Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Episode 5: A Trout in the Milk Recap

MING-NA WEN, CLARK GREGGIn episode 5, Agents of SHIELD visits the 1970s, complete with stylish new opening sequence and bicentennial celebration for the USA. As Elena points out, we’re in something akin to a Bond film this week, crossed with a Charlie’s Angels/Starsky & Hutch hybrid TV procedural. Coulson is in his glory, but this is also the height of the Cold War and of Hydra’s hidden influence on SHIELD, which is now combined with the Chronicoms bad influence. The 70s were really just not a fun decade, okay?

However, this episode does see the return of Enoch to the Zephyr after 40 years in exile wandering the desert streets of NYC. Just in time, too, because something’s going on with Jemma and she needs him.


SHIELD jumps right into the 70s-tastic opening credits, which include the Agents of Hydra badge I thought we’d never see again after the destruction of the Framework at the end of season 4. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye. That logo design is something special.

This show’s production design has kept up with the overall MCU through the years while also retaining its own character and evolving over time, remembering its own and Marvel history and keeping a sense of humor about itself. The design team deserves awards for what they’ve achieved with the series as a whole. Some seasons they’ve worked with a small budget and still created magic (looking at you, Lighthouse).

Once we’re past the credits, we get the stock footage, location establishing shots that were typical of 70s shows, accompanied by some sweet Chicago (the band) inspired music. AoS is all in on establishing the genre for this episode.

Coulson and May do a walk and talk down a crowded NYC street. He’s excited to visit the period when he was a kid who longed to be a grown up, so that he can see what he was missing.

May is still only able to feel other people’s emotions, though she might be singling out the emotions she’d feel anyway. After an annoyed guy bumps into her, she grabs onto that feeling and aims it at Coulson for trying to get her to analyze and talk about her feelings.

Daisy has been shopping for period specific clothes. Sousa was with her, but has opted to stick with his suit. Luckily, as a man, a suit is always an appropriate choice. He doesn’t understand the kid’s choices these days.

Sousa thought this was their original time period, so they have to tell him that they’re still time displaced, too. He notices how manners have already changed, like the way people don’t look each other in the eye on the street anymore. They warn him that it’s only going to get worse in the future when cell phones are invented.

He lets that go by him, because he has a more pressing question- how can they be sure he was supposed to die in 1955? Coulson tells him it’s part of history for them. Sousa wonders if they’ve always saved him, so he never actually died. (According to Avengers 2012, that would be true, since Enver Gjokaj has always been in the film.)

He asks if bringing him into the future might even create a different timeline that’s branched off from their original timeline. Daisy advises him to stop thinking about it or his brains will spill out. Coulson tells him to ask Simmons.

Coulson suggests that Sousa might want to hang out on the ship instead, but Sousa says he can handle the 70s. Or he will handle them, once he gets over the really wacky parts.

The nearly naked roller skater who zips between them wasn’t even as bad as a naked streaker, like we actually had interrupting us in the 70s.

The team’s next stop is the Koenig’s swordfish bar to pick up Enoch. Coulson can’t wait to see how the place has changed after 40 years of use by SHIELD legends. The entry password hasn’t changed, since hardly anyone used passwords in those days, so why bother? And it’s a bar, not a missile silo.

Inside, there’s not a Patton Oswalt clone in sight. Enoch isn’t around either. There is a party going on, which seems odd for a SHIELD safe house.

On the Zephyr, Deke takes a break from combat training to ask Jemma if she’s heard from Bobo, his nickname for Grandpa Fitz. For a minute, Nana Jemma doesn’t know who he means. He has to go through a couple of name variations to remind her. She says she hasn’t, and reiterates that she can’t talk about Fitz, so that the Chronicoms don’t try to scan her brain again. But she’s sure they’ll be together again soon.

Deke is nervous that something will happen to prevent his mother’s birth and he’ll never be born. So he needs Jemma and Fitz to get together and bump lemons to ensure the continuation of the FitzSimmons bloodline.

I think we all need that.

“Bump lemons” has to be a phrase from his future culture, where a lemon was a rare and precious gift that signaled romantic interest.

Jemma suggests Deke stop worrying about the timeline and focus on the present and near future by getting back to his training. He takes the hint. Once he’s gone, Jemma rubs the back of her sore neck. 3 glowing red dots appear under her skin.

So there is something strange going on with her. It’s kind of creepy, the way she never says she misses Fitz, she just says they’ll be reunited soon, like she’s a robot repeating a phrase that’s programmed into her.

