It wouldn’t be a visit to the 70s if Agents of SHIELD didn’t include General Rick Stoner, who we last saw as a gloriously mustached holographic projection in season five when the team visited the Lighthouse for the first time. Back then he was known for Project Reclamation, a defunct contingency plan to shelter the leadership elite in the event of a global catastrophe. When Coulson and the others returned from the ruined future, they took up residence in the Lighthouse and were bombarded with explanatory messages from the former SHIELD director, but in an exclusive clip from the coming episode, we see Stoner has other concerns.
The preview features Agent May possibly using her newfound empathic emotions to tempt Stoner into giving her information about the timeline of a completely different project. Patrick Warburton, as always, delivers a perfect deadpan performance as General Stoner, who apparently has undergone sensitivity training for interacting with his female colleagues — quite an accomplishment for the 1973 workplace! Watch the sneak peek of “A Trout in the Milk” below, and see if you notice any familiar references from elsewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
First of all, let’s talk about Agent May’s choice of alias: Chastity McBryde. Sharp comics aficionados will recognize that as a name used in SHIELD related storylines in several issues of Elektra: Assassin during the 1980s. That sort of name drop is no big surprise since Rick Stoner himself was the first public executive director of SHIELD in the comics as well. However, it’s May’s question: “How close is Insight to completion?” that really should grab the attention of those viewing this Agents of SHIELD preview.
Project Insight, you may recall, is the name given to the surveillance initiative using helicarriers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So why would General Stoner refer to the launch as a “new birth for freedom” happening in 1976? That certainly sounds like the same point of view the powers that be had about Insight after the Battle of New York! Could the Chronicoms be fiddling with the timeline such that SHIELD would make what turned out to be a huge mistake given Hydra’s infiltration decades earlier than the original blunder made on Nick Fury’s watch?
We’ll have to tune into Agents of SHIELD on Wednesday at 10/9c on ABC to find out, but a visit to the 1970s has all sorts of appeal in other ways as well. As fun as this scene is with all of its sexual innuendo and a much more healthy-looking Agent May, fans will be anxious to see what this particular decade has in store for Coulson, Daisy, Mack, and the others. Earlier previews even appear to promise a reunion with Enoch after 40 years apart from the team! Luckily, we only have to wait one more day for the adventure of the final season to continue.