SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Collision Course (Part II)," the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Since his introduction in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 premiere, Sarge has been a mystery that Director Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie and his team just couldn't solve. Though genetically identical to Phil Coulson, Sarge is nothing like his doppelganger; he is ruthless, brutal and willing to sacrifice lives in his quest to defeat Izel and her parasitic Shrike -- and that may actually explain his place of origin. As we speculated last week, we believe Sarge is a product of the Fear Dimension, and "Collision Course (Part II)" lends even more credence to that idea.
First, we need to consider the inciting event from Season 5: the monolith explosion. As the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. learned the hard way, the monoliths are powerful objects that possess astounding abilities. One can send people light-years through space; the other can move someone through time. The purpose of the third known monolith was undiscovered at the time of its destruction, but it likely had some kind of power as well. Indeed, when a Kree orb exploded nearby and destroyed all three, their combined forces tore a hole in the fabric of reality and opened a door to the Fear Dimension.
In the Season 5 episode "The Real Deal," Coulson and his team noticed something amiss when their worst fears began taking physical form. Soon, they discovered the tear into the Fear Dimension. Aware he was dying, Coulson volunteered to confront the tear and all its horrors in order to close it. He was the only one to come close to the opening and even had a discussion with a personified version of Fear Dimension when it took the form of Mike Peterson, aka Deathlok. Fortunately for Coulson, the real Deathlok showed up just in time to close it together -- but it is entirely possible more damage was done than they realized.
After all, two of the three monoliths controlled time and space. The explosion may have pushed these Fear Dimension manifestations across time and space as well. This would explain how ancient both Sarge and Izel are and why they were scattered across the universe. In "The Other Thing," Sarge told May he was hundreds of years old: "I've been tearing my way through this galaxy since before you were born. I've lived on planets moving at almost the speed of light. I've been alive for 100 of your years, and I'll be alive 100 years after you're gone."
Likewise, Mack and Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez discovered a powerful being called Izel in Earth's ancient history. ""You ever hear the name Izel? It keeps popping up in this research, something from Incan mythology," he said in "Collision Course (Part I)." He continued, "It's an ancient entity. It could be one of their gods -- a demon, a fallen angel, an alien overlord, I don't know. Whatever she was, thousands of years ago, she escaped from a realm of fear and darkness... After she escaped, she tried to track down relics from our realm called the Dialas to regain power." Considering the similarity in name as well as goal, this mythological Izel and the one Sarge is after are likely one and the same.
Additionally, Izel's place of origin -- "a realm of fear and darkness" -- sounds eerily similar to the Fear Dimension. In light of this description, she appears to be some sort of higher life form that originated there. She also claims to know the purpose of the monoliths: "They were created to connect life together." Seeing as she uses the Shrike to connect people for a "higher purpose," albeit against their will, she likely does see them as such.
In "Collision Course (Part II)," Sarge and Izel had their first on-screen confrontation, and their conversion dropped some interesting nuggets of information. For one, Izel seems to know more about Sarge than he does: "Ah, so you finally remember my name. Come for me, and I'll help you remember yours," she taunted him.
Then, Izel seemed to suggest Sarge can assume different forms. She accused him of trying to save his own skin, but the way she phrased the accusation was odd: "Whose skin are you saving now? Just the one you're wearing, I hope." This insinuates that he can change shape, or at least that he has in the past. If this is the case, he has that in common with the specters from the Fear Dimension, which manifested in different forms to haunt the beleaguered S.H.I.E.L.D. agents last season.
Sarge also dropped another clue about his motivations and why he is hunting Izel down. "Because you robbed me of my family, the woman I love, my home, and then you took the one thing I had left: my memories of them," he spat, to which Izel responded, "It's not that I stole your memories, Sarge. It's that you never had any to begin with."
Sarge's admission is particularly interesting. His motivation, paired with the timing of the monolith explosion in Coulson's life, suggests Sarge is the literal manifestation of Coulson's fear -- a dark shadow of Coulson, if you will. Sarge is what would have happened to Coulson if Coulson had lost his S.H.I.E.L.D. family.
As explicitly stated in "The Real Deal," Coulson believed his "family" -- the team he built for S.H.I.E.L.D. -- was the most important part of his legacy; the Fear Dimension said as much during their confrontation. At that time, Coulson's fear of losing his family and Melinda May, the woman he secretly loved, was first and foremost on his mind. Further, Sarge mentioned missing memories, a very real experience Coulson went through following his first death at Loki's hands. Considering the painful experience he went through with Project T.A.H.I.T.I., some part of him likely still feared the process and the ramifications of it.
What's more, Izel claimed Sarge had no memories to begin with. This implies Sarge's belief that he is missing memories is false. If Sarge is a manifestation of the Fear Dimension, that would explain why he has no prior memories: because he is the manifestation of someone else's fear. Because of Coulson's close proximity to the Fear Dimension in "The Real Deal," it may have been able to "clone" him and implant his memories and fears in the resulting being. Then, because of the white monolith's power, that manifestation could have been sucked through time and dropped in another era altogether.
Now that May has shot Sarge in the head, answers about his origin may be hard to come by. However, the season has only four episodes left, which means the truth could be just around the corner. Judging by the clues dropped throughout the season, though, it seems most likely that Sarge may be Coulson's worst nightmare -- literally.
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.