The latest installment of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, episode 5, “The Other Thing,” finally revealed the world-destroying threat SHIELD is facing.

The latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “The Other Thing,” finally started to answer some of this season’s most mysterious questions. The first few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 followed a simple pattern, alternating between Mack’s Earth-bound team and Quake’s splinter group in space. But the series has never liked to be predictable, and as a result “The Other Thing” runs through both arcs.

“The Other Thing” attempts to divide its time between three plots. In space, Quake and her team are captured by the Chronicoms, and learn just why Fitz has been pursued across the cosmos. On Earth, Doctor Benson is studying the body of the parasitic alien creature killed by Yo-Yo. Meanwhile, Agent May is a prisoner of Sarge, the Coulson doppelganger who’s never even heard of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Episode 5 is largely an attempt to progress the season’s plot, but it carefully avoids infodumps, and staggers the reveals across each arc. It’s generally pretty effective.

The episode ends with the various S.H.I.E.L.D. groups reuniting, with Quake forced to leave Fitz and Simmons in space and return to Earth; meanwhile, Agent May calls in to report that she’s successfully returning to base, having captured Sarge and Snow. Meanwhile, Doctor Benson comes up with a long shot idea that may shed further light upon the alien threats S.H.I.E.L.D. is facing. Let’s take a look at the answered, and unanswered, questions.

What Is Sarge?

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

The mystery of Sarge’s identity is central to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 – and “The Other Thing” dropped an important clue. It seems that, despite his Coulson-like appearance, Sarge is no human being. In conversation with May, he reveals that he’s lived for hundreds of years already, and expects to live for hundreds of years after May is dead.

What Is The Connection Between Coulson And Sarge?

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

The revelation that Sarge is impossibly ancient subtly transforms the story of the entire season. The question is no longer why Sarge looks like Phil Coulson; it’s why Coulson was identical to a cosmic traveler who’s been battling against an alien race for centuries. The mystery is further deepened when May notices that they share certain turns of phrase; “Every dream is someone else’s nightmare,” and “The tick of the clock is only getting louder.” It’s interesting to note that this link seems to have manifested as Coulson was dying, because so far Sarge hasn’t used any phrases viewers have seen in previous seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

What Are The Shrike?

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

It seems the parasitic aliens Sarge is hunting are known as the Shrike, and they settle upon a world, infiltrating it and then destroying it. There seems to be no comic book precedent at all for the Shrike, and they seem to be named after a predatory race of birds that are native to Eurasia and Africa. Shrikes are known for their habit of catching insects and small vertebrates and impaling them on thorns, the spikes of fences, or any available sharp point. This helps them tear into the flesh of their prey, and serves as a cache so the shrike can store its food.

Who Is The Shrike’s Creator?

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

According to Sarge, the Shrike are an artificial race who serve an unknown Creator. Sarge’s real target is this Creator, who only arrives on a planet when his creatures are well-established there. Given the Shrike don’t appear to have any links to the comics, it will be fascinating to see if their Creator does. Whoever or whatever this being is, they seem to be the true villain of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6.

How Do The Shrike Destroy A World?

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

As revealed in last week’s episode 4, “Code Yellow,” the Shrike take possession of a host by forcing themselves down a person’s mouth. Once inside the body, they attack themselves to the cardiovascular system and flood the body with a potent neurotoxin. This kills the host, transforming them into a zombie piloted by the alien. The neurotoxon is a potent accelerant, but it’s not just deployed as a self-defense mechanism. Doctor Benson deduces that a release of this energy at a leyline could literally shatter an entire planet. Presumably the footage S.H.I.E.L.D. retrieved from Sarge showed his team fleeing just before a world was ended by the Shrike.

How Are The Shrike Connected To The Monoliths?

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

Agents Of SHIELD: 6 Unanswered Questions After Season 6

When a Shrike dies, its body is transformed into a crystalline form – one that Yo-Yo recognizes. It seems there’s some sort of connection between the Shrike and the Monoliths seen in previous seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. These Monoliths had previously been believed to be of Kree origin; a Monolith in season 3 allowed instantaneous transport between two worlds, while another seen in season 5 could be used for time travel. It’s possible that the Kree were never the creators of the Monoliths at all, but that they were fashioned by the same being who made the Shrikes.

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