‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap: History is Rewritten in Season 7, Episode 4 “Out of the Past”

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Clark Gregg in 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Image courtesy of ABC.

It’s a noir episode this week as the agents work with Daniel Sousa, realizing they may need to change history, and one of their own is taken. Fate may or may not be in play when it’s officially thought Hydra could infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., and Coulson narrates it throughout.

Find out everything that happened in this special episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Out of the Past.”

Coulson is still in the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, handcuffed to a table. It’s July 22, 1955, “the day that made Daniel Sousa a legend.” Sousa’s final mission was to deliver a groundbreaking S.H.I.E.L.D. device to Howard Stark, keeping it from falling into Russian hands. That day, Sousa became the first fallen Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Sousa gets off the phone, asking Coulson his name. Fortunately, he knows all about this day, telling Sousa he’s his contact. He mentions Howard Stark, and Sousa wonders where the package is. Sousa says he needs to get it on the train to LA, and Coulson says his contact will bring it to them. He gives the keys to Coulson and hands him the phone. Since Coulson couldn’t exactly call the Zephyr, he calls the one other person he knew in that time period.

Meanwhile, Enoch is serving drinks in a speakeasy, and the phone rings. Coulson is hoping he has a way to get a message to the Zephyr. Enoch says he can transfer him directly since he knows the Zephyr is there in 1955. Coulson tells everyone Chronicoms may have altered history when they took the body of Dr. Lindmore, who happened to be working on technology vital to the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. Lindmore is somewhere with his face erased, and that’s where the device would be. Mack tells Coulson as soon as they find his address, he’ll send a team to retrieve the gadget and bring it to him on the train.

Yo-Yo and Deke take off for Lindmore’s home, and Deke is still trying to get his head around how different things in the past were. “It always gets better, just never fast enough.” Deke says some things never change, but Yo-Yo tells him it can’t hurt to try. He says they could lose control of the timeline, and it goes skidding off the road. But it’s not the mission. They’re the “Agents of Status Quo.” It sounds like Yo-Yo doesn’t agree with it, but Yo-Yo tells Deke it sounds like he doesn’t. They get to Lindmore’s house, the lock missing on the door, and they go in. They search the place to see if there’s anyone there, but all Yo-Yo finds is a faceless Dr. Lindmore in his bathrobe, lying on the bathroom floor. Yo-Yo finds a briefcase in Lindmore’s bedroom, and Deke comes face to face with a guy, and another hits him over the head. Yo-Yo finds Deke’s hat on the ground, and the bad guys get away. Coulson narrates, “the good news was the package was now in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s possession. The bad news — Deke wasn’t.”

Coulson and Sousa arrive at their train, but still no sign of the contact. Coulson says there’s nothing to worry about, but in his voiceover, he admits he was worried. The team was a no-show, and it turns out the person he was looking for was looking for Deke. He wasn’t going to be getting the package any time soon. Yo-Yo calls Enoch, telling him to connect her to the Zephyr. She tells Mack what happened, saying she didn’t see who took him. Mack says they have to assume it’s the Russians, and it’s not Yo-Yo’s fault; at least she got the package. He tells her to just tell him her location, and he’ll send the Quinjet.

On the train, Coulson, knowing he’s been left high and dry, sees a random guy sitting near them and tells Sousa that’s him. Coulson walks past him, grabbing a briefcase, and Sousa follows him, two guys watching them. On the Zephyr, Jemma shows Mack the device, but it doesn’t seem like much. She says it’s like the Rosetta Stone of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech; even the Zephyr can be traced back to it. Mack says they need to track down Sousa.

“It’s time to find that train.”

Coulson tries to keep Sousa distracted, talking about their professional and personal lives. Sousa wonders if it’s time that Coulson shows him what all this “song and dance” is for. Coulson says he can’t do it, Stark’s eyes only, but Sousa says Stark isn’t going to be at the drop; it’ll be his man in LA. Sousa leaves to grab a drink, and a Chronicom named Luke comes up to Coulson, saying he has a proposition. Coulson says that cutting a deal doesn’t seem like the Chronicom style. Chronicoms adapt, and Luke tells Coulson to consider this an opportunity. Coulson retorts, “then you should pitch it to the man who runs S.H.I.E.L.D.” Coulson is not a man, which is why Luke has come to him. Not subject to the limitations of human life, to the drama of mortality. Luke says, “you must see the absurdity of them.” Coulson says that humans make life on Earth worth living and worth saving. However, Luke says even if they leave this planet alone, the humans he cares about will slowly die out around him. Coulson tells Luke to cut to the chase. Give them what they want, and Earth and his humans will have their charity.

In another part of the train, Sousa is getting drinks, and a woman comes up to him. The two start talking, and Coulson is still talking to Luke, saying you see a few people with their faces wiped off their heads, which makes it hard to believe their promise of benevolence. No deal. Luke tells him their fight has been neat so far, but he refuses this, and it becomes messy. Coulson says he’s only making this offer because they found out they were on their heels. They time traveled, S.H.I.E.L.D. time traveled. If they escalate, S.H.I.E.L.D. escalates.

“You will never be able to see what we can see.”

