Warning: Spoiler Alert
I would love to start in my typical fashion. Recapping a little of the major bullet points from last season. But all of that needs to get put on the back burner because WE HAVE AN AGENT CARTER SIGHTING!!! AND THE HOWLING COMMANDOS. My only complaint of this flashback is no hints to Tripp’s Great Grandfather. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess.
Back in the current time, we find Coulson’s team monitoring what appears to be a sale of the ‘asset’ shown in the flashback with Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos. The interesting part is the seller is the bad guy from The Wedding Singer and the buyer is Xena Warrior Princess. The sale is broken up by an unidentified man that bullets bounce off of. Hartly (Lucy Lawless) calls to confirm orders from Couslon as soon as the op went south. It would be too much to accept 5 minutes in that Lucy Lawless might have been Hydra. Glad that speculation can be put to bed.
There is plenty to rehash as the episode come in, so I’ll attempt to do address them as they come. First would be the reemergence of General Talbot played effectively by Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar). What must be a bread crumb reintroducing Talbot as a foe going forward. He was a P.O. S. last season and I have no reason to believe this season will be any different for Talbot.
Coulson’s time has been dominated by rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. as director of, for those who missed that final detail from last season. That is all about to change based on the picture that was almost sold two scenes previous. The picture shows that an ‘asset’ has an SSR notation. “0-8-4” Which should be familiar to just about anyone who watched last season. You’ll also remember that 0-8-4 was the title of the second episode in season 1. Mjolnir was an 0-8-4. However this is not just an 0-8-4, its the original 0-8-4. Which cancels Coulson’s recruiting trips immediately.
Apparently the third party the interrupted Hartly’s op is working for Hydra. If that news wasn’t bad enough, he has the ability to transform his molecular structure by merely touching anything and taking on the properties of that anything. So stands to reason that he may have touched a metal which would make the bullets ricochet off of him.
In one of those scenes where they attempt to set things up as if they are inconsequential, they may have tipped their hand. Those of us fully invested in the Agents of SHIELD fandom, the most important question, hell the only question on most of our minds was in regards to Fitz and Simmons. When know Fitz’ brain was deprived of oxygen for an amount of time. We don’t know what that means yet. Skye just walked in the room after leaving the lab. When asked what the mood was like in there, her response was, “as good as can be expected”. So naturally, my mind is running through every single possible scenario.
Going back to the end of the season one finale, Skye is laying on a table with the massive image that both Coulson and Garrett drew (separately of course) free hand with nails on glass. There’s something to it, but as of yet no clearer. What follows is more directly ‘difficult’.
Coulson needs Skye to get information about this new strong guy from earlier. And that means talking to Ward. Who by the way, looks like Rocky during the training montage in Rocky IV. Ward’s candor is nerve racking. There is a glow in his eyes. With Ward there really is no deciphering truth and honesty from lies and deception. He seems sincere. Especially considering the torture he eludes to. Everything he says seems to be legit, but like I said, this is Ward we’re talking about. He spends most of his time trying to open up to Skye. And Skye spends most of her time in there, not buying it.
One thing during this discussion is pulling at my logic. With Marvel, you always have to assume that any mundane detail could be connected, regardless of how inconsequential it seems. “Creole” the guy that absorbs substances to his molecular code, doesn’t say much. He is tall and built. He has non specific facial features. To this point all of the substances have been hard to the point of impossible to break. Diamonds, metal, etc. But just now, he put a piece of tree bark in his hand and sat down. Then we see his torso transform into what looks like a tree like texture. Call me crazy, but what are the chances they are connecting the dots and incorporating a Groot origin story? I admittedly am not well versed on the Guardians of the Galaxy lore, but why else would this guy just randomly go all tree like in his leisure time? Just a thought.
Getting back on track, Ward does give up some intel that is helpful. The manner in which Hydra was able send messages to agents in plain sight. He also tries to tell Skye that when not if that information proves true he hopes she’ll come back.
Ward: There is so much I want to tell you… (Skye pushes a button and a wall goes up) …about your father…
On the ground we find Talbot with his family. Tripp disguised as a jogger bumps into Talbot slipping a phone in his pocket. The phone rings and it’s Coulson alerting Talbot that they are there to protect him. Talbot calls for his own security detail. Which is also SHIELD people. Hartly’s team specifically. They detain Creole. My first concern with that is a Magneto situation. If they put him in a cement and steel cell, he won’t be there for long.
Talbot’s getaway may have been clean, but not what he was anticipating. He jumps into the back of what looks like a government issue Tahoe only to find May in the other backseat with a gun pointed at him. Next, Talbot waits in one of their honeycomb interrogation rooms. The conversation is civil for the most part, but in the end, Talbot’s thick-headedness wins the day. And in the attempt to bare down on his position, he bared down his hands onto nifty arm rests that clearly read his fingerprints.
Coulson tries to explain the situation. The man they just detained is looking for an asset that Talbot has locked away. In the same facility where they are taking Creole. Ultimately, Coulson wants to work with Talbot, but Talbot just can’t get there. So Coulson pulls out a gun and shoots him. Relax its the Night-Night gun Fitz developed in season one. Talbot wakes up in a car on the side of the road. He immediately calls someone to double the security on their new prisoner. Little does he know, he just called Koenig (Patton Oswalt). A clever move for SHIELD to ascertain Talbot’s clearance code.
