With three episodes down, the Chronicoms have found out that the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is a pain in the arse (as Jemma would say). Two times they have strived to derail the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. and two times, they have melted down, literally. Now they have apparently set the sights on Daniel Sousa. The first Agent to suggest that S.H.I.E.L.D. was being infiltrated. His warnings lead to his death. Becoming the first S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to die in the line of duty. Can it be prevented? Should it be? That’s the question in Out of the Past.
The Lights and the Color goes Out
The last thing Coulson remembered was the lights going out, literally. The next thing he knows he’s in an office, handcuffed to a desk. But something is wrong. The room looks like the Wizard of Oz before Dorothy hit Oz. But not even in sepia, just old fashioned Black and White. In addition, Coulson is monologuing like he was Mickey Spillane in a murder mystery. Or , for you Calvin and Hobbes fans, Tracer Bullet.
Continuing the Mission
He knew he could have broken out of the cuffs, but he decided to let things play out. He would rely on what he knew of history to lead him through. Part of that history was that Daniel Sousa would die that day. But for now, he was here so Coulson played the part. The Chronicom that Coulson battled last week was a replacement for Sousa’s Scientist Contact. He was supposed to pass along a top secret S.H.I.E.L.D. device to Sousa to deliver to Howard Stark. Seeing as how Sousa thought his contact had melted, the mission seemed a scrub.
Coulson, however, told Sousa he was the contact’s partner. The man that Sousa had planned to meet had turned traitor to the Russians. Coulson had come to stop him, which is why they were fighting when Sousa found them. As for the device, Coulson knew where it was and he would have it brought to the train that Sousa, and now him, would be catching. In reality though, Coulson didn’t have the device. He needed to contact the team. So he reached out to an old friend.
The Crazy Canoe
The scene shifted to a bar. It has changed since 1931 but Enoch was still there. The place had went with a tropical theme and was now called the Crazy Canoe. He was bartending and listening to an apparent S.H.I.E.L.D. agent complaining about his S.O. That’s when the phone rang. It was Coulson. Enoch was pleased to hear from Coulson and inquired if he could get back with the team. Coulson turned that request down faster than sheets at a cheap hotel. He asked Enoch to connect him with the Zephyr. Coulson thought it would take time, but Enoch had been busy during his time there and made a device to transfer the call.
Coulson filled in the team about everything that had transpired. He needed the device that Sousa was supposed to deliver. They rationalized that the device must still be at the place where the Chronicoms gathered the Scientist’s identity. Mack sent Yo-Yo and Deke to retrieve the device. In the meantime, Coulson needed to keep stringing Agent Sousa along.
Agents of Status Quo
While Yo-Yo and Deke drove, they discussed the need to preserve the timeline, or perhaps the need not to. Yo-Yo called themselves Agents of Status-Quo. Deke was more concerned about knocking the time train off the rails by doing something to change it. Once they arrived at the Scientist’s residence, they found his door missing the deadbolt. Yo-Yo went upstairs while Deke searched the lower level. During her search, Yo-Yo found the expected faceless man as well as the device. Deke found himself confronted with an armed man. When he readied himself to fight, another man hit him in the back of the head. They gathered Deke up and took him with them. Yo-Yo heard the commotion but without her powers, was unable to prevent them speeding away. They had the device, but they lost Deke.
Back on the train, Sousa was wondering where Coulson’s contact was with the device. Coulson assured him that he was coming. He told Sousa to take a seat, or to go to the bar to get a drink to calm his nerves. As it was, while he told Sousa there was nothing to worry about, his inner monologue said otherwise. The team had not shown up with the device. He was on his own and forced to improvise again.
As it turned out, the person Coulson was waiting on, was still looking for the missing Deke. Not finding any clues, Yo-Yo pulled over and called Enoch. Enoch once again expressed his wish to rejoin the team but once again, all Yo-Yo wanted was to connect with the Zephyr. He made the connection and then, unfortunately had to return listening to the same man droning on and on about his S.O. Yo-Yo explained what had happened and apologized to Mack for not stopping them from taking Deke. He told her it wasn’t her fault and they at least had the item.
