HYDRA has always dreamed of the destruction of SHIELD, but it must be puzzled why it’s happening this way. Then it remembers that its best agents are mistrust, fear and bad judgment, and they’re already deep within SHIELD.
Another faction within SHIELD thinks Coulson must go, and already has two agents on its side. Meanwhile, Skye is removed from the field…but only until they find a way to control her powers.
So where is love in the time of HYDRA? Apparently it’s at a diner where it seems a couple is planning to enjoy pancakes. However, the couple has other plans. They recreate the opening of Pulp Fiction to kidnap one of the customers.
The couple are ex-SHIELD agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and Agent 33 (Ming-Na Wen/Maya Stojan), who used to work for both SHIELD and HYDRA. She still looks like a scarred Agent May, and he needs the guy, Selwyn (Landall Goolsby), to repair her face. He does that with a permanent nanomask that can remember up to three faces. What happens to him? Well, Ward says Selwyn won’t be talking to anyone.
Fitz and Simmons still debate over what can be done with Skye. Simmons is still terrified, comparing Skye to the Hulk, while he thinks her powers can almost make her an Avenger. Skye’s upset, as the sudden 4.2 tremor shows.
May and Coulson also debate Skye’s fate. She thinks Skye should be out of the field, but Coulson doesn’t like it. At least he can use Simmons’ skills, secretly, to find a way to control Skye’s powers. He also decides to take Skye to a retreat where she can be safe. It’s the same place where Steve Rogers relaxed after he was defrosted. She’s also given special gloves that lessen her shaking powers, but there are unrevealed side-effects.
The big news is the internal mutiny within SHIELD. Mack and Morse explain to Hunter that they work for Robert Gonzalez (Edward James Olmos), who believes SHIELD should be run by leaders who can be held accountable. The board includes Agent Weaver (Christine Adams), who used to work for the Academy.
He says that people with secrets, like Nick Fury, shouldn’t be trusted, That includes Coulson, who they think has been compromised by his obsession with the alien city, leading to what happened in Puerto Rico, the Diviner and Skye. Besides, he sort of blames Coulson for the death of Agent Hartley. It’s all because Fury had to revive Coulson with GH-325. Gonzalez thinks Coulson and his secrets must be dealt with, or he may be another Fury. They insist they didn’t want this, but anyone who says that does want it, for one reason or another. Gonzalez looks at Coulson the same way SHIELD looks at Skye: someone who’s been changed and can’t be trusted. It would be interesting to see if Gonzalez was always suspicious of Fury, even before The Avengers.
Hunter can see the Real SHIELD’s point, but maybe Gonzalez should have confronted Coulson personally about this instead of having Mack spy for him. Hunter becomes even more disappointed when he sees Morse was part of it, too.
What’s interesting in this episode is how relationships have changed through this season, while one is getting stronger. That one is Coulson and Skye, as he talks about how he and his dad spent a long time restoring a car, and how they kept them close. Of course, it’s Lola that Coulson is talking about. Skye wonders if he sees her as Lola II, someone else who can be restored. It must be that way, because he sees her as one of the few he can trust.
Meanwhile, the relationship between 33 and Ward is interesting, because she is a woman who is lost. Her whole self was taken away by HYDRA’s brainwashing, and she wonders what she can offer him. She thinks the best way is to wear Skye’s face, thinking that’s what he wants. Actually, it’s not, because he remembers Skye shot him. He says they can help each other, by kidnapping Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) from the Army. He was the HYDRA operative who kidnapped her from SHIELD, and she would love to get revenge.
She uses the nanomask to sneak in, disguised as General Talbot’s wife. It looks like Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) is on to them, since he was a victim of the nanomask earlier this season. However, 33 disguises herself as a male officer while Ward takes care of security. They do grab Bakshi, but he soon figures out she’s no longer a loyal HYDRA agent. Talbot is left looking like a fool, aiming a gun at his real wife, thinking she’s Agent 33.
Mack returns to the base, telling May that Hunter is gone, and likely won’t be coming back after being in a few bar fights. It sounds convincing, but May and Coulson aren’t buying it. They suspect something is wrong, but not who’s behind it. Still, Coulson asks May if she’s had the feeling that she’s mishandling something important. She said yes, when she left her ex husband, Andrew.
As for Hunter and Morse, it’s too bad the SHIELD mutiny is ruining any chance they’ll be a couple again. She never thought he’d stay after helping out Hartley, and thought he wouldn’t get in the middle of this. She says her love for Hunter is real, but he knows she still has a hidden agenda she has to complete. He also finds out it’ll be hard to get back to warn Coulson, since Real SHIELD’s headquarters is an aircraft carrier. At this point, it looks like Hunter would be trapped for another episode or two, but he finds an escape pod. That was the only serious flaw in the story, because it shouldn’t have been that easy.
Fitz is told by Coulson that Skye is safe somewhere else, and that’s all he should know. He still argues with Simmons about how much Skye has changed. She insists she just wants to fix her, but he thinks she’s afraid of how he and Skye have changed. What’s worse, though, is how much she has changed. She’s still scarred by what happened to Triplett, but maybe her fears are based on the fact that she wonders if she could have done more to save him.
Back at Real SHIELD, Morse tells Gonzalez that the real concern is how to deal with Coulson and his secrets. That means raiding his base. She says she can do it in six hours.
Finally, 33 turns off her nanomask, and introduces herself officially to Ward as Kara. Maybe eventually she can program her mask to restore her real face. Ward, it seems, will be working on restoring her real self, as Garrett rebuilt him.
For now, they plan to brainwash Bakshi so he can do their bidding, whatever that is. It looks like they want to cause trouble to both SHIELD and HYDRA. If that’s the case, are they evil heroes or good villains?
Come to think of it, that’s also what both SHIELDs consider each other. They both claim to be the good guys, and the other side the villains. They’re also going to argue about what do to with Skye, and someone will take advantage of that…but it won’t be HYDRA. Something disastrous will have to happen to convince both SHIELDs to end their suspicions, have one big argument over who’s the real hero, then battle the real threat. If they’re really lucky, maybe they’ll have enough pieces to have a full SHIELD.
It won’t look that way next week, as Gonzalez starts his efforts to change the name of the show to Agents of Real SHIELD.
Entertainment Weekly has more on Brett Dalton’s return, and what Ward’s return means to the show. Comic Book Resources also has a story on whether Fitz and Simmons’ relationship can be repaired.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesday at 9/8 C on ABC. Watch full episodes on ABC.Go.com, Hulu Plus and On Demand (check with your local cable provider).