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This show kicks off in the aftermath of the Avengers Assemble movie. With scavengers looting debris from the battle over NYC, all that alien tech is for sale on the black market - creating a new arms race. Maria Hill ( Cobie Smulders ) and Agent Colson select a new unit operating out of a military-grade super-jet.
The first recruit for this unit is a Field Agent named Grant Ward, who acquits himself well in an Alias style burglary of an Arms dealer's office. Unfortunately the Agent's action skills are countered by his apparent lack of social skills, which will no doubt make for a lack of sparkling dialogue in future episodes. Luckily, they also recruit Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) - an unbelievably beautiful female computer hacker.
Mike Peterson (J August Richards, a Joss Whedon employee from Angel ) gets superpowers. However, power corrupts - and with great power comes great responsibility.
The team investigate a mysterious WMD discovered in an ancient temple in Peru. It seems to be a Hydra design, so SHIELD make recovering it a priority.
The local rebels interfere, but the Policia are on hand to help. Coulson has history with the Latina babe who commands the Peruvian military cops.
The SHIELD team have trouble working as a ... team. Will they pull together when the going gets tough?
The suspect is Ian Quinn (David Conrad, AKA the hubby from Ghost Whisperer ), a Billionaire with a mansion in a non-extradition country. Yes, he bought Malta and made it an independent Republic! Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) the pretty girl (hey, they are ALL too pretty to be believable) is sent undercover - like in Alias . The billionaire believes in freedom of information - will Skye defect to him, or will she continue to sell out and work for the MIBs?
An African-American woman in Sweden commits a massacre (and diamond heist) in the dark. Coulson has the team specially assigned, presumably because he recognises the description. However, nobody understands the killer's MO (she keeps her eyes shut, but can see through walls) or even has a good photo of her ...
Hacker girl Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) reminds Coulson that Little Brother (personal photo and vid albums on the Internet) contain vast amounts of data that Big Brother (the MIBs of SHIELD) can crunch. Thus, she continues to be a sell-out.
The SHIELD team intend to put her on trial. How this can be accomplished is never explained. SHIELD is not UN sanctioned, and she cannot be sent to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Also, any trial would have to be top-secret so the Agency that controlled her would not be able to kill her and tie up loose ends.
A low-grade pyro-kinetic is abducted, and the SHIELD team must locate him. The scientists from the pilot episode, Raina ( Ruth Negga ) and Doctor Shannon Lucio need him for their Super-Soldier program. And this involves corrupting him into becoming a supervillain.
The info was hacked by Red Sky, the hacker collective. This brings Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) the hacker-babe's loyalties into doubt. If SHIELD actually trusted the hacker-babe, she could have gotten the info quickly and quietly. After all, they trusted her enough to send her into a billionaire villain's lair only an episode previously!
Are SHIELD a gang of fascists? They confiscate everyone's money and throw them in prison without a trial. Well, the Agent who got the kill-chip in her head got a trial, but she was operating under duress so she was clearly a victim.
The Agents investigate a series of mysterious deaths linked to an electro-magnetic phenomenon. The combat-orientated characters are not much use without a villain for them to fight. Instead, Fitz-Simmons the scientists actually get to do something. The girl scientist in particular gets put in harm's way.
Rent-a-villain Titus Welliver ( Lost ) pops up as a SHIELD Agent.
Last week Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) the girl scientist was in harm's way. This time it is Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) the male scientist's opportunity to show his stuff. He gets sent in with the secret agent, so they can prevent South Ossetian seperatists from deploying a superweapon.
Meanwhile, Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) the hacker babe tries to get around security at SHIELD HQ. The girl scientist lends a hand.
Coulson's boss, Agent Hand ( Saffron Burrows ) is in charge of things. She takes a much stricter approach than he does.
The team are on clean-up detail after the events of Thor 2 . By strange coincidence, some villainous types discover an entirely unrelated Asgardian artefact in Norway. The artefact is a berserker's staff - or part of it, anyway. The team must locate the other two parts before the villains do.
Typically of this show, the villains are grassroots activists who operate outside of mainstream politics. This time they are Norse Paganists, which implies they are some kind of racialist group, but it is never strictly defined. If the blonde girl looks familiar, she was in Alphas S2 .
Coulson gets help from Professor Peter McNichol ( Dragonslayer ), who finally gets a role that is not entirely comedic.
The cavalry ( Ming-Na Wen ) gets some more character development. And Mister No-Social-Skills gets some as well, which renders Maria Hill's assessment of him in the pilot episode completely inaccurate.
A young woman in Utah appears to be a telekinetic. Every time someone acts threateningly towards her, things go all Carrie . The team take her aboard the plane, where she reveals her own theory - she is being plagued by demons!
Meanwhile, the squints in the lab decide to start playing practical jokes.
The super-soldiers are back. They break a convict out of a High Security prison in the USA.
Coulson recruits a super-soldier of his own. Mike Peterson (J August Richards - Angel ) is back, eager to prove himself to SHIELD. But despite having strengths, he also has vulnerabilities.
The team have to clear up the mess from the end of last episode. Coulson is in the hands of Centipede, and Mike Peterson (J August Richards - Angel ) is MIA - believed disentigrated by the carbombs.
Coulson's boss, Agent Hand ( Saffron Burrows ) is now on charge of the investigation. She decides that Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) the hacker is no use on the plane, and Agent May ( Ming-Na Wen ) agrees. They send her off ... and she begins her own rogue search for Coulson.
The girl in the flower dress, Raina ( Ruth Negga ), helps interrogate Coulson. Centipede wants to help him remember what happened to him when he thought he was in Tahiti. She points out that his own people are every bit as ruthless as her employers. After all, the thug coerces a confession out of an arms dealer who will then end up indefinitely imprisoned without trial in The Fridge. Coulson himself personally enslaved Skye the hacker-babe with a high-tech bracelet.
Someone uses a gadget to attack students at the SHIELD tech academy. Naturally, SHIELD sends in our heroes to investigate. This is a bit like NCIS - there must be a lot of goons in the organisation, but our heroes are the ones who get sent all the main cases.
This ep reveals that unlike other organisations, SHIELD do not recruit from Universities, they have their OWN Uni! They are a lot like Starfleet - a bunch of self-entitled do-gooders that apparently has no oversight by any elected political body.
It turns out that the villains are merely gifted technicians who are more motivated by money than by SHIELD's lofty ideals. Maybe if SHIELD rewarded genius as well as the other side do, and just paid its techs better, these problems would not arise.
After the previous ep, Coulson is now personally targetting Ian Quinn (David Conrad - Ghost Whisperer ). He is sending a new technology shipment by train across Italy. Coulson contacts an Italian cop (Mick from La Femme Nikita), and gets his whole team aboard the train. That is when things start to go wrong.
The ep is told in sections, each from a different team-member's perspective. Agent May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is the best-organised of the bunch.
After the previous ep, Coulson is now personally blaming Ian Quinn (David Conrad - Ghost Whisperer ). When his superior officer (Bill Paxton - Aliens ) comes aboard to take custody of Quinn, Coulson refuses. If an injured team-member dies, Coulson may take personal revenge.
The so-called heroes of SHIELD inflict unprovoked physical violence on a defenceless prisoner, and deny him medical aid. If they were smart they would take the opportunity to scan his brain and see if Centipede has altered him the way it altered its other pawns. Worse, they remind their victim that he has no rights (after all, they never Mirandise anyone). SHIELD operates secret prisons that make Camp X-Ray look like a holiday camp, and the organisation is completely unaccountable to anyone. Please ignore any previous comparison to Starfleet. This lot are not the Feds, they are more like Cardassians!
The only way to save their friend is for the SHIELD goons to locate the facility that brought Coulson back from the dead. But there is also the danger that Coulson could discover some painful truths about his own past.
Agent Coulson and his team team up with an Asgardian, Lady Sif ( Jaime Alexander ). She is tasked with Lorelei's recapture, because women are invulnerable to the brainwashing. Her exposition includes the fact that Lorelei escaped during the events of Thor 2 , and that Odin insisted that Lorelei be returned alive ...
