The Representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 premiere was all about time — and what happens when you’re out of time. Here is our review!
After a year off the air, the Representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 premiere delivered precisely what fans desired. “The New Deal” delivered a glowing and impactful episode that requested tough questions without losing its sense of humor. Plus, we have Coulson back! (We think!)
‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ season 7 premiere inspection
It is always hard, being distinct. For our representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D., it has never been harder than the current… that’s, and you know the past.
Our representatives struggle to fit in, to go with the flow. Seeing L.M.D./Chronicon Coulson absorb the deluge of information and expertise that — having himself been disembodied in the narrative — provides both an emotional punch to the gut along with a potent thematic initiation to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 premiere.
As Representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s final mission begins, Coulson (and I will call him that, even if the synthetic being himself isn’t sure he owns that title ) is the best fish out of water. His misery is existential. Down to his most basic functions (“Do I breathe?” He asks, helplessly), he questions the rightness of the very being. The return from non-existence to existence would be a challenging jump for everyone to create, but to get someone (something?). With empathy and Coulson’s fundamentals, the gap is wide.
It’s appropriate then, that”The New Deal” does not try in any way to solve this crisis. Like the rest of the group, spat from the (already pretty crazy ) fact into time traveling and secret war, Coulson chooses to roll his sleeves up and get down to work. As always with S.H.I.E.L.D., the assignment comes worse — we will
“reevaluate” and work out how we feel at an undisclosed later date.
Paradoxically, even Coulson has a more comfortable time fitting. He had been, after all, literally built for this. Between Coulson’s encyclopedic knowledge of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s origins, a background fanboyism that carries him through an awestruck meeting with Franklin Roosevelt, and an impressively capable robotic body, this could, at least superficially, be the most fun Coulson’s ever needed.
And it is intensely delightful to see a lighthearted version of Coulson, himself a throwback to a brighter period of Representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D. The trauma is not essential, but it’s nice to see that our guy compartmentalizes for a little.
Though Daisy, Mack, and Deke seem distractingly magnificent, it is a little more difficult for them to discover their place within this world that is new-old.
Daisy confronts explicit (and, okay, somewhat stereotypical) sexism from a police officer while attempting to investigate the Chronicles’ first, face-stealing offense, in addition to by a Keonig progenitor who is considerably more conservative than his descendants. Mack faces cold, pervasive racism from various corners even as he tries to pursue the salvation of Earth. Hopefully, Representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D. will probe this further, as both Daisy and Mack currently appear to be feeling the strain of enduring prejudice amidst the assignment.
As for Deke, his main issue is that he is… well, Deke. (But hey, he is trying?) What he does successfully though, is set Representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new idea of time. Fittingly, Deke aligns with the”Time as a river” multiverse concept, meaning that so long as the agents go more-or-less with the stream, their efforts to save the planet shouldn’t wildly interrupt the course of time.
The problem with that theory becomes clear at the end of the episode, as the target of the Chronicon turns out not to be the prominent F.D.R., but Koenig’s seemingly-unassuming lackey Freddie. Freddie is Wilfred Malick, the predecessor of Hydra pioneer Gideon Malick.
Take him out of this tapestry, “pull the ribbon” as the Chronicoms so artistically put it, and Hydra won’t exist — but neither will S.H.I.E.L.D.
Freddie himself is out of sync with his own life having lost standing following a mysterious incident when his father took his own life. In an attempt to correct his course, Freddie has started down. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s continuing existence, perversely, depends on him.
The ethical knottiness of the question — is it worth trading off S.H.I.E.L.D. for Hydra? Is Freddie’s life the lives of all of these destroyed by Hydra? — isn’t much broached in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 premiere. But hopefully, there will be room for that week.
Until then, the group and the audience are left to contemplate the cost of not fitting in. In the deeply personal to the apocalyptic, “The New Deal” makes it very clear that there are consequences to falling outside the conventional framework, whether that is one’s own life or period itself.
May and Elena signify this. Quarantined (same girl) until her Shrike infection fades, Elena struggles with the choice to embrace a new, more realistic set of robot hands. They’ll allow her also to feel and to fit in, but Elena tries to have difficulty in a world that is far from accepting her difference.
And in May? Well, May is the puzzle of this moment. Together with her body restored Simmons and by Enoch, it’s — such as Coulson — her mind that remains the mystery. Can May find herself again, after returning unexpectedly into the coil? Or will she stay… well, unsynthesized, her head and her body at war over her destiny?
We can’t say yet, but it’s apparent that the Representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 premiere sets the stage for a profound investigation of these queries as the final assignment succeeds.