Agents of SHIELD Theory: New Coulson Is From An Alternate Dimension

Agent Coulson from Agents of SHIELD in an alternate dimension

Phil Coulson is back from the dead in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6, but how? The first trailer for the abbreviated return of ABC's Marvel show has finally dropped, confirming that Mack has taken over as director, and the weight of it all weighs heavily on his shoulders. His first mission is to lead the S.H.I.E.L.D. team back into space in order to recover their missing colleague, Fitz.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 may only be 13 episodes in length, but the trailer promises a whole lot of action as S.H.I.E.L.D. go up against ferocious new foes - and a deadly organization with unknown motives. The series looks set to maintain its cosmic edge, with a number of scenes set in the depths of space and even a glimpse of an alien spaceship, but it's also clear S.H.I.E.L.D. will return to Earth in order to take on these new threats.

Related: Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Is (Still) Ignoring Avengers: Infinity War

In amidst all the drama, though, the end of the trailer teases a massive twist. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 saw Phil Coulson accept his imminent death, with the Kree science that had brought him back to life failing. And yet, it seems Clark Gregg isn't done with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just yet.

Agents of SHIELD Is Introducing A New Phil Coulson... But How?

Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson in Agents of Shield

Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson has always been at the heart of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as much a father-figure as a reluctant Director. But the first trailer for season 6 revealed that there's a new version of Coulson running around - a man who appears to be working with the bad guys, and knows absolutely nothing about S.H.I.E.L.D. Needless to say, that brief glimpse has left fans reeling. Is he a clone, created by S.H.I.E.L.D.'s enemies to undermine them? That seems unlikely, because surely he'd be given basic information about S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to be able to twist the knife. Is he a Skrull impostor? Again, that doesn't appear probable, simply because Skrulls shapeshift in order to infiltrate - so, again, you'd expect the Skrull to have some background knowledge of S.H.I.E.L.D.

That leaves just one other prime possibility: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is exploring the classic idea of alternate universes, akin to the "Mirror Universe" in the Star Trek franchise. This new Coulson could well originate from a dimension that's very different to our own, one where S.H.I.E.L.D. was never founded. It's possible alt-Coulson doesn't even know he jumped from one dimension to the next; he and his forces could have been brought over by some sort of cosmic fluke, leaving them struggling to acclimatize to an Earth that's very different. Alternatively, this could be intentional, with a dark Coulson leading the spearhead of an invasion. One scene in the season 6 trailer showed an energy pulse tearing through a building, before appearing to open a portal in the sky; this could conceivably be a gateway between the dimensions, with alt-Coulson either attempting to get home, or trying to bring in reinforcements.

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