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The team continues hopping through time, with their new time-displaced team member along for the ride — and this week a big screen story from Captain America: The Winter Soldier is back to cause problems once again.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead for “A Trout in the Milk,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Wednesday, June 24, 2020.**
The Chronicoms made it clear last week they were willing to change the rules to the game, and they certainly made good on that threat. A few of them stayed behind after the last jump to start manipulating the time stream, helping HYDRA’s secret rise to power to the point it has accelerated a full 40 years ahead of schedule. This manifests in Wilfred Malick living past his original death date in the OG timeline, now working closely with S.H.I.E.L.D. to launch a new project — one that should be familiar to MCU fans.
It turns out the Chronicoms play to beat S.H.I.E.L.D. is to complete Project Insight, the evil HYDRA endgame from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, ahead of schedule — then use it to go ahead and wipe out everyone they view as a threat decades in the past. As fans likely remember, Project Insight was the targeted satellite system that would’ve been mounted in helicarriers around the the globe, and used to pinpoint and take out threats from the air with killer accuracy. Instead of helicarriers, this version would’ve used old school satellites, but the same idea applies. We even hear a few names on the proposed target list, including Bruce Banner, Nick Fury, and Peggy Carter.
This is a great callback to the film universe, and a truly organic one. If the Chronicoms really want to help HYDRA stamp out S.H.I.E.L.D., what better way than accelerating their eventual plan as laid out in the films? Even though S.H.I.E.L.D. makes it in time to stop the launch, the Chronicoms have a contingency plan, so they take Mack’s parents hostage in the facility so he won’t destroy it. The gambit works, and Mack instead opts to reveal their location in the Zephyr and shoot the Insight satellite down after launch. So, the launch is stopped — but now the team has exposed their location to the Chronicoms. Uh oh.
Sousa is surprisingly cool adjusting to his “death” and being flung through time, though he’s still a bit bitter about the life he’s missing and all the years lost as they continue to jump. But he gets to team up with Daisy and go on-mission, until they’re captured by Malick’s younger adult son — and it sounds like he wants to dig up a few other HYDRA relics to try and surgically steal Daisy’s Inhuman abilities.
Enoch is back! Though something seems to be up with him. He shows up to save the day, but gets a bit shady when helping Simmons deal with a throbbing red device in her neck. Are the Chronicoms tracking Simmons? Is she a robot herself? What does Enoch know about all of this? So many questions there. Also, Fitz is still MIA. Really missing his energy this season.
The throwback intros continue, and this time it’s a cast call-out straight from the 1970s. These have been a real treat this season — can’t wait to see where it heads next.
After opting not to pull the trigger a few decades earlier, Deke doesn’t hesitate when they confront Wilfred Malick in the 1970s. While Malick is giving his bad guy speech, Deke just shoots him in cold blood. He makes the point that, yeah, he’s supposed to be dead anyway in the OG timeline. But still, it’s a shocking moment from a guy who usually shies away from that type of violence.
Coulson and May get a chance to rock some old school S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms, but when the plan goes sideways and Mack aborts, they’re left holding the bag and captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. forces on the ground.
Patrick Warburton’s General Rick Stoner returns! In a fun nod, Warburton’s general — who fans should recognize from those S.H.I.E.L.D. instructional videos in the Lighthouse a while back — is back in person in the 1970s, helping run the ultra-early version of Project Insight.