Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are time traveling in the season seven premiere episode, “The New Deal.” The threat of the Chronicoms takes the Agents back to 1931.
In season six, we met the Chronicoms when they kidnapped Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). A non-corporeal demonic entity destroyed their planet and the Chronicoms believed FitzSimmons could bring their planet back through time travel. They scanned the FitzSimmons brains for the answer to time travel, but the super couple escaped. Now they want to build their new home on Planet Earth.
Director Mackenzie (Henry Simmons), Agents of S..H.I.E.L.D. Daisy Johnson/Quake (Chloe Bennet), Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Elena Rodrigeuz/Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), and Deke Shaw (Jeff Ward) are aboard the Zephyr with Simmons and Enoch (Joel Stoffer), a Chronicom. And they’ve just been introduced to Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg)…Life Decoy Model Coulson.
A lot happens in this episode. Buckle in!
NEW YORK CITY, 1931
The Chronicoms arrive first, taking the faces of three New York City police officers. One of them was a captain. The Chronicoms were caught erasing their faces by an unsuspecting guy with a crate of bottles in his hands. They killed the guy.
Back on the Zephyr…Simmons has just revealed the LMD/Chronicom Coulson to Daisy and Mack. When they wake up Coulson he’s pretty chipper, but curious as to why no one else is. His arm feels different and then he realizes that he feels different. Mack wants to subtly and slowly inform Coulson about the changes but then Daisy blurts out that he’s an LMD. And Coulson doesn’t like that.
Simmons mentions that Coulson’s last brain scan was in the framework. A lot has happened since then and Simmons uploads all of that information at once into the LMD’s brain. He voices many thoughts at once, reliving his memories of the last two years. Daisy tries to calm him down, but Coulson is spinning out of control. Mack turns off LMD Coulson, despite Daisy and Simmons’ protests. Mack makes an executive order that anything LMD related is the director’s decision and not up for debate. He then directs Simmons to start over and tell them everything!
Deke and Yo-Yo join the team so Simmons can explain. The Chronicoms came to take over Earth and only the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can stop them. The Zephyr was upgraded to a time machine and it has a cloaking device. The team can’t just jump to any time in history that they want though. There are critical launch windows leading to specific points in time and space. Fitz calls them Tides. The Chronicoms took one and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. followed them to 1931.
So, S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded sometime after World War II. So why are the Chronicoms in 1931? That’s the real question. The agents need to find out the Chronicoms mission in 1931. That won’t be easy since they don’t really know who or what to look for. Luckily, Simmons created a new S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ on the Zephyr where Enoch is working.
The team asks about Fitz and Simmons assures them that it’s better for everyone if no one knows where he is. Mack determines they need to venture out to see what they’re up against. He sends Deke out to get clothes. Yo-Yo reminds them that the last time they let Deke out, he got drunk and arrested. But it’s 1931. Prohibition is the law, so no booze. Simmons gives Deke some money and sends him on his way.
Next, Mack quarantines Yo-Yo to the Zephyr. She says she’s fine after being possessed by a Shrike, but they can’t risk introducing an alien contagion into the past. Or purple hair for that matter. Daisy has to color her hair. As for May, she’s alive, stable and improving.
AGAINST HIS WISHES
Mack wakes up Coulson, who has calmed down, but he’s a little angry. Coulson got a flash of his life for the last two years in ten seconds. But it was Coulson’s life and he was totally against LMDs. Mack is too, but that’s because he hates robots. Coulson didn’t want to be an LMD and he didn’t want to be brought back to life. So now what?
Mack informs Coulson about what the Chronicoms are up to and that they have Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) black box. If they are going to get ahead of the Chronicoms, they need Coulson. Mack really wants to know what LMD Coulson thinks. Coulson says he would do anything for the team. If they get through the mission, he will reevaluate the LMD situation. Mack will too.
Enoch hears a police report of three bodies found without faces. He says it’s an erasure, an evasive hunter procedure to procure an identity. Time to Suit Up!
