Did Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Just Reveal Its Final Season MCU Endgame?

agents of shield season 7 trout in the milk coulson
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoilers ahead for the fifth episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, called "A Trout in the Milk."

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has officially gone from making ripples in the time stream to making some pretty big waves, and that's a big deal for a show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't actually had close ties to the larger MCU for years now, and soundly avoided dealing with Thanos' snap and the events of Avengers: Endgame, "A Trout in the Milk" did something huge that may have revealed S.H.I.E.L.D.'s MCU endgame. After the latest developments in the 1970s, the good guys pretty much have to win, even if that doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending.

"A Trout in the Milk" basically delivered the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier about 40 years too early, in 1976, when Cap himself was still on ice, neither Black Widow nor Sam Wilson had been born yet, and Project Insight used satellites and lasers. Notable names on Insight's list of targets included Bruce Banner, Nick Fury, and Peggy Carter.

Even without some convenient helicarriers and other 21st century technology for Insight to pose as much of a threat in 1976 as it would in 2014, Insight could cause a lot of damage. Hydra managed to gain enough power within S.H.I.E.L.D. a lot earlier than it should have, thanks to the Chronicoms helping Freddy Malick to change the timeline.

The good news is that the time-traveling S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were able to stop Insight, although they didn't prevent the launch. Mack saw that his parents were in the launch facility (a.k.a. the Lighthouse), so the plan to flood the place and ruin Hydra's plan didn't work. Mack and Simmons were able to use the Zephyr's missiles to blow up Insight in the air, but they also had to show their location to do so.

The worst didn't happen with Project Insight, but it's still pretty bad for the agents as well as the current MCU timeline. If this happened in 1976, it certainly couldn't happen in The Winter Soldier. Now, I'm not suggesting that the whole MCU is going to be rewritten because of S.H.I.E.L.D. shenanigans on ABC, no matter how much I love S.H.I.E.L.D. If the MCU isn't going to be altered by this battle against the Chronicoms throughout history, that means the good guys have to come out on top, right?

That said, I do think it's pretty funny that an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. twist just destroyed the premise of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when The Winter Soldier totally blew up the premise of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. halfway through S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season back in 2014. Since the change obviously isn't going to stick and S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't going to remove Winter Soldier from MCU canon, I can laugh instead of despair at the havoc being wreaked on the timeline that has been developing ever since Iron Man in 2008.

What isn't so funny is what the agents might have to do to come out on top, save the Earth, and restore the MCU timeline. Even though the S.H.I.E.L.D. finale isn't going to go full Game of Thrones, there is no guarantee that all of the heroes will still be alive when the final credits roll.

Something is already up with Simmons (although the EMP she used a few episodes back suggests that the glowing chip in the back of her neck doesn't make her an LMD or Chronicom), and if something is up with Simmons, something could definitely be off with Fitz, who remains MIA for reasons that might be less romantic than I originally theorized.

Deke's very existence is in question thanks to timeline changes, Coulson is an LMD, and both May and Yo-Yo are dealing with changes to their bodies that they don't understand. Mack doesn't even have his shotgun axe! Daisy is the one who I'd put money on surviving the series, although she and Sousa are kidnapped and in Hydra hands as of the end of "The Trout in the Milk." Now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has revealed that the heroes absolutely have to win to save the world and restore the MCU timeline, I think it's time to worry more than ever that some favorites could wind up on the chopping block.

Find out what happens next now that the MCU needs to be changed back with new episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC in the 2020 summer TV premiere guide.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).