In the corridor of the plane we see Fitz and Simmons talking as if they were sitting outside the principal’s office talking about what’s going on inside and what that means for them. This time around Fitz is much less confrontational. The effects of his rescue has left him with some mental deficiencies. Like a stutterer getting frustrated when people finish their sentences, Fitz is getting similarly frustrated. However, in this scene with only Simmons within earshot, he seems calmer.
While the shipper in my mind is losing his mind over what is or is not happening with Fitz and Simmons, let me float another idea that should be only slightly less obvious. Skye was starting to get seriously interested in Ward right about the time Ward started betraying the team. Then Agent Tripplet came on board. We spent weeks trying to decide if Tripplet was good. He has proven his worth a few times over. And being a direct descendant of a Howling Commando helps. I would be perfectly happy to see Skye and Tripp get involved while we sort out this Ward thing. Which I’m positive will take all season at minimum. And when Tripp walks toward Skye in his General’s uniform (all part of the plan), they share a moment. Which I’m perfectly fine with.
Enter the Magneto in a plastic prison scenario. Creole was put in a glass and metal cube. Yeah, real smart. One of the guards looks over his shoulder to see that it appears Creole is no longer in the cube. I won’t leave you in suspense, Creole is glass at that moment. And these ignoramuses are just going to open the door to the cell and look around.
In the storage facility, Hartly finds the 0-8-4 they are looking for. What she doesn’t know is that Creole is standing next to a wall. Which by mere contact would disguise him as concrete. Hartly opens the box in time for Creole to approach. With almost no other move, she says “Let’s see what makes this thing so deadly” and turns to him. She immediately is writhing in pain and Creole takes a step back.
Side note to those who are not rabid Marvel fans yet. Anytime someone who is not superhuman picks up a ‘weapon’ without knowing what it does, the situation ends badly. Going back to the Avengers movie, Coulson attempts to fire a weapon without knowing what it does and Loki kills him. Hartly may get out of this alive, but bad things are on the horizon. Whatever the 0-8-4 is, it is quickly locking her hand in place and blackness is spreading up her arm.
The team briefs Coulson and after a long pause he instructs them to continue as planned. Hartly’s team (mercenaries with no ties to SHIELD) hear that and basically say ‘F that’. Half of the team take Hartly and peel out leaving Skye, May and Tripp without a ride. Outside, May sees an AV-8B (don’t worry I looked it up, not THAT nerdy), the Harrier style jet flown by Hawkeye in the Avengers movie. And it’s May, so flying it will be no problem.
What happens next, I wish I had clarity on. I am at a loss. There is a lovely slow motion filled minute or two showing both teams going in their separate ways while the voice-over of Coulson can be heard.
Coulson: We have soldiers willing to sacrifice, but they need weapons. The enemy has the advantage. We need one of our own.
Idaho: You risked that for a Twin Jet?
Coulson: No, for what we could do with one. Disappear. Become Ghosts. That’s how we have to live now. In the shadows. To save people. Even if they don’t know it. Want it. Fitz said he could engineer cloaking but…I’m afraid he can’t do anything. The damage to his temporal lobe was too extensive. He’s not that same. And since Simmons left he’s only gotten worse.
What in the actual… Take a deep breath. Just as soon as he says ‘gotten worse’, I can see Jemma! She’s standing right next to Fitz. Then the camera does a slow 180 degree rotation. Simmons’ figure on the far side of Fitz. Once it passes by the eclipse point where Simmons is hidden by Fitz’ body, you realize in one quick washing over of fear, despair, and betrayal that Simmons was never there. They pulled a Sixth Sense on us. If you go back and watch just those clips. Simmons is never the center of attention. No one not named Fitz even attempts to look in her direction. And maybe I’m overselling it, but I could have sworn that each and every scene with Simmons, she is just this side of out of focus. Now that I understand, I’m starting to lose it.
Here at NJATVS our staff have debated the potential ramifications of what happened to Fitz and Simmons throughout the Winter and Summer TV seasons. A great many ideas were floated. One even included Fitz becoming a Villain. All of which I rejected because they were all too horrible for me to consider. UNTIL THIS!!!!!!! What in the…?
Then to make matters worse, the Coulson voice-over continues. Claiming that “We have to fight for him, for those we’ve lost”. For those we’ve lost? He’s already given up on Fitz?! I’m at a loss. Now the logical side of me knows that they have to be doing this in order to rebuild the relationship and mind that was there before. Regardless, I’ve got to leave this plot point alone. Moving on.
In the black Tahoe, Hartly insists that one of her team, Hunter, needs to cut off her hand. Whatever the blackness that is moving up her arm is killing her. Surprise surprise. They do, gladly they didn’t show it. And then Creole appears magically in the middle of the street. Shades of Bucky as the Winter Soldier in the beginning of Cap 2: Winter Soldier. He takes on the texture of the asphalt and flips the SUV and no one inside moves. The driver is alive but doesn’t move. Hartly looks dead, clearly. Then Creole touches his hand to the tire of the SUV creating a rubber protective layer that will allow him to pick up the 0-8-4 and walk off into the distance.
I wish I could end it there. Then in a new room we’ve not seen yet, a well dressed man speaks to the back of another well dressed man. He’s sputtering nonsense about securing what he’s been searching so long for. The man with his back turned is cleaning a very specific style of glasses. He puts the glasses on and turns to say, “You have no idea”. And that’s when it hits you. That’s the same guy that was unearthing this 0-8-4 in the flashback complete with Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos post World War 2. So, as I said. I am at a loss.