This article contains spoilers for the Agents of SHIELD season 7 premiere.
There were plenty of surprises in the Agents of SHIELD season 7 premiere, but none were as unexpected as the true target of the Chronicom infiltration into 1931. While the team assumed the sentient robots were after New York governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who would eventually establish the Strategic Scientific Reserve as a precursor to SHIELD, they were actually after a lowly bartender named Freddy. Learning that his last name is “Malick” tells us that he’s the father of former World Security Council member and season 3 villain, Gideon Malick, but even with those powerful connections how could he be the thread that unravels it all?
Coulson quickly realizes that the idea is to remove SHIELD’s greatest enemy to prevent its need to be founded in the first place, but he also knows the old Hydra saying: take out one head and another rises in its place. And Freddy is a far cry from the Wilfred Malick who will one day be in charge of the Hive cult.
Remember, in Agents of SHIELD season 3, Gideon and his brother Nathaniel discovered that their father cheated in the annual ritual to send a human sacrifice through the monolith to Maveth to feed one of the most powerful Inhumans ever created, but before he eventually dies in 1970, Wilfred rubbed elbows with the likes of Daniel Whitehall and Wolfgang von Strucker. So he won’t always be a bartender or a Hydra errand boy.
But what was that errand anyway? Whenever we see vials of colored liquid in the Marvel universe, especially in the mid-20th century, we think super soldier serum. Granted, the formula Dr. Erskine used on Steve Rogers was blue, but perhaps the earlier imperfect version used on Johann Schmidt to turn him into Red Skull was green, who knows?
That being said, it seems unlikely that, whoever the mysterious woman in red was, a scrub like Freddy would be entrusted to deliver such an important package to the docks, but then again, she did call the green goo “the future.” Such a term could apply to a eugenicist’s desire for a race of supermen.
Perhaps it will be revealed in later Agents of SHIELD episodes that Freddy is not as much of a peon as we might think. He told Deke that his dad “kicked the bucket” and Ernest Koenig took him in, but we later learn that his father jumped out a window to his death after incurring some hefty debt with the wrong people. The woman in red acknowledges that Freddy’s father was a powerful man until he took the coward’s way out, and Freddy implies that he witnessed the death as a child. But the delivery of the vials to the docks constitutes a chance to return the Malick name to its former glory, so there must have been some influence there before things went sour.
The Hive cult spans centuries and in fact gave Hydra its octopus-like logo, we learned in Agents of SHIELD season 3, and the Malick family’s legacy in that regard could go back generations. Could that be the thread the Chronicoms referred to? A familial thread so tightly woven into the tapestry of Hydra history that pulling it loose causes the fabric to disintegrate? Does the foiled delivery of a super serum undo the rise of Red Skull and the Nazi arm of the organization, or is this a completely different sort of potion designed for other nefarious purposes?
Although we surely will learn more in future episodes of Agents of SHIELD, it’s important to go back and remember the history of the Malick family and its role in Hydra. The late Powers Boothe played Gideon Malick both in The Avengers and in this show, and the weight of his importance to the MCU can’t be overlooked. If father Freddy can measure up to even half his son’s level of intimidation, he will definitely be someone to reckon with, and don’t forget — he’s still in the car with Mack and Deke! If they have to save Hydra to save SHIELD, he might just make that delivery after all.