Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Just Changed The MCU Timeline In A Big Way

Marvel Cinematic Universe Heroes

The seventh and final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has seen the now-LMD Phil Coulson and the team traveling back through S.H.I.E.L.D. history in order to prevent the alien Chronicoms from altering history for their own ends. In yesterday’s episode 5, however, one major change was made to the MCU timeline that, at present, is still in effect.

The episode, titled “A Trout in the Milk,” sees the gang arrive in 1973 where they discover that HYDRA is busy working on Project Insight, an orbital satellite set to track down all potential threats to the organization so they can neutralize them beforehand. If this sounds familiar, that’s because this was their scheme from 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Due to the Chronicoms’ meddling with time though, the project has been brought forward by about 40 years.

At first glance, this could still fit into the established timeline. The 70s Insight operation is based on tech from the Lighthouse, the top-secret S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, so it’s possible its existence had been swept under the rug. However, the involvement of the Malicks in the episode tells us that this is officially a new timeline. Both father Wilfred and son Nathaniel are depicted as major HYDRA figures at this time, where as in the original timeline, Wilfred died in 1970 and Nathaniel was flung to another planet by his brother Gideon shortly after (as seen in season 3).

In contrast to Avengers: Endgame, AoS seems to be dealing with the more traditional version of time travel where changing the past creates a new present, not one where it spawns a diverging alternate timeline. So, an earlier version of Project Insight could feasibly result in a dystopian future – one where HYDRA wipes out the Avengers as kids. Bruce Banner, for instance, is shown to be one of their threats to keep an eye on.

I guess we’ll just have to keep watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Wednesdays on ABC to find out where things go from here.