The stage is now set for a civil war, but not the one coming to a theater near you.
It’s the one involving Inhumans battling under SHIELD and HYDRA, complete with soldiers and generals, namely Coulson and Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe). The first shots were fired this week, but SHIELD is unaware the most deadly soldier of all is still around.
Strangely though, the episode starts with what seems to be what’s coming in the season finale. It appears to be a spaceship, about to blow up in Earth orbit while a cross floats in mid air….and there’s a SHIELD agent aboard. Seems like a page out of Damages or How To Get Away With Murder, where we get clues to what happened for several weeks.
Then we cut to Columbia, where the cops are dealing with a thief too fast to catch…or see. It turns about to be a girl named Elena Rodriguez (Natalie Cordova-Buckley), who doesn’t trust anyone, especially the cops. She also wears a cross, which may or may not be important. When SHIELD gets on the scene, she doesn’t trust them, either. Mack tries to subdue her, but he’s stopped by her speed and the fact that he can’t speak Spanish.
Other SHIELD members are there, including Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Raba), who will winds up being the interpreter. There’s even discussion between Morse, HUnter and Mack about whether they’d be tempted to take those terrigen-laced fish oil pills to get powers. Well, if they didn’t have the terrigen DNA, it would have been a bad idea.
As for the status of SHIELD, President Ellis (William Sadler) prefers it handle the Inhuman problem in deep undercover. America still hasn’t recovered from the events from the last Captain America movie, so he can’t publicly re-establish SHIELD. Ellis also says he can’t do much to help Coulson against Malick, since his influence is just too deep politically and economically. He’s a one-man Arena Club.
Also, Malick has what used to be Grant Ward, but is now an Inhuman who doesn’t look too healthy. He insists once he regains his strength, he’ll be a very destructive force. He’ll soon be known as HIVE. In the meantime, he’s catching up on how the human race has evolved, and he’s not impressed. However, he is hungry, and is munching on raw meat. Brett Dalton is delightfully creepy as HIVE. He may be in worse shape than Marco Rubio’s campaign, but won’t be for long.
Back at the base, Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell) reveals that those with the Terrigen DNA, like him and Elena, are assigned specific powers to create an equilibrium. For him, it’s electricity, for example.
Coulson is determined to find Malick, and actually uses the TAHITI machine to get any info from the comatose body of Werner Von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clarke). That seems to be rather extreme, but Coulson has lost a lot of people, and he wants to strike back in a big way. As he tells Fitz, sometimes you have to make the hard choice, especially what he thought he did to Ward back in Maveth. Thanks to a little zapping of the brain by Lincoln, they learn Werner contacted Malick by going to a certain storefront.
For Elena, it’s also a choice on how she uses her powers. She apparently can go as far as she can in one heartbeat and she moves fast. The crew eventually figure out this happened after she ate some fish loaded with terrigen, and that she’s trying to keep the corrupt cops from using guns against her friends. She considers her powers a gift from God, and decides she might as well use them for SHIELD, especially after a cop kills her cousin.
However, it turns out one of the cops has Inhuman powers, namely eyes that emit stun rays. Morse and Hunter learn about that the hard way. Daisy, Elena, Gutierrez and Mac, though, combine their powers to rescue them.
Coulson eventually contacts Malick by going to that storefront and using a phone that’s a direct line to him. While Coulson says he’s gunning for him, Malick is not worried. He quickly sends a plane to Bogota and extracts the Inhuman cop. His reach is big, indeed. He did lose a few million bucks, but nothing major. Besides, he still has the Ward/HIVE.
Elena doesn’t want to join SHIELD yet, but at least she can rely on them as backup. Daisy thinks, for now, her potential Secret Warriors should stay in their normal lives until they’re needed. That’s how she stayed in touch with her hacker friends. Fitz and Simmons are also healing from the rift caused by the first half of the season, while Daisy and Lincoln seem to be making their own connection.
Coulson and May also talk about his new “life-like” hand, and his decision to kill Ward. She says he had to make a tough choice that made him part of “the Cavalry,” just like her.
The episode works as an origin story for a potential Secret Warrior, and an opportunity for SHIELD and HYDRA to choose up sides for the war to come.
Meanwhile, the ATCU has a new boss, who will actually be answering to SHIELD.
Coulson will try to make this new arrangement work, somehow. He’ll have to, as more evil Inhumans will emerge next week.
By the way, showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon talk to the Hollywood Reporter about the second half of the season, starting with the opening flash-forward. They also hint Malick bringing back Ward/HIVE may backfire on him. Another interview in Entertainment Weekly talks about how the season may not be connected to the next Captain America movie, and how it might set up the planned spinoff, SHIELD’s Most Wanted.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC.