The fifth episode of the seventh and final season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. aired tonight on ABC and it is jampacked with familiar faces, Marvel Cinematic Universe callbacks, comic book references and all kinds ot twists and turns. The episode, titled “A Trout in the Milk,” is also loaded with all the 70s awesomeness you can handle.
The episode opens with a fantastic 70s-style introduction, complete with funky music and voiceover announcing the stars and episode title. We then join Coulson and May in New York City as the former gushes about how cool the 70s are while the latter continues to struggle with the whole only feeling other people’s emotions thing.
They catch up with Daisy, geared up in 70s clothing, outside a store. Sousa comes out of the store in his normal clothing and explains that he can’t bring himself to wear what the people are wearing in this time period. He begins to question the logic of their time travel, bringing up the theory of creating different timelines like in Avengers: Endgame. Essentially, he’s asking the questions fans have been asking since the start of the season. The team pretty much tells him not to worry about it. I would guess that’s a message to the fans as well. The four agents head down into the former speakeasy where they left Enoch and begin to look for the out-of-place Chronicom.
On the Zephyr, Simmons explains to Deke that Freddy won’t be bothering him anymore because he died three years prior. A relieved Deke asks Simmons if she has heard from Fitz. She explains that she hasn’t but tells him not to worry because they’ll be reunited soon. Deke expresses his concern for the contrary because if they’re not, he will never exist. Before the scene ends though, Simmons reaches for the back of her neck where we see three red lights underneath her skin. Is she a Chronicom!? Or is this something different!?
Mack and Yo-Yo explore the Lighthouse which was supposed to have been abandoned a year prior. After Mack explains that they’re not just there for recon and he was looking at their mission as a sort of date, they see a steaming cup of coffee on a desk. They quickly hide behind a wall as an agent approaches and takes a sip from the cup. Mack explains that something is different. Those ripples are starting to become waves.
Back at the bar, May attempts to get information from the bartender regarding Enoch. She touches a patron on the arm and bumps into another on the dancefloor. Turns out, she can also get drunk from touching other people. She explains to Daisy that the staff hasn’t seen Enoch in over a year.
Sousa abd Coulson notice General Rick Stoner, played by Patrick Warburton and another one of those familiar faces we were promised, at the S.H.I.E.L.D. celebration happening at the bar. Stoner begins to address the room and introduces his “boss,” Wilfred Malick. The team is of course surprised to see that he is still alive and HYDRA is still infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. Malick begins to describe a familiar project and Coulson explains that HYDRA is 40 years ahead of schedule. Malick then announces Project Insight!
Coulson and Sousa discuss the situation and Coulson explains that Project Insight happened in his time. Sousa then drops one of the coolest lines this season has seen so far – “So the past is doomed to repeat the present.” Coulson guesses the Chronicoms have helped Malick infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sousa says that might just be a “trout in the milk,” giving the episode its title.
May approaches Stoner at the bar and poses as another agent. She manages to learn from him that Project Insight is still three years away and that they plan to launch in 1976.
Daisy is approached by a man who mentions his brother Nathaniel, which Daisy realizes makes him Gideon Malick. Gideon hits on Daisy before she is rescued by Sousa who poses as her fiance. Daisy explains that Nathaniel was also supposed to die three years ago, another change in the timeline.
Coulson calls back to the Zephyr and explains to Simmons that Project Insight has become their new priority. Deke overhears and becomes frustrated with the idea that Malick is still alive. Simmons tries to calm him down by explaining that they still have time to stop Insight, but he argues that this is only the problem they know about and there may be much more.
Back at the lighthouse, Mack and Yo-Yo investigate to see just what S.H.I.E.L.D. is up to at this would-be-abandoned base. Yo-Yo is worried but Mack points out that it’s still S.H.I.E.L.D., even if they are wearing throwback uniforms. They watch as another agents opens the door to a massive silo where they can see a rocket of some sort being constructed.
By the way, those uniforms they see the agents wearing are actually a nice reference to some classic Marvel Comics. Nick Fury and the old Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. used to wear those same blue uniforms back in the 70s and 80s.
Daisy and Sousa sneak into the hidden office in the bar, which is now being used by Malick. Daisy manages to hack into one of his computers and finds a threat list for Project Insight. Daisy notes that it’s mostly S.H.I.E.L.D. assets but is surprised to see that Bruce Banner is on the list. She explains to Sousa that he is just a kid now but becomes an Avenger in the future. Sousa puts together that if they have a list of future threats, they must be working with the Chronicoms. Another fun note for Marvel fans, the list of threats features several other familiar names from both the MCU and the comics, like Victoria Hand, Roberto Gonzels and Michael Phillips.