None of which helped Coulson. He was still empty handed and slowly running out of time. As for Sousa, he too was getting antsy. According to Coulson, he was “struggling on the hook and threatening to get loose.” Coulson needed to do something to make it appear that things were going as planned. As he looked around the car he noticed a business man, who placed his hat over his face to sleep. Coulson told Sousa that was his contact and that hat over his face was the sign. He stood up and took the man’s briefcase. After picking it up, he walked toward the back of the train, nodding for Sousa to follow.
The Rosetta Stone of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tech
While this bought Coulson some time, the real device was back on the Zephyr. Jemma opened the case to look at it. It appeared to be an unremarkable block of metal. But Jemma said that this device was like the “Rosetta Stone” of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech. She explained that even the Zephyr could be traced back to it. As May, who was standing next to Jemma, touched Jemma’s arm, she broke into a wide smile. Stating how wonderful the device is. The rest of the team stared at her like she had three heads. They had never seen anyone but Jemma or Fitz light up for a piece of tech. That mystery would need to be solved later. They needed to find the train that Coulson and Sousa was on.
Back on the train, Coulson is trying to stall for time. He asks Sousa about the Agent’s life, knowing full well what it’s like, at least in Coulson’s experience. Sousa explains that it takes a great deal of his time, and inquires if being a scientist (as Coulson claims to be) is the sameness . He notates that Coulson has no wedding ring on his finger. For his part, Coulson tells him that there WAS someone, but he could not stick around long enough to see it last. (Death will do that to you.) Sousa admits to a similar story.
A “Pompous Ass”
As the train rolls on, Sousa looks at the briefcase and asks Coulson to show him what this is all about. Coulson tells him that he cannot honor his request. It’s for Howard Stark’s eyes only. Besides, he doesn’t want Sousa to see what is likely a sandwich and dirty underwear inside. Sousa reminds him that it’s highly unlikely Stark himself would be at the drop. Coulson acknowledges this saying that is a shame. He would have loved to meet him.
So you have been doing work for Stark and you’ve never met, Sousa asks. He did send a few encouraging messages to the lab was Coulson’s response. Sousa pauses for a moment and nodded. “That sounds like him.” Coulson then asked him what Stark was like. “A pompous ass” was his answer. Coulson thought for a moment and said that “big brains” can come across that way. It’s their way of separating those in the lab and those in the field. Sousa had finished with THIS conversation, so he excused himself to the bar.
Having their “Charity”
No sooner than he had left, the main Chronicom sits down with an offer Coulson can’t refuse. (Not really, I just wanted to say that.) The offer was simple. Give the Chronicoms what they want: Earth. If they do that, the Chronicom promised that the humans would have their “charity.” He might as well went the DeadPool route: Agree to this and you will receive “preferential, borderline gentle, possibly lover-like treatment.“ Yeah, right.
Back in the Bar compartment, a lovely blonde asks Sousa for a drink. He regards her for a moment and asks the bartender to oblige her. She continued with the small talk and he went along with it. All the time keeping an eye out for his surroundings. He makes the assumption that she is a Hollywood hopeful. She smiles and asks him how did he guess.
Things could get Messy
Meanwhile, the Chronicom is still waiting for Coulson to accept his generous offer of Chromicon domination. For his part, Coulson is having a hard time accepting that a race who erases human faces as being particularly benevolent. He would have to pass on that magnanimous offer. The Chronicom then warned that this conflict could get messy. Coulson shrugged it off. He reminded him that they were onto them. They time travel, S.H.I.E.L.D. time traveled. If they escalate, S.H.I.E.L.D. would certainly escalate. Upon hearing this, the Chronicom stood up, telling Coulson that they know what S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t. They knew that Coulson would be on the train and that Sousa dies tonight. But he could easily die right now.