As always in this kind of thing, one of the good guys falls victim to the brainwashing. Strangely, it is Ward - despite being a professional killer he fails to take an easy shot, despite having a less-lethal weapon and knowing how dangerous his enemy is. The result is that he must face off against Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ), who promised him she had no feelings for him (and yet is certain to have her feelings hurt).
Coulson has refused to pass any info about last episode's events to SHIELD HQ. He reasons that the only person who knew about the Guest House bunker was Nick Fury himself, so nobody else in SHIELD should be trusted with the info. Even Coulson's bald-headed friend is left out of the loop. This might be just as well, given the man's actions in Captain America 2 . However, Coulson is a fool if he imagines there are no internal surveillance devices inside his hi-tech SHIELD plane.
The team target the Clairvoyant. They track down Deathlok (J August Richards - Angel ) in the hope of following him to his boss. One of the suspects is a paraplegic (Brad Douriff - Alien: Resurrection ).
This occurs in the same time-frame as Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier . To be continued ...
A cynical person might state that this ep is when the show starts getting good. Up until this point, it has been treading water until the big movie is released so as to avoid giving away any spoilers.
Coulson's boss, Agent Hand ( Saffron Burrows ) has hijacked the plane by remote control. She also sends drones to shoot down another senior officer (Bill Paxton - Aliens ). Is this assassination-on-suspicion campaign the action of a loyal SHIELD operative?
Paxton teams up with Coulson's team. Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is in custody - she claims to have been working for Director Fury. Was she an Internal Affairs operator, or is she a plant for Hydra?
Yes, this is the SHIELD civil war.
With SHIELD on the defensive, the US military decides to take over. Coulson takes his plane before they can confiscate it. He and his followers head off to investigate a strange radio signal. Is it coming from Director Fury's people, or is it a Hydra trap?
The Hydra team carry out their own plan. They liberate some of their unwitting minions, who were held without trial. Also, Director Fury was stockpiling alien tech ... all of which is now in Hydra's hands. On every level, Hydra actually appear to be the good guys.
The Agents all have to undergo a lie detector test designed by Director Fury himself. Can the infiltrator beat the box?
Coulson decides to chase down one of the escapees from the Fridge. The guy in question has the superpower of absorbing energy, including the kinetic energy of bullets fired at him. However, he does have a predictable weakness - a Cellist (Whedon collaborator Amy Acker ), who he stalked in hope she would help him control his curse. Coulson was the one who saved the damsel in distress - he regards her as his personal property, and rather than helping the cursed man he would rather see him dead. After all, SHIELD never cared about rehabilitation - it was only interested in weaponising everything and everyone it got its hands on.
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) decides to quit. She plans to walk home - or just to the nearest road, where she can hitch-hike. Luckily, she is still young enough that she can phone her mother to come and pick her up.
Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) is left alone with Agent Ward and the local clerk, Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt - Odd Thomas ). They plan to hack an NSA spy-satellite and access the visual feed from the raid on the Fridge.
With May on walkabout and Ward on the invalid list, Coulson takes Trip the token black guy as the new field agent. Yes, it looks like nobody is irreplaceable.
Coulson and his remaining team members have to piece together what happened. Can Fitz-Simmons deduce the truth before US Special Forces General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ) and his team turn up to seize the facility?
Maria Hill ( Cobie Smulders ) is under US Congressional interviews after the events of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier ). However, as she has now gotten hired by Stark Industries she is pretty much above the law. And as she states outright, Planetary Security has been privatised. If anything, this is an extension of Stark's political stance in Iron Man 2 .
Can Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) the hacker-babe outsmart the expert field agent? She has a few tricks up her sleeve, but she is totally judgemental and hypocritical. Does it really matter whether a person is a Democrat or a Republican - I mean, SHIELD or HYDRA? After all, SHIELD uses HYDRA tactics like torturing and killing suspects. There is no real difference between them, when it comes down to it.
We get a series of flashbacks to provide the Muscle's background. The Clairvoyant won his sidekick's loyalty by abandoning him in the woods for the better part of the decade with nothing but a pet dog. But what will happen to the dog when the villains have to go to work? Should he leave it to fend for itself in the wilderness? By that stage it would be at least ten years old - which makes it seventy in dog years. Without a master to feed it and take it to the vet, the poor thing would have died a slow, painful and lonely death.
Coulson's team investigate the history of Project Deathlok, and discover a few things about the opposition's motivation. The Muscle follows the Clairvoyant out of loyalty. The Clairvoyant teamed up with HYDRA because, well, he was afraid of dying. And despite knowing these things, Coulson’s team demonise and dehumanise the other team. In all fairness, his motivation is far purer and more human than their own.
The Clairvoyant has the super-soldier serum, so he does not need Raina ( Ruth Negga ) or Ian Quinn (David Conrad - Ghost Whisperer ) any more. He dispenses with their services, setting up the plotline for the next Season. His main interest is in a vision he had while dying.
Coulson’s team have a plan of attack. The Agents formerly known as SHIELD use A-Team violence to take on HYDRA. They may be up against super-soldiers, but SHIELD had weapons designed to take on superhuman targets. Coulson gets a hold of the gun he shot Loki with.
The climax is a tag-team match with four dead guys.
Our team are on the run, but still want to help people – like The A-Team. They team up with some freelancers, including Lucy Lawless . However, they are up against a super-powered Hydra assassin. Coulson realises he will have to involve Colonel Decker – err, General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ). However, the General has SHIELD as a higher priority than HYDRA!
Despite having no legal authority, Coulson has last Season’s turncoat in his own private little Camp X-Ray in the basement. When Hannibal the Cannibal did that kind of thing, it was deemed eeevil.
Fitz-Simmons are still there ... well, not all there, but partly so. Oxygen deprivation seems to have done permanent damage.
The ex-SAS Merc gets caught by General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ). Instead of just throwing him in Camp X-Ray (which is what Coulson does to people he does not agree with), Talbot plays the long game with him. He offers the Merc a decent fee to catch Coulson for him. Will the Merc betray Coulson? And is Coulson trusting enough to not see it coming?
SHIELD is still after the meta-human from the previous episode. He is afraid of Hydra, and reluctant to serve them. However, the SHIELD goons do not care about his desperate situation, they just want to get even.
Raina ( Ruth Negga ), the bitch in the flowery dress, is back.
Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) is fitting in well on her new job. She is a junior research at a hi-tech biology lab. Everything is the same as her time at SHIELD HQ, except there is a different logo on the wall. She reports back to Coulson, who cooks her dinner – is this like a dating thing?
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) discovers who Coulson’s source in the basement is. This leads to a tense situation.
The team want to catch the Iceman, who developed his superpower in Season One. He does not want to work for Hydra, and spends his spare time hunting down and killing any Hydra operatives who try to offer him paid employment ... along with anyone he thinks is helping them. Yes, he has no problem with creating collateral damage.
Hydra leader Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond - Dollhouse ) sends a team of his own, including certain a young lady scientist. Will they bring things to a peaceful conclusion before Coulson’s murder-squad kills everyone that gets in their way?
Coulson decides to do some field missions, despite being the Director (and thus too valuable to waste on grunt work). He and Agent May ( Ming-Na Wen ) go undercover at a high-class wine and cheese party in order to snatch a painting. Tuxedos and Tango-dancing all the way!
The US Government want the painting too – General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ) pops up. Coulson is so rattled he does not seem to notice that the General is strangely placid.
Hydra have an operation in play. Their new female agent (Agent 33) is sent in undercover, and we get a girl-fight between two Agent Mays. Since they are both trained by SHIELD, they should have equal skill. May is more experienced, but her rival is younger. Will May go easy on the former SHIELD agent? After all, it is not her fault she was brainwashed into serving HYDRA.
HYDRA order Raina ( Ruth Negga ) to get them the Obelisk back. Last episode they injected her with something, presumably a 48-hour failsafe device like in Escape from New York . However, this week they give her full access to their building and their email directory. All the easier for her to get some blackmail material on the undercover member of Coulson’s team.
Raina offers Coulson a deal. If he agrees, everyone gets what they want. Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) and her father get reunited, and Coulson gets a chance to chop off one of HYDRA’s heads when they stick it out to get the obelisk. If Coulson refuses the deal, Raina will rat out Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ). Presumably Raina will then either be imprisoned by SHIELD or murdered by HYDRA. So which choice does Coulson make?
Meanwhile, Simmons has already learned to lie about her loyalties and set up a patsy to take the fall when she blows her cover. However, the HYDRA team have a new Head of Security – Bobbi ( Adrianne Palicki ), a former SHIELD agent. Hopefully they are more certain of her loyalties than they are of Simmons’. After all, before she was in the Marvel Universe (except for GI Joe 2 , a SHIELD/HYDRA spin-off) she was the new version of DC’s Wonder Woman . Okay, she looks really good, but can she find the SHIELD mole more quickly than Raina?
General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ) is making a speech to a United Nations committee when a group of gunmen burst in. They are wearing SHIELD uniforms, and claim to be working on behalf of the organisation. Talbot is smart enough to realise it might be a false flag attack, but the politicians do not care.
The main anti-SHIELD Politician is the Senator who has been backing Talbot on his crusade against Coulson. Coulson negotiates with this unscrupulous and manipulative Senator - Ward's brother. But since Coulson is completely prejudiced against Ward, he disregards the reasonable advice that Ward gives him.
Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) interrogates Ward. He honestly divulges all info she requests, specifically about her dad Cal (Kyle Maclachan - Twin Peaks ). If this were the DC universe, one might imagine her father be Bruce Banner – a medical doctor who has anger issues, superhuman strength when enraged, and is on the run from the Government. Unfortunately, this is the Marvel universe where Mark Ruffalo is the current Hulk. And poor old Ward is just a pawn, to be sacrificed.
Ward is on the run. Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) has identified 11 stashes he has within 200 miles of his last known position. Perhaps he should have not registered them all with SHIELD central, but that is the least of his problems. Bobbi ( Adrianne Palicki ) and the other field agents try to keep him under surveillance. However, he is willing to use a suicide vest with a dead man’s switch to avoid recapture.
Coulson investigates a series of murders which involve the mysterious alien writing being carved into the victims’ bodies. It turns out that the victims were all SHIELD agents who went to TAHITI while Coulson ran the place. Joel Gretsch ( The 4400 ) was on the list of patients. Either he is the killer, or the next victim. But no matter which one, he can help Coulson find out what the alien symbols mean.
Coulson leads the away team to physically hack a ground station for a military surveillance satellite. Presumably google maps was not good enough to help them find the special city. The plan hinges on the idea that the US Military-Industrial Complex’s top-security satellite data-processing plant uses computers that are not EMP-hardened!
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is in charge of the secret base while Coulson is away. She has access to the SSR records from World War 2, when SHIELD’s predecessors originally captured the McGuffin from Hydra. Of course, it is convenient that nobody bothered to look up these records. But now they discover the true identity of Hydra leader Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond - Dollhouse ). We also get some flashbacks of him being interrogated by Agent Carter herself, in a series crossover featuring Hayley Atwell in 1945. Whitehall gets life-without-paroled Rudolf Hess style until 1989, and finally reduces Dichen Lachman ‘s cameo to a non-speaking part. She was immune to the McGuffin’s touch, and he got his eternal youth from her.
Bobbi ( Adrianne Palicki ) interrogates Mr Bakshi. Since she worked with him while she was undercover in Hydra, she should know him inside and out. But she seems to underestimate him quite severely. Also, instead of getting upset at this she gets back together with her ex-husband. A suspicious person might find this behaviour manipulative, especially when one considers the traitor’s strategy last Season.
Ward is still on the run. But while last week Agent May could predict which out of eleven stashes he would turn up at, this week NOBODY expects him to go after the ONLY person he has any real grudge against – his brother. Even after his last conversation with Skye ( Chloe Bennet ), when he pretty much power-pointed it to her.
Coulson leads the team to uncover the entrance to the alien city. It is under a modern city in Puerto Rico, where there is some actual location footage!
Back in Vancouver, Raina ( Ruth Negga ) has found herself a rich sugar-daddy. And no wonder, because she looks great when she is not wearing that flowery dress (or rather, wearing something OTHER THAN the flowery dress). But HYDRA have sent Fake Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) and a snatch team after her. Luckily, Coulson sent the twins to spy on and protect Raina. Yes, nobody did that for Ward’s doomed brother, but who cares? Agent May mentions that Senator Ward refused to allow SHIELD to protect him - but since when did Coulson and his goons care about anyone else’s consent?
Ward fulfils his promise and takes Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) to meet her daddy Cal (Kyle Maclachan - Twin Peaks ). Just what she always wanted. Will she embrace her father and accept Ward? Or will she continue to act as a whiny petulant child?
Coulson wants to blow up the alien city, using World War Two tech. Luckily SHIELD is relying on SSR hand-me-downs, so World War Two tech is the one thing they have in abundance.
Hydra leader Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond - Dollhouse ) takes personal charge of the mission. He is a scientist, not a field agent, so he should have stayed safe and sound in HQ. But not only is he vulnerable to the eventual counter-attack by SHIELD (clue - using pistols, they take on a building fortified by HYDRA and manned by an entire SWAT team), he also brings Skye’s murderous dad Cal (Kyle Maclachan - Twin Peaks ) along.
Coulson has a plan to take action against HYDRA. He wants to take out the five remaining heads. But the only piece he can play is Daniel Whitehead’s former sidekick, Mr Bakshi. But Bakshi is supposed to be a trained Intelligence operator. Will he escape, like the Mole did, or spot the blatantly obvious manipulations at work?
We are reminded that SHIELD is a terrorist organisation. They do not bother trying to arrest suspects, they just assassinate the victims on sight. So, is this the end for HYDRA? Will this mean that the next Captain America movie is cancelled, and Nick Fury can call off his vengeance quest?
Raina ( Ruth Negga ) has transformed, and is less than happy at the result. She has to take out a few SHIELD goons in order to escape from the tunnels, but this is no great loss to the world. However, Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) is unhappy about the dangerous effects of all the alien incursions. She shows some extreme prejudice, which is unnerving for Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) who is still in quarantine.
The English Merc wants to shack up with his ex, Bobbi ( Adrianne Palicki ). However, Mac knows it will end badly.
The Asgardian, Lady Sif ( Jaime Alexander ) is in town. She has amnesia from contact with a powerful alien warrior (Eddie McClintock - Warehouse 13 ). SHIELD must help her to track him. But his mission is vital.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) has protected Skye’s secret. The Asgardian and the Kree both want to prevent new supervillains from being created. Some exposition is provided about the aliens who built the city and created the super-power assembly line.
SHIELD has treated superpowered people quite badly in the past, and these villains want revenge. Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) herself, now she has been outed as a super-person, is to be stuck on the SHIELD register. This is the kind of thing that Charles Xavier wanted to avoid, because there is a very thin line between SHIELD and the Colonel from X-Men 2 . Perhaps it is for the best that, while both products of Marvel Comics Universe, the X-Men and Avengers are kept in separate movie universes.
The English mercenary discovers who the two-timers are really working for.
Ward and Agent 33 try to play happy families, but Ward is a murderous prick with an agenda. First he gets a techie to fix her chameleon face-mask. Then he tells her that the best way to get closure is to kidnap Mr Bakshi, her former boss, from the clutches of USAF General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ). But do they just want to torture and murder Bakshi, or do they have an even more sinister plan in mind?
The Merc discovers who the secret plotters work for. They are a gang of back-room boys who think they know better than front-line field agents. Like Hydra, it is a group with multiple heads - including Kirk Acevedo ( 12 Monkeys ) and Gonzales (Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica 2003 ). A racialist person might comment that these two light-skinned Latinos have only been cast because they can pass for WASPs, thus making Whedon’s supposedly racially integrated cast an example of whitewashing, but in this reviewer’s opinion that would be reading too much into it. More likely they were chosen on their merits in a colourblind, talents not tokenism casting strategy.
In the modern day, Coulson's security measures are put to the test.
Coulson and the English Merc are on the run. Of course, Coulson has a plan - and backup is on the way.
Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) is in the custody of the superpowered community. The residents call it Afterlife. Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) is assigned to help her adjust to her new situation. We discover what happened to Raina ( Ruth Negga ), Skye's father Cal (Kyle Maclachan - Twin Peaks ) ... and who the leader of the community is!
We get flashbacks to seven years ago, to the incident that earned Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) the nickname The Cavalry.
In the present day, the new SHIELD committee tell Melinda and her friends that Coulson lied to them and was running a secret project called Theta protocol. Nobody knows what it is - Coulson did not even tell Melinda, his second in command! The fear is that it is a new Avengers initiative, creating a huge army of people with superpowers.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) is out of SHIELD, but is being pursued by a surveillance team. Can he open Fury's toolbox and contact Coulson?
Coulson decides that he needs help to take down HYDRA. Agent Ward has Bakshi as a prisoner, the perfect stalking horse.
Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) comes face to face with Deathlok (J August Richards - Angel ). Will Linc's electro-power prove to be the super-cyborg's weakness? After all, Deathlok has incredible superpowers but he is basically a human with implants, so ANY human could be given such advantages.
HYDRA was virtually wiped out a few episodes ago. Now Coulson has teamed up with Ward, and sent Bakshi undercover. Can he convince the new SHIELD committee to send a joint commando mission to raid the nearest HYDRA base?
The episode feeds into a cliffhanger that is resolved in the film Avengers 2: Age of Ultron .
Raina ( Ruth Negga ) has a vision of the item hidden on the SHIELD warship. But when she takes Gordon the teleporter to find it, they draw the attention of SHIELD. Gonzales (Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica 2003 ) wants to attack Afterlife immediately, because they are a potential threat. After all, Ultron nearly destroyed the world because people trusted Tony Stark too much. Coulson talks the team into arranging a peaceful negotiation.
Raina claims that there will be a war between SHIELD and Afterlife. She offers to mediate between both sides. Naturally, Skye's father Cal (Kyle Maclachan - Twin Peaks ) tells everyone what an untrustworthy bitch Raina is. Who can be trusted?
The survivors of the failed peace negotiations get back to base. Coulson interrogates Cal (Kyle McLachlan – Twin Peaks ), who reveals his evil alter-ego. This monster is more like Mr Hyde from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen than Bob, and he gets loose in the SHIELD base.
The inhumans’ main objective is to recover the magic rock, and it is locked safe in the bowels of the aircraft carrier. Despite having tech that can track teleportation sites, the carrier is completely vulnerable to attack. Can a handful of mutants succeed where a HYDRA SWAT team failed?
Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) goes to Raina ( Ruth Negga ), accusing her of foreseeing everything. Raina admits this, and Skye refuses to believe her. She almost paraphrases Family Guy by saying Even true things, once spoken by Raina, become lies.
The English Merc and Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) lead a SWAT team to save Bobbi ( Adrianne Palicki ). Yes, instead of protecting HQ or the aircraft carrier they go to Spain! Bobbi can look after herself, as she can take on Ward and Agent 33 single-handed. Also, if the rescue team find her they will probably be walking into an ambush!
Skye’s dad Cal (Kyle Maclachan - Twin Peaks ) has hulked out. Coulson has the situation under control, but can he talk sense into Cal before he wipes out Shield HQ?
Skye’s mother ( Dichen Lachman ) has taken over the aircraft carrier, succeeding where HYDRA (with SWAT teams and years of preparation) failed. The chances are she will be even more merciless than HYDRA ever was. Can Mac and Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) save the day?
The irony is that this show portrays the Inhumans, even Skye’s mother, as being misguided and mistaken. Meanwhile, HYDRA are treated as being evil Nazis. If anything, it is the other way around. Skye’s mother believes she is leader of a master race, and intends to use genocide to conquer the world. In contrast, HYDRA was merely the flip side of SHIELD - as if they were the two wings of the American Republocrat party.
Meanwhile, Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) and the English mercenary go to rescue Bobbi ( Adrianne Palicki ). They take a team of SWAT troopers, even though Coulson needs every man he can get to defend SHIELD against the inhuman menace. After all, Bobbi’s rescue can surely wait until the world itself is saved! The SWAT team should make it easy, but their main tactic is to split up and let Agent Ward pick them off one at a time. How many SWAT men will die to save Bobbi? Luckily, Agent 33 only has one superpower – her ability to look like Agent May. Hence an obvious vulnerability to friendly fire!
Luckily the Quinn Jets must have FTL (Faster Than Light) engines, because Agent May can get back to HQ from Spain in the blink of an eye. Then the HQ team go to save the aircraft carrier ... after all, the redshirts have all been sacrificed needlessly saving the damsel in distress. Can Mac, Coulson and Fitz (armed with clubs) take on an unarmed Gordon?
The US President (William Sadler - Roswell ) has declared SHIELD outlaws, and established a new unit of MIBs to round up superhumans. Coulson sends Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) and Mac out to save the Inhumans first. While the US Military-Industrial complex wants to intern and weaponise the Inhumans, SHIELD just wants to ... well, to store them somewhere and recruit them to fight HYDRA. So, totally different. Let us bear in mind that last Season's SHIELD Civil War was a dispute over Coulson's lack of oversight. Now his former bosses are using the list of Inhumans that he spent his career compiling, while he himself is now leading a private army with no oversight or public agenda.
Bobbi ( Adrienne Palicki ) is walking wounded, with a leg-brace after the events of the previous Season. They let her walk around with a white coat and clipboard, so she can make herself feel useful. However, it is a waste to see a top-notch field agent in an ancilliary position.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) the lab-tech has swopped places with her, and is doing some field-work. He has heard there is a clue to what happened to Jemma Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ). To get it, he has to trade hi-tech weapons to dangerous people. Will there be a predictable and cliched double-cross?
Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) and her new partner, Mac, visit Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ). He is blending in nicely, as a human doctor working in a Cincinati hospital. Nobody would imagine that only a few months earlier he was a superhuman living in a remote Shangri-La village in Central Asia. Unfortunately, SHIELD are not the only ones looking for him. There is a massive inhuman on a murder-spree. He looks as if The Incredible Hulk cross-bred with a fireball-throwing porcupine. However, since the MCU also includes Rocket Racoon in Guardians of the Galaxy that is not such a ridiculous idea.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) discovers his next clue as to Simmons' fate. The magic Monolith left a residue of sand, and thanks to the magic of carbon-dating (which is only reliable within the last 50k years) he determines it is a thousand million times older than planet Earth. To help with this interplanetary transportation situation, Coulson calls in the Asgardian Professor (Peter McNichol - Dragonslayer ) from Season One.
Hunter the English Merc is sent off on a murder mission, to get revenge on a certain HYDRA operative who almost killed him last year. Ward is on a recruiting spree, and discovers who Von Strucker's heir was.
The shrink (Blair Underwood - The Event ) is still hanging around SHIELD HQ, where he points out the various reasons why everyone is unfit for duty. After all, they are rebels without a cause - but they do have PTSD, which is not an adequate substitute.
Meanwhile, Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is living with her father (James Hong - Big trouble in Little China ). She has had the sense to stay out of the SHIELD conspiracy so far. However, she is fully aware that Ward has her on his HYDRA hit-list.
Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) is on the run from the MIBs. Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) contacts him, but he refuses all help from her. Instead he relies on his old contacts, who do not know he has a superpower.
The English Merc and Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) go undercover in an English theme-pub in Boston, Massachussets. Luckily for the American audience, there are subtitles for the Englishmen (who speak a regional vernacular as opposed to Received Pronunciation).
The English Merc finally gets his face-to-face introduction to HYDRA. But the Director knows his face, so he may be heading into a trap. Can he shoot his way out single-handedly?
Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) and Mac discover who is behind the Porcu-hulk. The monster's name is Lash, and he has taken it upon himself to exterminate all Inhumans. He is smart enough to arrange e-mails to lure out his victims. Also, he can somehow pass unnoticed among normal humans.
Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) recounts the time she spent on the alien planet. It turns out that before it was in SHIELD's hands, it was experimented on by NASA. There is a computer that dates back to 2000AD (the year, not the comic). Somehow it is compatible with the souped-up battery on Simmons' smart-phone.
Von Strucker's cover is blown. SHIELD and HYDRA are both after him. He contacts his father's friend Malik (Powers Boothe - Sin City ). Unfortunately, Malik wants to arrange an alliance with Hydra's other head, Ward.
Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) and her team close in on Lash's secret identity. They suspect he is the MIB woman's sidekick. The English Merc tags along to help, since he is off the Grant Ward assassination team. Coulson is off with the MIB woman, who has offered him a tour of her prison. But who can butter the other one up the best?
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) takes Bobbi ( Adrienne Palicki ) out for her first field operation since her injury. Does she still have what it takes? After all, she does prefer to talk her way out of a situation rather than use violence on innocent civilians. Also, would it not be better to get a search warrant rather than use spy tricks from Alias ?
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) and Bobbi ( Adrienne Palicki ) get back to base. They do not bother bringing any prisoner home with them - presumably they did not bother taking anyone prisoner to begin with. Meanwhile, Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) contacts Mac with a clue to Lash's true identity. Yes, they are closing in on him. But will Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) agree to work with the MIB woman?
This episode is all about the heterosexual romantic relationships between characters. Melinda confronts her ex-husband the shrink (Blair Underwood - The Event ) about his extra-curricular activities. The English Merc and Bobbi have a tete-a-tete regarding their revenge schemes against Ward. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) fixes Simmons' camera-phone for her, and gets a glimpse of the alone-time she spent with a sexually-frustrated astronaut.
Coulson sends the shrink (Blair Underwood - The Event ) into the MIB HQ, so they can track where they take him. Bobbi ( Adrienne Palicki ) and the English Merc go undercover as a gun-toting lady FBI agent and an unconventional consultant - like in the list of cliched shows such as Limitless . Skye ( Chloe Bennet ) feeds the Englishman his lines, since she knows the technobabble and he does not. Meanwhile, Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) fly the getaway plane.
Naturally, all does not go easy. An action-packed show like this needs some fighting and running as a climactic scene in every episode. Luckily Mr. Giyera (Mark Dacascos - The Crow: Stairway to Heaven ) is in charge of security, and the MIB woman's sidekick survived his encounter with Lash last week.
Coulson tries to get the truth out of the MIB woman by pumping her for information. In the lab, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) and Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) search for clues on backers of the NASA mission. Elsewhere, Ward tries to get info out of Malik (Powers Boothe - Sin City ) and his men. Finally we get some exposition on the origins of HYDRA.
Phil Coulson gets to spend some more alone time with the MIB woman. This is a bit two-faced, since in the previous episode he was willing to lock her up and throw away the key. However, now he has a weakness it is easy for Ward to exploit it.
Coulson interrogates his old team, everyone who worked with Ward in Season One. Ward's one flaw is linked to his own Modus Operandi. As Anyanka's boss said in Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Go for the hurt, never the kill. This in itself could be a reference to Dread Pirate Roberts' To the pain in The Princess Bride . However, once Coulson discovers Ward's weakness he sets off with Bobbi and the English merc to use it and track Ward down.
Mac is left in charge of SHIELD. He trusts the MIB agency to take Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) and Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) to hunt down another lead. Unfortunately he ignores the fact that the MIBs have clearly been undermined by HYDRA.
Malik (Powers Boothe - Sin City ) sends Ward and his team of expendable redshirts through the wormhole. They have six hours to find the HYDRA Inhuman and return. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) is forced to act as their guide. Coulson sneaks along, to get revenge on Ward. The Stargate: Universe episode involving Begbie and T-Bag, as disappointing as it was, is still better than this.
Meanwhile, Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) and her team have tracked HYDRA to the castle in England. They have to infiltrate to rescue Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ). However, Mr. Giyera (Mark Dacascos - The Crow: Stairway to Heaven ) has been building an army of Inhumans.
The Castle is eight centuries old, and is bound to be registered as an ancient and historical monument. Does SHIELD inform the local police or military that there is a major International terrorist base there? Or do they just blow it all to hell, and ignore the consequences? And finally, who are the real bad guys? Because if this episode were taken as average, HYDRA actually look quite good compared to SHIELD.
President of the US (William Sadler - Roswell ) pays Coulson a house-call. SHIELD is back in his good books, and Coulson will now be the unofficial boss of the MIBs as well. Unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility. SHIELD will go back to trawling for inhumans, and put fighting HYDRA on the back-burner. Malik is politically untouchable, even to POTUS. Luckily, Von Strucker Junior is in a coma in SHIELD HQ.
Malik (Powers Boothe - Sin City ) and Mr. Giyera (Mark Dacascos - The Crow: Stairway to Heaven ) have the Hydra God in the basement of their office. Apparently it eats Inhumans, so they are eager to find a few snacks for it.
Coulson sends Mac and his team to investigate an Inhuman incident in Colombia. Someone has stolen a shipment of weapons intended for the local police. This becomes a gun-control episode, trying to keep the weapons out of the hands of villainous types. There are clear parallels with SHIELD attempting to control the Inhumans. After all, when a person gains superpowers they weaponise their own body, and SHIELD is the equivalent of a superpowers Gun-Control Agency. The morality of this has been touched on in previous Seasons, when the issue of indexing superhumans was questioned by Skye's mother.
Back in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. [Season 1, Episode 2] 0-8-4 we discovered that the Policia in Peru, while being political allies of POTUS and SHIELD, have their own agenda and way of doing things. Now, the Colombian cops are also brought into doubt. This show might be accused of racism by the SJWs, people who believe that only WHITE cops can be corrupt. In this show, #WhiteMansBurden is a thing while #ColombianLivesMatter is not. And one cannot imagine a mainstream show like NCIS portraying a US ally like Israel as having institutionally corrupt police. Remember, the guns that the Policia have are donated by POTUS to further his Foreign Policy!
Coulson attends an International Symposium about the Inhumans. He meets up with General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ), who now works for him. The General does not have any obvious security, but since SHIELD is patrolling the area this is not a big deal. However, nobody asks him if he has any COVERT security.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ), formerly Skye, complains that there are no Symposiums about human problems. Of course, this is just her playing the victim card. The International community regularly has Symposiums on threats such as Hydra. Nobody is picking on the Inhumans and their dangerous superpowers.
The Agents have to team up with a Meta-human last seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. [Season 2, Episode 2] Heavy is the Head. They are intolerant of anyone who worked for HYDRA, no matter how reluctantly. However, this Meta's DNA may contain a cure to the alien conversion process, Transgenesis. This brings back the old debate from X-Men 3 . Daisy is reluctant to see a cure developed, because she knows it will be weaponised. Her new boyfriend Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) points out that it would be nice to give people a choice. There are other alternatives, of course. Lash has a plan to kill all metahumans with his own superpowers, while HYDRA (and Governments worldwide) want to enslave and weaponise the Metas. And the SHIELD agents cuttently use bullets against Metas, and those Metas would probably prefer to be cured than to be shot dead!
Daisy also keeps herself busy by teaching Lincoln some self-defence techniques. Well, they do a bit of wrestling, as in rolling around on the floor. Also, she makes a throw-away line about a vigilante group named Watchdogs who are doing to Meta-Humans what Chuck is doing to Evos in Heroes reborn .