May and Coulson see that Daisy and Sousa have completed their mission and begin to make their way for the exit before being stopped by Malick, who questions Coulson. Before they know it, they’re surrounded by Chronicoms. Daisy and Sousa see the problem present itself and Daisy decides to use Nathaniel as leverage. The lead Chronicom decides they should kill them anyway but Malick stops them in order to save his son and the agents get away.
The Chronicoms follow them out onto the street and Daisy reveals her Quake powers not only to Sousa but also inadvertently to Nathaniel Malick who sinks back into the bar. The team is still stranded without a ride but Enoch pulls up in a car just in time. He hilariously makes a Terminator reference which doesn’t really make sense because the movie doesn’t come out fro another eight years but does make sense because… you know… time traveling robot. The lead Chronicom comes out of the bar and sees his two defeated soldiers before explaining that it’s time they “change the rules.”
As the team regroups on the Zephyr, Daisy explains that they found the threat list with names like Bruce Banner and Nick Fury before Sousa adds Peggy Carter. Sousa then notices that the clock, which normally counts down to the next jump, appears to be glitching. Suddenly, it shows only seconds until their next jump. Yo-Yo attempts to get off the ship but fails and now the whole team is in 1976 and Project Insight is ready for launch.
Simmons finds Enoch and begins to panic, telling him there is something wrong and she has been “slipping” and “getting confused.” Enoch asks if she has told anyone else and she explains that she’s afraid to. What exactly is going on with Simmons? Looks like we have another layer to this already very complex season.
Sousa confronts Simmons, visibly angry, and asks why they jumped. Simmons explains that she doesn’t really know how this works which only enrages Sousa further. He yells that they’re playing with time and he was pulled from his life for this. Deke intervenes and explains that they all were, which seems to calm Sousa for a moment.
Mack pulls the team together and explains that its launch day for Project Insight. Daisy explains that they can’t open fire on the rocket from Zephyr without giving away their position, which is suddenly a very important thing. Coulson explains that he and May will go in on foot and attempt to flood the base, scrubbing the launch and forcing everyone out. Daisy and Sousa are given the task of hacking the surveillance feed in the base so they have eyes. Yo-Yo and Deke as tasked with finding Malick and bringing him in.
Malick is visited in his home by the Chronicom, who explains that human emotion is a weakness that he will now help them exploit. He explains that S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming for him and when they do, he will have leverage. He then hands Malick an envelope and explains that he wants S.H.I.E.L.D. to give up their position so he must deliver the message.
Daisy, accompanied by Sousa, begins to hack the surveillance feed. Sousa questions her powers, bringing up the Super Serum. Daisy explains that her powers are a little different. Sousa questions her computer and Daisy shows him her cell phone which pretty much blows his mind. Daisy manages to get into the system and the team clears May and Coulson to go in.
May and Coulson enter the base in those classic blue S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms. They call for Daisy to open a door for them but while she works, Nathaniel Malick jumps her and Sousa and ices both of them. Coulson and May reach the door and call out to Daisy with no response. On the Zephyr, Mack orders Simmons to keep trying to reach her.
Yo-Yo and Deke arrive in Malick’s home and Deke immediately points a gun at the HYDRA boss. Yo-Yo explains that the launch is getting shut down and he is going with them. Malick replies that he’s not going anywhere.
May and Coulson cross paths with Stoner and plan to use his credentials to open the door. Coulson tries to talk his way into getting his help but May touches him gently and then knocks him out with one punch. Coulson says he was getting through to him and May explains that “he felt otherwise.” Turns out those new powers may come in handy.
Malick explains to Deke and Yo-Yo that the Chronicoms have only been letting them think they had a fighting chance but they’ve always been 10 steps ahead. He continues his classic villain monologue until Deke shoots him in the chest, killing him. Yo-Yo opens the envelope Malick was holding and becomes concerned.
May and Coulson set the charges in the base and wait for the signal from Mack, who is now frozen looking at the surveillance feed. Simmons says they are waiting on his signal and he explains that two of the prisoners are his parents. If they detonate the charges and the base is flooded, his parents will be killed. He orders May and Coulson to abort the mission and Project Insight is launched. May and Coulson are surrounded by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
Mack gives the order to arm the missiles.He and Enoch hop into the cockpit and head after the Insight rocket. Mack fires a missile at the rocket and destroys it, ending Project Insight while also giving up their position.
In the tag, we see Nathaniel Malick in a phone booth describing a man before he says the name Daniel Whitehall. Malick explains that he had a theory about transferring enhanced abilities surgically and he wants to find out if it works. Looks like the team is going to have to rescue Daisy from another HYDRA boss. It also looks like we’ll be spending some more time in the 70s.
Another strong episode in this final season. Though it seemed as if they forced in a plot point late in the episode with the sudden importance of giving away their position, the episode as a whole came together nicely. The constant jumps in time make every episode feel fresh and this episode in particular was loaded with Marvel references, which is always fun for the fans. Most importantly, it left me wanting to know what’s going to happen next week.
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.”