Mack asked Elena out for recon at the Lighthouse and is counting it as date night. He’s such a romantic. It turns him on when he can tell that the timeline has been preserved. But Elena isn’t in the mood for the recon to be romantic, since she doesn’t feel whole or like a competent agent with the way her powers are acting up.

Mack says she’s still an excellent agent. He calls her Yo-Yo because she always bounces back, not because of her powers.

Nice save, Mack.

The party inside the bar is in full swing, making May feel drunk in sympathy. She learns from the staff that Enoch disappeared at least a year ago. Coulson and Sousa spot Rick Stoner, the SHIELD leader who built the Lighthouse, standing at the bar, the center of attention. Sousa remembers him as rookie agent Little Ricky.

Stoner introduces Wilfred Malick, who should have died 3 years ago according to the history books. From Malick’s speech, it’s clear that the Chronicoms kept him in charge of SHIELD to help them implement the Project Insight program from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Sibyl left Luke behind with Malick after the last jump to help Hydra and SHIELD achieve this goal 40 years earlier than in the original timeline.

Project Insight uses guns mounted in the sky (on huge planes called helicarriers in the film) to target and kill people on secret government lists of subversives before they’ve committed any crime. Needless to say, this is extremely illegal in the US and internationally.

Malick: “Using targeting satellites and pinpoint laser telemetry, SHIELD will now be able to neutralize hostiles anywhere in the world before they pose a threat.”

Sousa assumes most of SHIELD must be Hydra. Coulson says it’s just a few agents at the top. The rest of the SHIELD personnel went along with Project Insight because they were convinced it would keep the world safe.

As if that makes it okay. It doesn’t.

Coulson tells Sousa that Project Insight originally occurred in our present day. Sousa asks how Malick was able to move it forward. Coulson says it was the Chronicoms.

Sousa: “Are you sure? Or is that just a trout in the milk?”

A “trout in the milk” is circumstantial evidence, as in, if there’s a fish in the bucket of fresh milk, then the farmer probably watered the milk down with water from a nearby stream before he sold it.

Yeah, it’s a pretty tortured metaphor. I imagine most farmers used well water rather than going all the way to the stream. It comes from a quote by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

Coulson tells Sousa about his meeting with Luke on the train, when Luke said the Chronicoms would alter the timeline if Coulson didn’t take their deal.

Sousa decides that since the timeline has already been changed, they could have left him in his life in the 50s to stop Hydra and the Chronicoms.

OMG. His heart is in the right place, but he is not a quick thinker. How does he think he would have stopped the futuristic robots and Hydra? He was already killed for trying to get help stopping Hydra.

Sousa drops the argument, since they can’t go backwards in time. He and Coulson decide to work the room for intel.

Now we come to the couple I nominate for a crime stopping duo spin off, Agent Chastity McBride and General Rick Stoner. Someone should at least give them a podcast.

May sits near Stoner at the bar and, using a breathy voice, suggests he buy her a drink. Stoner is clearly VERY affected by her, but he tells her that he can’t buy her a drink, since he’s a commanding officer and HR guidelines forbid it. However, he could use his male privilege to give her any help she needs. In a totally platonic way.

May introduces herself as Agent Chastity McBride, HR Liason, a character from the comics. She compliments his professional decorum.

Stoner tells her he’s attended a number of seminars.

They’re both practically purring.

Steve must have told Peggy all about the seminars and training courses modern employees have to attend to help prevent harassment and discrimination, and Peggy started SHIELD’s program early.

Or Enoch informed all of the SHIELD leaders who stopped by the bar during his years as bartender.

May tells Stoner he’s a good man and she wants to transfer to his division. She asks how close Insight is to completion. He says they’re 3 years away.

They’ll be celebrating America’s 200th birthday in 1976 by murdering innocent citizens.

Young Gideon Malick approaches Daisy and tells her that his brother Nathaniel, who’s standing in a corner alone, hates parties. Gideon, on the other hand, is quickly moving up the ranks at SHIELD. He wants Daisy to know he’s earned every promotion rather than being favored because he’s Freddy’s son. She asks what the gossip around SHIELD is these days and he tells her his father is holed up in his windowless office all the time lately.

Gideon gets a little pushy as he makes a pass at Daisy, so Sousa rescues her by saying he’s her fiance. She tells Sousa that she found out Nathaniel’s still alive, when he was supposed to die in 1970. She also might know where to look more more info.

Coulson calls Jemma to give her an update on what they’ve learned so far. She asks if they’ve made contact with Enoch. Coulson tells her not to worry, they’ll find him, but Enoch still isn’t a priority. Jemma says she’ll listen for signs of Enoch on radio chatter.

Deke is upset that Freddy is still alive. He wishes he’d taken out Freddy in the 50s, before he had a chance to enact Project Insight. He points out that they don’t even know what other evil projects Freddy’s been involved with.

If they didn’t have Freddy, the Chroncoms would have used someone else to build Insight. That’s both their deal and Hydra’s. Cut off one head, blah, blah, blah. Replace your face, etc.

Mack and Elena discover that the Lighthouse is in use, instead of abandoned like they expect it to be. As they explore further, they discover that the power has been rerouted to one big use.

Elena thinks they should leave before they get caught. They’ve already seen agents in blue jumpsuits skulking around. Mack likes the old uniforms, which are based on 70s SHIELD uniforms from the comics, and doesn’t think they mean anything bad is happening there. Elena tells him that she’s seen enough James Bond movies to know that men in jumpsuits in a quasi military underground base are never a good thing.

Wait, isn’t it Mack’s job to come up with the movie references? Is he okay?

And right on cue, the jumpsuited henchman they’re following opens the door to the launch bay, revealing the Project Insight rocket, all wired up and ready to go.

Daisy lets herself and Sousa into the old bootleggers’ hideout in the back of the bar, where they hid from the Chronicoms in 1931. In the super secret back room, they find the computers linked to the Project Insight satellite, which hold the list of targets. Daisy’s able to get in right away, since with no internet Hydra didn’t bother to add security firewalls.

The target list is mostly made up of SHIELD assets. Victoria Hand and Robert Gonzales names are on the list. Daisy notices Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk.  But he’s not The Hulk yet, so he’ll be easy to kill. Sousa says, “This is more than just a trout in the milk… There’s only one way Hydra could have gotten names from the future.”

I guess he believes them about the Chronicoms now? There are many ways Hydra could have gotten names from the future, but I don’t think Sousa’s ready to know that yet.

He’s also decided that they’ve made the timeline worse than it was, not understanding that the alternative is for the human race to be wiped out by the Chronicoms.

Once Daisy and Sousa emerge from the office, the team prepares to leave. Coulson is stopped by Freddy, who toys with him for a minute before admitting he knows who Coulson is. He also mentions he has a mansion in River’s End, the town near the Lighthouse.

Luke tells Coulson he should have taken the Chronicoms’ deal on the train. A squad of goons point guns at Coulson and May. Malick tells them things will go easier if they surrender now.

Daisy holds Nathaniel at gunpoint. Coulson makes the counteroffer- they walk and Nathaniel lives. Luke won’t even consider it, but Freddy lets them go in order to protect his son. Luke is angry at Freddy and confused by his strange behavior. Freddy explains that he had no choice, because he couldn’t risk his son’s life.

Daisy releases Nathaniel as soon as they’re outside. Sousa is angry about SHIELD agents using a hostage and asks if they’re keeping any other secrets. Daisy uses her quake powers to hold back a couple of Chronicoms. Nathaniel Malick is still lurking nearby and spots her.

They catch up to Coulson and May. Enoch pulls up in a classic 70s car and tells them, “Come with me if you want to continue to exist.” It’s a play on the classic shocker line from Terminator 2, and a fitting entrance for Enoch, who is technically a member of the enemy race of killer robots and has technically been gone for 40 years.

Terminator wasn’t a 70s movie though. Just sayin’.

Daisy is happy to see Enoch. He tartly tells her he’s not the one who left. Coulson thanks him for showing up and compliments the car. Enoch quotes the model’s safety record and tells them to buckle up. It’s time for a car chase!

Wait, no it’s not. Luke says that it’s time they changed the rules. Again. I don’t think they actually have any rules.

Back on the Zephyr, the team fill each other in on new developments. Coulson is still a bit in awe of Insight. Nick Fury and Peggy Carter are on the kill list.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate the irony of Nick Fury being on the list. And to appreciate and miss Peggy Carter.

Mack starts to form a new plan, but Sousa notices the time jump countdown clock is going haywire. Jemma checks it and realizes that the Chronicoms are jumping early. They jump to July 4, 1976, the Project Insight launch date.

Jemma speaks to Enoch privately about the memory issues and confusion she’s been having while he was away. She says she was afraid to tell the rest of the team about the trouble she was having, but she doesn’t know why. Enoch assures her that they’ll fix the issues and pulls her into a secluded alcove.

Sousa confronts them there, demanding concrete answers about how the jump drive works and why they just jumped. He yells at Jemma and Enoch as if he’s their superior officer, confusing their vague answers for his own lack of understanding and accusing them of messing with time when they don’t know what they’re doing.

Deke finally intervenes and tells Sousa to back off. Sousa says he won’t back down until he gets answers, because lives are at stake and he was taken out of his life for this. Deke says, “We all were. We all were.” Sousa starts to back down, but they’re interrupted by Mack anyway.

Sousa seems to think that he’s the only grown up on the ship. It’s like he’s never been an agent on a top secret mission before, didn’t realize he was risking his life as an agent in his old life and doesn’t understand now that no matter how this SHIELD team chose to react to his death, his old life was over. Nobody here took it away from him. All they did was give him a second chance to keep fighting the good fight.

The plan is for Coulson and May to sneak into the Lighthouse and set off explosives that will flood the base, halting the launch and preserving the Lighthouse for the future. Daisy will hack into the Lighthouse security feed so they can check for prisoners who might not be evacuated with the rest of the personnel. Sousa offers to be her lookout.

Deke and Elena will get Freddy from his mansion in town and bring him to the Zephyr so he can be removed from the timeline. Mack wants Malick brought in alive, even though he should have died 3 years ago. Elena points out that they can’t keep him locked up as a prisoner forever, but Mack refuses to deal with the issue in advance.

Luke also jumped forward 3 years. He visits Freddy at home to discuss the irrational behavior Malick showed when he chose his son over killing the SHIELD agents. Malick doesn’t understand why Luke doesn’t understand that he couldn’t risk his son’s life. Luke sees this loyalty to family as a fatal human flaw, which the Chronicoms have learned to exploit.

He gives Malick a photo to use to manipulate SHIELD when they arrive. Malick asks why the people in the photo aren’t on the list instead. Luke says the personal approach will be more effective, since they want SHIELD to give up their position.

Daisy and Sousa set up in a back alley, where she connects her laptop to an electrical box and gets to work. Sousa tells her he’s got her back, but then assumes she doesn’t need him because she has superserum powers.

Finding out about Daisy’s powers contributed to Sousa’s anger on the Zephyr. Super powers count as a big secret in his book. While she’s trying to hack into the Lighthouse’s systems, he interrupts her with doomsday comments assuming her computer is too small and accusing SHIELD of making the timeline worse with every jump. He says he’ll stay behind in 1976 when they leave.

Wasn’t Sousa supposed to be Daisy’s support staff on this mission?

You’d think the guy had never seen anyone work with the Darkforce or anything supernatural before, nevermind Howard Stark’s inventions. Did he even watch Agent Carter? What is it with him and interrupting women while they’re doing something important, anyway?

Daisy gets distracted from her task by showing him that not only is her computer big enough, her phone is even smaller and also powerful. Sousa has apparently never seen a camera before, though a phone would look like a miniature TV to him. I don’t think it would look as strange to him as the writers think, since the TV shows and films of the time were already depicting spy technology that was similar.

Daisy eventually gets into the Lighthouse’s security feed, allowing May and Coulson to steal jumpsuits and sneak inside. Coulson, the history buff, likes the uniforms. He reiterates his feelings from the episode’s opening scene, that he misses the camaraderie he and May used to share. May again laments the lack of her own emotions.

Daisy unlocks checkpoints as May and Coulson make their way through the base. Nathaniel Malick sneaks up on Daisy and Sousa and ices them. The Chronicoms must have given Hydra icers, which is an especially ironic move, since FitzSimmons invented the weapon in S1. He tells their unconscious bodies that the Chronicoms told him Daisy would be the one to break into the system. Then he says he’s happy Daisy came back into his life.

The team know something is wrong when Daisy doesn’t release the 2nd checkpoint and they can’t raise her or Sousa on comms. With less than 5 minutes to launch, they have to leave finding their missing agents until they’ve stopped the more pressing problem. Enoch asks if there’s another way around the security gates. Mack sees Rick Stoner on the security feed and sends Coulson and May to intercept him.

Stoner recognizes May as Chastity McBride. He asks her what’s going on. Coulson tries explaining the truth, but May can tell it isn’t working, She touches Stoner’s arm to be sure, then knocks him out with one punch.

She’s an impressive woman in any era.

Coulson is miffed. He was sure Stoner believed him. May breaks the news that he wasn’t buying the story.

Deke and Elena fight their way into Freddy Malick’s study at his River’s End mansion. They tell Malick the jig is up and he’s coming with them. Though they are pointing a gun at him, Malick begins a classic villain monologue straight out of a Bond film. He says the Chronicoms see everything and know everything and are always 10 steps ahead, so they can never be beaten.

You’d think that would be enough, but Freddy’s just getting started. Deke has heard enough and shoots him in the heart. Freddy falls to the floor, dead.

Oops. Mack gave them a direct order not to kill him.

On the other hand, Freddy was 3 years past his expiration date, he was a big guy who wouldn’t come with them voluntarily and neither currently has super powers which could make him move. They were in enemy territory and if they took too long, they could get left behind when the ship jumped. I don’t see what other choice Deke had, other than leaving him there to continue to cooperate with the Chronicoms.

This is personal for Deke. His conscience won’t let him leave Freddy there to kill extra people. He and Elena promised each other to change the status quo if they could. This way Freddy won’t make it worse.

Elena looks at the photo that Luke left for them. She’s shocked by what she sees.

Coulson and May get the explosives in place as the launch countdown hits the 1 minute mark. Mack is still checking the security feed to make sure innocent people won’t be left behind.

He spots his parents in one of the cells. They were in the photo Luke gave Freddy.

Jemma, Coulson and May wait for Mack to give the signal to detonate the explosives and flood the base. If he does, his parents will drown.

Jemma reminds him that they can’t let Insight launch. Mack aborts the mission. Coulson and May are arrested.

The Zephyr launches and decloaks in order to use missiles to shoot down the Project Insight rocket. They’re successful, so they still successfully stop Project Insight. But they’ve also given up their position.

I’m not sure why that’s such a big deal, since they’re in a plane with high speed and cloaking abilities, so they should be able to cloak again and move to a new spot where they won’t be found, but maybe I’m missing something.

In the tag, Nathaniel calls Daniel Whitehall’s prison from a phone booth to ask for detailed, written instructions on how to strip the powers from an inhuman. He plans to surgically steal Daisy’s powers the way Whitehall stole her mother’s.


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Daniel Whitehall was the Nazi doctor who tortured and experimented on Daisy’s mother, Jiaying, eventually transferring her powers to himself.

Sousa gets more and more confused and angry over the course of the episode, especially when the team don’t have everything under control. He simply can’t roll with the punches the way the rest of them do. SHIELD agents at their level need a talent for quickly adapting to new situations when they don’t have much information, and Sousa doesn’t seem to have that.

When Deke suddenly found himself in the past instead of dead, he hugged trees, ate ice cream and searched out his beloved Zima. When SHIELD didn’t work out for him, he adapted to capitalism and started a successful business. Sousa won’t even put on a new outfit, never mind adapt more thoroughly.

I know I’m supposed to be thrilled with this crossover, but this is why I never liked him on Agent Carter, either. His respect for women is only surface deep and he still resents that he’s disabled because he thinks it makes him less of a man, so he sanctimoniously throws his weight around to cover for it.

Peggy was too much person for him. I’m so glad they didn’t work out. He would have pecked at her the way he’s pecking at Jemma and Daisy, until she either threw him out or diminished herself to make peace. Maybe Peggy did throw him out.

He still has time for character growth. Let’s hope he gets it. Inflexible macho men don’t make good agents in the modern world. AoS has shown this many times now. They were the backbone of Hydra and they’re all dead, even the female versions like Hale.

Timeline Fun

Actually, if I understood the films and previous seasons correctly, we are in an infinite multiverse in which each decision creates a new timeline, or at least each major decision. So new timelines branch of from each other all over the place, with some being nearly identical and some being unrecognizable to each other. The timelines occupy the same space, but are out of phase with each other. Very different timelines basically are different dimensions, as seen in Dr Strange and season 4 of AoS, for example.

So, yes, there probably is a timeline where Sousa was saved and a timeline where he wasn’t, unless it’s so crucial that he’s saved that it happens in every timeline. Sibyl looks at these potential outcomes in her strands and follows all of the potential outcomes out as far into the future as necessary to see what it would take for a Chronicom win, just as Dr Strange looked ahead for outcomes in Infinity War and Endgame. Sibyl has more potential paths to choose from, so she’s continuously updating her strategy.

*I could be wrong about the difference between timelines and dimensions- if someone is a comic book reader and understands what makes a place a different dimension instead of a different timeline, I’d love an explanation! Is it a function of space rather than time? Is it a supernatural difference? The MCU doesn’t seem to use the word “dimension” with a consistent definition. This is why Daisy said to stop worrying about the details.

