Spoiler warning for Agents Of SHIELD end of Season 5.
One of the key narratives in AoS season 5’s second pod was the conflict between what Fitz and Simmons had both believed about spacetime back in season three (time is fixed and can’t be changed) and the idea that maybe it wasn’t fixed – which they had to rationalize to try to change the events in which the earth was cracked by “the Destroyer of Worlds” (believed to be Daisy) as told to them when they traveled to the future in season 5’s first pod.
The conclusion of season five seemed to support the idea that the fixed spacetime theory was proven wrong – the earth didn’t crack, Polly Hinton was still alive, Fitz died so therefore Deke couldn’t have been born, etc. So no future lighthouse, no Kasius or Sinara, and etc. etc.
Earlier this week it occurred to me that that conclusion could have been a very big red herring. I did some initial rewatching and poking around and now have a theory that the concept of a single fixed spacetime is still intact because there’s no actual definitive date/time that they established that the world cracked before the year 2022, so the events that lead to the future lighthouse could still happen.
Here’s my thoughts:
1. The footage of Daisy leaving the Zephyr.
In episode 502 Orientation Part 2, footage is shown of Daisy leaving the Zephyr, and Deke says that this is the last time that Quake was seen before the earth cracked. There’s strong implication made that when Daisy leaves the Zephyr to fight Graivton in episode 522 The End that that coincides with the footage from episode 502, but it might not. The footage has no date on it, and it’s possible that at some point in nearer future, Daisy also leaves the Zephyr by herself again to deal with a different earth-cracking threat.
2. Robin’s 2018 Gravity Storm flashback.
In Episode 508 The Last Day, Robin has a flashback scene of Zephyr One in the year 2018 caught in a gravity storm. This is also supposedly because the earth cracked, but there are a few other possibilities – new gravitonium found, or maybe now that Daisy is all jacked up on Cenipede serum, she accidentally did something that caused a gravity storm that she’s working to control. This also could explain why Polly Hinton was still alive by the end of season five but “didn’t make it this far” in the flashback.
3. Robin’s 2022 Lighthouse flashback.
In that same episode, there’s another Robin flashback that definitively states that the earth was cracked by 2022 – Fitz goes on a frustrated rant about how time is fixed and nothing changed, they did so many things to try to change it, but Daisy still cracked the world. Similar to the misdirect of Daisy being the Destroyer of Worlds in the first place, it’s possible that Daisy was not the one that actually destroyed the world – rather Fitz just thinks that she did.
Granted, it’s highly unlikely that Fitz would have been mistaken about the world actually cracking apart, but this could have happened after the end of season five (and really any time between the end of season five and that scene, so a three-year time period). Also, because of how heated Fitz was about it, maybe it happened closer to 2022 than 2018.
4. Fitz’s 2018 death could still be a part of a single spacetime.
Having Fitz die in the season five finale seems to heavily imply that the aforementioned Fitz rant in 2022 is going to be replaced by the new timeline going forward, but it’s highly possible that the current timeline is still intact:
- Current SHIELD team finds frozen Fitz with Enoch. Happy reunions and all. Jemma gets pregnant.
- The earth cracks apart. Fitz rant scene happens in 2022.
- The team discovers something that requires that Fitz needs to be refrozen and that memory of his unfrozen time needs to be wiped out.
- The rest of the SHIELD team continues their lives in post-earth crack. Fitz gets awoken by Enoch and thinks he was asleep the whole time.
This tragically means that the relationship between Fitz and Simmons really only lasts within the time of him being unfrozen and being frozen again, especially tragic because Jemma likely will keep Fitz in the dark about his 2018 death. This also ties up the ambiguous open thread of what happened to Deke – he doesn’t blink out of existence because the spacetime is still intact.
The one piece that points to the possibility that the timeline is actually changed comes from Robin who, at the point just before Daisy finds the centipede serum, says “something’s different”, but that line is open-ended and vague. I’m sure that the “Season 5 is the last season of SHIELD” story would be that the timeline is changed, and yay happily ever after, but now that there’s a season six, the line can be reinterpreted into something that can still fit a single spacetime theory.
What does this mean for the future of earth?
Doctor Who was able to find a pretty brilliant way to retcon the Time War as “oh yeah, Gallifrey wasn’t destroyed after all”, so I’m sure there could be a way to address the future lighthouse and the earth cracking without actually destroying the earth and humanity or resorting to Minkowski multiverse things. Hopefully SHIELD will be around long enough to actually tell that story.