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Warning: spoilers ahead for the fifteenth episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, called "Rise and Shine."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone in some seriously dark directions in Season 5, ranging from the destruction of the planet and subsequent enslavement of the human race by the Kree to poor Yo-Yo getting her arms sliced off by Ruby. The agents have been trying to find a way to save lives and prevent the end of the world, but it's already clear that they can't possibly succeed without sustaining some big losses, and the latest episode may have indicated that one (or even some) of those big losses will lead to major character death(s). "Rise and Shine" has us worried about most of the major characters, and not just the ones who were revealed as dead in the journey to the future in the first arc of the season.
On the one hand, S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone pretty hard on the idea that timelines can't be changed. No matter what the agents do since coming back from the future, they seem to be setting events in motion that will result in the destruction of Earth. Daisy has had her potentially world-destroying powers restored, Yo-Yo lost her arms, gravitonium is back in the mix, May and Daisy are determined to try and save Coulson... everything that future Yo-Yo warned of seems to be happening. If that's the case, we might want to start worrying about characters who didn't appear in any of the scenes set in the Lighthouse in the season's first arc. Mack and Coulson's fates in particular were troubling.
On the other hand, would Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really take us through a full season of the good guys trying to save the world, only for it to be permanently destroyed by the series finale? S.H.I.E.L.D. may get dark at times, but destroying the planet and ending billions of lives might be a bit too dark. It would be super depressing if, despite everything, the agents ultimately failed and the world ended. Throw in all the ways the future should have already been altered by the characters visiting the Lighthouse via time travel years before the world would be destroyed, and we have to assume that the future isn't 100% set in stone. The future having the freedom to change could mix things up for the rest of the season and give us the hope for a happy ending.
So, operating on the idea that the future isn't set in stone, read on for a breakdown of four characters who could be in danger of death after the events of "Rise and Shine." They probably won't all bite the dust, but evidence is mounting that they might not get happily-ever-afters.
Why She Might Die: Well, for one thing, poor Yo-Yo doesn't have her own arms anymore. Although Simmons was able to install some robot arms on Yo-Yo in "Rise and Shine," she could be mortally incapacitated if her arms malfunction. Fitz couldn't be trusted to help with the arms, Simmons is no genius engineer, and those arms were salvaged from the body of an enemy android. Also, Yo-Yo is the one character whose fate seems the most certain, and that could be very misleading. She was alive--if not exactly well--in the Lighthouse during the reign of the Kree, and she had a lengthy conversation with herself. Meeting her future self gave Yo-Yo a sense that she can't be killed no matter what she does in the present, and she already lost her arms. She may be reckless to the point of death if she continues to operate under the belief that the future can't be changed. I could see S.H.I.E.L.D. pulling a "Gotcha!" by killing off the one character who seemed destined to survive.
Why She Might Not: Hasn't Yo-Yo suffered enough? Killing off Yo-Yo after everything she's already gone through in Season 5 would be cruel and unusual. Besides, Yo-Yo's powers are a major asset to the agents, and the writers might not want her out of the picture. Let her get her future with Mack and those badass babies she wants!
Why He Might Die: Well, Coulson is literally dying at the moment, so there's that. He's already determined to let nature take its course, and he could well double down on that if Yo-Yo starts talking about how her older self explicitly told her to let Coulson die. Coulson may also get reckless due to his knowledge that he's dying no matter what, and he's shown an inclination toward self-sacrifice already in Season 5. Throw in the fact that he's currently plotting (or at least pretending to plot) with General Hale to fight back against a confederacy of aliens while warships are heading their way to take out the planet, and he may end up on a lot of bad guys' lists of enemies. He's the face of S.H.I.E.L.D.; killing him would send a powerful message and severely impact the rest of the team. Clark Gregg can stick around the MCU even if Coulson dies on S.H.I.E.L.D. anyway.
Why He Might Live: Coulson is the face of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the show's biggest connection to the larger MCU. As much as S.H.I.E.L.D. is an ensemble series, Coulson is the closest thing to a star. He may be dying now, but we shouldn't count on him biting the dust this season. It could happen; will it?
Why He Might Die: Oh, Deke. Viewers have gone on a wild ride with this character in Season 5. The character who seemed like an opportunist who would do anything to protect himself turned out to have a heroic streak. Oh, and he also happens to be Fitzsimmons' grandson. His very existence comes across as proof that the future is set in stone; what more emotionally impactful way to suddenly reveal that the future can be changed than for Deke to be removed from existence? Alternately, killing him could be a solid way for S.H.I.E.L.D. to pack an emotional punch with a big death without actually killing one of the original characters. He's a good guy and proof that Fitzsimmons get to be parents. How heartbreaking would it be for him to bite the dust and/or disappear? I could definitely see S.H.I.E.L.D. pulling this, and there's no older version of Deke from the Lighthouse to hint that he'll live.
Why He Might Live: He's Fitzsimmons' grandson! Why does their curse have to extend to their grandson? He's also a source of comic relief in an arc that has been largely devoid of humor. Besides, if S.H.I.E.L.D. does kill off a major character, Deke may not have been around long enough for viewers to miss him when he's gone.
Why He Might Die: Unfortunately, Fitz is arguably the main character who would make the most sense as a big death for the season. It's difficult to imagine Daisy ever moving past what Fitz did to her, and his presence on the team could fracture the status quo moving forward, especially if Simmons has to choose sides. For the sake of Season 6 (if it happens), Fitz might need to not be around. His death would also pack a devastating punch, as he's one of the characters who has been around from the very beginning and never wanted to go out into the field in the first place. It would be a very Fitzsimmons twist as well if one of them died after Simmons ended the episode proclaiming that they're invincible because they go on to have a daughter. Simmons did also throw up after learning of her connection to Deke, which could have been a sign that she's already pregnant. If Simmons is already pregnant, Fitz technically doesn't need to be alive. If she's not pregnant, they should probably take vows of chastity for the foreseeable future. Fitz only needs to live long enough to do his part to make Deke's mom, and that can't happen if he and Simmons aren't hooking up! Oh, poor, poor Fitzsimmons.
Why He Might Live: S.H.I.E.L.D. may not want to get rid of any of the regulars who have been around from the very beginning, and it's hard to imagine either Fitz or Simmons if the other died. "Rise and Shine" did also state that Deke got a work tool from his grandfather, although that raises new issues, not the least of which is why Deke didn't recognize Fitz. We'll have to wait and see what happens.
Tune in to ABC on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET for new episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and join me in crossing my fingers that the final episodes don't kill off too many characters. For more comic-based TV options, check out our superhero TV premiere schedule. Our midseason TV premiere guide and summer TV premiere schedule can help you as well, and don't forget to take a look at our rundown of network TV renewals and cancellations.