Mack, Daisy, Deke, and Coulson, dressed in 30s fashion, hit the town. They are in awe of all of everything they see, hear, and even smell. Coulson reminds everyone that they are in the middle of the Great Depression. The people of the 30s haven’t even seen a television, much less a black man in a fine suit. Mack is getting crazy looks. For that matter, they’ve never seen a person with Inhuman powers. Or a robot.
Mack says they need to be careful by what they say and do. Daisy agrees and thinks they could have already changed something in the future just by being there, like the Butterfly Effect. Deke subscribes to a different aspect of the multiverse branch theory, the Time Stream. With Deke that could mean anything so Mack declares that Deke is not allowed to file any patents while they are in the past.
The group is able to get into the crime scene with some very questionable badges. They introduce themselves as Mounties because faceless bodies happen all the time in Canada. There’s almost a bit of trouble when one of the cops questions Daisy’s presence. He seriously asks why she can’t find a husband. The nerve! Daisy doesn’t hurt the guy, but the mere threat is enough for him to apologize to her.
They examine the bodies and find one with a face. This is the unfortunate soul who walked in on the erasure of faces. The crate he was carrying was full of whiskey bottles, so the guy was a bootlegger. The whiskey label says Swordfish and Coulson recognizes it. He says there used to be a SSR (the name before S.H.I.E.L.D.) safe house nearby, that used to be a speakeasy. Mack and Coulson leave to check it out while Deke and Daisy try to identify the faceless bodies.
Yo-Yo watches Enoch repair May’s damaged tissue and questions if it’s safe having him around…because he’s a Chronicom. Simmons says he’s the only reason she’s alive and Yo-Yo drops the matter. As for Yo-Yo’s condition, the shrike material is dissolving and she will be okay. AND! Simmons gives her new arms. At first Yo-Yo refuses the arms, but changes her mind when she feels her face for the first time in a long time.
Coulson and Mack find the speakeasy and a little bit of trouble. It seems that newcomers are highly suspect. The bartender pulls a gun on them and makes Coulson question his mortality…or lack thereof. Coulson knows he died. He’s not human, so he decides to test the limits of his LMD body.
Meanwhile Daisy gets restless waiting on Deke to identify the faceless bodies. More cops show up, so Daisy exits the room to distract them. The cops are actually the Chronicoms and they immediately recognize Quake. Now that they know the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. followed them, it’s more important now that they complete their mission. They must eliminate the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and smile doing it.
One of the Chronicoms asks Daisy to investigate a strange truck in the alley while the other Chronicom smiles his way into the room where Deke is. Deke finishes up and realizes the faceless man is standing before him dressed as a cop. The Chronicom grabs Deke by the neck and asks how many agents are with him. He says enough and stabs the Chronicom in the face.
The other Chronicom attacks Daisy, but gets distracted when Deke runs out of the building screaming. Daisy quakes the Chronicom and knocks him out. Deke and Daisy throw him in the trunk of a car and drive away.
Coulson easily gets the gun away from the bartender and asks to talk to the man in charge. The man in charge emerges and it’s Koenig! His name is Ernest “Hazard” Koenig (Patton Oswalt). This makes complete sense. Coulson asks Koenig to tell his men to stand down, they come in peace.
Simmons says she received a message from Fitz, but she can’t retrieve it. She knows he’s safe, but she misses him. Yo-Yo asks if she tried reaching out to Fitz. Simmons has to assume the Chronicoms are listening so she never tries. It’s more important to keep a low profile. Daisy and Deke return with the Chronicom hunter and Simmons wants to tie him up.
Coulson and Mack question Koenig about the man with the crate of booze. He doesn’t really admit to anything, so they tell Koenig that they are looking for the killers. Koenig admits to supplying booze for a party later that day and the governor of New York will be in attendance. Koenig pays the cops to look the other way.
The governor of New York at the time is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He becomes President the next year and a few years later he forms the SSR that becomes S.H.I.E.L.D. If the Chronicoms look like cops, it will be easy to assassinate FDR before he becomes president.
Mack, Coulson, Daisy and Deke attend Koenig’s party later that night. Mack poses as a bartender with a kid named Freddy (Darren Barnet). He positions everyone to wait for FDR to arrive. Daisy is posted with Coulson and apologizes to him for bringing him back to life. Coulson says it’s surreal. He has data in his head that he died and he wrote a letter to Daisy. Daisy says it’s a very nice letter and she will let him read it sometime.
