Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been off doing its own thing for the past few seasons, displaying little interest in tying into the wider MCU. However, the show’s seventh and final run seems to be bucking this trend. The time travel-centric storyline means the resurrected Coulson and the gang are dabbling in established history, with the season opener already introducing a major MacGuffin that could have direct connections to Captain America.
In “The New Deal,” the team arrive in 1931 New York in order to stop the alien Chronicoms from preventing the foundation of S.H.I.E.L.D. They initially believe their enemies are targeting future President – and founder of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s precursor, the SSR – Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, they’re mistaken, as the Chronicoms are really after Wilfred Malick, the father of future HYDRA leader Gideon Malick. Without HYDRA, we learn, S.H.I.E.L.D. will never be formed.
That’s a whole other revelation in itself, but let’s focus on the criminal dealings that Wilfred is involved in during this episode. At a party celebrating FDR, a mysterious woman delivers a cache decorated with a very HYDRA-like octopus design to Wilfred and inside are vials of an unknown green liquid. Given the time frame and the HYDRA connection, it seems likely that these vials contain the initial version of the Super Soldier Serum that created Cap.
According to The First Avenger, Dr. Abraham Erskine devised the formula in 1930, one year before this episode is set. Wilfred retains the vials by the end of this episode, too, so they presumably remain in HYDRA’s possession. Is this how Johann Schmidt found out about Erskine’s work in the first place, which later led him to inject the serum into himself and become the Red Skull? Perhaps.
In any case, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the vials from here, and how close season 7 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will tie into MCU continuity.