Agents of SHIELD Clip Makes Mysterious Reference to Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Agents of SHIELD returns tonight with the final season's fifth episode, and we've already got an [...]

Agents of SHIELD returns tonight with the final season's fifth episode, and we've already got an exclusive look at the episode's opening credits. We learned last week that tonight's episode, "A Trout in the Milk," would see the return of Patrick Warburton as Rick Stoner, who was last seen as a holographic projection at The Lighthouse back in the show's fifth season. In a new clip shared by Den of Geek, Ming-Na Wen's Agent May is seen flirting with Stoner, presumably to get information out of him. During the conversation, "Insight" is mentioned, which must be a direct reference to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and could mean big changes for the timeline. You can watch the clip in the video above.

In the clip, May asks Stoner when the project will be complete, and he says 1976, which means the Chronicoms must have somehow set the project in motion nearly 40 years early. You may recall "Project Insight" as the secret SHIELD operation that began after the Battle of New York. The project was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and centered on three Helicarriers, which were intended to be used against large threats like the ones seen in The Avengers. However, the project was co-opted by HYDRA and used against SHIELD during the events of The Winter Soldier. Alexander Pierce had intended to use the Helicarriers to kill about 20 million people, but the plan was thwarted by Cap and Co when the Helicarriers' targeting systems were turned on each other.

We're especially curious about this mysterious reference considering a previous teaser for this season showed the Triskelion blowing up. The brunt of the building's damage in The Winter Soldier was caused by a Helicarrier, but the clip shows it being taken out by what looks like a blast from a Chronicom ship. It appears "A Trout in the Milk" might be the first step in some major changes to the timeline.

After last week's episode, many fans have begun to speculate if the team will eventually time travel to the events of 2012's The Avengers, especially now that Sousa is making the journey with them. In addition to playing Sousa, Enver Gjokaj also portrayed a cop during the Battle of New York, which has led to speculation that the show will retcon the moment and make the officer a time-traveling Sousa. Recently, Gjokaj revealed that there had been previous talks about bringing his cop back for Agents of SHIELD, which has only fueled the theories.

What do you think is going on with "Project Insight?" Tell us in the comments!

Agents of SHIELD airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 10 PM EST.