“Who thought that was a good idea? Even the Kree let us make our own boot juice.”

Well, this episode is more like it, eh? The pilot and the Deathlok and the Winter Soldier tie-in, and the entire fourth season and going to space and now time travel? I know I’ve had a rocky relationship with this show, but when you look back on it like that, they were doing a show for me all along, weren’t they?

I love that they just started the episode instead of that seemingly interminable “Previously on Hill Street Blues” cartoonish intro networks somehow still do even though they have a captive audience. If you’re tuning in to the first episode of the seventh season of any television show in the history of…. well, television, you know what you’re signing up for and you know what is happening. You don’t need to get caught up, because you have spent the last month watching all of season six because there is a global pandemic and no one ever has waited seven years to sample a TV show, so catching up anybody “new” in the audience isn’t necessary.

Maybe it’s the pot of coffee I drank talking, but this ep is so chock-full of awesome, it’s hard to know where to start. Face-ripping robots? Fitz and Simmons destined to be forever apart again? Coulson reverting to his wisecracking season four self? Laying out the time travel rules as expository dialogue in the middle of finding out about Prohibition? Patton Oswalt showing up again as his own great-grandfather? The Zephyr is basically the TARDIS now? How? Don’t worry about it. We get to see SHIELD cascading in the timestream, having to save Hydra to save themselves. What’s not to love?

I personally love it since it looks like they’re going to delve into the history of SHIELD, its formation, and its history (that shot of the destruction of the Triskelion in the “coming this season” previews!), we get a return of what I personally love about SHIELD: the morally questionable side of the spycraft; that sometimes you have to do something for the greater good, no matter the cost.

Have I mentioned I’m putting a book together, a collection of these columns? I was going to do it in two volumes, but thanks to Disney canceling the San Diego Comic-Con this year for some reason, I have more time to do the page layout, and, with the timing of the show, I can finish the last season and collect ’em all into one giant omnibus. As I re-read all these for toys and syntax and whatnot, it’s amazing how much I didn’t notice at the time how the show always seems to address the nature of identity. What makes a man, and all that. The best and worst of humanity, and how humanity can be represented by demons and robots and aliens and all.

Thematically, that’s pretty cool, and I don’t think they get enough credit for that. Hopefully, the critical lens will be shining on this show because it’s going to be the newest Marvel Universe stuff we get for a long time.

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