Sousa is still at the bar entertaining the blonde. While this happens, two thugs are chasing other passengers off the car. As this is going on, Sousa leans over to the girl and tells her that a pretty girl like her would do well in Hollywood, but she needed to work on her acting. He asks her if she really thought he would find her so attractive that he wouldn’t notice the goons emptying out the car? While she had hoped he would have, she tells him that if he would come along quietly, there wouldn’t have to be a large “production.” That is when the fight ensues.
We’re the Good Guys
Sousa is holding his own until the woman wraps a wire around his throat. At least until Daisy and the team arrives. Daisy takes out the woman and Mack and Daisy both take out the other. When one of them gets up, Coulson arrives and puts him down with his briefcase. It busts open. No device there. Sousa asks them, again who they are. Mack introduces themselves as Mack, Johnson, and Coulson. They’re the good guys and they have the device. Sousa asks for it, but Mack tells him that a walk outside will be required. The Quinn Jet is parked on the train’s roof.
While the rest of the team was together, Deke was still on a milk carton somewhere. The thugs who had grabbed him pulled up to a house. They took the now conscious Deke into the house, thinking he was the Scientist who had his face removed. Back at the Zephyr, Sousa has entered the plane almost like he was taking a stroll through a park. He spies who he knows as the fake Agent Carter. Mack introduces Jemma to him.
Off the Books
It goes without saying he has questions. Who do these people work for? No one he knows has tech like this. Not even S.H.I.E.L.D. Daisy informs him they are a “private organization” and completely “off the books.” May then enters and Mack introduces her as the pilot. He is impressed. He had never seen a plane land on a Train before, let alone on top of another plane. As he spoke, May had shook his hand. Suddenly May acts confused, as if she didn’t know where she was. She slowly recovers and recognizes Jemma. Concerned, Jemma takes May to be examined.
Meanwhile, Sousa asks to see the package. He looks at it and is not impressed. He believes that Stark would be more likely to want to see the Zephyr than whatever this is. Now that Sousa has the device, Mack asks him if he can help them locate Deke. Sousa believes that Deke was taken by whoever wanted him on the train, and it is not the Russians. He expresses his belief that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by Hydra. They quickly acknowledge this like it is old news. Sousa is amazed asking how they know.
Mack informs him it’s classified (like all things are). But it confirmed to Coulson what happened. Hydra didn’t want Sousa to expose their infiltration, so they “took him out.” He asked Sousa how many people knew about his meeting with the scientist. He informed Coulson that only his superior knew about it. Coulson asked him if his name happened to be Malik? Sousa stared in amazement.
No One Would Miss a Toaster Salesman
So the young man they had saved in 1931 had come back to “haunt them in 1955. Can’t say Daisy didn’t warn them. That is where Deke is. He had been taken to meet who his captors worked for: Wilford Malik. Deke stared at the man he had fought to save. Thinking quickly, he tried to convince Malik that his men had made a mistake. He was no scientist. In fact, he sold Toasters. For his part, one of his men said that they were told to grab the guy with the case. That’s what they did. Deke again informed Malik that his man was wrong. Before he knew it, Malik shot the man in question, thanking Deke for helping to root out a “bum” employee. No one would miss him, nor would anyone miss a Toaster Salesman.
An Inspiration to New Agents
Back on the Zephyr, they also had located Malik’s house. The place they believed Deke was now at. But they still had Sousa to deal with. He was supposed to die. Coulson didn’t like the idea but they had held the line with Malik, even knowing what would happen. If they try to change Sousa’s history, they have no idea what would happen. Coulson reminded Mack that Sousa’s death was an inspiration to future S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Mack replied that so was his death to the Avengers. But he got another chance. As for Sousa, he is struggling with knowing that his Superior Wilford Malik is Hydra. Even more frustrating was being told he could not act upon that information. He tells Daisy he would go it alone if he had to. He would give his life to do so.