I think Deke is a time remnant from a different timeline and he exists independently of what Fitz and Jemma do in this timeline. His mother’s birth in this timeline is irrelevant to the adult Deke on the Zephyr; what mattered regarding his birth was that it happened in the timeline he’s from. It’s natural for him to still want for his mom and himself to be born in this timeline, too, but those will be different versions of Deke and his mom.

I’m not sure the characters have processed that they aren’t in the timeline they left behind at the end of season 6 anymore, and won’t go back to the future they left, unless some other force intervenes to return the timeline to the way it was/ return them to that timeline. While they may have always saved Sousa, there have been other changes that the Chronicoms made that weren’t in the original timeline.

Or they could be in another time loop in which they always go back to the past and change the timeline, then return to a changed future.

Mistakes and Insight and Timelines

May spent much of her life repressing and denying her feelings, especially for Coulson. Now that he’s gone and they’re gone, she finds that they meant everything. She can read other people’s feelings, which would have been helpful in situations like the one that gave her the Cavalry nickname.

Yo-Yo has always been impulsive and fearless but went through a period of self doubt after she lost her arms and was the Cassandra of the Cracked Earth S5 storyline. Her powers were a joy to her, but she may have briefly wished them away.

Or Mack may have, since he’s been clear about preferring regular homo sapiens to any enhanced variety and is certainly not doing anything to help her get her powers back now, when they could be helpful, like asking Jemma to keep working on it.

This week, Mack almost lost his parents. He chose to abort the mission and reveal their location, much the same way that Tony Stark refused to save the world unless it was done in a way that also saved his daughter, who was born after everyone was turned to dust, which will have ramifications for multiple timelines.

It’s a tough call. We all want love to be the answer. Sometimes the answer is the needs of the many, rather than the needs of the few. But how can we ask anyone to choose the greater good over their child or parents or spouse? That’s what Freddy taught Luke and Luke used it on Mack.

Given how much personal loss Mack has already suffered, I can’t blame him.

Steve Rogers made the hard call in 1945 when he crashed his plane, but he couldn’t do it again in the 21st century. I’m not sure anyone in the MCU other than Stephen Strange has made it since. Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame were ultimately about people not making the hard call and spending years mopping up the resulting messes, some of which couldn’t be fixed.

AoS is currently on a similar jaunt through time, trying to set things right and take the planet back from a misguided force.

Is AoS going to undo some past mistakes and set the timeline right? Or maybe undo some of their own recent mistakes, now that they’ve seen the consequences of leaving Freddy alive? Now that the timeline is changed anyway, they could kill Daniel Whitehall before he tortures Daisy’s mother into insanity. (Or has he already by 1976?)

Since the creation monolith was in play at the temple at the end of S6, was there a point where May and Yo-Yo could have been affected by it, causing May to gain powers and Yo-Yo to lose hers? Where Izel could have directed something at them or they could have been exposed to its energy? May was exposed to some kind of energy in the other realm.

Meanwhile, LMD Coulson has all of the other guy’s memories and feelings, but isn’t him. May is world weary and Coulson’s memories don’t mean much to her without the feelings attached. Coulson is seeing and experiencing everything for the first time, but with a lifetime’s worth of memories to enrich the view.

They are another riff on the Winter Soldier and Captain America. Bucky’s memories were wiped, but his sense memories of his oldest friend couldn’t be removed. Steve was brought forward to the future intact, but he lost so much, so quickly, and the world changed so much, that he had trouble adjusting.

Bucky and Steve still needed and complemented each other. They still saved each other. They were still essentially themselves, despite the massive changes they went through in their bodies and in time. This season, Elena, Jemma, Sousa, Coulson and May are all missing what they thought were essential parts of themselves and exploring how they can still be themselves.

Deke, Daisy, Mack and Enoch have also been through huge changes and will continue to go through them. This is an ongoing theme for Daisy and Deke, in particular and for the show as a whole. Daisy gained powers and a family, but lost the identity she’d grown up with and her life forever became more complicated. Deke gained a family and traveled to a less apocalyptic past, but he left behind everyone and everything he’s ever known and he doesn’t feel at home or accepted in the past or by the team.

I have a feeling these themes are being used as a build up to themes that will be explored in the Disney+ Falcon and Winter Soldier show, besides building toward the AoS series finale. If you combine Daisy, Sousa, Coulson and May, you get Bucky. Yo-Yo, Mack and Sousa have elements of Sam.

Images courtesy of ABC.