This article may contain spoilers for the Season 6 premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans got a treat on Saturday (March 30) at WonderCon in Anaheim as the show’s sixth season opener was world premiered in the Anaheim Convention Center’s arena — nearly a month and a half before the now-confirmed broadcast premiere date of May 10.
Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb was ringmaster for the proceedings as usual, and after getting the audience to chant the premiere date repeatedly (uh, we get it, Jeph), he brought out showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, executive producer Jeff Bell, and stars Clark Gregg, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley plus newly promoter series regular Jeff Ward for a quick hello before letting the audience know they were about to watch the opener.
Fun fact: the opener was directed by Clark Gregg, and whether it’s Gregg’s eye or the overall quality of the show itself, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has never looked more cinematic. Remember the first season? We’ve come a long way.
The premiere opens a year after the events of the season five finale, and it’s strongly implied — although not shown — that Coulson (Gregg) has passed away. May (Ming-Na Wen) is back with the team, Mack (Simmons) is in command, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is investigating a new threat — a monstrous-looking human who can apparently emerge out of solid matter like walls and is wreaking terrorist-like havoc at public buildings.
Meanwhile, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Simmons (Henstridge) are out in deep space, searching for Fitz’s (De Caestecker) deep-frozen body, which has been through a rough ride since we last saw him. They follow a trail of clues…only to find themselves at a dead end.
Back on Earth, the rest of the team gets a lead on when and where the next terrorist attack will take place, and although they’re on time, they are unable to stop the devastating event. And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, this happens:
Yes, folks, that is Clark Gregg — but that is decidedly not Phil Coulson he’s playing. Or is it? That is how the episode ends…except for one final scene that is pretty damn bonkers as well.
After the screening, the panel took questions from the audience and we learned a few things:
Jeph Loeb would not say how the events of Avengers: Endgame impact the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (although he did a rather tortured verbal ballet while deflecting the question);
Loeb would also not confirm that Season 7 (which is filming now) will be the show’s last;
When asked what superpower he’d like to have, Henry Simmons said “The power to heal people,” which made Jeff Ward give up: “I was going to say Spider-Man’s, but I can’t do that now.”
Clark Gregg would be into having his wife (Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey) appear on the show, but he thought calling her from the panel to ask wouldn’t be wise: “She wouldn’t like that.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres on ABC on May 10!
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye