Byron Cohen/ABC
March 01, 2018 at 07:37 PM EST

Can Team S.H.I.E.L.D. prevent the end of the world? That’s what Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will aim to answer when the show returns Friday night.

The future, as fans have come to see, is pretty bleak. Not only has the Earth been destroyed — ostensibly by our very own Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) — but most of the team ends up dead, save for Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), who is resurrected time and again to provide Kree villain Kasius (Dominic Rains) with prophetic details, all the while living a miserable existence after her arms were somehow chopped off. Can this future be prevented?

“Of course they want to prevent that,” executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen says. “But we’ve also established on the show that you cannot adjust what happens in time.”

The problem is that the team seems to be in a time loop, one in which Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) ultimately builds what amounts to a time machine that will eventually bring their past selves forward in time. But, as the future Yo-Yo revealed, they seem doomed to repeat the same mistakes that land them there every time — one of those mistakes being not letting Coulson (Clark Gregg) die. “Fitz believes that once you’re in a time loop, no matter what you do, you might think every time you’re going to break it, but you’re never going to break that loop,” de Caestecker says. “From my character’s point of view, there’s no breaking that.”

Even if they could break it, there’s no instruction manual that will prove them with answers as to how. “They have very few clues as to what really happens, so they don’t have a complete picture,” executive producer Jed Whedon says. “It’s not like they can just go and say, ‘Okay, if we can stop this one thing from happening, then none of the bad things will occur. A little bit of the mystery is how would we stop it if we could? And can we? That’s some of the stuff we’re going to explore in the back half.”

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All that said, Yo-Yo seems doomed to eventually suffer the same grim fate, which Cordova-Buckley says will be touched upon soon. “Is it preventable?” the actress says. “I can’t really say, because if I say it is, then it means it doesn’t happen, and if I say it isn’t, that means it does. So let’s hope it is preventable, but we’ll definitely explain why we saw her that way.”

That future is something Mack (Henry Simmons) will stop at nothing to prevent. “Mack is in a place where he doesn’t want to necessarily believe that that is the course of the future,” Simmons says. “Some characters believe that it’s inevitable, but Mack doesn’t believe that. He believes there’s a possibility to change the course of what may come.”

However, should the team end up going through the loop once more, it could provide the show a chance to address a fan theory that one of the future characters is related to our core group of heroes. “Maybe, we hadn’t even thought of that,” Whedon says coyly. “Probably, right? I don’t know. We’ll have to explore that idea.”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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