Meanwhile, Deke is still trying to reason with Malik, Deke tells “Freddy” that he doesn’t have to kill him. Malik ponders this, telling Deke that no one calls him that anymore. Deke reminds him that he did. Back in 1931. He thinks back and remembers but he almost dismisses the idea. Deke looks the same. It is not possible he could be the same man. Deke replies that he gets that a lot. He keeps his “looks up and goes hard on the vegetables.” But Malik then remembers that Deke pointed a gun at him. Deke quickly reminds him that he didn’t shoot at him. He shot at a man going after him. Malik pauses for a moment and lowers the gun. He apologizes for his faulty memory. But when a man reaches his position, he tends to forget those who helped him on the way to the top.
Just Looking Out for my Future
Deke tells him that he’s glad things worked out for him. Malik tells him that things have apparently worked out for him as well. Because Deke will get to walk out instead of being carried out. He hands Deke back his bag and tells him that his debt to him is paid. If he sees Deke again, he will not be so lucky. As Deke turns to leave, Malik asks him why he was in the house. “Just looking out for my future,” Deke replies. “Aren’t we all,” replies Malik.
Jemma is examining May. She finds nothing wrong with her vitals. So she asks May what happened. May told Jemma that she would feel nothing, but then her emotions would wash over her. Yo-Yo says it was like on the base. Jemma asked what happened on the base. May gave Yo-Yo permission to explain. She tells Jemma that May had a panic attack. All of the scientists were in a panic, trying to escape, touching May. Before long, May was feeling the same way. She had to leave.
Enoch Bell Telephone
Meanwhile, back at The Crazy Canoe, Enoch Bell Telephone was called upon again. This time it was Deke. Enoch didn’t even attempt to chat up Deke. He just immediately connected him to the Zephyr. Poor Enoch. He had went from a valued member of the team to Miss Sarah the Phone Operator on the Andy Griffith show. As he hung up the phone he reconciled himself that he would live his life utterly alone. Deke tells the team what he has experienced. He then tells them that they would never believe who he saw. Wilford Malik was the response. Talk about deflating Deke’s Balloon. Mack tells Deke to stay put and then tells Coulson that he is changing their mission. He asks for Daisy to come talk to him and tells Sousa to wait.
May continues to tell about her experience on the base. She tells Jemma that her panic attack was the first time she has felt anything since the temple. The beings there didn’t feel anything. And now, she had lost control of her own emotions. As they talked, Yo-Yo realizes what is happening. May is being overwhelmed by other people’s emotions. But only if she touches them. With the Scientists, it was the need to escape. By touching Jemma, it was the excitement of the device. With Sousa, it was his confusion about the people he was unfamiliar with. Even now, as Jemma had her hand on May’s leg, she was feeling Jemma’s concern and worry. When Yo-Yo removed Jemma’s hand, May felt nothing again. However, as she thought about it, May recognized something else when she touched Sousa. She felt the urge to run.
Saving Agent Sousa
Mack had decided that they would save Sousa. They would make the drop themselves if they had to. It was easier to let a bad man live than to let a good man die. And Daniel Sousa would not die on their watch. Daisy was ok with the decision. “Writing some new history, Cool.” Coulson also went along, citing it was Mack’s call. But before Mack could go and tell Sousa of his decision, he had grabbed one of Mack’s motorcycles and left the Zephyr.
So it had come down to this. Back at the Hotel where the history had taken place. Coulson reiterates that sometimes the hero had to die, and there was nothing you could do about it. Sousa was waiting to make the handoff to his contact. Unfortunately, Malik’s man was also there. He calls Malik to confirm Sousa’s presence. He is told to do his job and that the “organization” depends on it.
Delivering on History
Meanwhile, the Concierge is Sousa’s contact. He walks about the place, looking around to see if he is being followed but makes the exchange. Howard Stark will get his device. As he turns to walk away, he runs into someone else. He thought he had shook the tail, but he was wrong, as shots rang out. Sousa appears to stagger to the edge of the pool and then falls in, face down as his cane falls to the bottom. Malik’s man calls to confirm the deed is done. Meanwhile, the Concierge has called the police about the shooting. Daniel Sousa had done his job, and died for it. Just as the history books had written it down. Or did he?
