The team spends another episode kicking around 1955, dealing with the fallout of last week’s mission and the looming assassination of Agent Carter fan favorite Daniel Sousa. But does Mack & Co. decide to finally change the past for the better?
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for “Out of the Past,” the latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Wednesday, June 17 on ABC.**
This episode was a fun one, and you can tell they’re pulling out all the stops for the final few adventures. This week we get a hard-boiled, black and white throwback (thanks to Coulson’s malfunctioning reboot), narrated by Coulson in the vein of a classic detective noir. We even get the throwback-style credit intro to really sell it. The framing is a fun tool to tell the story, as we pick up with Sousa’s mission that turns out to be his last. That’s right — July 22, 1955 is a famed day in S.H.I.E.L.D. history, when Sousa heroically dies delivering a critical piece of tech to Howard Stark.
Sousa has Coulson in custody, though he quickly uses his history of S.H.I.E.L.D. knowledge to convince Sousa he’s actually the contact he’d been waiting on to complete his mission. Essentially, last week’s events inadvertently threw the timeline off course, so Coulson is doing his best to nudge events back in the right direction. The mission carries them to a train, where they’re contending with not just rogue Chronicoms, but also Russians and HYDRA agents gunning to take out Sousa. It’d been established S.H.I.E.L.D. history that Russians were responsible for killing Sousa, though we now know it was actually HYDRA forces who take him out — to preserve the secret infiltration of the agency that won’t be revealed until Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Along the way, the Chronicoms try to cut a deal with Coulson to spare his team if they just give up and let the Chronicoms take over Earth. So it seems the team is at least becoming enough of a thorn in their side that they’ll shift strategy. When Coulson rebuffs, the Chronicoms vow to escalate — and Coulson says they’ll be doing the same. Just when it seems like the HYDRA agents have the upper hand on Sousa, Mack and Daisy show up to save the day after dropping into the train via a cloaked ship.
The team helps Sousa make it to his drop, and Sousa makes a run for it to complete the mission, not realizing historically it’s his last. After some debate, Mack decides to change history this time around and save Sousa — though they get creative to keep the timeline intact along the way. LMD Coulson takes Sousa’s place getting shot, and as far as history is concerned, Agent Sousa died a hero.
But he’s not dead — he’s alive and well, teaming up with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team we know and love to stop the Chronicoms. When Coulson finally comes clean about their time traveling, alien-fighting mission, Sousa takes it all in stride. What do you expect from a veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agent? Even one plucked from the 1950s. Sousa makes the jump to the next time period and gets ready for action. We don’t know the exact date, but judging by Alice Cooper’’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” on the radio, it’s likely around 1973 or so.
Elsewhere, Deke and Yo-Yo go on a side mission to recover the tech that Sousa was supposed to deliver. They get it before the Chronicoms, though Deke is captured by HYDRA agents in the process. He’s taken to the HYDRA leader, who turns out to be… you guessed it, Wilfred Malick, the same young man Deke saved a few decades prior. Deke jogs his memory, and Malick lets Deke go, paying off that old debt when Deke helped him complete his mission and saved his life. But its clear that part of history has stayed the course, and “Willy” is now a stone cold killer.
We also finally figure out what’s wrong with May — at least partially. It seems her time spent in the other dimension at the end of last season has left her devoid of emotion. But she can feel the emotions of others when she touches them. It’s why she freaked out during the assault last week, when fleeing scientists bumped into her, and why she geeks out when touching Simmons. When no one is touching her, she’s emotionless. She even touches Coulson, but feels nothing — it seems her ability doesn’t work with LMDs.
We also catch up with Enoch, who has spent the past few decades biding his time and tending bar at Koenig’s all these years. He’s created a radio to contact the Zephyr, and basically serves as the communications man from the bar this week. Sadly, the team isn’t able to pick him up before jumping again, so Enoch is still traveling through time the old fashioned away. He also seems to be getting a bit bitter about his lot in life being left behind again.
Post-credits: The season’s two big bads are teaming up. A Chronicom stays behind and approaches Malick about joining forces, manipulating time to make sure HYDRA comes out victorious.