If you would like to catch-up with last week’s fantastic episode, you can find it here.
Marvel’s Phase 3 plans that will affect AoS, it can be found here.
The show’s producers talked some more about the reveal of the Kree and the Hidden City, you can see that here.
Holy moley, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is just getting better and better, it seems like the writers have the new strategy down pact, concentrating what was working while getting rid of the most of the hiccups that plagued season 1. It seems the cast has exploded recently, with new characters trickling in here and there unnoticed, and this week’s episode juggles them expertly, splitting them into 4 sub-teams all on their own mission. AoS seems to now understand that their audience is here to stay, and they can begin to use the deep mythology they have built on the show for their own purposes, without relying too much on their big brother films. This is a welcome breath of fresh air, rewarding long time viewers like myself while encouraging new comers to go find out what all the hype is about (which is made much easier now that Season 1 is coming to Netflix!). With the midseason break coming up soon, it seems the show is going towards its climax with a full head of steam, and I am more and more eager to see how it concludes.
So on to this week’s festivities, we begin with a flashback to the end of World War II, with Nazi/HYDRA big wig Werner Reinhardt (the future Daniel Whitehall) “experimenting” with captured villagers from rural China by exposing them to Obelisk/Diviner, hoping to better understand who is affected by its power. After many deaths, he comes across one woman who seems unaffected by its stone transmutation, which he immediately recognizes must be because she is “special” and gleefully asks her to be prepared for surgery. Just then the call that Red Skull (head of HYDRA) has been defeated by Captain America, and the Allies are about to storm the base, as they are on the move, the SRS catches up to them and Reinhardt is captured. Agent Peggy Carter shows up, ready to try and dissect his mind, to which Reinhardt assumes he will be shipped off to America like many other German scientists were after the war. She refuses, having seen the horror he has inflicted in his “experiments” and decides his intelligence isn’t worth his freedom, and they intend to lock him up for the rest of his life. After 44 years, Undersecretary Pierce writes a release order for him (If you don’t recall, Undersecretary Pierce was revealed to be working for HYDRA and behind the downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and he is taken to “something he should see”. It turns out the woman Reinhardt had captured all those years ago is still very much alive, and hasn’t aged a single day in the 44 years, further cementing his belief that she must really be special. He decides his “experimentation” is long overdue, and begins to dissect her to see what makes her tick,.. While she is still alive. This is an incredibly dark turn for a character on AoS, making him hands down the most evil villain yet, though some other characters might give him a run for his money as will be revealed in a bit. After discovering what makes her stay eternally young, he subjects himself to the same treatment, loses his accent, and becomes his modern incarnation, Daniel Whitehall, taking over for Red Skull as the head of HYDRA.
Concurrently, we see Senator Christian Ward heading to his parent’s old lake house, following his easy lifestyle of a corrupt politician. Just when he thinks everything is all good, his rouge secret agent little brother Grant knocks his window open. Ward took out all his security detail, and decides to take him on a little walk through the forest. He intends to finally get revenge for the torment his brother has caused him, though he thinks he won’t get it easily. Grant constantly claims Christian is trying to turn all the blame away from himself and putting it all on Ward himself, and he won’t fall for his manipulations anymore but Christian is desperate to help him understand that it’s all in his head. Christian tries to get Ward to take responsibility for the terrible things he’s done as an agent, and that he tortured his brother in the well on his own accord (the well story was told in the The Well). Grant seems to have made up his mind that all of his memories are simply from Christian’s manipulations of the truth, and he wants him to admit that Grant’s side of the story is true. This who done it acts sort of like a snake eating its own tail with us not really knowing who is really telling the truth, but then Grant decides to take drastic measures. He drags Christian to the Well he claims Christian forced Grant to throw their brother Thomas down (since they are on their parent’s property) and threatens to repeat the process. After some drastic convincing, Christian finally breaks down and admits that throwing Thomas down the well was his idea, as payback for their mother’s atrocious torture since Thomas was her “favorite” and never experienced their pain. Christian said he was too scared to do it himself, so he forced Grant to do it, hoping to cause their mother some semblance of their own torture. After this, you get the idea that Grant will throw Christian down anyway, but he doesn’t he thanks him for telling the truth and that’s it,.. They calmly walk off into the sunset. Is that really it? We will see.
There are two other teams still to go, all of this happened in one episode sheesh, but we join the main S.H.I.E.L.D. team hunting for the city, which the carvings Coulson was obsessed with were revealed to be a map to. One team, Simmons, May, Mac, Hunter and Morse stay at the Playground, hunting through the old SRS files to find more information about Daniel Whitehall. This digging leads to the information revealed earlier about Whitehall’s origins, with Simmons geeking out about Peggy Carter holding those files in her hands (this was a cute way to remind everyone just how important Agent Carter is ahead of her own mini-series debut in a few weeks). Morse also gets some information from Bakshi (Whitehall’s right hand man that Grant Ward betrayed last week, who know has a name), and we learn she is fantastic at interrogations and gets him ready to crack, but pushes a bit too hard and he tries to commit suicide with a Cyanide capsule, though they make sure he doesn’t actually die.
The team consisting of Coulson, Fitz, Tripp, and Skye go on two short missions, one to Hawaii and the other to the Australian outback. Coulson tests Fitz to put together a transceiver in under 6 minutes, which is difficult with Fitz’s neurological damage only allowing one hand to work well. There is some fun banter going on with Coulson and the team, and they get sent to deliver a watch, get a tie and a button from a large Hawaiian man, which seems to make no sense. On their way to Australia, Coulson explains his plan to interrupt a military satellite array in Hawaii by getting the watch on an intern close to the button (which was given to a General which was going to the base) and setting off an EMP. When the satellites get interrupted, the backup array is in the Australian outback, giving them 6 minutes to patch in. This explains why Coulson was testing Fitz, and the team goes to work. As they are storming the facility, HYDRA shows up and interrupts the mission, shooting Tripp in the process. All of a sudden as Coulson is trying to save his life, Skye’s Dad (Kyle MacLachlan) shows up, perfectly chipper and incredibly sinister, showing just how perfect a casting choice he was for this role. He slips up while treating Tripp as “just a regular doctor” and calls him Phil, quickly pivoting to using Tripp’s life in his hands as a bargaining chip. As he is holding Tripp’s severed artery shut, he tells Coulson he is also looking for the City and he wants to piggyback off of Coulson’s work since he doesn’t truly trust Whitehall. At the start of the episode, Skye’s father told Whitehall that the Obelisk/Diviner is not just a weapon the “Blue Angels” (Apparently the blue Kree the GH serum was pulled from really was “Older than the pyramids”) were planning to use to take over the world, they were really here to extinguish the human race, save for a few chosen people. The Doctor doesn’t tell Whitehall, though does tell Coulson, that these people would be able to use the Diviner/Obelisk as a key to get into a temple within the Hidden City, unlocking Tesseract levels of power. If this isn’t a setup for the Inhumans in the Marvel Universe, I really don’t know what else would be, this falls so well in line with their origin story it seems like only a matter of time. Coulson reminds him that working with Whitehall will not get him anywhere, and he has already alienated his daughter from wanting to meet him. The Doctor refuses to accept this, getting incredibly angry at the notion that Skye (even refusing to call her that) doesn’t want to see him. The Doctor tells Coulson how to save Tripp and uses the scramble as an opportunity to escape, letting him know he will see him soon.
In the pre-ending stinger, we see Whitehall, The Doctor, and Ward all meeting in a dimly lit HYDRA library, plotting their agendas to get to the city. We learn Ward really wasn’t so ok with Christian’s confession, and used his confession as part of a suicide note to frame him for his murder of Christian and their parents in a fire. (Wow, that’s incredibly dark, almost giving Whitehall a run for his money, and showing Ward isn’t going to be redeemed anytime soon) They all seem to not really trust each other, but are working together as an enemy-of-my-enemy situation. We then see why The Doctor really doesn’t trust Whitehall, as we get a flashback to the 1980’s and The Doctor comes across a body in the dirt. We see this woman was the forever-young “special” person Whitehall dissected, and it turns out this woman was The Doctor’s wife, and presumably Skye’s mother. It seems The Doctor is ready to return the favor to Whitehall after he has outlived his usefulness. Back at the Playground, it seems Fitz’s hacking into the satellite network worked, and after scanning the planet against Coulson’s carvings, they seem to have found a match, and possibly the location of the hidden city, next week an adventure begins.
Well, the show seems to be really embracing its dark side wholeheartedly, and I for one really enjoy it. Last season, they went out of their way to make sure you knew all of their weapons where non-lethal, even introducing the ICER guns that simply put people to sleep. Between Whitehall’s gruesome dissection, Ward’s framing of his brother in a murder-suicide, Bakshi trying to kill himself with Cyanide, and The Doctor’s using Tripp’s life as a bargaining chip, it seems the kid gloves are off. I really like this new dark style, and I hope it continues, since its big brother films seem to try to keep the violence at a minimum. The adventure seems to be going at a breakneck speed and I am really interested in where it’s going, and I am really impressed how much faith they have that the audience will be follow wherever the adventure leads, a sign of the show maturing. As for the “Tesseract Level of Power” locked in the presumed city of Attilan (hidden city for now), it will most likely be the Terrigen Mists, the secret for unlocking the Inhuman’s superpowers. This lines up with the theories I have explained earlier here, but I really can’t wait for the words Inhuman and Attilan can be used. There’s no AoS next week due to the holiday, but it will return the week after with some interesting adventures looking for the hidden city, stay tuned!