Next Tuesday, one of the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." will die. This threat has loomed over the back half of Season Three ever since the midseason premiere, which flashed forward to the Quinjet in space. The scene in question begins with a shot of Earth through the Quinjet's open hatch and pulls back to reveal a gold necklace with a cross, a smattering of blood and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent's arm as they drift through the vacuum of space. After Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) saw this in a vision, the question of who dies has lingered over every decision the team makes.
The third season of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." concludes Tuesday in a two-hour finale, which will reveal the identity of this Fallen Agent. Before that rolls around, however, CBR examines the show's cast to take our best guess at who's most likely to die.
Threat Level: Safe
Let's face it: Daisy Johnson is the star of the show. Sure, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is an ensemble series, but Daisy -- or Skye, as she was formerly known -- has been our POV character since day one. We joined S.H.I.E.L.D. alongside her and learned about the Inhumans just as she did, and we continue to follow her as she balances her S.H.I.E.L.D. duties with the wellbeing of the Inhuman race. Since "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is, really, her story, it's doubtful the showrunners have plans to kill her off. Now, there's still a possibility that she could die -- Gideon Malick saw his own death, after all -- but chances are very slim she's the Fallen Agent.
Threat Level: High
Since the beginning of Season Three, Lincoln has had a rough go of things. His transition from Afterlife to S.H.I.E.L.D. was tough, he's had trouble managing his anger, Daisy went full Hive on him and then -- as if that wasn't bad enough -- he recklessly destroyed his autoimmune system in an attempt to cure her. As we've seen over the past few episodes, he hasn't fully recovered, which means his defense against disease is as fragile as ever. What's more, Coulson, May, Simmons and several other members of S.H.I.E.L.D. have also commented on his self-destructive tendencies, at least when it comes to saving Daisy. Due to his habit of rushing into dangerous situations headlong, particularly where Daisy is concerned, Lincoln runs a high risk of being the Fallen Agent.
He has two other factors working against him: his character was never a Secret Warrior, and he is Daisy's love interest. As to the former, the show has slowly built up the Secret Warriors by introducing characters like Yo-Yo and Hellfire, who were main characters in the Marvel Comics series by Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli; however, Lincoln was never part of the source material, and thus doesn't adhere to any established canon. The show could easily kill him off and be none the worse for it, as there are no potential storylines left unexplored. It would be a relatively safe kill, but one with maximum emotional impact due to his connection with Daisy; his death could both act as a motivator for her Season Four arc and provide her with a lot of angst -- since she's the one who encouraged him to enlist with S.H.I.E.L.D., after all.
Furthermore, it would nicely round out his season-long arc. He has spent the last twenty-odd episodes winning the trust of S.H.I.E.L.D., particularly after Coulson challenged him to follow orders for the benefit of the team. He would come full circle as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a hero if he valiantly sacrificed himself to save his teammates.
Of course, this may all be a giant red herring to make fans believe he'll be the one to die; it certainly wouldn't be the first time the show pulled something like that. In "The Team," the writers set him up to be the Hive-infected agent, though it was really Daisy all along. While there's a chance this is the case, his odds of being the Fallen Agent are still extremely high.
Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez
Threat Level: Low
Ever since we saw the first flash-forward to the Fallen Agent, one aspect of the scene stood out: the instantly recognizable gold necklace floating through empty space beside a pool of blood. The necklace, of course, belongs to one Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez.
Then why is she marked as a low risk, you may ask? For two reasons: it appears to be a red herring, and she's an established member of the Secret Warriors. For one, it seems just too obvious a route to take; though the necklace has since changed hands (she gave it to Mack at the end of the last episode), the scene is set up to make viewers concerned for her, and the show doesn't exactly have a history of being so direct; see also, Ward's Hydra allegiance, Jiaying's nefarious plans and Daisy's betrayal of Lincoln. The writers wanted fans to be worried about Yo-Yo for months, just so they could pull the rug out from under their feet.
Additionally, Yo-Yo is one of the only members of the comic book Secret Warriors team to arrive on the show. It's difficult to believe she would be killed off after appearing in a total of five episodes, particularly where she had such a well-established storyline in the comics. Of course, this doesn't exempt her from death altogether, but it seems fairly unlikely.
Threat Level: Moderate
Like Lincoln, Joey isn't a character from the comics -- and so, like Lincoln, Joey would be a relatively safe kill. However, unlike Lincoln, he doesn't have an extremely personal connection to the team. S.H.I.E.L.D. may have helped him adjust to his powers, but his love interest isn't part of the organization. That isn't to say, of course, that he's less important or his death would resonate less; on the contrary, Joey is very much the heart of the team. While Daisy takes point as leader, Joey serves as an important reminder of the fact people die in their line of work. When he killed one of Hive's minions, it shook him to the core, and it goes to show the human element of their missions; he killed a person, not some faceless foe, and the act of taking a human life deeply affected him. As one of the more earnest characters on the show, his death would be a major blow to the morale of the team.
Of course, as one of the only gay superheroes on TV, it would be extremely unwise to kill him off. Shows like "The 100," "The Walking Dead" and "Jane the Virgin" have recently come under fire for killing prominent gay characters -- and rightfully so, as they're so few and far between and their storylines so often end in tragedy. It would be hugely disappointing to see "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." follow suit, particularly when gay superheroes are even rarer.
Director Phil Coulson
Threat Level: Safe
Director Phil Coulson has been there and done that. After all, it was his death that motivated the Avengers to join together and stop Loki at the end of the first "Avengers" film back in 2012. If "S.H.I.E.L.D." makes Coulson the Fallen Agent, it will feel more like a stale rehash of his earlier death. After all this setup for a major character death, it would be weak to repeat what came before, as much as it might parallel "The Avengers."
Like Daisy, Coulson is the other de facto main character of the show; in addition to being the team leader and the one that brought them all together, he gets just about as much screen time as she does, which makes it unlikely the show will kill off him. We can pretty confidently mark him as "safe" in this scenario.
Threat Level: Moderate
Poor Agent May! She's had a tough time ever since she found out her ex-husband Andrew Garner had become the killer Inhuman Lash. However, her intertwining storyline with Lash came to a close when Hive killed him during their big Inhuman showdown. Of course, Andrew's transformation didn't erase May's feelings for her ex, which may set her on a path of revenge; after all, both Coulson and Lincoln have dealt with similar themes this season, so it would be in keeping with this season's motifs. What better way to get back at Hive than to absolutely destroy his big plan and save her team in the process? An exceptional pilot, May could absolutely be the one flying the Quinjet -- and she certainly has the motivation to do so. Additionally, she has proved she will do what it takes to complete a mission, even if that means killing.
That said, May plays a critical role on the show. She completes Coulson and Daisy's trifecta; as Coulson serves as a father figure to Daisy, so May has acted almost like a mother figure. While there's a moderate enough cause to make her the Fallen Agent, her prominent role makes it a little less likely.
Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie
Threat Level: High
Guess who just got a hold of the gold necklace from Daisy's flash-forward? This guy! Mack's possession of Yo-Yo's necklace significantly increases his chances of becoming the Fallen Agent. Over the past few episodes, he has also felt incredibly guilty that he wasn't able to recognize Hive's influence on Daisy, and he went to extreme lengths in order to help her. Unfortunately, he learned the repercussions of dealing with Hive firsthand after Daisy laid a superpowered smackdown on him, seriously injuring him. In addition to his initial skepticism of the Inhumans, this solidifies the threat Hive poses on a personal level.
Plus, he has a family to look after; back in "Watchdogs," he reestablished his relationship with his brother, who would absolutely be affected in Hive's attack. His budding relationship with Yo-Yo -- as well as his desire to get back at Hive for Daisy -- could also motivate him to take desperate measures to stop this Terrigen attack.
Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz
Threat Level: Moderate
As Simmons has mentioned several times over the course of the season, she and Fitz are cursed lovers. If that's truly the case, what could be worse than losing one or the other to death? After the harrowing events on Maveth, the two have finally established a romantic relationship and even consummated it in "The Singularity" -- but is this all a little too good to be true? Their very relationship -- and the drama that would result from one of their deaths -- sets them both at a moderate level of risk.
Starring Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet and Ming-Na Wen, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." airs Tuesdays at 9 pm EST on ABC.