NOTE: The following post contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Age of Ultron and Agents of SHIELD.
In last week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, titled "The Dirty Half Dozen", Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) surrendered himself to Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos) and his faction of S.H.I.E.L.D., later revealing that he's been in contact with Maria Hill and Nick Fury during all of this time and that this is why he's the rightful Director of the secretive organization.
Coulson convinces the S.H.I.E.L.D. council to authorize a covert mission that involves the original six cast members reuniting, including the villainous Grant Ward, assaulting a key Hydra base. It's here where he discovers the location of Loki's Scepter (from The Avengers) and of current Hydra leader Baron von Strucker.
Coulson relays this info to Hill and they get ready to call in the Avengers, laying the groundwork for the opening prologue of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Meanwhile, in Afterlife, Raina (Ruth Negga) has a vision of the imminent Ultron threat to the world. This week's episode, "Scars" picks up right after the events of Age of Ultron where Coulson has helped save the day once again.
Theta Protocol #ItsAllConnected
Star Wars bed sheets and pillow cases to jokes about Call of Duty multiplayer with his brother, Patton Oswalt's return as Billy and Sam Koenig is a welcome one. And his appearance takes place a year ago in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.
The opening flashback sequence of the episode ties together many of the events of season 2, from Coulson having searched for Robert Gonzales after the Hydra incursion; Simmons working undercover in Hydra at the beginning of the season; namedrops of at-the-time new recruits (Hunter); Fitz's recovery after Ward dumped him in the sea; Agent Triplett joining the team (RIP Trip!) full-time, to Coulson having frequently gone on secret missions that no one on his own team knew about.
All along, Coulson used his Toolbox to help keep a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier secret in case of an emergency - the one first introduced in The Avengers. That emergency came this weekend during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron where Nick Fury used it to rescue the people of Sokovia.
A One-S.H.I.E.L.D. Company Man
Coulson comes clean, explains his decisions, what Fury was up to (when really still alive) and of course, what Theta Protocol was all about. They approve since his actions helped saved the day in Sokovia (in Avengers: Age of Ultron).
Coulson is accustomed to being the point man on everything he does, the man in the field, but his lack of objectivity is called out by the S.H.I.E.L.D. council. He agrees, again doing what's best for S.H.I.E.L.D., so Gonzales takes his place on a diplomatic mission to Afterlife - the first official meeting between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans.
What's in the Cargo Hold?
The mystery behind what's inside of Gonzales' S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft carrier is revealed thanks to a vision of the future from Raina. It's alien in nature and it's a new MacGuffin, seemingly not from the comics, so the payoff of the reveal is difficult to measure just yet.
"It's Kree, dangerous, intended to destroy our people." - Jiaying, leader of Afterlife
It's so important, that Jiaying risks sending Gordon and Raina directly onto the S.H.I.E.L.D. ship to locate the strange object, an object that can change form from solid to liquid. All we know is that it was discovered on a "dig site" over a century ago and it was of interest for Hydra.
Mack has very strong core values, and his beliefs force him to retire from S.H.I.E.L.D. this episode because he cannot reconcile the fact that its leader, Director Coulson, was - and still could be - under the influence of the Kree alien blood that was used to save his life. For him, it's personal because he was previously under alien influence as well earlier this season and it turned him against his friends.
A loyal ally of Bobbi, a friend to Fitz and Hunter, we can only hope Mack returns.
A Visit To Afterlife
S.H.I.E.L.D. is able to track Gordon's teleportation back to the Inhuman town, Afterlife, making Jiaying's decision to send him in a poor one (especially considering Hydra was able to track him previously)... or a carefully planned one. This decision cracks wide open the fracture between "enhanced" people (in this case, Inhumans) and S.H.I.E.L.D., and Skye is caught in the middle, knowing that her agency must come in and identify the Enhanced and add them to the Index, but also knowing her people value secrecy above all else.
Raina warns Gordon of Jiaying's imminent actions that would cause a war between the Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D., seemingly proving that she does care about the safety of her new people. As Raina foresaw, Jiaying kills Gonzales and frames him for attacking her. Her end game seems to be to solidify her role as leader and guarantee that the people of Afterlife will follow her. Thanks to Cal's warnings, she fears the idea of S.H.I.E.L.D. branding and tracking her people.
Grant Ward continues to prove himself a brilliant and resourceful tactician and his ploy sees Agent 33 successfully bring Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) to him as a way for them to seek revenge for Bobbi's role in Agent 33's brainwashing while they were both inside Hydra.
The interesting element here is the shear hypocrisy of it all, given Ward's association with Hydra and the number of people he killed as a traitor. Still, this is setting up for an interesting side-story during the two-part finale next week, one that could be laying the groundwork for upcoming Agents of SHIELD spinoff which will reportedly star Bobbi and Hunter.
A few other observations and notes:
- Fitz-Simmons have a heartfelt moment with Skye in giving her a Dancing Hula Girl Doll as a farewell gift, joking that it shakes - something Skye overcame herself, now having control of her powers.
- They (Fitz-Simmons) have another touching moment together in discussing Grant Ward and how they both wanted to kill him. And still want to.
- Lincoln compares the actions of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the actions of Hydra - to the Inhumans, there is no difference.
Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below, and if you dug Age of Ultron want more - join in on our discussion and analysis of its ending and how it sets up Phase 3 of the MCU!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with the two-part season 2 finale "S.O.S. – Part One and Part Two" @9PM on ABC.
“S.O.S.,” Part One and Part Two – S.H.I.E.L.D. puts everything on the line to survive a war that blurs the line between friend and foe. Coulson and his team will be forced to make shocking sacrifices that will leave their relationships and their world changed forever, on the two-hour season finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” Tuesday, May 12(9:00-11:00 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 on “S.O.S.,” Part One are Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, Ruth Negga as Raina, Kyle Maclachlan as Cal, 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, Kyle Mattocks as Agent Harris, Ryan Powers as S.H.I.E.L.D. tech agent and Alicia Vela-Bailey as Alisha.
Guest starring on “S.O.S.,” Part Two are Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, Kyle Maclachlan as Cal, Jamie Harris as Gordon, Christine Adams as Agent Weaver, Mark Allan Stewart as Agent Oliver, Blair Underwood as Andrew Garner, Maya Stojan as Kara/Agent 33, Dichen Lachman as Jiaying, Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell, Brendan Wayne as Jiaying’s assistant, Robert Reinis as bartender, Daz Crawford as Kebo, Alicia Vela-Bailey as Alisha and Anthony D. Washington as TAC agent #3.
“S.O.S.,” Part One was written by Jeffrey Bell and directed by Vincent Misiano.
“S.O.S.,” Part Two was written by Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen and directed by Billy Gierhart.