Time Travel seemed to be a risky business earlier, but now almost every sci-fi movie or show is taking their jab at the concept. And apparently, this concept seems to be evolving every time it is used in a different movie or series. The Netflix original German series, Dark for example uses the most basic fundamentals of time travel, but the way it formulated a story with those time travel rules was just tremendous. Then, Avengers: Endgame totally changed the ball game bringing the time travel concept in the MCU. And now, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking its second go at time travel, and it is elaborating the concept even further. But, their usage of time travel doesn’t really synchronize with that of Avengers: Endgame.
Till we saw the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, it all seemed to be in line with Avengers: Endgame’s time travel rules, which are – “If one makes changes in the past, those changes will not cause any changes in the current timeline, but it rather creates a new timeline from that point onwards.” Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. elaborated upon this by stating time to be like a stream of water. If a bunch of sticks will be thrown into the stream of water, then the water moves those sticks, it moves around those sticks, but it ends up in the same place. So, as long as no significant changes are made to the past events of a timeline, the butterfly effect won’t really create a new timeline. To this point, the time travel in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. & in Avengers: Endgame seems similar.
But we would like to argue with the reason of time travel in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Apparently, the Agents are following the Chronicoms back in time. The Chronicoms wish to wipe S.H.I.E.L.D. out of existence, and for that they were even willing to stop Hydra from being formed in the first place. If the show is following the same time travel rules of Avengers: Endgame, then why does S.H.I.E.L.D. care to follow Chronicoms in the past? If the Chronicoms will change the past, then they will only wipe of S.H.I.E.L.D. from its existence in a totally new timeline. So technically, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents should just let them do what they want as the actions of Chrinoicoms won’t really affect them.
Now one could argue that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents could be following the Chronicoms to prevent the ramifications of creating a new timeline. But, we have evidence that creating just one alternate timeline doesn’t really have grave consequences. In Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers ended up creating at least 2 new timelines, if not more. One of those timeline changes happened when Loki escaped with the Tesseract. The other one happened when Thanos & Gamora came to 2023. So, from 2014 onwards a new Thanos less timeline was also created. And so far, there haven’t been any grave multiverse consequences of it.
There is a similar example even in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Back in Season 5, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents managed to change their destructive future where Quake destroyed Earth. And as a result of their actions, a new timeline was formed, and Agent Deke Shaw turned out to be a remnant of the old timeline. Now as we’ve seen, an entire season happened after Season 5. And there were no real consequences of changing the timeline. So, we’d again like to argue that if the rules of time travel are supposed to be similar Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avengers: Endgame, then the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents shouldn’t stop the Chronicoms from doing what they want to.
But since a whole Season has to be made, we reckon that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents will keep following the Chronicoms. Hence, it’d be fair to say that the rules of time travel aren’t similar between the show and Marvel’s biggest film. And this was also intended in the second episode – “Know your onions” when agent Daisy Johnson suggested to make a change in the past events by killing Wilfred Malick. To this, Gemma replied that if Wilfred were to die, then the Agents would return to a future they wouldn’t recognize. This hint at the fact that time travel rules on the show are different to Endgame, and making changes in the past would indeed lead to changes within the same timeline. Or else, the concept of time travel is a big plot hole on the show.
Comicbook.com mentions the fact that in the film the Avengers used the Quantum Realm whereas the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are using a modified Zephyr (their plane). So, the medium of traveling through time is different. Hence, Gemma’s comments of returning to a different future could have something to do with the limitations of the Zephyr. Let’s consider that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is following the time travel rules of Avengers: Endgame, and it may be possible that the Zephyr might not be able to take the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents back to their original timeline, but rather to only the new future that has been created. And that’s why Gemma said what she said.
This limitation might prove that the show is still in line with the time travel rules of Avengers: Endgame. But we still don’t have an answer to our main question of why the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are following the Chronicoms in the past if all that they’re doing is only creating a new timeline. You guys should feel free to write an answer to this conundrum.