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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Out of the Past - Review

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. went film noir with “Out of the Past” written by Mark Leitner and directed by Garry A Brown. The black and white episode and Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) voiceover/inner monologue are all courtesy of the system glitch caused by last week’s EMP blast.

Like every good film noir, it begins at the end. We seem to see Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) meet his end in the pool at the famous Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Coulson’s voiceover tells us that “sometimes, the hero has to die.” It looks like it’s Sousa floating face down… and then we jump back in time. The voice over tells us that his “circuits were crossed” – that would be the EMP’s effect on the circuits of our favorite LMD. Color had bled from the world – that would be the classic black and white film noir palette. And finally, his thoughts were pinging round his head – voice over! In case you weren’t sure what was going on.

Once again, Coulson’s love of history – and the LMD’s programming – come in handy. He sees the date on a newspaper – July 22, 1955 – the day that Daniel Sousa became a legend. Sousa’s final mission was to deliver a ground-breaking scientific device to Howard Stark, keeping it out of the Russian’s hands. And it was the day that Sousa became the first fallen Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson is able to use his historical knowledge to manipulate Sousa, telling him that he’s Sousa’s contact. My favorite bit of banter in this scene is Sousa talking about the scientist melting like the Wicked Witch of the East and Coulson correcting him with “West.” The Wicked Witch of the East was killed by Dorothy’s house falling on her – everyone knows it was the Wicked Witch of the West that Dorothy melted!

Coulson convinces Sousa to let him make a call to have the gadget brought to them – on the train that Sousa is planning to take to LA. Of course, a 1955 phone can’t call the Zephyr, so naturally, Coulson calls Enoch (Joel Stoffer)! Enoch is still bartending and listening to annoying S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents. Enoch is thrilled when he answers the phone at the Crazy Canoe and it’s Coulson. He’s ready to leave the safe house and rejoin the team…. But Coulson just needs to talk to the Zephyr. Naturally, Enoch has worked it all out and patches him through.

Coulson tells the team that while the Chronicoms might not have changed history in the way they intended, by taking the scientist’s body who was supposed to deliver the gadget, they did. Daisy (Chloe Bennet) summarizes that Sousa is going to die that night after delivering the gadget. Mack (Henry Simmons) agrees – it’s unfortunate but they can’t change history. Mack figures that Linmore must have had the gadget at his house. They’ll head there….and meet Coulson on the train.

YoYo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) and Deke (Jeff Ward) head to the scientist’s house. Deke asks if women were allowed to drive in the 50s! Deke was appalled by how sexist and racist the 30s were – and so are the 50s. YoYo says things change – but it takes time. They discuss the mission, and YoYo is not happy that they are the Agents of Status Quo. They have to maintain the timeline.

When they get to Linmore’s house, it’s clear that the Chronicoms have been there as the lock on the door is missing. The two carefully search the house, and YoYo finds Linmore’s faceless body. She also finds the gadget, but Deke ends up being abducted.

Coulson and Sousa board the train, and Coulson starts to worry when he isn’t met by a member of the team. YoYo is looking for Deke, however, not getting the package to Coulson on the train. YoYo stops to call Enoch – and he’s happy to talk to her too! Once again, he’s ready to rejoin the team, but she just wants him to play switchboard and connect her to the Zephyr – I loved this running gag! Poor Enoch! Mack tells YoYo it’s not her fault and that it was probably Russians.

Coulson takes a random guy’s briefcase, telling Sousa that he was just waiting for the signal – they guy put his hat over his face! It’s clear that Coulson and Sousa are being watched. Meanwhile, the gadget is being examined on the Zephyr. Only Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is impressed by the hunk of metal in the briefcase – and then, suddenly, so is May (Ming-Na Wen). Mack, Daisy, and YoYo are surprised by her enthusiasm.

