Coulson Rejoins the 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' in Final Season Mission (RECAP)

Meredith Jacobs
Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Premiere Recap
Spoiler Alert ABC/Mitch Haaseth

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 7 premiere of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "The New Deal."]

Welcome to the past, S.H.I.E.L.D. But be careful where you step, uh, swim?

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. plays around in 1931 New York City in an attempt to thwart the Chronicoms' plan to eliminate the agency from history. But how exactly will those robotic beings do that? Things get very complicated once the sort-of resurrected Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the others figure that out.

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And nothing new for FitzSimmons, the two are separated by time and space once again — and can't even risk reaching out to each other in case the Chronicoms are listening.

Not the Face!

The season begins with three Chronicoms interrupting officers just trying to engage in a little bootlegging ... and taking their faces?! The poor guy bringing them the whiskey is only slightly luckier than the others in that they only kill him.

Meanwhile, on board the Zephyr, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) "wakes" Coulson, and he's disoriented as his mind is flooded with information. "I don't feel the same," he says, and Daisy is also the one to get right to it: "You're an LMD." As everything, including his death, hits him, "I'm not him," he says. "I look like him." Mack (Henry Simmons) shuts him down and declares anything LMD-related a director-level (a.k.a. his) decision.

Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Premiere Team NYC 1931

(ABC/Mitch Haaseth)

Even though S.H.I.E.L.D. won't exist until the '50s, the team knows the Chronicoms have to be up to something, so they need boots on the ground. Deke (Jeff Ward) gets them clothes, and Mack rewakes Coulson. "I shouldn't be here," he says. "I didn't want to be brought back." But they need information he has to get ahead of the Chronicoms. While Coulson will do anything for them, "If we get through this and get back, I'm going to reevaluate," the LMD adds. So will Mack.

With the little bit of downtime they have, Daisy asks Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) how long they've been apart. "Too long" is all the scientist tells her.

After a report of three bodies without faces — Enoch (Joel Stoffer) recognizes it as the Chronicoms' procedure to procure identities — Coulson, Mack, Daisy, and Deke head to the crime scene. But Deke doesn't think they have to worry about the butterfly effect while they're in the past. Instead, he sees time as a stream. They're sticks thrown into it, and water continues to move around them but ends up in the same place. There's only a problem if too many sticks change the direction of the water forever.

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Using fake badges Deke printed — "a child could have done better," Daisy notes — they access the crime scene as Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (Bodies without faces "happens all the time in Canada," Mack tells the officer stationed at the door. And it works?) Coulson recognizes a swordfish on one of the bottles the bootlegger brought: around when the SSR became S.H.I.E.L.D., there was a safe house nearby and "swordfish" was the password.

He and Mack check it out, and after a scuffle with the patrons inside — Coulson decides to "test a theory" and takes a bullet to the arm, but is fine — meet the man in charge: a Koenig (of course). This one's name is Ernest (Patton Oswalt).

Back at the crime scene, Daisy impatiently waits for Deke to use tech to identify the faceless victims. The Chronicoms from the beginning of the episode show up and split up to take out the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but Deke using his tech and Daisy her powers to stop two of them. They bring one back to the Zephyr, and as his motor functions begin coming back online, Simmons plans to use him to get answers.

Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Premiere Chronicom

(ABC/Mitch Haaseth)

Target ... Acquired?

Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) is still uncertain about Enoch, but Simmons assures her the Chronicom can be trusted. He works on May (Ming-Na Wen) — she should be up in a week or two after recovering from her stab wound, courtesy of Sarge — while Simmons presents Yo-Yo with new arms, calibrated to her inhuman ability. Though the inhuman isn't ashamed of who she is and refuses them, the scientist points out that her mechanical arms would draw too much attention. Furthermore, she'll now be able to feel something ... and Yo-Yo ultimately accepts them.

Koenig does seem to provide them with the Chronicoms' target when he reveals that he's supplying a political party for Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt that night. Roosevelt formed the SSR; Mack and Coulson figure the Chronicoms want to assassinate him and eliminate S.H.I.E.L.D. before Roosevelt becomes president.

While Coulson, Mack, Daisy, and Deke attend the event, Simmons overloads the Chronicom prisoner with information in hopes that he'll spit out something like Coulson did when he was first coming online.

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Again, the downtime is used for a quick check-in, this time Daisy with Coulson. She knew he didn't want to be brought back, but she couldn't help but push the button. "It's all surreal," he admits. "I have data in my head telling me that I died and that I left you a letter, but I wasn't there. It's a lot. Must've been a lot for you." And then he turns into a bit of a fanboy over Roosevelt ... and even gets to meet him when they suspect the Chronicoms will take him out in the service entrance when he's returning to his wheelchair after his speech. But they're wrong, because Roosevelt leaves without a problem.

Back on the Zephyr, the Chronicom reveals, "We know the exact thread to pull at the exact moment to unravel S.H.I.E.L.D. forever." But they're wrong about that thread...

Instead, one of Koenig's employees, Freddie, is approached by his "contact" after the others chase after Roosevelt ... and the Chronicom prisoner repeats "Freddie" over and over.

Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Premiere Darren Barnet

(ABC)

Freddie's contact leads him to the back — "Wait for the handoff, then pull the thread," a Chronicom in wait says — and reveals she worked with his father, who was very powerful until he took the coward's way out. She has a job for him: deliver vials to the docks and her employer will reward him and his family's glory will be restored. After she gives him the vial, the Chronicoms attack, shooting her. "You are the thread," one tells Freddie, but Daisy shows up in time to rescue him.

While she and Coulson fight the Chronicoms, Mack and Deke get Freddie out of there.

But it's back at Koenig's speakeasy that Coulson and Daisy find out who Freddie is and why he was the "thread": Wilfred Malick, father of Gideon Malick, the future head of Hydra. If Freddie is killed, Hydra won't exist ... and neither will S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Finally, Enoch finds the pod May was in empty. "You had one job," he scolds himself as he looks around for her ... and she watches him from above.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC