[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, episode 19.]
Last week's episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, titled "The Frenemy of My Enemy", featured Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) teaming up - albeit grudgingly - with former ally Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). Along with Agent 33 (Maya Stojan), Leo Fitz (Iain de Caestecker), Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), and Mike Peterson a.k.a. Deathlok (J. August Richards), Coulson attempted to track down Skye (Chloe Bennet) using a Hydra insider.
Meanwhile, Skye traveled to Milwaukee with Cal (Kyle Maclachlan) in an effort to get to know her father. They were followed by fellow Inhuman Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) and attacked by Hydra forces. Although Coulson's team attempted to intervene, Deathlok and Lincoln were captured by Hydra. With no where else to turn, Coulson surrendered to the so-called "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. headed by Robert Gonzalez (Edward James Olmos).
On this week's episode, "The Dirty Half Dozen" (the series’ tie-in with The Avengers: Age of Ultron), Coulson and Gonzalez form a tentative alliance in order to take down Hydra. Coulson reunites his original team of six from the early days of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on a mission to stop Hydra and rescue Deathlok and Lincoln. Meanwhile, Raina (Ruth Negga) comes to terms with her visions and begins to realize the power she possesses.
1. The Dirty Half Dozen
With the six original team members (re)assembled for a mission to the arctic circle, the gang's officially back together - for better or for worse. Ward attempts to make amends for his misdeeds (which include killing S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, throwing Fitz and Simmons into the ocean in a box, and betraying the team), but his mea culpa doesn't go over well.
Ward's failed apology scene is a good moment to look at how the team has changed since the beginning of season 1. While many additions have been made to the roster in season 2 - including Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki), Hunter, and Mack (Henry Simmons) - the original six have remained the core of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, they'll never be the same group as they were when the show debuted, but "The Dirty Half Dozen" proves they're still a team to be reckoned with.
2. Coulson vs. Gonzalez
In "The Dirty Half Dozen", Coulson and Gonzalez's interests finally align for the mission into Hydra's lab to rescue Deathlok and Lincoln. However, both would-be directors of S.H.I.E.L.D. have separate ulterior motives for the mission: Coulson wants information on the Hydra leader Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) while Gonzalez wanted to obtain enhanced people.
With their secrets and seemingly-good intentions, Coulson and Gonzalez have proved to be evenly matched. While it seems the Inhuman camp led by Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) and Gordon (Jamie Harris) may be an enemy, there certainly won't be unity in S.H.I.E.L.D. so long as Coulson and Gonzalez each retain some power. With these three factions working separately despite an overlap of loyalties, there's certain to be some betrayal in the finale.
3. Skye in Action
Skye has come a long way since her Rising Tide days, becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and an Inhuman, but we hadn't seen her display her skills in a fight until "The Dirty Half Dozen". Skye impresses Ward (and likely some viewers) with how she's able to control her new seismic powers. That being said, the one-take action scene of Skye taking down a team of Hydra agents on her own was even more impressive.
Although we now know the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff won't focus on Skye and the Secret Warriors, she's certainly established herself as a solid action force on the show. Of course, now it's only a matter of time before Skye puts both her S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhuman training to work in a fight - perhaps in the finale.
4. Theta Protocol
Coulson has kept the secret of the Theta Protocol close to the vest as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., refusing to reveal what it means even to Agent Melinda May (Ming Na Wen). In "The Dirty Half Dozen" Coulson finally lets slip what this protocol entails while speaking to Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders): the Avengers.
Whether that means Theta Protocol is calling the Avengers together or another measure that includes Earth's Mightiest Heroes isn't clear. However, Coulson spoke about Theta Protocol after discovering Hydra's interest in Loki's scepter, the powers of which Hydra has only "scratched the surface."
We do know Hydra used the scepter to experiment on the twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (who received a mention in "The Dirty Half Dozen" from Dr. List). However, we will soon know them better as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, respectively, as they join Earth's Mightiest Heroes in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
5. It's All Connected
Raina (Ruth Negga) is growing stronger as she discovers the strength of her precognitive powers. She uses her visions to convince Skye needs to team up with S.H.I.E.L.D. and save Lincoln, but her visions at the end of the episode have larger implications. Raina sees Loki's scepter and says, "Consequences are upon us. Men made of metal will tear our cities apart."
The metal men is a reference to the army of robots created by Ultron that the Avengers will face in the upcoming sequel. Additionally Loki's scepter can also be seen in S.H.I.E.L.D. files shown in the extended Age of Ultron trailer. Though these may seem unrelated, Loki's scepter may have a hand in giving Ultron sentience.
The scepter has been confirmed to be one of the Infinity Stones that Thanos (Josh Brolin) will add to his Gauntlet, however, which stone it is remains unclear. Many have speculated it to be the mind gem due to Loki's ability to control minds in The Avengers. We won't know for certain whether it's Loki's scepter that creates a sentient Ultron or something else, but perhaps The Avengers: Age of Ultron will provide more answers about this particular infinity gem as an early lead in to The Avengers: Infinity War.
A few other observations and notes:
- Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) attempts to stop Simmons' attempt to kill Ward and dies. Now, with Bakshi dead and the Hydra base destroyed, has Coulson and his team seen the last of Hydra? For now perhaps.
- Mack apologizes to Hunter for kidnapping and holding him in a bathroom. At least one apology was accepted in this episode.
- Deathlok, damaged due to experimentation during his imprisonment by Hydra, will be sent to another facility to be repaired. Is this the same facility that granted him his upgrades or another entirely?
- Ward left Coulson's team before heading back to Agent 33 (a.k.a. Kara), who now remains with S.H.I.E.L.D. Will she be welcomed back into the fold?
Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with "Scars" @9PM on ABC.
“Scars” – Skye is torn between her loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and her connection to the Inhumans as tensions rise between the groups -- and Coulson reveals a secret he’s been hiding from even those closest to him, on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Tuesday, May 5 (9:00-10:00 PM ET) on the ABC Television Network.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as Director Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Agent Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons, Nick Blood as Lance Hunter and Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse.
Guest starring are Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, Ruth Negga as Raina, Patton Oswalt as Sam/Billy Koenig, Kyle Maclachlan as Cal, Edward James Olmos as Robert Gonzales, Jamie Harris as Gordon, Christine Adams as Agent Weaver, Mark Allan Stewart as Agent Oliver, Maya Stojan as Kara/Agent 33, Dichen Lachman as Jiaying, Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell, Alicia Vela-Bailey as Alisha, David Douglas as Michael and Crystal Coney as scientist.
”Scars” was written by Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc and directed by Bobby Roth.