WARNING: Major SPOILERS ahead for Agents of SHIELD season 7, episode 4, “Out of the Past.”
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD retcons Daniel Sousa’s (Enver Gjokaj) death in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, paving way for his character to join the time-traveling team. Gjokaj officially joined the MCU as Agent Sousa in Marvel’s Agent Carter, on which he played the character for two seasons. But when Agent Carter was cancelled, fans were left without knowing the rest of Sousa’s story. That changed when it was revealed Gjokaj’s Sousa would appear in Agents of SHIELD season 7, which sees the show’s team of agents time-travelling. Sousa first appeared in last week’s episode, “Alien Commies from the Future!” and again plays a major role in this week’s episode.
Episode 4, “Out of the Past,” tells the story of Daniel Sousa’s death – at least, as it’s known to SHIELD history buffs like Coulson (Clark Gregg). According to Coulson, Sousa is meant to deliver a SHIELD gadget to an associate of Howard Stark, but shortly after is killed. Sousa becomes the first fallen agent of SHIELD and inspires generations of future agents. However, as “Out of the Past” reveals, it wasn’t Russians who killed Sousa like Coulson thought, but Hydra agents, with the hit ordered by Hydra’s Wilfred Malick, who’s embedded himself deep within SHIELD by 1955. One of the main conflicts of the episode is whether Director Mack (Henry Simmons) and his team will let Sousa die to preserve the timeline or make changes that could alter history.
Although Sousa almost dooms himself to his fate by running away from SHIELD, Coulson and Mack get to him in time. Coulson then poses as Sousa, taking two bullets in the back and posing as dead in a hotel pool to convince Hydra the job was done – all of which he can do as a Life Model Decoy with Chronicom tech. In order to preserve the timeline, though, Coulson and the team bring Sousa on board the Zephyr and they take him with them on their next time jump. Though it’s unclear how long Sousa will stay on the Zephyr, his death in 1955 means he can’t return to the past, meaning he’s now a member of the SHIELD team.
It’s unclear, as of yet, whether Coulson and the team actually changed the timeline, or if this was always what happened to Sousa and the files simply didn’t include it because it wasn’t known. After all, SHIELD’s history hinted Sousa was killed by Russians, not Hydra, so we already know parts of the story of his death weren’t accurate. But more likely, this is a change to the MCU timeline, ensuring Sousa lives while the story of his death remains in tact so he still becomes the first fallen agent of SHIELD. It’s the first major change the SHIELD team has purposefully made to the timeline and it’s unclear whether it will affect anything in the future. However, they were able to preserve enough of the story it seems likely they did keep the timeline in tact.
Now, Sousa joins the SHIELD team and their fight against the Chronicoms. Since he can’t go back to his own time without risk of changing the timeline, Sousa has to become an official member of this future SHIELD team. Fans of the Agent Carter character are no doubt excited to see Agents of SHIELD explore how Sousa integrates into the team, with all their future tech and mannerisms. As already indicated by Mack, Coulson and Sousa have something in common: living life after their death. It wouldn’t be surprising if other comparisons were made to Steve Rogers, who woke up in the 2010s after being frozen in ice in the 40s. He was a man out of time and now so is Sousa. It paves the way for some exciting and compelling adventures as Agents of SHIELD season 7 continues.
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Agents of SHIELD season 7, episode 5, “A Trout in the Milk” premieres June 24th on ABC.