For instance, Chronicoms knew Coulson would be on that train. They even know that is not the item Sousa delivers. Luke gets up, telling Coulson they know this is the day Sousa dies, killed later that night at a hotel in Los Angeles. All they have to do is make one call, and he dies right then and there. Over with Sousa, a couple of guys make sure the guests in the lounge leave, and Sousa tells the woman she thought he wouldn’t notice her acting and see her friends clearing out the car. She tells Sousa to just come along quietly, and he starts fighting them until Daisy makes a surprise entrance, joining the fight with Mack as well. Daisy tells Sousa they have the package.

The guys who have Deke finally stop driving and wake him up in the backseat. Meanwhile, the Quinjet returns to the Zephyr, and Sousa thinks it’s time they hand over the package. They show Sousa the device, and he thinks Stark would be more impressed by their flying headquarters. Mack tells Sousa that now that he has this, maybe he can give them something to help them find their missing team member. Sousa suggests he could’ve been taken by whoever ordered the hit on the train. Normally he’d say the Russians, but he doesn’t think they are after this.

“I think it’s someone else.”

Coulson asks Sousa who else knew about his meeting with Dr. Lindmore and Sousa says it’s only his superior, who just happened to be Malick. “The kid we let live in 1931 had come back to haunt us in 1955.” Malick tells Deke to tell him who he is because he damn sure doesn’t look like a scientist. It’d been two decades, so Malick didn’t recognize Deke. He tells Malick he doesn’t look like a scientist because he’s a salesman. Malick asks Deke where the gadget is, and Deke tells him he’s got the wrong guy. Malick shoots one of his men, then points the gun at Deke. Deke tells Malick he doesn’t have to do this, and Malick says nobody calls him Freddy. Deke says he did in 1931, and that was the year Malick’s life began. He delivered a serum, and Deke helped him do it. Malick remembers, saying it’s impossible. He recalls Deke held a gun on him, and Deke says he didn’t shoot him; he shot someone who was coming after him. Malick lowers his gun, saying Deke will have to forgive his memory. It’s easy to forget the people that helped you on your way to the top. He guesses he owes Deke a debt of gratitude. Deke’s about to walk free before Malick asks him what he was doing in that house since he’s not a salesman.

“Just trying to look out for my future.”

On the Zephyr, Mack gets an address for Malick, suggesting that Deke has been taken there. Coulson says Sousa still has his delivery to make, he doesn’t want it to happen either, but they kept Malick on course despite the temptation to do otherwise.

“Well, it’s easier to let a bad man live than to let a good man die.”

Coulson says that Sousa’s sacrifice was an inspiration to others in S.H.I.E.L.D., and Mack brings up Coulson’s own sacrifice and how it was an inspiration for the Avengers. If Sousa lives, they don’t know what impact that will have on history.

Enoch connects Deke to the Zephyr, and he tells Mack and Coulson he’s in LA. Mack tells Deke to sit tight; he’s changing the mission. Sousa asks Daisy what the hold-up is, and Mack asks her if she’ll join him, and she follows him. Mack tells Daisy and Coulson they’re going to save Sousa; they won’t let him get near that place. They’ll find a way to make the drop for him and figure out the rest after.

“Cool. Writing some new history. Copy that.”

Meanwhile, May tells Jemma and Yo-Yo when she saw Sousa, she felt an overwhelming urge. She felt the need to run. Jemma runs towards the back of the Zephyr, but it’s too late. Sousa has already taken a motorcycle and rides off.

“Like I said, sometimes the hero has to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Sousa arrives at Hotel Roosevelt as the others try to catch up to him. Sousa waits in the lobby to make the drop, and a guy makes a call to Malick, saying he sees him. Malick tells him to get it done; the organization depends on it. Sousa makes his way to the drop, the guy following, gun ready. He hands the briefcase off to someone else but still runs into a familiar face, saying he thought he shook them. A gun is aimed at him, and the person shoots. A body is then walked into the pool and drowns. “Job is done.” Sousa completed his mission and died a hero. Just like how it is in the history book.

“But not everything’s in the book.”

It’s revealed that Coulson was actually the one in the pool. He and Mack were able to get to Sousa before his killer, shooting him with an ICER. Coulson pretends to be Sousa, gets shot, and throws himself in the pool. Jemma and Daisy show up, pretending to be from the coroner’s, and takes the body out of the pool. On the Zephyr, Jemma fixes Coulson’s system, also bringing the color back. The internal monologue’s gone, and everything’s back to normal. The Zephyr makes another jump, and Sousa wakes up. He sees the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, and Coulson tells him it’s the future S.H.I.E.L.D. They’re in a fight against body-snatching robots from another planet who want to wipe them out and take the Earth. Coulson breaks the news to Sousa that he’s dead; history says he is. He’s a hero. They didn’t change history; they just took Sousa out of it and faked his death. “Welcome to life after death.” They meet everyone else and figure out what time they’re in. “No More Mister Nice Guy” by Alice Cooper comes on the radio, and it’s clear to the agents that they still aren’t home.

Luke shows up at Malick’s office, and Malick gets ready to shoot. Luke tells him it’s not necessary; he’s been left behind to help him. Luke says they share an enemy. “The only difference is that mine is from the future.” Malick thinks he might’ve met one of them, and Luke says he certainly did. Luke tells him S.H.I.E.L.D. will destroy all he has built; it’s time to prevent that. By doing exactly what he says.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on ABC, streaming on Hulu and On Demand the following day.

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By Megan
Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvels911s if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.
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