Warning: Spoiler Alert
At the conclusion of last week’s episode we were introduced to “the Stranger” played by Brian Van Holt who as we saw has the same alien code that Coulson is compelled to carve tattooed on this torso. Tonight we start with him chasing down a woman who is familiar with the code. As well as Coulson feverishly carving it again.
With Ward on the run, Tripp puts eyes on him at a train station. May insists he stand down. Coulson counters and tells Tripp to bring him in by any means necessary. As he reaches for his sidearm, Ward casually walks by and reveals what’s hiding under his shirt just for Tripp to see. They indeed stand down to trail his movements.
Coulson and Skye travel to investigate the victim of ‘the Stranger’. Who Coulson is positive is a SHIELD agent. Inside the woman’s apartment, every single thing looks normal, until Coulson enters a distant room. It is covered wall to wall with drawings and paintings of the same alien code.
Mack and Fitz return with body of the dead SHIELD agent. Mack and Fitz talk freely as good friends tend to do. Simmons is much less chummy. Almost bitchy. Maybe she is beginning to feel the sense of exclusion as Fitz did.
Ward gets off one bus with the intention of boarding another. He quickly befriends a mother and young boy, I assume to use as a human shield if any agents were to descend. Once on the bus, he disposition changes abruptly. He spots Bobbi, for the second time (he doesn’t know who she is, just that he’s seen the same woman twice in 60 seconds). Before the bus even departs, he deduces that she works for Coulson. Based on her being on the same page of her book both times. He casually departs.
Ward gets on another bus, thinking he’s outsmarted Coulson. Turns out this bus has a man in a denim shirt and cowboy hat of the British variety. Hunter.
Simmons finishes the autopsy on the victim. Both the victim and the killer both had GH-325 in their blood. The same element that is in Skye’s blood and what brought Coulson back to life. They are no closer to having any concrete answers. Coulson has an idea as to how they can get the answers. Skye will need to torture it out Coulson. Using the same machine that was used in the TAHITI episode.
The machine allows Coulson to essentially spirit walk through his own repressed or removed memories. In the beginning this feels normal. Basic interview process. Everyone seems pleased with their status of their recovery. Except one, Coulson doesn’t know it yet, but that is The Stranger. Then it starts to fall apart. Slowly each patient begins to unravel in some way. Stevens (the dead agent) frantically carves the writes the code on the desk. Then the vision starts to take on a horror flick look. Very creepy. Coulson begins to crash while in the machine. Skye coaxed some of the names of the patients so that they can track them and hopefully find the killer.
Hunter tails Ward to an Irish pub. He’s in there for a few minutes and then a Mercedes drives up. Bashir gets out. Ward it appears wants a meeting with Whitehaul. The carrot in front of the horse is the ability to get a Hydra agent close enough to Coulson to take him out, permanently.
May strongly suggests Skye lock up Coulson until she returns. Coulson agrees. Skye escorts him to the holding cell. He asks a few questions about what he said while he was under. He then pushes Skye in to the holding area and locks her in. Insisting that he must take care of this himself. The ‘this one’ is not the killer. He’s seeking out the last person from the Tahiti project that is still alive.
Coulson arrives at the house of the last Tahiti subject. Coulson puts a gun on him, strange I know. As the conversation is going nowhere the subject says, “I told you both, I don’t know anything”. Then Coulson is knocked out by The Stranger.
Back at the pub, May, Tripp, Hunter, and Bobbi plan on going in to take out Ward. They get in and all of the power is out. All of the men from the earlier scene are taken out in some way. In the back there is a man tied to a chair with a bag over his head. That man is Bashir. With duct tape over his mouth that reads, “For Coulson”.
At the house of the last participant, The Stranger has Coulson tied and dangling from the ceiling of what looks like a barn. The Stranger takes off his shirt and reveals the code tattoos. He goes into how far he’s gone to find out what it means. While the last guy breaks free from his rope, Coulson feeds into what The Stranger wants to distract him. This move allows Coulson to get free and neutralize The Stranger.
Mack and Skye arrive as Coulson is choking out The Stranger. This not in an attempt to kill him, but to use the pain to see it more clearly. The last participant, whose house there in, was working on a very large train set village. It wasn’t until this moment that Coulson or The Stranger ‘got it’. Below them they can see the train set village. From a bird’s-eye view all of the pieces align to reveal that the code is not a map. It’s a blueprint for a city.
Skye attempts to break into Bashir’s cell phone when it receives a call. She answers it with, Hail Hydra. Its Grant Ward on the other end. They make chit-chat. Skye trying to convince Ward to give up his location, Ward leaving breadcrumbs about his future endeavors and how they are potentially done to earn favor and get back on Coulson’s good side. A task that as of now is virtually impossible. Grant hangs up and looks at a newspaper. The front page article reads, “Senator Ward vows to bring brother to justice”. It appears Ward was getting cleaned up to attend something that would get him close enough to his brother. We’ll find out to what end, next week.