This article contains MAJOR spoilers for the Agents of SHIELD season 6 finale.
As we mentioned in our review of the Agents of SHIELD season 6 finale, the strength of the episode was not necessarily in its defeat of the shrike scourge but rather in its surprising, enigmatic setup for the final season next summer. In essence, the narrative arc ended when Yoyo avoided death and May took her last breath, and the epilogue began when Simmons assured us and the rest of her team that May would be perfectly fine. So what accounts for the sudden pivot for a portion of the SHIELD team, and what can we take with us to speculate on during the hiatus?
The first surprise was that Simmons was so calm but prepared in her rescue of the team so quickly after they killed both Izel and the thing inside Sarge, almost as though the soldiers were setting up the floodlights in silence while the battle was going on, and perhaps they were! Jemma makes it clear fairly early on that they “had time,” indicating that she, Fitz, and Enoch have been with the survivors of the Lighthouse assault for quite awhile, likely spending months or years at some other point in history knowing full well they could return to the present only moments after they left to pull out their remaining team members after they had eliminated the threat.
So why is Simmons so confident that May will be okay? Is there some sort of advanced medical equipment that they acquired during their time away that can repair the fatal damage May incurred? There’s an obvious parallel between the cryochamber that May is placed in and the one that Fitz used to sleep his way into the future in season 5, but Simmons actually says, “We’ll repair her tissue in a few hours when she reaches the correct core temperature,” which certainly seems beyond SHIELD’s normal capabilities. Of course, we’re infinitely thankful that the Cavalry will live on!
Perhaps a trip to the future or assistance from Enoch’s knowledge of Chronicom tech is at play — there are upgrades everywhere in Zephyr One. Aside from the anomalous motorcycles in the vehicle bay, we also get a glimpse of a large Remorath jump drive, which has perhaps been modified to accept the core sample that was taken from the time monolith (see below). This would explain how the ship was able to teleport not only in space, but in time as well, although the question remains how Fitz and Simmons were able to initially solve the time travel problem that took them a lifetime to figure out last season. Nevertheless, even the self-launching mechanism and the autopilot function of the Z1 seem to be on the order of futuristic artificial intelligence.
Simmons specifically mentioned Chronicom-level technology being used to modify the Coulson LMD that serves as the biggest shock of the finale. Presumably the brain scans from the Framework that Simmons and Fitz were preparing to sacrifice themselves to prevent the Hunters from acquiring were used to re-create Coulson’s memories, but if this new version of Phil has been upgraded as much as suggested, the LMD could be virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, including to himself. It’s interesting to note that Simmons suggests that the Coulson LMD will be Director Mackenzie’s right hand man, not his replacement.
But why do the Chronicoms want Earth specifically to be Chronica-3? Aren’t there plenty of empty planets out there to choose from, especially for a machine race that could likely survive in a variety of atmospheric conditions? It seems like a lot of trouble to, as Jemma puts it, “destroy SHIELD and everyone within it” to eliminate the only threat to Malachi’s plan, but maybe he discovered something in Fury’s Toolbox that is especially tempting for him to advance his race and its mission of recovery, something important in SHIELD’s history contained within.
In fact, much is made of Coulson being needed as an expert on SHIELD history, which makes it likely that the time period in the past that the Zephyr One travels to is no coincidence. Simmons’ reference to the Empire State Building as the tallest building in the world and its appearance as being in the final stages of construction (see below) puts the year at 1931. That means, as Daisy suggests, it would be illegal to have a drink since there are still two more years until prohibition laws are repealed. But Peggy Carter is only about ten years old, and the SSR which preceded SHIELD won’t be around until after World War II. So either the relevant history is much earlier than we know, or season 7 may visit multiple eras in the past.
Those who pay attention to leaks on social media will know that Ming-Na Wen briefly had a picture in her Instagram story that lends credence to the Agent Carter connection, which would certainly be very exciting, and the visit to the past in the Agents of SHIELD season 6 finale fits right in with that theory. All that’s left to wonder is where Fitz is (or Flint for that matter) and why it’s strategically important in resisting the Chronicom Hunters for Simmons not to know where he is. Let the speculation begin as the long wait until season 7, likely in the summer of 2020, kicks off with a major, but welcome, paradigm shift for the show!