The winter finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Season 3 featured a shocking death, the repercussions of which will be felt when the show returns in 2016. Coulson (Clark Gregg) finally killed Ward (Brett Dalton), but the S.H.I.E.L.D. director will have trouble accepting his choice.

“I think [Coulson] is going to spend some time trying to figure out whether it was an act of vengeance or an act of protecting others, or both,” Gregg told TVLine. “But I don’t think it’s going to sit well.”

Killing Ward was necessary, but there were other ways to go about it. Coulson could’ve just left him on Maveth or quickly shot him, but instead, he crushed his chest with his robotic hand. For the writers, including executive producer Jeff Bell, that functioned as the best way to end Ward’s story and continue Coulson’s conflicted plotline.

“We wanted to provide Ward's character with a meaningful, powerful death scene,” Bell told the Hollywood Reporter. “But we also have been taking Coulson on this arc this year where he's been wrestling with his humanity and what it means to be a leader … Having defeated Ward, he could have walked away. He doesn't feel good about that. He's not proud of it. He's going to question his own morality.”

It isn’t just the fact that he killed Ward that will disturb Coulson. His actions were a little too similar to the villain’s. “He, a little bit, became what he always fights against,” executive producer Jed Whedon explained to Entertainment Weekly. “That’ll inform the way that Coulson approaches things moving forward. Ward got what he wanted. He proved himself right when he said to Coulson, ‘We’re not that different.’ But Coulson, in that moment, the emotion got to him.”

There is one good thing to come out of Coulson’s choice: he’ll reestablish his friendship with May (Ming-Na Wen). The two have been separated throughout much of the season, and they haven’t functioned as a duo lately. However, when May has to deal with her murderous ex-husband Andrew (Blair Underwood) on the loose, and Coulson has to come to terms with killing Ward, they’ll lean on each other. “Having both suffered so much, it only follows logic that they would end up being driven together by it,” Whedon added.

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is on hiatus until March. “Marvel’s Agent Carter” Season 2 will replace it starting Jan. 19 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.