The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 finale seemed to act as a farewell to the beloved character of Phil Coulson, as the ace secret agent decided to give up the cure for his fatal condition to save the world. When we last saw him, he’d retired to Haiti with Melinda May in order to spend his few remaining weeks in peace.
It was an emotional, moving end to the season, and possibly Coulson’s lengthy life in the MCU, but fans aren’t so sure we’ve seen the last of Phil just yet. As it turns out, Clark Gregg will indeed be returning to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in season 6 – though in a directing capacity instead of on screen.
The actor’s set to helm the season premiere, which is titled “Missing Pieces” and is written by showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Filming is expected to begin on the episode in the next couple of weeks and going by the title, we could infer that the opener will explore the rest of the team coming to terms with the losses they’ve suffered recently – not only Coulson, but Leo Fitz, too, who also sacrificed himself for the greater good.
Unlike Coulson, though, there’s a clearly telegraphed way for Fitz to come back. If you’ll recall, the Fitz who died is one who froze himself for 70 years and emerged into the future. By the end of the season, this timeline is aborted, so all the gang have to do is wake this Fitz from his cryo-sleep and hey, they have him back.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible that Coulson will be revived in season 6 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. Even if he doesn’t return, though, at least we have more Clark Gregg in the MCU in the form of his role in next March’s Captain Marvel, which will explain how Coulson met his first superhero: Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers.