The fourth episode of the seventh and final season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. aired tonight on ABC and it once again followed the genre-bending trend this season has seen so far. Tonight’s episode, titled “Out of the Past,” took on the identity of a film noir and was almost entirely in black and white.
The episode tips its hand immediately as to the genre it will employ, with the opening shot being in black and white and a voiceover monologue coming from Coulson. He explains that he doesn’t believe in fate, but when playing with history, there’s not much you can do to change it.
After another great new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, his monologue continues as he wakes up handcuffed to a table while Sousa is on the phone. Coulson explains the story of the night Agent Daniel Sousa became the first ever fallen agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., an event that would go on to inspire hundreds of future agents.
Sousa hangs up the phone and begins trying to get information out of Coulson. Understanding that the major historical event had already been altered by what transpired in last week’s episode, Coulson lied and explained that he was Sousa’s contact, sent to help him deliver a gadget to Howard Stark. After some convincing, Sousa buys it and the team has its next mission.
In need of help, Coulson calls back to the speakeasy, now called the Crazy Canoe, where Enoch is still working as a bartender. Enoch explains that he can patch Coulson through to the Zephyr because he has had two decades to construct the technology to do so. Coulson cuts im off, essentially using him as a phone operator.
Enoch patches Coulson through to the Zephyr and he explains the situation to the team. The team discusses the fact that Sousa dies later that night and then lays out the plan to collect the gadget from the home of the scientist who was impersonated by a Chronicom last week. Deke and Yo-Yo are sent to retrieve the device.
On their way to the house, the two agents discuss the possibility of changing the timeline for the better by doing things like killing Freddy Malick or even saving Agent Sousa. Neither one of them seems completely sure about what might be the right thing to do.
They arrive at the home of the scientist and split up to find the gadget. Yo-Yo finds the faceless body of the scientist before finding what she was looking for. Meanwhile, Deke is ambushed by two thugs and taken as a hostage. Coulson’s voiceover, which accompanies just about all of this episode, explains that they now have the gadget but they don’t have Deke.
Coulson and Sousa board a train as Coulson continues to build his lie regarding his involvement in Sousa’s delivery. He convinces Sousa to simply sit and wait for his contact to reveal himself and drop off the package. His voiceover explains that Yo-Yo was supposed to make the drop but she was now off looking for Deke instead.
Back at the Crazy Canoe, Enoch gets another call, this time from Yo-Yo. Before he can get the chance to ask if he is to be brought back in, she asks him to patch her through to the Zephyr again. She explains to Mack that she has the package but Deke is gone.
On the train, Coulson improvises and swipes a briefcase from another passenger, telling Sousa that was his contact. As they move to another car though, some other passengers seem very interested in their movement. While the two agents are unaware of these suspicious passengers, the menacing music alerts the audience to their presence.
On the Zephyr, the team inspects the gadget Yo-Yo acquired. Most of the team seams unimpressed, but Simmons is of course excited about its historical significance. May seems just as skeptical as the team but after touching Simmons’ arm, she is surprisingly as thrilled as the scientist, which puzzles the team for a moment.
After making some smalltalk, Sousa decides to grab a drink in the train’s bar car. As soon as he leaves, a chronicom joins Coulson and offers him a deal – give them the Earth and they will be merciful to humans. Coulson of course declines the offer and the chronicom explains that all he had to do was make one call to speed up Sousa’s death.
Meanwhile, Sousa is confronted by a woman in the bar who attempts to distract him as her two friends clear out the rest of the car. Sousa sees through her charade and a fight breaks out. Sousa is saved by Daisy, Mack and Coulson who arrive just in time.
The team brings Sousa aboard the Zephyr but still keeps everything very secretive. While being introduced to the team, Sousa shakes May’s hand and she immediately becomes panicked and worried. After a moment of concern, she calms down. Yo-Yo and Simmons escort her away.
The team turns the package over to Sousa and asks for information on where Deke might be in return. In the episode’s best gag, Sousa explains to them that S.H.I.E.L.D. may have been infiltrated by HYDRA, which he sees as an absolute bombshell. With this being very old information to the team though, their reaction is very reserved, which of course shakes Sousa. Coulson realizes it was HYDRA who killed Sousa, not the Russians as was previously believed, and that Freddy Malick was the one calling the shots.
We see Deke brought to an office by the two armed thugs who took him. An older Freddy introduces himself to Deke as Wilfred. After more than 20 years, the HYDRA boss doesn’t recognize Deke, who puts together a lie about being a toaster salesman. Wilfred kills his goon for bringing him the wrong man.
Mack finds Malick’s address and plans to go rescue him, but Coulson brings up Sousa’s mission. The two discuss whether or not they should save him, effectively altering the timeline. Meanwhile, Daisy and Sousa discuss HYDRA’s infiltration, a conversation that finds Sousa increasingly frustrated.
Now backed into a corner with a gun on him, Deke decides to expose himself as the man Wilfred met back in 1931. He explains that he once made the call not to kill Wilfred and after a tense moment, Wilfred lowers his gun to return the favor. He allows Deke to leave but lets him know that is he sees him again, he won’t be so lucky.
Simmons examines May before Yo-Yo enters and explains May’s panic attack back at the base from last week’s episode. May explains that she’s been feeling nothing before her emotions wash over her uncontrollably.
Deke uses a payphone to contact Enoch and tries to catch up with the friendly Chronicom before he causally connects him to the Zephyr. Enoch then explains to his bar patron that he is alone in this world as he has always been. Patched through, Deke explains that he got away from Malick, something the team already knew. Mack tells Coulson he is changing the mission – it looks like they are going to save Sousa after all. He calls Daisy away form Sousa.
May explains that her panic attack on the base was the first time she felt anything since she entered the temple in the season six finale. Simmons and Yo-Yo eventually put together that May is feeling the emotions of anyone she touches, Simmons’ excitement for the gadget and Sousa’s confusion being brought on the Zephyr. She explains that when she touched Sousa she also felt the need to run. Sousa then immediately makes a run for it, with the package in tow.
At a hotel in Los Angeles, Sousa make his delivery while Malick’s HYDRA goon follows him. We see Sousa get shot, just as we saw in the opening while Coulson explained the historical event. We then see a body stumble toward the pool and fall in, seemingly dead.
The HYDRA agent calls Malick and explains that his job is done. It is revealed that the body in the pool is actually Coulson and we flash back to see that Sousa was actually iced by S.H.I.E.L.D. and not shot by HYDRA. Instead, it is Coulson who is shot by the HYDRA agent. Daisy and Simmons pose as nurses and collect Coulson’s body.
Back on the Zephyr, Simmons works on Coulson and restores his system. The episode shifts from black and white to color and Coulson explains that his internal monologue is gone. May touches Coulson and explains that she gets nothing off of him.
A clock appears, counting down the seconds until the next jump. The team shares their regrets regarding leaving Enoch once again, but Daisy explains that he’s a Chronicom so he’ll be wherever they jump to next.
After the jump, Sousa wakes up and is greeted by Coulson who tells him everything. Sousa is surprisingly unphased by the information, but then Coulson explains that Sousa is, historically speaking, now dead. That doesn’t go over quite as easily.
Coulson leads Sousa to the bridge and the now-deceased agents asks ‘when’ they are. The team hears “No More Mr. Nice Guy” come over the radio, letting them know that they are now in the early 70s.
In the tag, Malick is joined by a Chronicom who comes to hi with a proposition. The Chronicom offers to help him prevent S.H.I.E.L.D. from eventually destroying everything he will build. It looks like we’re going to have a HYDRA-Chronicom teamup moving forward.
This season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to impress. This was yet another very fun episode that played with a different genre to tell new-yet-familiar Marvel story. It also potentially sets up something I personally find very interesting. Agent Sousa has now been taken from 1955 and brought into the future. For now, he’s only in the 70s, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he sticks with the team for at least one more jump. Say to 2012 maybe? Enver Gjokaj, the actor who plays Sousa, also appeared in Marvel’s The Avengers as an unnamed New York police officer. Is it possible that officer will actually be Agent Sousa? If so, it would be a fun little solution to the double casting.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Wednesday nights on ABC.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”