one who stopped her. But this episode sees Sarge recover his memories, and he claims to have only been pursuing Izel for a few decades. It's possible Izel was defeated by the Kree and the first Inhumans; Agents of SHIELD season 3 featured a flashback sequence in which the Kree were shown capturing their first human for experimentation, and it looked to be in South America in Incan or Mayan times. Presumably that would explain how Izel wound up taken offworld, while at least one of the Monoliths fell into the hands of the Inhumans.
6. How Do The Monoliths Work?
Izel confirms what Fitz had deduced in episode 8: each of the Monoliths serves a separate purpose. One manipulated time, another space, and another creation itself. This so-called "Dialis of Creation" is the most powerful of the three, able to create matter itself from a person's subconscious. In humans, the Dialis of Creation tends to tap into our deepest fears, because they run so deeply in our minds. This means there never was a Fear Dimension back in Agents of SHIELD season 5 at all; the SHIELD team was just misunderstanding the Monolith's effects.
The Monoliths were constructed of stone that resonates at a precise frequency to allow the manipulation of creation itself. When they were destroyed, their energy threatened to wreak havoc on a global scale, but fortunately Fitz was able to trap it in his Gravitonium device.
5. Where Does The Stone From The Monoliths Come From?
Izel reveals that this ancient Incan temple is made of the same stone as the Monoliths, and was designed to focus their power. This raises the obvious question of where the Monolith stone comes from in the first place; is it naturally occurring, or did Izel create it? Agents of SHIELD season 6, episode 11 is absolutely silent on this point, but if it's a natural phenomenon, then SHIELD will need to keep track in case other extradimensional invaders attempt to use the same rock for this purpose.
4. How Has Flint Returned?
Agents of SHIELD season 6, episode 11 features the unexpected return of Flint, the rock-manipulating Inhuman who helped SHIELD back in season 5. Mack will carry a lot of regrets about the kid, whom he came to care about pretty deeply. His head would no doubt spin if he tried to make sense of the temporal mechanics of it all, since Flint existed in a timeline that has now been successfully averted.
The Dialis of Creation manifests Flint as a tool to be used in order to tap into the power of the Monoliths. Given Flint was able to manipulate the Dialis of Time back in season 5, his powers should certainly be up to the task.
3. Does Quake Have A Pattern With Grief?
Agents of SHIELD season 6, episode 11 blends action and emotion in a powerful way. The emotional beats are provided by Simmons confronting Quake about her pattern with grief, and she's undeniably got a point; whenever Daisy loses someone, she tends to run away. It's fitting that Simmons is the one to force Daisy to face up to the fact she's still grieving Coulson; she had a similar conversation back in season 4 over Lincoln's death.
Of course, the slightly sinister side of this is that Simmons was well aware Daisy was running away when she let her tag along on the space mission in order to find Fitz. In truth, although she'd never admit it to herself, Simmons used her friend's grief as a tool in order to get Fitz back.
2. What Was Written In Coulson's Note?
Simmons' conversation prompts Quake to open the note Coulson left her a year ago, and Agents of SHIELD season 6, episode 11 avoids revealing its contents. That may be a smart, respectful way of honoring the characters; alternatively, and more likely, Sarge will sacrifice himself in the end and viewers will be treated to a voice-over of the letter. That would be a fitting way to end a season that's really been all about dealing with Coulson's death.
1. What Happened To Snowflake?
It's easy to forget that one member of Sarge's crew is actually still alive: Snowflake, who was last seen being imprisoned by SHIELD because she's a serial killer. Given that SHIELD is desperately attempting to work out the truth about Sarge and Izel, you'd really have expected someone to try talking to Snowflake; after all, she'd been traveling with Sarge for years. It briefly looked as though Snowflake might wind up becoming part of the SHIELD crew, but instead she seems to have been written out for good.