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In Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, in the last few episodes, pieces of the Monolith are shown to be in Hydra's possession, and:

  • they use it to make portals;
  • the pieces are, best I can tell, identical;
  • there are five, with each supposed to be with a different high-ranking member of Hydra.

Is any reason given for there being five such pieces? It's implied that all five are needed to make the portal, but if the complete Monolith isn't needed, why five such pieces?

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We have only seen six (five fractions and the main monolith), which makes sense as we've only seen 6 heads of Hydra at any one time - in the episode Aftershocks, there are Whitehall, Dr. List, the Sheikh, the Baroness, the Banker and Octavian Bloom. Gideon even tells Ward in Many Heads, One Tale that there are five... However, if you look at the pictures of the monolith, there are more than five holes - here's a picture with 11 showing, not to mention potential others on the back sides, or the top or bottom:

The monolith

However, we see in both Many Heads, One Tale and Closure that each of the monolith fragments also create portals, as they also liquefy at random times without the key vibration. The only reason we see that five of them are used in Closure is to create a portal big enough for a man to jump through. There happen to be little lines on the platform where the shards are placed showing each shard's "splash radius", so it is clear that Hydra over the centuries has figured out as much as they can about the monolith, and know that five shards are all that are needed for a man-sized hole.

The Five

As for why they need the shards, note that SHIELD had to literally cut a hole into that castle to get the monolith out the first time (which Coulson later decided to skydive through)... They undoubtedly figured out the shards are infinitely easier to travel with, and also to thus keep safe, spread out amoungst the heads of the Hydra and their respective vaults (as we see in Many Heads, One Tale).

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  • I wonder what will happen to someone who jumps into a puddle of less area than their cross-section. Anyway, nice answer. I'll wait around for a day and then accept it. – muru Dec 15 '15 at 16:50
  • I saw a speculation blog a couple weeks ago that was postulating that one of the reasons Hydra showed up trying to get the miniaturization technology in Ant-Man was to be able to use the smaller fragments as portals. It ended up being not that, but still interesting. – Vogie Dec 17 '15 at 13:53

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