After the commercial break, Fitz, Coulson and the rest recap the backstory of HYDRA, the Nazi (at least partially) organization that was supposedly defeated in WWII, and whose existence helped lead to the formation of SHIELD as a counter force. Despite that they think it was wiped out, Coulson says that HYDRA always comes back. There’s some saying about cutting off another head and one grows to replace it, but they have some disagreement about whether it’s heads or some other body part.
Garrett suggests that they just blow a hole in the side of the Bus and parachute to safety, but no one else is keen on that. Garrett thinks it’s because they don’t want to sacrifice their sweet ride, but when Fitz fills him in that Simmons is at the Hub he changes his tune. He even remembers that Trip is there too, and they all commit to a rescue mission. Coulson says they’ll just have to face the music, but that he hopes it’s not the “HYDRA theme song.”
Down at the Hub, the search is on for Trip and Simmons. Hiding in the lab, they manage to find a secure line and contact the Academy and Agent Weaver. She is shocked to see them, and in a rush she tells them to find somewhere safe. She tells them that the Academy is under siege by HYDRA, before the transmission cuts out. Trip locks them inside and he and Simmons face off. Trip is staying in the room but Simmons wants out, as she’s not sure she can trust him, especially when he pulls out a knife. However, Trip doesn’t trust her either, especially since she’s been spending so much time with a “zombie robot.” To resolve the stalemate, Trip hands Simmons the knife, telling her, “If you try to kill me with it, I’ll know I can’t trust you.”
When May wakes up from her nap in the cage, Ward is sitting over her with a smug look on his face. She refuses to give him any more information than she gave Coulson, and Ward is pissed. He tells her how good she was at manipulating them. He is upset that she lectured him on keeping his emotions in check, but he thinks she’s far too cold for his tastes. She blasts him for shooting the Clairvoyant, and when he objects and says he did it to protect them, she points out that he just did it to protect “her. Which would be ok if you didn’t shoot the wrong guy.” Coulson comes in to let them out, saying May can’t make things worse.
The Bus lands at the Hub, and is immediately opened fire upon, as the troops aim to take out the Bus’s guns. Before they’re taken captive Coulson has May try to call Fury. She does, but when someone picks up on the other side he informs them that Fury is dead. They stand there in shock until bullets rip into the Bus and May is hit, leading me to write down “Holy Shit!” in my notes for the first (but not last) time tonight. The team takes shelter while the Bus is turned into Swiss cheese.
It turns out that May was just hit in the arm, and the group heads to the munitions locker to gear up. They discuss the loss of Fury, who was both Coulson’s and Garrett’s Supervising Officer back in the day. May and Coulson share a moment before they set out to rescue Simmons, where Coulson convinces May to confess everything she knows. It turns out that Fury knew that Coulson would try to recruit May for his team, and that it was all a set up so she could keep an eye on him. When Coulson asks if she knew about T.A.H.I.T.I. she looks away, the answer all over his face. Coulson is furious that she let him run around in circles trying to find answers. She tells him that she’s really the one who assembled his team, and that she chose people who she might need to help deal with whatever happened to him. Simmons could work on his body, Fitz could help with the reprogramming of his mind, and Ward was there in case she had to put him down. Despite all of that, she confesses how much Coulson means to her, and it feels genuine, and I think he finally believes her when she says she had nothing to do with the Clairvoyant or with HYDRA.
Ward and the rest of the team are worried about all of the information they’ve uncovered in their missions that HYDRA might put to use, so Skye downloads everything to an external hard drive and wipes the Bus’s systems. The Hub soldiers blow open the Bus and storm aboard, but they can’t find anyone, with only a square hole in the bottom of the plane as evidence. If that hole looks familiar, that’s because it was used by Nick Fury and others in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It turns out that Fitz invented it a couple of years ago and it’s called the “mousehole.” Garrett laughs that the top agents always hog the good stuff, presumably explaining why we’ve never seen that tech before.
