Agents of SHIELD finally returns for its seventh and final season on Wednesday and will see the team time traveling to various points in history. In case you missed it, the show's final season will see a new version of Phil Coulson, the character who has been played by Clark Gregg for 12 years now. Coulson has died a couple of times over the years, but his demise at the end of Agents of SHIELD's fifth season seems to have stuck. Gregg returned in season six as Sarge, a somewhat villainous character who was basically an alternate version of Coulson, but who also ended up dying. Now, Coulson is back, but this time as an LMD (life model decoy). However, he was also built with Chronicom technology, making him much more advanced than androids we've previously seen on the show. Recently, Gregg spoke with Variety and shared his thoughts on the new version of his character.
"I was a little thrown at first," Gregg said of the decision to turn Coulson into an LMD. "I internalize everything Coulson cares about whether I want to or not. He was really adamant that he didn’t want that. And even though I love [the Star Trek: The Next Generation character] Data, I didn’t want Phil Coulson to be Data, you know, the cyber being following them around doing fast math. Their idea around it was very different. He’s wrestling with some of the stuff that classic AI characters have dealt with in the past: What am I? What am I now, in his case. And he’s also not really the kind of typical LMD. There’s other, much more advanced stuff going on. I think someday when there is extremely advanced AI, it’ll be harder to really tell the difference between organic intelligence and that form of artificial intelligence. [Pause] I went full nerd on you, didn’t I?!"
During the interview, Gregg also addressed whether he'd play Coulson again once the series is over. "This seems like a real good time to announce that … I really don’t know," Gregg shared with a laugh. "Sorry. That was a little bit of quarantine sadism. I don’t know anything! It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where I’d say, 'No, I’m too busy to put on whatever the latest version of the suit is and go play Phil Coulson.' I’m always thrilled when I see them changing timelines and exposing a multiverse in the cinematic [universe]. Because I think, 'Well, I’ve seen scenarios where I could be around!' So I really learned with this character to never say never, but I’m also really grateful for the ride that we had."
Agents of SHIELD returns on May 27th.