Back on the train, Sousa and Coulson get a bit better acquainted. It’s hilarious as they both share their sad love stories – Coulson not able to stick around (with May) and Sousa’s unrequited love for Agent Carter – though, of course, no names are mentioned! Sousa asks to see the gadget, and Coulson tells him, Stark’s eyes only. Sousa tells him that Sousa won’t be in LA – but his man will be. I was really hoping to see either Dominic Cooper (as Stark) or James D’Arcy as Jeeves… Sousa is surprised when Coulson admits that he’s never met Stark and tells him that Stark is a pompous ass. Coulson takes it in stride, saying that those with big brains can come off that way – makes for a divide between those in the lab and those in the field. And I really loved this little shout out to where S.H.I.E.L.D. started. Sousa takes it as pertaining to them. He tells Coulson he’s going to get a drink – Coulson’s earlier suggestion – and Coulson says that he never touches the stuff. To which Sousa replies he’s not surprised.

Sousa no sooner gets up than Chronicom Luke (Tobias Jelinek) joins Coulson. He’s come alone with a proposition. It’s suddenly night. And we get the off-kilter framing of the shots that is such a hallmark of the film noir! Luke thinks that Coulson, as an LMD, should feel the same way that he does about humans. Coulson believes that humans make life worth living and are worth saving. Luke, however, points out that in a thousand years, all the humans he cares about will be dead. Coulson tells him to cut to the chase. Luke tells him to give them what they want – Earth – and humans will have their charity.

Coulson points out that it’s hard to believe in Chronicom charity after seeing a few faceless bodies. Coulson tells him that if the Chronicoms escalate so will they. Luke assures Coulson that they will never be able to see what they can see – for instance, they knew that he’d be on that train. And he knows that the briefcase doesn’t contain the gadget. They also know Sousa is supposed to die that night – and all they had to do was make one call to make sure that Sousa died right then!

In the bar car, Sousa makes friends with Lana (Stephanie Drapeau). She tells him that she’s travelling alone. She tells him that she’s head to LA – to become a star. But Sousa tells her that she’ll have to work on her acting – he’s seen her “friends” clear the club car.  A fight breaks out and Sousa is losing, when Daisy and Mack show up and end it. The Zephyr is on the roof of the train – they’ll be leaving that way.

      Deke is still MIA, and Coulson tells us in voice over that they were at the mercy of history. They had to keep Sousa safe until he could make his drop. Sousa wants an explanation – and isn’t too happy to see “Agent Carter” again – but Simmons apologizes. Daisy tells him that they’re part of an organization that is “off the books.” May joins them and suddenly seems to almost have a panic attack. She gets herself under control, but Simmons takes her off to examine her.

      Once Sousa sees the gadget, he’s not impressed either. They ask him for help in finding Deke – and he confesses that he doesn’t think the Russians have Deke. He tells them that he thinks that HYDRA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. – Sousa thinks that he’s dropping a bomb, and all of them just say “yep.” Because, of course. Coulson realizes that Sousa wasn’t killed by the Russians. He was killed by HYDRA before he could expose them. Coulson asks who else knew about the meeting – Sousa says only his superior – and that’s classified. But Coulson has already guessed…. Malick (Neal Bledsoe).

      Deke is with Malick, who doesn’t recognize him. Deke tells him that he’s a salesman. He maintains that he’s a toaster salesman, not a scientist. Malick isn’t happy with his henchman and shoots him in cold blood. Deke is next.

      Mack finds Malick’s address, thinking Deke must be there, but Coulson points out that Sousa still has a delivery to make. Mack points out that it’s easier to let a bad man live than a good man die. Coulson wishes he’d said it, but he also points out that Sousa’s sacrifice was an inspiration to a lot of Agents. I loved that Mack brought up how Coulson’s sacrifice inspired the Avengers! Mack points out that Coulson got to live to fight another day, but Coulson points out that they don’t know what letting Sousa live will do to the timeline.

     Sousa and Daisy have a nice scene. He’s shocked that Malick is HYDRA and he’s frustrated that she won’t tell him how she knows or let him act on it. Daisy tells him that if he goes after Malick, they’ll just dig in deeper, but Sousa vows that he’ll give his life to have pay back for all the people that they took from him.

     Deke calls Malick Freddy and tells him that he called him that in 1931. Deke reminds him about the serum to prove who he is. Deke reminds him that he held a gun on him once and didn’t shoot Malick – he shot someone coming after him. Malick admits that he owes him a debt of gratitude. Malick tells him to consider his debt paid – he won’t be so lucky next time.