Re-Enacting the Crime
It is revealed, as most who dunnits are. The team was able to catch up to Sousa before he was killed. Coulson iced Sousa and took his place. When Malik’s man showed up, it was Coulson’s back that took the bullets. Just another couple pieces of metal. He staggered to the pool and floated face down. Breathing wasn’t necessary for Coulson. So the history books had their story.
As for Coulson, Jemma and Daisy showed up posing as the Ambulance drivers. They plucked his body from the pool and returned to the Zephyr. Sousa was still sleeping off the icer’s effects and Jemma was fixing Coulson’s color vision problem. With the return to color, came the absence of Coulson’s monologuing. It was if the film had ended, the case was solved and the curtain was dropped. However, the story continued. May walked over to Coulson and grabbed his arm, after waiting for a moment, she let him go saying that she felt nothing. Shame.
Yo-Yo is checking on Deke. He tells her that he had seen the “Status Quo” and he’s no longer a big fan. She tells him that when a chance to change something next occurs, maybe they will. He tells her that he is in if that moment occurs. But until then, the Zephyr is ready for another time jump. And while they would have liked to retrieve Enoch, Daisy knows that whenever they end up, he will be waiting for them.
Welcome to Life After Death
Daniel Sousa is waking up from his over induced nap. As he gets his bearings, He sees the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. Coulson tells him they are from S.H.I.E.L.D. in the future and they are trying defeat the Chronicoms who are robots trying to take over the Earth. The one Sousa saw melted back at the base was one of them. Apparently, classified has been re-classified.
He then explained what the history books showed. As far as anyone outside of the plane knows, he died at that hotel. He died a hero, so congratulations and condolences all at the same time. Coulson welcomes him to “Life after Death. I can tell you all about it.” As they walk into the Command Center, Sousa asks if the Zephyr is the way they travel through time. Coulson confirms as well of the fact that they are no longer in 1955. Sousa asked “when” are they. The answer comes when a radio station starts playing Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Welcome to 1973.
The episode closes with the original Chronicom visiting Wilford Malik. He tells them that they have a common enemy in S.H.I.E.L.D. and they will destroy everything he has worked for. Unless, he listened and did whatever the Chronicom told him to do.
This might have been the best episode of the Season thus far. The whole Mickey Spillane like vibe with the appropriate voiceovers were great to see and hear. Clark Gregg was made to play such a role and he shined in it. As did Enver Gjokaj as Daniel Sousa. Although, he seemed to take in stride whatever he was told. Time travel, S.H.I.E.L.D. from the future, Your Superior is in Hydra. Just another day in S.H.I.E.L.D. I guess.
Poor Enoch. He is left by his lonesome in 1931. So now it is 1955, and he wants to be reunited with the team. But instead, all he becomes is the teams switchboard operator. “One ringy dingy, two ringy dingys” By the time he is done, he has reconciled himself that he will be utterly alone. Sniff…sniff. Hang in there Enoch, the team will need you again.
Making a Splash
Up until this point, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team has lived under the credo, make ripples, not waves. This was the first time they decided to splash around a bit. They changed the fate of Agent Sousa while still leaving the appearance that nothing had changed. Talking about having your cake and eating it too. It also falls a bit under Yo-Yo and Daisy’s feelings that they should make some changes when they can. To stop being, as Yo-Yo calls them, Agents of Status Quo. So here’s to little Splashes.
So the team has moved on to their next destination. This time to my decade. The 70’s. What they will need to do is not known but we do know that Enoch is once again there for the team. And they have a new passenger in Daniel Sousa…who apparently isn’t concerned about being in the 70’s. In addition, we have learned even more about May’s situation. She has become a emotional sponge. Soaking in other people’s feelings at a touch. Well that sounds like fun. Is it a permanent thing? I would hope not. But we’ll see. Perhaps as early as the next episode A Trout in the Milk.
Did you watch Out of the Past? What did you think? If you haven’t, check it out and share your thoughts with us at Geek Vibes Nation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.