Agents of SHIELD is back tonight and will see the long-awaited return of Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). However, things are a little different for the fan-favorite character. 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 gave new insights to the LMD version of his character, and after speaking with TV Insider, he's revealed how the team will react to the new Coulson.
"Initially, they range from intense relief to outright discomfort," Gregg says of the other agents. The show's executive producers also weighed in on LMD Coulson. "He feels the same, but he's not," Jed Whedon explains. "[Coulson wonders], 'Are [my] feelings real, or am I programmed? What am I?'" Jeffrey Bell added, "We're so happy to have Coulson, in any form." Maurissa Tancharoen agreed, saying, "Coulson is the heart of the show."
"There is some virtual soul-searching... [Being an LMD] is a reality the original Coulson was adamantly opposed to, but the team needs him," Gregg explained. Here's what Gregg had to say in recent Variety interview when asked how it felt to be playing an LMD:
"I was a little thrown at first," Gregg said of the decision. "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?!"
Agents of SHIELD returns tonight, May 27th, at 10 PM EST.