Wow, it’s been awhile! Since the beginning of August? It actually feels a bit strange to be posting This Week on TV again. I’ve missed it. And the only show left standing in my lineup has begun its final season. That’s a bit sad, in a way, to think about. It’s like saying goodbye in slow motion.
And what better way to begin the end than by going back to the beginning and before?
Season 7, Episode 1, “The New Deal”
When one possesses the power of time travel, and intends to make changes, it is critical to select those changes very, very carefully. The Chronicoms intend to take over the world in the present, and they fear that Shield has the power to stop them, that they are the only ones who can stop them, and so they intend to erase Shield from history. Which, this seems a bit shortsighted to me, considering everything else Shield has ever stopped, including, most recently, the very same pair of individuals responsible for burning Chronica in the first place. But, I digress.
The Chronicoms have carefully selected a single thread to pull, to unravel the tapestry of Shield’s entire history, to keep it from becoming the threat which it becomes to them.
It begins with the murder and subsequent impersonation of three police officers in New York, in 1931. They murder the bootlegger the cops were meeting as well, when the man walks in during the process of said impersonation.
The agents arrive in their invisible, time-traveling flying machine, and they have a great deal to catch up on. Not nearly as much as the new Coulson LMD, though. Two entire years of second-hand knowledge flood right through the new Coulson’s mind, including everything of his life and death after the Framework incident, his brief time carrying Ghost Rider in order to defeat Aida, the time travel and fight against the end of the world, losing Fitz, dying, the return of the shell of his form which was worn by an otherworldly evil which put a blade through May’s gut… and so much more, all at once.
He needed a little time out, I think, and Mack was as right to turn him off for a moment as Daisy was to turn him on in the first place.
Coulson gets his feet under him fairly quick, and the rest of the agents have to scramble to do the rest in this most unusual and urgent of situations. They’re in the past, following the Chronicoms and needing to catch up as quickly as possible. But they have to be exceptionally careful. Deke explains it as how they shouldn’t have to worry about small alterations, but need to be careful about big ones. It’s like a stream, he says, where a few sticks tossed in might make a few ripples, but the water keeps flowing and going to where it will, but if enough sticks, especially of sufficient size, are added in, it becomes a dam that alters the course of things, changes the flow.
So, the new mantra is “ripples, not waves.”
Mack (the decision-maker) takes Coulson (the brain, who needs to get accustomed to his new self), Daisy (the brawn, who must sacrifice the purple streak in her hair), and Deke (the improviser) off the Zephyr to look into the faceless cop bodies left behind by the Chronicoms. They find the illegal booze at the scene, so Mack and Coulson follow the lead to a speakeasy. They have to rough up the thugs inside, because of course, but that at least gets them talking to the boss, the ancestor of the Koenig clan. They’re able to appeal to his desire to keep things calm, peaceful, as they are, so he shares information. It turns out, the three cops who were killed were set to provide security, and a free pass for the alcohol, at a party for New York’s governor, one Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The man who becomes president of the United States and founds the SSR, the forerunner of Shield.
Naturally, the agents assume Roosevelt is the target, and why not? I would not have thought that the Chronicoms would be particular about ripples or waves in the timestream, but, then again, they are more precise creatures, aren’t they? Why remove a pivotal figure from history’s spotlight, when you can target any humble thread, one completely unseen within the big picture, and yet every bit as essential to the ultimate design?
That seems to be the MO of the Chronicoms, and they glory in their ability to do so. That bit comes when the Chronicoms find and try to kill the agents, but Daisy takes one of them down, and they take it back to the Zephyr. There, Simmons is trying to unravel the mysteries while coping with being parted from Fitz again, while urging Yo-Yo to use another set of artificial arms which let her actually feel things again, and Enoch works to repair May’s injuries. When Daisy and Deke pull up in a stolen car with a stolen Chronicom, the interrogation begins.
The captured Chronicom has an interesting exchange with Enoch. He’s repulsed by how Enoch chose the humans over his own kind, but Enoch points out that the captured Chronicom didn’t choose anything at all: he was reassigned, reprogrammed, aka the mechanical version of brainwashing. The part where the interrogation, as Simmons simply overloaded his processors and took what bits and pieces of information spilled out, could not have been easy for Enoch, especially since becoming a hunter was so involuntary in the first place.
The information, and the simultaneous attempted murder, indicated that the Chronicoms weren’t targeting Roosevelt, however. They were targeting a young man named Freddie, a little nobody who worked in Koenig’s bar after being on the streets for awhile, following his father’s death. But Freddie’s full name is Wilfred Malick. He’s an ancestor of Gideon Malick, a future head of Hydra. And there is a woman who takes Freddie aside at the party, asking him to make a delivery that night, giving vials of green liquid to parties as-yet-unknown, for the promise of restoring his family’s fortunes and glory.
So, the Chronicoms are trying to undo Shield’s history by undoing Hydra, starting with Freddie Malick.
To save Shield’s history, and be sure it becomes what it becomes, and is ready to save the world in the present and future… the agents have to save Hydra.
They actually have to save the blackhearted organization which has ravaged their organization, and their lives, and their world. They have to, effectively, sign off on everything Hydra ever did.
In Daisy’s long-suffering words, “Super.”
The power to change the past is highly dangerous, and any moment of the present or future could alter our perception of whether or not changing it is a good thing or a bad thing.
Put another way, even the most delicious fruit and beautiful flowers begin as seeds planted in dirt and crap, and the agents just got saddled having to wade through all of the dirt and crap in Shield’s history.