The second episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6, "Window of Opportunity," continued to unravel the mysterious of Not-Coulson and his team - but still left a lot of questions unanswered. The season 6 premiere introduced a dangerous figure named "Sarge," who - to the horror of Agent May - looked absolutely identical to Phil Coulson. Sarge showed no concern over loss of life, shooting down a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was in his way. In "Window of Opportunity," Sarge's plans progress in a surprising way, as he launches a jewel heist.
Meanwhile, in space, "Window of Opportunity" finally began to explain what had happened to Fitz and Enoch. Unfortunately it all ended in a close encounter, as Fitz's spacecraft headed in one direction just as Simmons and her S.H.I.E.L.D. team arrived in the system. The fates really do seem to conspire against poor Fitz and Simmons - but at least the S.H.I.E.L.D. space team seem to be on the right track.
At this stage, it's impossible to say how these two stories will connect - but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always loved to draw apparently unconnected threads together, so it's only a matter of time. Here are all the key questions raised by this week's episode.
8. Where Do Not-Coulson And His Team Come From?
"Window of Opportunity" dropped a lot of clues about Sarge and his team, revealing that they've been traveling from world to world - possibly from dimension to dimension - for several years. It seems Sarge normally runs a five-man team, but lost his technical expert Tinker during a "Crossing" that went wrong. Not all of Sarge's team are actually human; Jaco took a brief period breathing through a respirator of some kind, because he hadn't had his chance to breathe his "home atmosphere" in several months.
Jaco has been working with Sarge for nine years, and it looks as though the team travel to a world, use a mysterious device that ultimately destroys it, and then move on. Sarge intends to do the same here, viewing Earth as just his latest stop. It's unclear why he and his team are doing this.
7. What Is Sarge's Connection To Phil Coulson?
May came face-to-face with Sarge during a jewel heist, and called him "Coulson." He froze, much to the surprise of the rest of his team, and then admitted that the name "rings a bell." Curiously, further dialogue established that Sarge keeps a lot of secrets from his agents, including his "past life." Meanwhile, Dr. Benson was able to retrieve DNA samples from Sarge, and found that - once he'd removed "radiation markers and foreign methyl groups" - he was an exact match for Phil Coulson.
Perhaps the most interesting detail, though, is that May's knowledge of Coulson allowed her to second-guess Sarge's strategy. She knew no version of Coulson would ever lock himself and his men in a vault without an exit plan, and so deduced that Sarge had a way out.
6. How Does Not-Coulson "Recruit" His Team?
One of Sarge's team, Pax, seems to be getting tired of this lifestyle; he even suggests they should take a break, kick back and relax for a while before they destroy Earth. Once Pax is out of sight, Sarge tells Jaco to keep an eye on him, and muses that it's perhaps time to "recruit" some new team members. The implication is a chilling one; that Sarge picks up members of his team on his travels, presumably offering them a chance to survive their world's destruction. That may suggest he'll attempt to recruit someone from Earth; certainly he could use a new technical expert.
5. How Does Sarge's Tech Work?
The loss of Tinker caused major problems for Sarge and his team, in part because Tinker kept their power source in his pockets - which failed to make the Crossing. In a surprising twist, that led them to rob a jewel store, but it turned out there was a reason; Sarge's tech runs on PEGs (piezoelectric gems, crystals that are naturally polarized and can generate an electric charge under applied mechanical pressure). They successfully stole some quartz, which is indeed a piezoelectric gem.
4. What's Happened To Fitz And Enoch?
"Window of Opportunity" finally revealed what happened to Enoch and Fitz. It seems that Enoch awoke Fitz from cryogenic suspension before their ship could be destroyed, and since then they've been lying low, believing they're being hunted. Enoch still believes the Seer's prophecy that Earth is going to be torn apart, unaware that S.H.I.E.L.D. averted the Earth's destruction back in season 5. His goal is to find a way to put Fitz back into cryogenic suspension.
3. Has Marvel Wasted A Classic Iron Man Villain?
Fitz and Enoch had secreted themselves aboard a spaceship run by Tivo, who operated under the title "The Controller" and ran a slave-ship. By the end of "Window of Opportunity," Fitz had carefully outwitted the Controller and tricked him into exposing himself to the vacuum of space. Some fans have complained that this is a waste of a second-tier Iron Man villain, but in truth this version of the Controller bears no relation to the comic book character. In the comics, the Controller is a human named Basil Sandhurst who uses slaver discs, and there's no hint of these slaver discs in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 episode 2. It's reasonable to assume "Controller" is just another word for "Captain."
2. How Organized Is Mack's Version Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Mack's version of S.H.I.E.L.D. really is the most organized since Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The episode begins by showing a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent's file, and it contains copious references to the HR department.
1. What Are "A Hail Of War Hammers?"
According to Sarge, Jaco is physically powerful enough to withstand "a hail of War Hammers." That reference sounds eerily similar to the comics, where Mjolnir has been shattered but the Dwarves have created new Uru hammers for Thor, each less powerful than Mjolnir but allowing him to participate in the current "War of the Realms" epic. This line of dialogue may hint that Sarge and his team are traveling across the dimensions - and perhaps that they've even visited the comic book universe, and crossed the Mighty Thor.