This Week on TV, June 13, 2020

Spoiler Alert!

Agents of Shield

7.03, “Space Commies From the Future”

Shield’s time-hopping adventures continue as they drift along in the wake of the Chronicoms’ trail, taking them slowly forward and back to the future! …I mean, back to the present! 😉

Next stop, the fifties!

Which, I think the fifties gets something of a bad rap today because of how it precedes the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties. But, that’s just the thing. It precedes such immediately, which means that the roots of civil rights were finding rich and nourishing soil in this era, just before they would push upwards and blossom in the light of day. Say what you will about the imperfections of the day. As many as there were, and as bad they were, they drove us forward towards something better.

But that’s neither here nor there, I suppose.

This week, the agents meet Area 51!

The agents just learned a new lesson: being transported in time and space means they can’t rely on the ground still being right under them when they arrive. However, their autopilot keeps them from crashing and, with the exception of a young couple who flee the scene in terror, their arrival is completely unnoticed.

Of course, now that the Chronicoms are aware that the agents are on their trail, they’re aware that the agents have probably followed them here as well. Interestingly, there is one of them which appears to be able to see not just the past and how it might be altered, but the specifics of how those alterations will change the present/future. For instance, a more hot-headed, destructive Chronicom, the one that advocated simply killing all of the agents back in 1931, would have done so in such a way that this seer of theirs, this “Predictor,” I think it was, states definitively would have left alien tech scattered around and thus resulted in the formation of Shield that much sooner.

Now, that is a subtle, potent ability. The chance to change the past is enough, but to actually know, with certainty, what will happen afterward? That is a huge advantage, and one which cannot be overstated. Which makes the Predictor the linchpin of the Chronicoms’ efforts.

And this one, evidently, is going to be a lot less subtle, and much more direct and brutal, than their previous plot to kill Freddie Malick while he’s still languishing in obscurity, and thus cripple Hydra’s development, and thus prevent the formation of the SSR, and the later founding of Shield.

No, this time they’re just going to use a really big bomb to blow up a lot of people. Very straightforward.

Oh, and to make sure they don’t leave that alien tech around to make things inconvenient for them later, they’re going to use something Shield has been researching at Area 51, called Helias.

The agents catch on to a part of this fairly quickly, so they abduct and impersonate a gentleman, Joe Sharpe, I think it was, who works as an accountant sort of fellow for the Department of Defense. He is a very dislikable fellow, being… well, an arrogant, insufferable prick, and typifying the racial prejudices of the day besides. He loves his country, though, or at least his country’s greatness and glory, and he does not roll over easily for what he thinks are a bunch of Communists. They expected him to, but, well, he fought in World War II and knows a great deal about interrogation. He may just be a pencil pusher now, but he wasn’t always. Of course, he still manages to let slip a vital clue just in time: Helias doesn’t work… because they don’t have a proper power source for it.

Deke recalls how Enoch, a Chronicom, managed to power the time-traveling stone, sending all of them back the past/present, which indicates that that have a potent power source within their bodies. Particularly since Simmons just barely stated how the agents don’t have enough power to open another path to the past again. If a Chronicom can power that, then they’d have no issue powering Helias, so long as said Chronicom is willing to die doing it.

While the interrogation is going on, Coulson impersonates Sharpe and infiltrates Area 51 alongside Simmons, who is impersonating the very greatest of her personal heroes, Agent Peggy Carter, and loving every minute of it. They work their way through as many of the staff, and a bus full of visiting guests (whom Mack describes as early movers and shakers of Shield, which makes them the Chronoicom’s real target) by fairly simple, if unorthodox, expedient of testing their quick, less rational reactions. There’s a lot of people, though, so it’s slow going, and the process is not hastened by the arrival of someone who actually knows Agent Carter, and who we know from the Agent Carter show: Daniel Sousa.

I really like Sousa, ya know? If there was one thing about the ending of Avengers: Endgame which I didn’t fully appreciate, it was how Carter didn’t end up with Sousa after all. They were pretty great together, and with how both Carter and the Captain had moved on… well, I suppose it was romantic in its way, but I really liked Sousa, and I liked when he and Carter were together.

He clearly still wants to look his best for his old partner, friend, and flame, and takes it in stride when he finds Simmons instead. By which I mean, he arrests her and Coulson and investigates the matter. Cue the arrival of Daisy on the scene, posing as a CIA agent. And this is where I really begin to be afraid for one of my favorite characters: he has suspicions about Hydra infiltrating them since the end of the war.

Back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap tries to refute the computerized brain of Arnim Zola in its claims that Hydra has grown like a parasite within Shield for decades. Surely someone would have noticed! To which Zola simply replies, “Accidents happen.” And shows the pictures of Howard Stark and General Chester Philips. We know Howard and his wife were murdered and their deaths were made to look like an accident.

And we know Sousa is dogged enough to pursue his suspicions even if it gets him killed.

And apparently he tried alerting someone at the CIA, which we can reasonably assume has also been infiltrated by Hydra by this point. Perhaps he was looking for some outside help, but he may have just signed his own death warrant by trusting the wrong people.

Obviously, we, the audience, don’t want that to happen. We don’t want a man as good and capable as Sousa to be murdered by Hydra. Nobody in their right mind wants that. Which is why I suspect that this is exactly what’s going to happen, provided Sousa even survives his encounter with time traveling agents and robots. It lends even more weight to the argument when it’s people we actually know, even our favorite heroes, who are up on the chopping block of Hydra’s ambitions.

Daisy and Deke argued about that very sort of thing. He resents that she ordered him to commit murder, to kill a young man who was barely more than a kid at the time. She argues that killing Freddie would have saved countless lives, but she doesn’t really know that. What she knows is that Hydra has killed many, many people, and she wanted to prevent that. So she ordered Deke to do it, and expected him to obey, which he may well have if Mack, their superior officer, hadn’t countermanded her order, if only to not do the Chronicoms’ job for them.

Deke has clearly grown, as he’s finding his way, and he’s no longer the same man she first met in the future… more to the point he doesn’t want to be, and good for him.

But the argument gets all the more powerful as it gets personal, doesn’t it? If Sousa is killed by Hydra, then it certainly gets a whole lot more personal, and less abstract, doesn’t it?

So, knowing that they just signed off on all of Hydra’s murders, how do they deal with it when they’re interacting with Hydra’s victims, including people we know and respect? They’ve had to deal with friends who were actually enemies, and they’ve had to deal with friends who have been murdered, but now they’re interacting with people who will be murdered. How do they deal with that?

For the moment, however, they have to save people from the Chronicoms, and deal with everything about Hydra later.

On which note, while Daisy springs Coulson and Simmons (and leaves Sousa locked up), May and Yo-Yo take a more straightforward approach, now that they know the enemy intends to make an explosion which extends for miles around. They walk in wearing gas masks and gas everyone, non-lethally. All the humans are affected, while the Chronicoms aren’t. They find one, but it gets away, because Yo-Yo’s speed is kaput (she can only watch things in slow motion now) and May… collapses.

The void of May’s emotionless state is, I suspect, a coping mechanism, as it usually has been. But the crowd and the panic presses against her, and there is a crack through which pours her fear, her own panic, all the distress she felt in her most recent ordeal. She falls down, panicking, unable to breath. A small, and very short, version of a panic attack. Yo-Yo gets her out, and she gets back on her feet.

So, they’ve both been traumatized by last season, and neither of them wants to talk about it as they pursue the Chronicom who is on their way to become the power source of an activated Helias. The two women fight their enemy, but said enemy is precise and brutal, as Chronicoms are, and all they do is buy a little precious time.

Just enough, as it happens. While LMD Coulson fights another Chronicom, in front of a released Sousa, Daisy and Simmons jury-rig a functioning EMP which knocks out Helias, and takes out both Chronicoms, who burn away and dissolve. Unfortunately, it also disables Coulson, who is quickly taken in by a wondering Sousa, who has seen some weird things in his day, but never yet anything quite like this.

So, the agents are currently scattered and divided mostly throughout Area 51, which is run by Shield, with Coulson falling into Shield’s hands, while we have no idea what the Chronicoms are up to in response, and we know Hydra has been busy infiltrating Shield, and everywhere else as well.

On a more humorous note, Mack and Deke drop a freaked-out Sharpe into the middle of the desert and send him to town screaming crazy things about alien commies from the future. Heh.

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