Skye gives the hard drive to Ward as the group splits up. Skye and Ward will head off to shut down the Hub’s systems (particularly that pesky tractor beam that won’t let them escape the Death Star), while the rest of the group sets off in search of Simmons and Trip. Coulson reminds them to just use ICERS, as some of the troops may not know that they’re taking HYDRA’s orders, while May complains that Coulson won’t take her cuffs off.
Trip and Simmons are finally captured by Hand, who tells them that HYDRA has finally taken over, after seven decades of work. She confesses that she is a part of that group, along with most Level 9 and 10 agents. She gives the pair a chance to swear eternal loyalty to HYDRA, or die immediately. They share a look and a nod, and Trip immediately attacks the guard next to him while Simmons throws him the knife she was holding. He holds it to the guard’s throat, but Hand reveals that this was all a test and that the two of them gave the only right answer, proving for certain that they’re loyal to SHIELD, just like Hand. She says it’s a test that few people have passed, and informs them that Coulson is a part of HYDRA.
Simmons doesn’t believe that, but Hand tells her that Agent Blake had been suspicious of Coulson for a long time. And conveniently for Coulson, he sent Blake on an assignment where he was violently attacked. She lists a bunch of other accusations against Coulson, including the fact that he recruited one of SHIELD’s enemies, clearly meaning Skye (remember The Rising Tide?), has disobeyed orders, and many other faults that make her sure Coulson is with HYDRA. Simmons counters that Coulson is a good man, but when Hand asks whether he has ever kept secrets from Simmons, she doesn’t have an answer. She says that HYDRA struck fast and that now SHIELD must learn to strike first in order to survive.
In a control room, some soldiers spot Coulson and May being led handcuffed down a hallway by two other soldiers. They arrive at the room and are let in. However, it’s all a ruse, and they catch the guards by surprise as Coulson and May break out of their handcuffs and they take control with Garrett and Fitz. (Third Star Wars reference of the night.)
The other team, Skye and Ward, are blocked from the control room by twelve soldiers. Ward offers to take them out and clear Skye a path, but she tells him that that’s a suicide mission. “Not if I don’t die,” he says, “and if I do, maybe I deserve to. I shot an innocent man.” He confesses that he shot Nash because he thought Skye was going to get hurt. He reminds Skye of her offer to get a drink and talk, from what seems like ages ago, and he wants to get that drink if he survives. She wonders if that’s what he wanted from May, and when he seems surprised that she knew about the relationship she replies, “We live on the same plane together for god’s sake.” She agrees to have that drink when this is over, and after a moment of hesitation gives him a kiss for luck. I have to admit that I loved that moment (and for more reasons than just the fourth Star Wars reference).
Ward bursts out and takes out some of the troops with a combination of ICER fire and hand to hand combat. He’s overwhelmed eventually, however, as they knock him to the ground and start beating the crap out of him. He looks to the side and sees a gun on the ground. Skye hides in the closet, listening to the battle, but no one is surprised when Ward opens the door, bloody but triumphant.
Garrett and the other team discuss the situation, and he proposes a plan to surprise Hand and take her out before she even knows what hit her. He’s not interested in asking questions first, something that Coulson objects to. Garrett wants revenge, pointing out that “History will remember this day.” He reminds Coulson of all of the things that the Clairvoyant did, both to his team and to Coulson’s, but when he mentions something that only Coulson knew about he makes a fatal mistake. Coulson realizes that Garrett was the Clairvoyant, and that he led Garrett straight to the Guest House and the miracle cure that he was searching for. At that moment soldiers burst in, and Coulson shouts for them to arrest Garrett. But Garrett makes a comment about how Agent Sitwell helped fill out the ranks of this unit, and reminds them that they know what to do in this situation. Four of the troops kill the others and then train their guns on Coulson, May and Fitz. Garrett smiles and says, “Hail HYDRA.”