      Simmons checks May’s vitals. She can’t find anything wrong. YoYo shows up and mentions the panic attack that May had at the base. Simmons wants to know why she didn’t mention it, and May says because that’s not her. Simmons agrees – but that’s all the more reason to mention it! It’s not like May to lose control of her emotions. She tells them that she hasn’t been feeling anything – and then her emotions just wash over her.

      Simmons asks if May has been feeling this way since the healing chamber. She retraces it to going to the other world where they had no emotion. They then break down what she has felt. She was “giddy” at the sight of the object – and only Simmons gets that excited over tech! When she met Sousa, she suddenly felt disoriented and like they were all strangers to her. YoYo points out that she shook Sousa’s hand. May says that now she feels worried and concerned – YoYo removes Simmons’ hand from May’s leg and the feelings lessen. She’s not being overwhelmed by her own emotions – she’s feeling everyone else’s! She tells them that she felt something else when she felt Sousa’s emotions…

      Deke makes it to a phone booth and excitedly calls Enoch. It looks like he’s ready to talk to Enoch, but Enoch has lost all hope of being called back. He simply tells Deke he’ll connect him. I loved how in the end, the sad story that Tom (Larry Clarke) is telling Enoch about being an unappreciated Agent who is relegated to a desk job ends up resonating with what is happening with Enoch. Tom wants to be Enoch’s best friend – but Enoch has decided that he’s as alone as he’s always been!

      Deke calls and Mack decides it’s time to change their plan. Mack calls Daisy away – and Sousa is eager to get to his mission. Mack tells Coulson and Daisy that they’re not going to let Sousa die – they’ll make the drop for him. Daisy is onboard to write some new history and Coulson declares it’s the director’s call.

      May tells Simmons and YoYo that the other thing she felt from Sousa was an overwhelming need to run – and at that moment, Sousa is stealing one of the motorcycles. And then we’re back to where we started. Sousa has made it to the Roosevelt – and Coulson reminds us that sometimes the hero has to die.

      Malick gives the order. The Concierge (Paul Rogan) leaves his post and Joe (Philip Alexander) pulls his gun. The Concierge is Stark’s contact, and Sousa hands off the briefcase. Sousa rounds a corner and walks into the gun from the opening scene, saying he thought he’d shaken his assailant. The gun goes off. We see the trenchcoated figure head towards the pool and fall in, dropping the cane first. Joe calls and says the job is done. The voice over tells us that Sousa died a hero – like it says in the history book – but not everything is in the book! It’s Coulson in the pool – and it was Coulson who iced Sousa.

      Back on the Zephyr, Simmons has Coulson hooked up to a diagnostic. The inner monologue has dissipated and as we watch May through his eyes, we turn back into color. May grabs Coulson’s hand – and then tells Simmons that she gets nothing off of him. Not really liking this development with May. YoYo checks in with Deke – he’s not a fan of the status quo. YoYo suggests that maybe next time there will be the chance for them to change it. Deke tells her that he’s in.

      The ship gets ready to jump and Mack laments that he wished that they didn’t have to leave Enoch behind. Unfortunately, he’s too far away, but they know that being a Chronicom, he’ll be waiting wherever they end up.

      Sousa wakes up and Coulson tells him he shot him with an icer – it hasn’t been invented yet. Coulson also tells him that they are future S.H.I.E.L.D. in a fight against body-snatching robots from another planet who want to wipe them out and take the earth. Sousa suggests that the could have lead with that. Coulson tells Sousa that he’s dead – condolences – but he’s a hero – congrats!

      Coulson tells him that they took him out of his timeline, so he’s basically dead. Coulson welcomes him to life after death. As they talk, they join the others and learn that they are now in the 1970s.

      In the final scene, Luke comes to Malick. He tells him that it’s time to prevent S.H.I.E.L.D. from destroying everything that Malick has built…. This was a fun episode, and it’s always great to watch the show play outside the box. If I have one complaint – it’s that we never did get the real Agent Carter or Jeeves or even Stark! And now I’m just left wondering if we are ever going to see Iain De Caestecker this season! He’s listed in the cast for next week, but I’m not hopeful…. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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