In last week’s season five premiere, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD introduced the concept of time travel to the series. Fans of Marvel Comics will likely know that time travel is usually accompanied by another concept from quantum physics, the multiverse, and tonight’s Agents of SHIELD episode didn’t disappoint in that regard.
SPOILERS for Agents of SHIELD season five, episode three, “A Life Spent” follow.
The Agents of SHIELD Season Five premiere revealed that Coulson and his team hadn’t simply been sent to outer space, as the Agents of SHIELD Season Four finale hinted. The Kree monolith that the SHIELD team was forced to go through actually sent them forward at least 90 years into the future. A second twist at the end of the two-hour premiere revealed that Daisy “Quake” Johnson was also responsible for destroying planet Earth nearly a century ago.
There’s a logical problem with that situation since Daisy Johnson was one of the SHIELD agents sent into the future by the monolith. If she was sent into the future, and the Earth was still intact when she left, then how is it possible that she still destroyed it all those years ago? Even if she’s sent back to her own time, knowledge of the future seems like it would stop her from making that same mistake.
Daisy argued this point with her new “friend,” Deke, the scoundrel who found Coulson’s team when they first arrived. It was Deke who rebuilt a version of the Framework and pieced together enough of Earth’s history to discover Quake was responsible for destroying the Earth.
Daisy tells Deke that she didn’t destroy the Earth, and she never would. Deke insists that the history says she did. How do you reconcile these differences? The multiverse, Deke explains.
According to the multiverse theory in quantum physics, there are infinite timelines, one different for every possible variation on events. So, in this case, Quake did destroy the Earth in Deke’s timeline, but maybe she did or maybe she didn’t in Daisy’s own timeline.
This concept is key to how the Marvel Comics multiverse works. When Kitty Pryde travels back in time to prevent the assassination of a senator from leading to the “Days of Future Past” dystopia, it prevents that timeline from following in the same way but doesn’t change the fact that Kelly was assassinated and the Sentinels did take over in her own timeline.
Another aspect of the multiverse has already been introduced through the Marvel Studios movies. Those were in reference to pocket universes, like the Microverse referenced in Ant-Man, and alternate dimensions, like the Dark Dimension seen in Doctor Strange.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.