Another Marvel era is ending as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gears up for its seventh, and final, 13-episode season on ABC. The spin-off series created by The Avengers writer and director Joss Whedon brought Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) back from the dead to lead an elite squad of agents to take on the terrorist group Hydra, eventually incorporating a superhuman race called Inhumans into the storyline. The official trailer has now been released, giving us a better look at what’s in store for Coulson and his team on their final mission.
(Warning: some major spoilers for S5 and S6 below.)
Many cast and crew members expected Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to end after S5, especially since Gregg’s beloved Coulson character died (again) in the finale, spending his last days alone on a romantic tropical beach in Tahiti with May (Ming-Na Wen). Instead, ABC renewed it for a shortened sixth season of 13 episodes, adding a surprise renewal for a seventh and final season before S6 had been released.
S6 found our heroes battling the “Shrike,” planet-invading parasites that enter human hosts and cause them to explode into crystalline structures. Gregg returned as “Sarge,” a hardened, bounty-hunter version of Coulson created on another planet in the past when the three Monoliths (representing space, time, and creation) exploded. He was actually a non-corporeal being who confused his own memories with those of Coulson when he took on the latter’s form.
Complicating matters was another non-corporeal being, Izel (Karolina Wydra), who sought to possess the Monoliths’ energy for herself. There were also some aliens called Chronicoms seeking Fitz and Simmons’ help in solving the problem of time travel so they could save their home planet, Chronyca-2—until there was an internal coup and their focus changed to taking over Earth as their Chronyca-3.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. team ultimately defeated the Shrike invasion, Izel, and Sarge, but at great cost: May was fatally wounded. In desperation, our heroes placed May in a stasis pod, and an upgraded, time-traveling version of their ship, the Zephyr One, zapped them several decades into the past, where they are trapped going into S7. Meanwhile, Simmons built a Life Model Decoy of Coulson, replete with knowledge about the entire history of S.H.I.E.L.D., to help them navigate through history and hopefully save the future once and for all.
Per the official S7 premise: “Coulson and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are thrust backward in time and stranded in 1931 New York City. With the all-new Zephyr set to time-jump at any moment, the team must hurry to find out exactly what happened. If they fail, it would mean disaster for the past, present and future of the world.” Unlike S6, which avoided any MCU references to Avengers: Infinity War or Endgame in favor of telling its own story, showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen have said that S7 will incorporate a tie-in to the MCU. It’s anybody’s guess what that might be.
The main cast members from S6 have all returned for this final season: not just Gregg’s Coulson and Ming-Na Wen’s May, but also Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons), Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz), Chloe Bennet (Daisy Johnson, aka Quake), Henry Simmons (Mack), Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Yo-Yo), and Jeff Ward (Deke). There are also expected cameos from Hayley Atwell and Enver Gjokaj as Agent Peggy Carter and her colleague/paramour Daniel Sousa, along with Patrick Warburton as Rick Stoner, the first director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics, before Nick Fury replaced him. (He appeared briefly in hologram form in S5.)
The trailer opens in 1930s New York City, with local police officers waiting in a discreet location for what appears to be a payoff. “When he gets here, just count the dough, let me do the talking,” their leader says. Instead, three Chronicoms arrive. The officer tells them to beat it, lest he make them regret they were ever born. “Chronicoms are not born,” the lead Chronicom replies. The supporting police officers are summarily killed, and their leader has his face erased—stolen, actually, by the very painful application of a piece of advanced Chronicom technology.
The Chronicoms seem to have followed our S.H.I.E.L.D. team to the past in hopes of preventing them from foiling the planned Chronicom invasion of Earth. We get a rapid series of images of what this last mission entails, with LMD Coulson on hand to help guide our heroes through the covert agency’s long secret history—and occasionally channel his inner 1930s gangster to defend the team from Chronicom attacks. Daisy gets in a few good quakes, and a revived May gets to kick some villain butt. But in a truly ironic twist, the team might have to save Hydra in order to save S.H.I.E.L.D. and preserve the future.
We likely won’t be limited to 1931 (before the establishing of S.H.I.E.L.D.) for the entire season, since the arc is expected to explore the entire history of the agency. Poster art released last week showed cast members in various retro fashion styles typically associated with the World War II era, the 1950s, and the 1970s.
The final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres on May 27, 2020, on ABC.
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