Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 left off with the characters sent back in time to 1931 New York City. The Empire State building was still the tallest skyscraper in the world and the United States was still in the midst of the Great Depression. It isn’t the first time the show has implemented time-travel as a storytelling device, having sent the characters to the future and back again in Season 5. However, in a new Season 7 video, Deke Shaw explains a few key time-travel rules that are different from what was established in Avengers: Endgame.
After defeating Izel, an ancient entity, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents barely took a moment to revel in their success before being thrown into an entirely new situation. With Agent Melinda May gravely injured and Jemma Simmons suddenly in charge of a time ship, Daisy, Mack, Elena, and an LMD copy of Coulson quickly got the rundown of events. Basically, the Chronicoms, an A.I. species, were plotting to take over Earth and the only way to stop them was to time-travel to the past. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 already established that time loops could be broken, but what other time-travel rules are there? In a newly released Season 7 video, Daisy reveals that she’s worried about the butterfly effect. But Deke has another theory. Check out his explanation below!
That’s not a bad time-travel rule, though it worked a bit differently in Avengers: Endgame. The Marvel film espoused the idea that changing the past wouldn’t affect the present the Avengers originally left behind. Rather, so long as the Infinity Stones were returned to their original timelines, the time-stream itself would remain intact. Conversely, any changes to the natural course of events would simply create an alternate timeline.
On the other hand, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s explanation is more in line with more traditional time-travel rules. That is, if enough changes are made to the past, the future will be impacted. So, Deke’s time-stream theory makes sense. Throw a few sticks in and the stream still gets to the same location. Throw a lot of sticks and, well, you get the picture.
Time-travel is always confusing, to be sure. Causal loops, alternate timelines, and time paradoxes are enough to give anyone a headache. That said, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is also set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Agent Phil Coulson was introduced in 2008’s Iron Man, after all— so the rules of time-travel should theoretically be the same.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been doing its own thing for many seasons now anyway, having been under the direction of Marvel TV president Jeph Loeb before he left the studio last year. Still, it would have been nice to have just a little bit more consistency.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7 premieres on Wednesday, May 27 at 10:00 p.m. ET on ABC. Be sure to swing by our 2020 summer TV premiere guide for more on what to watch.