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Agents of SHIELD: The Origin of Coulson's Doppelganger, Explained

WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Leap," last week's episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally solved the mystery behind Phil Coulson's doppelganger Sarge. In "Leap," last week's episode, the Shrike-creating Izel revealed all to Sarge. He comes from a planet of beings with no corporeal form. As CBR speculated, when Coulson approached the monoliths last season, they copied his form and sent it back through time to their planet. Sarge subsequently possessed it and assumed its memories.

Leo Fitz deduced the truth before Izel confessed everything to Sarge. His grandson Deke helped him put the pieces together, saying, "When the monoliths exploded, it opened this Fear Dimension. I fought a Kree and I saw my mother, which was horrible."

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"It actually manifested living things? Flesh and blood?" Fitz asked, which May confirmed, "Yes. Coulson went in, sealed it up."

"Maybe it wasn't a dimension," Fitz posited. "Izel said the monoliths had the power to create. Now, we know that one monolith was 'space,' another was 'time.' What if the third one was 'creation?' Think about it. The physical stones blew apart." This confirms Doctor Benson's theory from an earlier episode.

"It doesn't mean that the energy went away," Deke pitched in. "The light could just be uncontained monolith energy."

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"So you're saying, when Coulson went in there with it --" May started, for Fitz to finish, "It's possible that the three energies combined to create another Coulson through space and time on some other planet years ago, and he was left there when our Coulson sealed the Gravitonium device." As a result, the Gravitonium device now contains the energy of three monoliths.

Izel provided more information when Sarge confronted her alone. "You and I are intertwined, like two notes in harmony. I promise, if you just listen to what you know is true inside," she said. "If I wanted to kill you, you'd be dead. I was trying to wake you up... It's not true. I'm saying you didn't have a family. Those memories -- they aren't yours."

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When Sarge continued to accuse her of killing his family, she started to poke holes in his theory. "Then how I did I kill them? You can't recall, because it didn't happen. The family isn't yours. It's a holdover, an echo from the man whose body you inhabit," she explained. "I'm only beginning to fully understand myself. I always wondered how you got this form and where it came from, but now -- in this place -- they recognize that face here."

"Don't you see? The monoliths created your body, sent it back through time and space, back home to our realm -- a planet where we have no form, and yearn for it. This human body arrived. It had form. You took it over and lost yourself -- lost me. And in return, you got everything that comes with this unwilling vessel," she continued.

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"This host silenced most of who you are, but you still remember my name like it's a song in your head," she added. "You remember your name too."

At this, Sarge remembered his true name: Pachakutiq. This name hails from ancient Incan history. The real Pachacuti was an emperor who, it is believed, established his now-famous estate on Machu Piccu. A mountain in the Andes of Peru is named after him.

"You're not hunting me, you're longing for me," Izel insisted. "This shell has confused you. I'm one of the rare few who took my own form, left our realm. You inspired me to do it, and your only chance to follow was to take this human husk... We found the Di'Allas. Our wish is about to come true: to give this gift to the rest of our kind, open the door, bring them forth, give them form."

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Using the Shrike, she "created billions of willing hosts, waiting throughout this galaxy, just as you imagined. So please, shake of the chains of this vulgar species and wake up!"

Even after all her urging, Sarge refused to give in. He denied her explanations and swore to kill her still, but Izel was unbothered by his continuing declaration of hate. "The only thing powerful enough to defeat me is inside you, and you're afraid to let it out. For now, anyway," she said simply, and left him behind on the base with the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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After watching security footage from this confrontation, Fitz compared Sarge to Ghost Rider. If that's the case, Sarge could be far more powerful than even he knows. Like Izel teased, he may even have the ability to defeat her, but first he will have to accept his true nature. Until then, S.H.I.E.L.D. is down two agents and a director, with no other answers in sight.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 8 pm ET/PT on ABC. The series stars Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Iain De Caestecker, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Elizabeth Henstridge and Clark Gregg.

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