Governor Roosevelt (Joseph Culp) arrives and Coulson fanboys a bit. Mack does too, blurting out a future accomplishment of Roosevelt’s in front of Freddy. Deke quickly changes the subject by asking Freddy how he came to work for Koenig. Freddy’s father died and he had to work the streets. Koenig gave him a place to go. Deke can empathize with that.
Meanwhile, Enoch tells the ladies that Chronicom hunters are conditioned to withstand any form of torture so they won’t get any information out of him. Simmons thinks she has a better form of torture. The Chronicoms are basically computers. So she set up a server to generate junk data and plans to upload it into the Chronicom. It should overwhelm his system enough to make him lose control and start spouting off information
The Chromicon starts muttering about an unknown variable. Yo-Yo mentions that the process is taking too much time. The Chromicon focuses on time and says they’ve studied Earth for thousands of years. They know exactly which thread to pull and the exact time to pull it. Simmons increased the junk data flow and the Chromicon loses control. She asks how they will hit FDR.
At the party, Coulson is getting used to his LMD status and likes being a superhero for once. Daisy is focused on FDR and says something doesn’t feel right. The governor is exposed. If the Chronicoms are cops then what are they waiting for? Coulson says FDR’s exposure may be the problem. They may be waiting for a more secluded moment.
They see FDR leave towards the service entrance. The Team follows and the Chronicoms are hiding with guns ready. Coulson finds FDR and yells for everyone to stop. There’s no sign of the Chronicoms, so Daisy covers by saying Coulson is a big fan of the governor. Coulson has a moment with FDR before the governor leaves. Deke and Mack arrive, knowing that their suspicions were wrong
At that time, a woman in red approaches Freddy at the bar, saying she’s his contact. He was afraid she wouldn’t show. She asks to go somewhere quiet to talk and they go to the back.
The Chronicom is completly out of control so Simmons disconnects him. But that doesn’t make the Chronicom stop and he starts repeating the letters FDR, but then switches the letters to FRD. He eventually ends his life saying the name Freddy. The Chronicoms are waiting for Freddy. At the same time, Simmons contacts Mack to let them know that Freddy is the target.
Freddy and the woman in red go to the back hallway to talk. The woman used to work with Freddy’s father before he took the coward’s way out. Freddy asks why she wanted to see him. She asks him to deliver something to the docks. It’s a box of tubes with a green liquid. The woman calls it the future. If he successfully delivers the box, his family’s glory will be restored.
The Chronicoms emerge from their hiding place and shoot the woman in red. The captain is about to shoot Freddy and Daisy quakes them into the next room. Daisy faces off with the Chronicoms as Deke and Mack grab Freddy to take him to safety.
Daisy has a hard time not being able to use her powers, but Coulson easily defeats both Chronicoms with his newfound strength. He throws a pipe to Daisy and she swings like she Shoeless Joe, knocking the Chronicom into the party.
Daisy and Coulson take the woman in red back to Koenig’s place. Deke and Mack aren’t there yet. They drove away with Freddy asking why the cops wanted him dead. Freddy has no idea. He only knows he needs to make a delivery, so Mack asks where he needs to go.
PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER
Coulson asks who Freddy really is, but Koenig says Freddy is nobody. Freddy’s family lost everything after his father, old man Malick jumped off a building. Coulson asks for Freddy’s full name and Koenig says Wilfred Malick. As in the father of Gideon Malick, future head of HYDRA in the US. That’s it! The Chronicoms want to kill Malick to stop the creation of HYDRA. Then there’s no need for the SSR to ever be formed. To save S.H.I.E.L.D., the agents have to save HYDRA.
Back at the Zephyr, Enoch checks on May, but she is not in the recovery chamber. He looks for her and introduces himself as a trusted friend. He’s upset that he lost her. Enoch had one job! And yet, he doesn’t see May perched up on the ceiling, ready to pounce on him.
Image credit: ABC.com