Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues through its seventh and final season with Episode 5, “A Trout in the Milk,” and we at MCUExchange are here to break down the action! After one of the best episodes of the entire series last week, our team of heroes escaped 1955 after keeping the Chronicoms at bay, faking Daniel Sousa’s death, and preserving the timeline once again before jumping another 18 years into the future.
Just as Season 7 had done the previous four weeks, “A Trout in the Milk” introduced us perfectly to the new time period with a fun and exciting 70’s style intro. Complete with funky music, actor introductions backed by footage from past seasons, and the Flash Gordon-esque show logo, the production team set up one of the most colorful and interesting eras in American history with such style, even before diving into a crazy plot.
In an even more impressive feat, Season 7’s fifth episode found a way to pack in more larger MCU references than any episode in a long time. With this episode’s time period set 42 years after the Season 7 premiere and another 40 years before the plot of the show’s pilot episode, 1973 was close enough to both the past and present to include some incredible references which will be explored in more detail shortly.
The Chronicoms really stepped up their “end of S.H.I.E.L.D.” plans this week by throwing the team right into the middle of Hydra’s rise to power in 1973. They also gave the team the first glimpse into how they’ve made little changes to the timeline by letting Wilfred Malick remain alive even though he was supposed to meet his end three years prior to this episode. We also learn that not only did Malick survive for longer than he should have, has has already started to bring his two sons, Nathaniel and Gideon, into the evil family business.
Not shockingly, young Gideon (reprised by Cameron Palatas from Season 3, Episode 16) turns out to be a total creep when hitting on Daisy before Sousa comes in to stop the situation. As for Nathaniel and their father Wilfred, both were living on borrowed time thanks to the Chronicoms, who were using them in their time traveling shenanigans to stop S.H.I.E.L.D. from ever forming.
As mentioned earlier, the larger MCU references were absolutely mind-blowing this week as Malick and General Rick Stoner (Patrick Warburton) prepare for the launch of Project Insight. This is an indication of how early Hydra was working to expand their reign over the world giving a look into the earliest attempt at this coup before it was nearly perfected in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While that movie ended up using the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers to kill high-profile targets, the Chronicoms helped Hydra plan this even earlier by launching the algorithms via rocket ship using the old Lighthouse base from Season 5.
When Daisy and Sousa found a way to hack into the main Insight computer hidden in the same hidden room behind the bookcase of the S.H.I.E.L.D. hideout seen in both the 30’s and 50’s, so much was revealed about how fully-formed Hydra’s plans were as early as 1973. Hydra already had the names of prominent MCU characters like Bruce Banner, Nick Fury, Peggy Carter, Victoria Hand and Roberto Gonzales in their sights as targets to take out, most of them still too young to even have posed a threat back then.
Before I dive into the status of the main cast, I have to give the MVP award of this week to Joel Stoffer’s Enoch. Not only did he hilariously botch the classic Terminator reference (which doesn’t even come out until 11 years later in their timeline), he expresses the absolute perfect amount of frustration and displeasure with his fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents after being abandoned for four decades. He was done so wrong, and his teammates deserved to feel such shame for the way they treated their Chronicom friend.
This episode put the team in even more serious danger than they have seen all season and placed a few of the main cast into some precarious situations. Agent May is still struggling with her emotions problem and Simmons now seems to have something implanted in the back of her neck causing her some major distress. Mack also has to make an incredibly tough call in order to save his own parents stuck in the Lighthouse considering his own life is hanging in the balance.
This episode also has a huge moment for Deke Shaw as he has his third confrontation with Malick in his estate. With Malick earning three more years of life thanks to the Chronicoms, Deke decided that enough was finally enough as he shot Malick right in the heart in the middle of his villainous monologue. (He was droning on!)
On top of all that, the Chronicoms were able to put the heroes on their heels in a big way as they forced the Zephyr to make an incredibly quick jump from 1973 to 1976. My only real issue with the Chronicoms’ plan, even with its success giving the heroes trouble, is that they still give Coulson and crew a slim chance of success. By forcing the team to travel to the very day of the Insight launch instead of after it had already happened, S.H.I.E.L.D. was still able to blow up the Insight rocket and hold on to fight another day.
Speaking of that rocket explosion, another huge overarching plot point this week was the idea of sacrifice from both sides of the S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra war. Not only did Wilfred Malick show an unexpected raw emotion along with the tactical acumen to save both of his sons, he forced S.H.I.E.L.D. to make a hard choice not to blow up the entire base in order to keep Mack’s parents alive.
While S.H.I.E.L.D. does succeed in blowing up the Insight rocket, they have new problems after giving up their airborne position and setting themselves up for a tussle with both the Chronicoms and Hydra. Daisy and Sousa ended up kidnapped by Nathaniel Malick after he used a ginormous ICER-looking thing to knock both of them out. Malick was also shown in the episode’s tag on payphone call discussing a method to extract Daisy’s Inhuman powers. Revisiting the villainous Daniel Whitehall from season 2, who notoriously cut up Daisy’s mother Jiaying in order to gain Inhuman powers for himself, Daisy seems to be in some serious jeopardy as next week gets closer.
4 Enoch Guilt Trips out of 5
This week was a wild ride from beginning to end, filled with so much action and hilarity as the team continued to adapt to entirely new surroundings. Almost every team member had to deal with some kind of individual problem while the group as a whole had to be quick on their feet in the fight against Hydra. Next week is also shaping up to have one of the biggest confrontations yet as Coulson finally comes face to face with Sybil the Predictor, and I absolutely can’t wait for it to arrive. 8 episodes to go!
- Still no Iain De Castecker this week, but it’s at least a nice sign to hear him mention as Simmons continues to work towards finding him but also keeping mum on his condition to keep him safe. (1 Fitz out of 5)
- Enver Gjokaj continues to shine this season as Sousa has a few great moments (“Elephant pants,” his passionate talk with Deke, and having his mind blown by a smart phone)
- The fake name of Patrick Kutik from Coulson was absolutely brilliant and a nice callback to Season 6’s Pachakutiq/Sarge persona
- Not only did this episode really connect to the larger MCU as a whole, it helped dive into a number of individual moments from three different past seasons with incredibly unique callbacks that we haven’t seen in a while
- With the very slight time meddling from the Chronicoms and the attempt at bringing the status quo back from Deke and Yo-yo, I’m seriously pumped for what happens over the next few weeks in the time-meddling shenanigans.
- Once again, even for one of the weaker episodes of this season, it was still an incredible ride; Season 7 is seriously turning out to be one of the show’s very best and is helping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. end on a very high note