You know what’s been on for a really long time and is about to finish? Agents of SHIELD. You know what we haven’t done in a really long time? Rampant Narrative Speculation! Spoilers ahoy!
So, having perfect his Mark Ruffalo impersonation on the much-missed Emergence, worstWhedon survivor Enver Gjokaj has been quietly doing ridiculously work reprising his role as Special Agent Daniel Sousa. Originally part of the Agent Carter cast, Sousa was a WW2 veteran with a permanent limp, a pitbullish determination and a profound sense of right and wrong. In a different universe, Daniel Sousa was Captain America. In the MCU, Sousa became something of an afterthought.
For two seasons, Sousa was Peggy’s foil, always a second behind her when she went off the books, always eager to help once it became apparent she knew what she was doing. As season 2, and the show, finished, he became more than that and the pair ended up together. There was rampant speculation Sousa was the husband Peggy refers to later on and during the interview with her we see in The Winter Soldier, she refers to how Steve Rogers saved the man who she’d end up marrying during the war. Later, in Agent Carter, Sousa mentions that Captain America was present at the battle where he was injured. Which all lines up nicely but for the fact that Steve returns to the past in 1955, two years after the end of Agent Carter and Sousa is nowhere in sight. We now know this is because no one, not even fictional characters, deserve Phil Coulson and he and SHIELD rescue Sousa from certain death and take him back with them to the future. But where in the future? Maybe…2012?
Enver Gjokaj everybody, playing an NYPD street cop during the Battle of New York. One who, in the surprisingly grim original cut of Avengers, does not make it out of that day alive. This sort of double casting is pretty common. Colin Baker and Peter Capaldi both appeared in Doctor Who before playing the Doctor themself for example. It doesn’t always work; witness Alfre Woodard’s Civil War/Luke Cage appearances and how their simultaneous existence not only damaged them but made it look like Marvel figured one stern black matriarch was all they needed. But this one sticks in my mind, more and more as the final season of Agents of SHIELD has headed up the timestream.
There is an idea, here. An opportunity to not only plug two temporal holes at the same time but to create a moment of supreme emotinal resonance that will tie off the remainder of the MCU to date. Here’s how it goes:
Circumstances lead to Sousa landing in 2012 whether through design or consequences of the finale. Either way, he’s a SHIELD agent and a vet, the man knows how to survive in New York. He gets a job as a beat cop, knowing full well what’s coming thanks to the team and so, on the day, he’s in the right place at the right time. Not to lead, but to reinforce Captain America at a vital moment. To get others to listen to him and in doing so, save lives. Not to mention coming face to face with the man who saved his life, and who Peggy Carter truly loves and to finally make his peace with that fact.
This sort of quiet, determined altruism is Sousa through and through and the emotional resonance of reframing that scene HAS to be something the writer’s room looked at. It’s a gift, tied with a bow and sitting there, waiting for them to tie it with another bow and present it to us. Phases 1 to 3, Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD. Turns out? It really was all connected. Now, it’s time for something new.
I have no idea if any of this will pan out. A lot of people think it won’t. But wouldn’t it be COOL if it did?
We find out on Wednesday in the US and when anyone can be bothered to show it elsewhere. Good luck, everyone.