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Clark Gregg returns to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. behind the camera; Jeff Ward promoted to series regular

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Jul 21, 2018, 2:22 PM EDT

Season 5 of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continued to bring the show to new heights, firmly establishing it as one of the best genre programs on television right now. It thankfully received a Season 6 pickup, and though it won't be back for a little while (later next year, in fact) we do know that one essential part of the show will continue to be involved in it. 

WARNING: From this point on, there will be SPOILERS for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, especially the emotional season finale. If you aren't caught up, report to the Hub and receive a different assignment. Or, you know, watch the show. 

When last we saw the glorious wonder that is Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), agent (and sometimes director) of S.H.I.E.L.D. he was on a pleasant beach, ready to live out the rest of his days in romantic bliss with Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen). Coulson managed to survive his Loki-stabbing from the first Avengers film thanks to Nick Fury and the T.A.H.I.T.I. project, but his deal with Ghost Rider in Season 4 undid most of those reparations. The team had to decide whether to save Coulson or save the world, and whether they meant to or not, they saved the world. 

Coulson accepted his fate — he had a short amount of time left, but he was going to get to spend them fulfilling what was a very slow-burn (and ultimately triumphant) romantic storyline with Agent May. We don't see him die, exactly, but he's certainly in a magical place. 

All of that said, the big question on the minds of many fans is whether or not Coulson will return for Season 6. It's almost impossible to imagine the show without him, and the team already has to go out into space and rescue Fitz (Iain de Caestecker). They seriously have to do that, don't even get us started. While we don't know for sure whether or not Phil Coulson (a character that has been with the MCU since the very beginning, in Iron Man) will return, we have confirmation today that the actor behind the agent will still be involved with the show behind the scenes. 

A tweet from Marvel confirms today that Gregg will direct the first episode of Season 6, titled "Missing Pieces." The episode is written by Jed Whedon and Marisa Tancharoen. 

While we're still very much hoping for Coulson to return in the flesh (and in a loving and serious relationship with May), it's wonderful that Gregg is still going to be involved with the show regardless. Coulson is the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Clark Gregg is the heart of the series. Here's hoping the "missing pieces" referred to in the episode's title involve Fitz, because we swear to God if they keep messing around with the happiness of FitzSimmons some of us will just riot. Let's avoid that. Find him. 

Whether Coulson ever makes it off of his magical island of love or not, MCU fans can still look forward to seeing a much younger version of the character (still played by a de-aged Clark Gregg) in Captain Marvel.

In addition, there is also confirmation today that Jeff Ward has been promoted to series regular, answering another big cliffhanger from Season 5: 

Ward played Deke in Season 5, the future grandson of Fitz and Simmons. Let's hope he will be of some use in finding his father and ensuring his own birth. The fact that he didn't vanish at the end of Season 5 is interesting, and he proved to be something of a dangling thread. His crush on Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) was also amusing, and we wouldn't mind seeing more of it. He grew on us a great deal and we're glad he's still in the mix. 

Get ready for more Deke, and hopefully more Coulson. There could never possibly be enough Coulson...or enough #Philinda for that matter. 

Show your love for the cast of this show, as they'll be around San Diego Comic-Con for signings this weekend. Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage SDCC 2018, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.