The Symposium is in Taiwan. The Governments that attend are the USA, Russia, Taiwan (not mainland China), Australia (not the UK), Japan and Nigeria. So with France not getting a mention either, that means THREE of the five world superpowers (permanent members of the UN Security Council) do not get a say at the table!
This is a direct follow-up to the previous episode. Bobbi and her ex-husband Hunter were last seen stowed away on Malik's jet. Now they are being interrogated by Interpol in a secret prison in Russia. The story is told in flashback. Unfortunately there is no untruthful narrator humour here, despite Hunter's joking it is told straight.
Bobbi is the only one in the SHIELD team who can speak Russian. Yes, the others may have combat skills, but she is the only one who has mastered languages. Thus, she is indispensible as a field agent.
Mac gets some time off, so he decides to spend it with his brother. However, his personal life and his SHIELD career colide with violent results.
The Watchdogs, a vigilante group that opposes the Inhumans, have now begun a campaign against the MIBs. Coulson has discovered that a former SHIELD Agent (Titus Welliver - Lost ) is in charge.
Lincoln has completed yet another test, but he is not an Agent yet. Coulson is two Agents down after last episode, so he takes Linc along as backup. He suspects that HYDRA is behind the Watchdogs, feeding them weapons and targets.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) touches an Inhuman who gives her a vision of the future. She tries to do everything she can to prevent that future from taking place. However, it seems to be predestined.
The HYDRA God gives Malik (Powers Boothe - Sin City ) what he desires. The man has nine thousand million American dollars, but what he really craves is power. HYDRA go after the MegaCorp that made Coulson's hand. After all, the hand helped Coulson murder Grant Ward ... Just imagine how powerful an complete exo-skeleton would make Malik!
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) tries to get some closure with her husband. She judges him as a killer because his alter-ego executed some dangerous supervillains, while she herself has spent all day practising to slaughter some HYDRA foot-soldiers who are only doing their job and trying to earn a living. Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) has rigged up the cure, in a hope that the alter-ego will be surpressed. However, the Inhumans were genetically engineered for a reason. Perhaps Lash was created in order to destroy the HYDRA god.
Malik (Powers Boothe - Sin City ) returns home, to the mansion where he and his hot daughter live. Somehow the HYDRA god has beaten him back there, and has summoned the rest of the HYDRA leaders there. In the previous episode, Malik foresaw his own death. Everything is coming into place to create the circumstances surrounding it. However, Malik never considers that it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps it is the things he does in panic to escape his fate that brings it about.
The flashbacks are to 1970, when Malik and his brother took their father's place in the HYDRA hierarchy. They were summoned to meet Daniel Whitehall - yes, despite being in solitary confinement in a top-security prison he could send out bodyguards to bring back VIPs and force them to visit him in his cell. He told them about their father's secret - his copy of Paradise Lost.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) go after a previously-unmentioned potential Inhuman. He is hiding out in the Australian outback, where he has a camper van and some land-mines. It is so remore that he has not learned of the events of the previous Season. This means that he has no idea that all he needs to get his superpowers is to start eating salt-water fish at every opportunity.
Coulson and the main SHIELD team have been compromised and cornered. Luckily, Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) has created the Secret Warriors - a handful of amateurs with superpowers. Daisy, Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) and a couple of first-timers take on HYDRA's best. At least the new-comers are both native Spanish speakers, so they can talk to each other without anyone else.
Malik (Powers Boothe - Sin City ) has already seen a vision of his own death. Can he change his fate?
Coulson discovers that the HYDRA go can control Inhumans. This means that one or more of Daisy's team could be infected. He puts the base on lockdown, but this just makes everyone paranoid. The Inhumans do not want to be treated like criminals. However, their paranoia makes them ready to turn on each other. Daisy calls them a team, but this is only their first mission. They cannot be expected to act like a true team until several months together.
The HYDRA God and his new acolytes go on the lookout for new recruits. Since they can brainwash inhumans, Coulson and SHIELD are at an extreme disadvantage.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) and Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) go undercover, with Mack as their backup. They want to make contact with a mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ).
The HYDRA God tells his new acolytes about how the Kree aliens abducted him and turned him from a primitive hunter-gatherer into the first Inhuman. His plan is to get his mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) to duplicate the process. After all, Only Billionaires can build flying suits and the military can create super-soldiers - a clear reference to Captain America: Civil War .
It is ironic that The Avengers are off fighting HYDRA remnants while SHIELD is taking on superhumans, when it should be the other way around. However, the SHIELD crew do have some decent weapons. For example, they have a 40mm grenade-launcher with SIX cylinders. If the first shot does not destroy the HYDRA, the next five will. Unless they strangely decide only to use one shot and then run away.
The Kree come back to clean up their mess. They have spent the last thousand years in hibernation, orbiting the Earth's solar system until HYDRA was located. How he ended up stuck on an alien planet is not really explained.
Coulson gives General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ) a tour of the facility. There are only three Inhumans on the premises. Yo-Yo is back on the team, but refuses to sign the Sokovia Accords. Lincoln (Luke Mitchell - Tomorrow People (2013) ) is in a quarantine cell, and is so eager to get out that he will sign the Accords. Lash is in a prison cell, and is unlikely ever to get out.
The human vigilantes are still on the rampage. someone in the MIBs has leaked them a target from the Sokovia Accords list.
The Hydra God gets his mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) to try to transform more test subjects.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) hacks the SHIELD computer system. She wants to break Lincoln out of his quarantine cell.
The HYDRA team have taken over a US ICBM facility in the Pacific ocean. General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ) and Coulson work together to obtain the secret launch codes before the villains can launch it.
Agent May tries to rescue the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ).
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) is in solitary confinement. However, since she is a super-hacker (as well as super-spy and super-human) how long will it actually hold her?
The HYDRA god's minions have taken over the SHIELD base. There are twenty-seven staff members who are not Series regulars - all the maintenance and security staff who are played by extras instead of speaking actors. However, now they are now a bunch of melted-face inhumans played by stuntmen.
The mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) helps Coulson's team. He could be a useful member if they bring him back next year. Hopefully he will become a Series regular.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) bottoms out. This is the end of her story arc, as she faces the fate she foresaw in the precognition episode.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) was a world-class hacker in Season One. In Season Two she became a kick-ass SHIELD agent, and in Season Three she led a team of superpowered fighters. Now she has gone up a notch again, as a super-powered vigilante waging a one-woman war against low-level criminals. This week she crosses swords with Ghost Rider , so she is as tough as a mainstream comics character. The down side is, the Nicholas Cage movies are not canon in the MCU.
Daisy is in Los Angeles, on the tail of some Ayran Brotherhood thugs. They stole a valuable cargo that apparently contains a powerful weapon. She wants to stop it falling into the hands of the Watchdog militia.
SHIELD has been restructured after the events of the previous year. They have a lot more money and manpower, but there is a lot of bureaucracy too. Coulson's old team has been broken up, although they each get to run their own team. Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is in charge of training new recruits. Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) has been promoted to S.A.D.I.S.T. (Special Assistant to Director In Science & Technology). Coulson and Mac have been sent around the world to enforce the registry on Muslims - oops, on people with superpowers. They are specifically forbidden from chasing after Daisy, which just makes them all the more determined.
The mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) is allowed to continue his work under close supervision by Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ). He has secretly built a robot body for Aida, his telephone answering machine. She states she is incapable of killing, so presumably her programming is based around Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) got her ass kicked by Ghost Rider. Now she cyber-stalks him, then harrasses him at his place of work. She certainly has a death wish, although it is difficult to see why she is more upset about Lincoln's fate than Ward's.
Coulson is called in for a talking-to by Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ). It turns out that the Director just wants Coulson's help in giving the Oversight Committee a guided tour of the SHIELD base.
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is still suffering in silence, having been infected by a ghost. She sees all human beings (including Inhumans) as zombie-faced pod-people. SHIELD could do with some robots to act as her caretakers - either she would not see them as zombies, or they could defend themselves from her without fear of injury.
Mac and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) go off looking for the ghosts. They have a lead on a lab in Pasadena that experimented on alternative sources of energy. This sounds a bit like certain aspects of Agent Carter (S2) .
Yo-Yo goes to a friend's hen party. It is actually a well-behaved coctail party, rather than a full-on bachelorette party. Unfortunately it gets gatecrashed by the Watchdogs.
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is hospitalised. Unfortunately the side-effects of ghost-infection are fatal. The mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) and Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) are her only chance.
Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) goes apartment-hunting, alone but not unarmed. Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) wants a team-up so they can take on the Watchdogs. They call in the next target on the hit-list - the Aussie pyromaniac.
Mac and Coulson keep investigating the Ghost Rider storyline. They try to capture Ghost Rider himself, and are willing to use techniques that would be lethal to humans. The entire secret experiment storyline seems lifted from Agent Carter: Season 2 .
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is recovering from her life-saving surgery. The mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) oversee her recovery, but they also oversee Aida the AI to see if she is convincingly human.
SHIELD managed to cure Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ), so they should be able to cure anyone with the ghost infection. Well, it turns out they can only help the ones they WANT to help.
The only one who can help SHIELD (or the ghosts) is Ghost Rider's uncle. He is currently in prison, so the team go to take him into custody. Unfortunately the ghosts get there first, so the SHIELD unit have to fight their way through a bunch of infected guards.
Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) tags along, and when a gang of Watchdog vigilantes breaks out she takes them on single-handedly. Without using her superpowers, of course, because that would exacerbate her injuries. She is basically acting out a death wish, although she does a great job of surviving considering that she is a small woman fighting many big burly men.
Mac has taken his shotgun-axe idea from the previous Season to the next level and added an axe-blade as a bayonet on his pump-action twelve-gauge. Ghost Rider tags along with him on the prison raid. Much like Daisy and the Watchdogs, he also has a grudge against a gang of prison inmates. Well, one particular member of a gang - he has already murdered the rest of them. This one is old and rehabilitated. Will Ghost Rider care?
Back at HQ, Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) has to sit her regular lie-detector test. As she actually acknowledges, she once spent several months undercover in HYDRA. Therefore she should be able to fool a lie detector. She gets called in to help Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ), who needs her to feed him words so he can match Politician Parminder Nagra in a battle of wits.
Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ) has been tipped off that Coulson is hiding Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) and Ghost Rider. He takes a SWAT team to arrest the fugitives. Naturally, this is easier said than done. On the bright side, he and Coulson have a stimulating conversation on the relative merits of Han Solo and Admiral Akbar as role models.
We get flashbacks from both Ghost Rider and the crazy ghost lady. As a result, we get some exposition and we learn who the villain is.
Coulson, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) and Ghost Rider have been blasted out of phase with reality - like what happened to Geordie LaForge in that episode of Star Trek: TNG (S5) . Only Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) is smart enough to work out what has happened. Unfortunately Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ) has loaned Simmons to the US Government. Now he discovers he might have trouble getting her back.
Coulson tries to contact Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ). Fitz goes to the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ), and hopes that the robot woman will be more receptive. The Ghost Rider demon possesses Mac, so Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) goes after him.
The super-villain has a plan to get what he wants. He will probably destroy Los Angeles, California and even the world in doing so.
Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ) knows that Coulson has been working behind his back. However, knowing and proving are two different things. They have an enlightening conversation about their favourite Star Wars characters.
The team have to clean up the mess from the previous storyline. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) and the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) are sent to destroy the robot girl's hard drive before the magic grimoire perverts her programming and she rebels like in Terminator . Unfortunately they are too late. The good news is that redshirts are expendable, but main-credits characters are protected by plot shielding.
Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) is obsessed with taking down anti-Inhuman Politician Parminder Nagra , and Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) is obsessed with taking down the Watchdogs. Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ) invites them both on a side-mission.
It turns out that the mysterious Inhuman that the politician had imprisoned was her own brother. She calls in backup in the shape of a Watchdog hit-squad. Their leader is John Pyper-Ferguson, who must have defected from the anti-human faction in Alphas .
SHIELD HQ is invaded, yet again. Of course, this time it is by an AI that can use the building's defences against the humans. Mac and Yo-Yo team up again. Will Yo-Yo get some sex action? Will Mac get to use his shotgun-axe?
A sniper takes a shot at bulletproof Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ). Coulson and Mac try to get him to safety in a Quinn jet. Of course, the sniper was a decoy. The jet gets taken down over a remote area. Although the bit players are wiped out as easily as redshirts, the main characters survive and get chased by HYDRA goons.
The SHIELD thugs take a hard-working HYDRA soldier into custody. Do they attempt to prove that they are morally superior? No, they go all Gitmo on his ass!
We have known something is up with Director Mace ever since Simmons acted like a human lie-detector. She also had the ability to tell AIDA was a robot, but strangely she has no idea there is another humanoid robot on the loose. However, Coulson and Mac discover Mace's secret. This is great blackmail material, so Coulson can become the power behind the throne of SHIELD.
Coulson is obsessed with taking down anti-Inhuman Politician Parminder Nagra . He has his chance when she calls Daisy ( Chloe Bennet ) to testify before the Senate committee. Director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ) comes along to give moral support, as does General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ). Of course, their plan is so obvious that the opposition would have to be idiots not to predict it. Worse, the SHIELD goons get paranoid about a mole when they run into trouble.
Mac and Yo-Yo finally hook up. However, work gets in the way. Meanwhile, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) and Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) hit a rocky patch. Also, several people comment that Coulson and Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) should get together. Judging by how the other workplace relationships work out, this might not be a great idea.
Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt - Odd Thomas ) gets grabbed by the Watchdog thug (John Pyper-Ferguson - Alphas ) and dragged off to be interrogated. Coulson deduces that since the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) had the information, and the Watchdog leader ( Parminder Nagra ) has the muscle, they must have teamed up.
Koenig is interrogated by the Russian Watchdog leader - King Roan from The 100 . Everyone wants to find where he hid the Season's McGuffin - the magic book known as the Darkhold. The Russian wants to use torture, but the scientist prefers more humane methods. They discover that there are enough Koenigs to make an entire SHIELD cell, including a surprise appearance by Oswalt's fellow stand-up Liza Lapira.
Meanwhile, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) and Simmons ( Elizabeth Henstridge ) start to interrogate a prisoner of their own. SHIELD always pretend they are the good guys, but they do not acknowledge the right to silence. When their victim does not cooperate, they wire him up and force the info out of him. Worse, the SHIELD goons also believe in execution without trial. They are not nice people at all.
Coulson and Mac go after the Australian woman that the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) used as the basis of his super-human android. Why he picked her is hard to establish - surely it would be easier to make an android with a lower centre of balance, rather than try to balance one atop the long slender legs of a supermodel.
Director Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ) gets a physical examination by Simmons. After she has watched him get sweaty with his shirt off, she announces that the serum is potentially lethal. Each time he continues to use it, he faces increased risk of a heart attack. In reality, all this means is that it is a last-ditch weapon - something only to be used when he is as good as dead anyway.
King Roan ( The 100 ) gets a safe version of the magic crystals. They give it to the hit-squad leader (John Pyper-Ferguson - Alphas ), and send him off to test Parminder Nagra . After all, they have finally realised that she is a potential inhuman like her brother. The result is somewhat unexpected.
The SHIELD team go after their missing friends. They track the other team to a disused submarine base on Russia's Black Sea coast. Ironically the Russian navy once built such a base at a tiny fishing village that they never expected the British Military attache would visit ... Balaklava!
Phil Coulson has some flashbacks to a previous mission, where he paired up with a young Melinda May in her pre-Cavalry days. He tries to schmooze his way into peoples' confidence. However, the mask eventually slips and we see what he is really like. As well as being a manipulative confidence trickster, he is a sociopath who regards his innocent victims as being expendable redshirts. He also has delusions of grandeur - despite not knowing or caring what the McGuffin was he told himself that he alone was saving the world.
Daisy goes after King Roan ( The 100 ). She is a super-powered psychopath, while he is a single man with no body armour. Somehow it is implied to be a fair fight. She has no interest in arresting him or even in taking him alive.
King Roan ( The 100 ) is down, but not out. Aida has kept him alive, and wants to improve him so he can serve her better. Likewise, she has started to act independently of the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ). He does not realise that, like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey , she has been programmed with two conflicting objectives. How will she manage to protect him AND the simulation?
Most of the main characters have been replaced with lookalike robots. This is a great idea that could cover half a Season of story. After all, look at Season One - the HYDRA takeover was a real shock. However, this great plotline is fluffed from the get-go.
The robot replacements are exact duplicates of the originals. When something is identical to the original it BECOMES the original. However, it turns out that some people are never satisfied.
Can a one-hundred-pound woman defeat a two-hundred-pound man? Remember, in the previous episode Daisy - even with all her training - could not defeat a normal man without cheating and using her superpowers. Now it is a normal woman against a Terminator style killer robot.
The protagonists are trapped in The Matrix . just like Legends of Tomorrow , we get a glimpse at what their lives would be like in an alternate universe. Just like Spock's brother Cybock in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier , the characters have had their greatest source of emotional pain removed. Daisy's boyfriend never died - but is it that limp rag Lincoln whom she barely knew?
This episode starts with an Agents of HYDRA intro. Daisy is still called Skye, and she works with her boyfriend - Grant Ward! Jemma got caught up in a HYDRA purge, and ended up buried in a mass grave at the SHIELD academy.
It turns out that when Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) undid her greatest regret, a lot of collateral damage was caused. The political backlash against the Inhumans meant that HYDRA was actually seen as a good thing. After all, fascism is always presented as the purveyor of security and stability.
Agent May is in charge of field operations at HYDRA HQ. She has merely swapped one regret for another. Fitz is her boss, in charge of Inhuman experimentation. Despite being a cold-blooded bastard for a change, he actually seems to be better off without Jemma to slow him down. He is well-groomed (vanity), ambitious (avarice) and successful (pride), and is so well on his way to completing the seven deadly sins that women probably find him a lot more attractive than his old nerdy self.
Coulson, meanwhile, never even joined SHIELD. Instead he became a teacher - and a spineless one at that. However, he seems obsessed with Tahiti. After all, it's a magical place.
This episode starts with the Agents of HYDRA intro.
Mac, like Coulson, never became a SHIELD agent. Instead he lives with his pre-teen daughter, Hope. This means he actually has a lot to lose, so he is very vulnerable to exploitation by HYDRA.
Daisy does not have her superpowers. However, she has to take on multiple opponents in a fight. Can she defeat a group of full-grown men, who all have twice her body-weight, and she has only her bare hands while they wear body armour?
Meanwhile, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) is deep in the clutches of Madame Hydra. He is more than just loyal to her. His decisions make Grant Ward look like a straightforward good guy.
SHIELD is beginning to get its act together. Mace (Jason O'Mara - Terra Nova ) is actually a good director, and now Coulson is on the team. Mac signs up too, and there are a couple of old faces back from the dead.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) has turned to the dark side. Surprisingly, it might not be because his girlfriend is Madame Hydra instead of Simmons. No, it is because he actually has a good relationship with his father.
Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) is also a keen HYDRA trooper. She even volunteers to use super-serum in order to fight SHIELD. But has followed through on her greatest regret? She wishes she had killed an Inhuman child in order to avert potential disaster, but will she kill a whole room full of scary Inhuman children?
The rule is that if you die in the dream, you die in reality. However, surely there must be a medical technique - CPR, Defibrillation, adrenaline - that can revive a flat-liner.
Daisy and Agent Melinda May ( Ming-Na Wen ) bust out of HYDRA HQ. They put Madame Hydra in hospital, but this just makes Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) even more fanatical. His two father figures, the villain from Gotham and the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) have a face-to-face.
Coulson and Mac fit into their new roles running SHIELD. Grant Ward gives some exposition on his own alternate background. It turns out he was recruited by Victoria Hand, not John Garrett, so his loyalties are completely different.
HYDRA's command structure in this reality is completely different. Not only is Garrett out of the picture, so is the German war criminal obsessed with the terragen crystals. His sidekick, Bakshi, is a TV show host. He seems to be a Bill O'Reilly type - his show is HYDRA propaganda, and he likes to take his female employees shopping for furniture.
Daisy and Jemma have been in the Matrix for ten days. That means the aircraft they are in has been flying around the world for over a week. The boss woman refuses to land the aircraft to refuel, because she deems it too risky, yet agrees to turn off their cloaking system (their only defence) to save power.
Daisy and Jemma take the crew to the exit point. Well, they have Coulson and May. Mac is doubtful about the idea, because he prefers to stay with his long-lost daughter. Nobody mentions his friends and family on the outside, but who cares? Trip is keen to take his place, until he finds out that his alternate self never had sex with Daisy, Jemma or May. Who would want to live in a place like that?
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) gets the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) to lead him to the escape exit in the Matrix. Jemma tries to get at Fitz through his father, the villain from Gotham . But which choice will Fitz make?
HYDRA send a SWAT team to guard the exit. Once again, we ask - can a SWAT team with automatic weapons and body armour get taken out by a bunch of people with pistols and no armour?
SHIELD like to portray themselves as the good guys. However, they love to attack people who cannot fight back and are keen to summarily execute prisoners.
Aida is flesh and blood now. Not human so much as In-human. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) tries to persuade her to go back and help the SHIELD crew. However, he forgets that no good deed goes unpunished. After all, last time they did try to kill her on sight.
Fitz feels bad about what he did in the Framework. He blames an over-bearing father figure, and compares himself to Grant Ward. Of course, he forgets that when they served HYDRA they optimised their full potential. Masculinity is deemed toxic, but it is merely empowering.
The episode is mostly about empowered women rescuing male damsels in distress. Mac is the main one, as he is unconscious the whole time. Yo-Yo is upset that he was left in the Framework, although it was his own choice so he could pretend he was with his dead daughter. Fitz is the other, trapped in the terible dilemma of having two beautiful desirable women to choose from.
The SHIELD crew try to get home. Apparently their old base in the USA is a short flight away from the Russian's oil rig in the Black Sea, eight thousand miles away. USAF General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar – Heroes ) is hunting for them, afraid they might be android replacements. All except Daisy, who he blames for killing Director Mace. Apparently being quaked to death looks a lot like post-mortem hammer injuries. However, if she was an android she would not have her quake powers.
The Russian (Zach Magowan - The 100 ) has made multiple copies of himself, which is convenient because the SHIELD crew can kill him many times. Aida is also virtually indestructable. It seems that the only one who can face them is Ghost Rider , although this ignores the fact that Daisy is powerful enough to fight him herself.
This is the end of the Season. As a result, a lot of characters are in jeopardy. In fact, a few semi-regulars could easily wind up dead.
Mac stayed in the Framework with his imaginary daughter. Yo-Yo went in to save him from himself. Unfortunately, Aida pulled the plug on the whole thing. Luckily, Daisy is still the same super-hacker she was in Season One. She sends the mad scientist (John Hannah - Spartacus: Blood And Sand ) to help find the way out. Since the Russian (Zach Magowan - The 100 ) can print off infinite bodies of himself, surely someone can create a quick body for the scientist and the imaginary daughter.
The villains are virtually unstoppable and unkillable. Aida has the superpowers of two dozen people that Fitz (Iain De Caestecker - In Fear ) dissected in the Framework, including Gordon the teleporter. Well, she got knocked out by a single icer slug in the previous episode, but now she is virtually indestructible. Everyone still uses live ammo against her, even though it is almost useless. Anyway, like all great villains they have a classic weakness - overconfidence.
The finale is a setup for the next Season. Yes, the show has already exceeded its three years and they now want to stretch it out yet again.