Things are moving pretty quickly on Agents of SHIELD these days. Last week seemingly dealt with the Lash problem for the time being, only for it to pop back up again this week. We got the truth about Rosalind and the ATCU, more of Ward’s plan for HYDRA, and some new clues to Powers Boothe’s Gideon, all tied together with a new threat to SHIELD and humanity. Oh, and perhaps the most important FitzSimmons moment yet! Things are building rapidly towards the midseason finale (just two more episodes!), so let’s get right into “Many Heads, One Tale” written by Jed Whedon and DJ Doyle and directed by Garry A. Brown.
This week brought all of the seemingly disparate stories together. The ATCU, FitzSimmons and Will, Ward and HYDRA, and the Inhumans. We’ll start with Rosalind and the ATCU, but all of the stories this week intertwined. Coulson returns from her night with Rosalind to the disapproving, judgmental stares of Mack, who he tells to mind his own business, insisting he wants to trust her. But he doesn’t yet, as he brings the whole team together to infiltrate the ATCU and uncover all of their secrets. While he brings Rosalind over for a tour, Bobbi and Hunter will go undercover inside their headquarters, Mack and Daisy will run support, and May chooses Lincoln to help with extraction when the time comes.
Favorite Quote: Lincoln: “Even if you all live under one roof like Keebler elves.”
Rosalind is flown around for six hours before being brought to the Playground, and is only allowed to use her phone after it’s scanned for tracking bugs. Daisy uses the software built into the pod where they trapped Andrew to hack into the ATCU’s system, triggering an alert. Bobbi and Hunter are sent in posing as an FBI agent and a black hat hacker, respectively, to fix their software glitches. Hunter really gets into the part, wearing a “Damn the Yanks” t-shirt under his hoodie and disdainfully delivering all of the techy insults Daisy feeds to him through an earpiece. He helps her hack into the ATCU system, while Bobbi goes off to search the building for their secrets regarding the Inhumans and a supposed cure. Instead, she finds no Inhuman storage and no cure, just loads of fish oil pills and Terrigenesis cocoons, showing that the ATCU is actually exposing as many people as they can rather than protecting the public.
At the same time, Coulson shows Rosalind around, eventually leading her into one of the holding rooms where they keep Inhumans. The tour ends, however, when he locks them both inside and demands answers. He knows she’s been lying to him since she first mentioned Tahiti, something only someone in SHIELD or HYDRA would know, and with SHIELD accounted for the only option is that she’s working with HYDRA. She denies it, but acts genuinely confused when learning that the Inhumans aren’t stored where she was told, and there’s no cure. The person in charge of that section of the ATCU is none other than Gideon Malick, former World Security Council member, current advisor to the president and HYDRA ally.
Favorite Quote: Ward: “From all of us here at HYDRA, thanks for flying the friendly skies.”
Speaking of Gideon, the episode opened with him and Ward sharing a nice dinner of octopus, discussing the state of HYDRA. He criticizes Ward for going after von Strucker, accusing Ward of trying to find his way into the von Strucker vaults, where HYDRA’s greatest power lies. They’re interrupted by newcomer to SHIELD Mark Dacascos, a personal favorite of mine (seriously, Brotherhood of the Wolf is one of my favorite films), and Gideon leaves Ward to fight for his life while Gideon sees to his own plans. Ward quickly dispatches Gideon’s guards, killing some and leaving others wounded and available for torture. Ward takes a sadistic pleasure in tormenting one of the men with a blowtorch, trying to get information about the von Strucker vault, but as he starts to burn the man’s face off another talks, tipping Ward off as to which vault in Germany is the target. Ward hops a flight and blows a hole in the plane one they’re over Germany, parachuting to his destination. Gideon, meanwhile, pays a visit to Andrew’s special box, which is being kept in a shadowy place we’ll later learn is not at the ATCU. He introduces himself as an advisor to the president, and in discussing the possibility of a cure for Andrew’s condition makes a very pointed statement about how no one ever asked Andrew if he wanted to be cured.
Back at the ATCU, Mark Dacascos (his character’s name is Giyera) shows up with Rosalind’s #2, Banks. Hunter rushes to bring Bobbi her batons as she faces off against two ATCU agents and Giyera, who it turns out is an Inhuman with telekentic abilities. Luckily Bobbi’s batons have gotten an upgrade from Fitz, allowing her to throw them at enemies and magnetically pull them back to her hands. She ends up in a stalemate with Giyera until Hunter knocks him out from behind. Banks shows up, but under Rosalind’s orders to help them, seemingly bringing Rosalind and Coulson finally onto the same page for the moment, and May and Lincoln pick up Bobbi and Hunter from the parking lot.
Favorite Quote: ATCU Guard: (about Hunter’s shirt) “Redsox fan?” Hunter: “Redcoats, actually.”
And then there’s FitzSimmons. Fitz has gathered any book or paper with any mention of the Ram’s head logo that was on Will’s NASA outfit and on the floor in the portal room in England, hoping to shed some light on this mysterious organization. Simmons thinks that he was sent as some sort of blood sacrifice to the mysterious monster, while Fitz is convinced that the group is over a thousand years old. Seemingly out of nowhere, Simmons snaps at Fitz, telling him to stop doing all the right things as it’s more than she can handle, and she storms out. Fitz catches up to her, mad at being attacked when she’s really just mad at herself. He rants at the cosmos, convinced that they’re cursed to forever be apart, before straight-up asking her if she loves Will. She tearfully replies that she does, and Fitz confesses that he looked for dirt on Will and couldn’t find any. But Simmons has feelings for Fitz, too, particularly after all he did to bring her back. After a split-second mustering of his courage, Fitz leans in and kisses Simmons. They break apart for a moment, and then Simmons kisses him back. It’s a glorious moment for all of us FitzSimmons shippers out there, but it’s not quite time for that yet, as they break apart knowing that they have other issues to sort out first.
Ward arrives at the von Strucker vault to find Gideon waiting for him, who offers Ward a history lesson. He tells him that HYDRA is much older than its previously believed origins in WWII. It actually originated thousands of years ago with the Inhumans. One Inhuman was born “destined to rule,” who was too powerful to be allowed to live on Earth, so he was banished through the Kree monolith wormhole to a distant planet to never return. HYDRA was formed with the intention of one day bringing him back. They sent countless “sacrifices” through the portal in the hopes that they could either find a way to bring this Inhuman back or to at least be of service to him. Now, Gideon has been using the fish oil pills and the ATCU to create an army of Inhumans which will be led by the banished monster once he’s returned to Earth. Gideon needs Ward to step up his game beyond revenge, to find out how SHIELD managed to bring Simmons back from that distant planet, so that they can duplicate the process. And it just so happens that Gideon has a piece of the monolith conveniently stashed in the vault that they can use. We cut to SHIELD, where the entire team watches as FitzSimmons shows them the Ram’s head symbol shared between Will’s mission patch and the portal room, and trace the symbol’s evolution into the HYDRA logo we know today.
Favorite Quote: Daisy: (to Hunter) “Please tell me you know which one is forward-slash.”
After the credits, we see Ward pay a visit to Andrew, who is not happy to see that HYDRA now has control of him. Ward hooks up a gas canister to Andrew’s pod, but tells him it’s mustard gas. They don’t want to sedate him, but instead want to find a way to bring Lash out of him for good. Ward confesses he’s searching for closure, and really wants to bring May pain. I guess he’s still not over her literally nailing him to the floor.
There were a few other odds and ends in this week’s episode, a couple of which centered around Lincoln. Now that he’s sort of a part of the team, he and Daisy will be seeing a lot more of each other. They bring up the kiss that they shared, but decide not to make a big deal out of it and instead play things by ear. Later, May picks Lincoln to accompany her in a quinjet to provide extraction for Bobbi and Hunter, much to Lincoln’s surprise. After a long amount of uncomfortable silence, he asks if she’s going to torture him. He says he won’t apologize for going after Andrew/Lash, but instead May says that she’s been trying to figure out how to apologize to him for allowing Andrew to kill Lincoln’s friends. She feels like she should have known what was happening to Andrew and stopped him, although Lincoln doesn’t blame her for what happened.
Favorite Quote: Coulson: “We need to find better ways to flirt.”
I’m still not sure I trust Rosalind. Her surprise at learning Gideon’s part of HYDRA seemed pretty genuine, but it could have been great acting by the character and that she’s still playing Coulson. I feel like we’ll have a better idea once we see how the next few episodes play out and how she responds to this news. Having her henchman help Bobbi and Hunter escape was a big step in the right direction, though.
Speaking of Hunter, his undercover hacker persona was hilarious, from his “Damn the Yanks” t-shirt and hoodie outfit, to his disdain for anything anyone had to say, to his ability to completely BS the ATCU guy as a stall tactic, every moment of the mission was pure comedy gold. Please, SHIELD writers, give us more undercover Hunter!
Favorite Quote: Hunter: “Aliens. I pine for the days when we didn’t have to fight bloody aliens.”
Even though I don’t have any theories about the new HYDRA backstory, the connection with Will, or the mysterious Inhuman on the other side of the portal, I thought the reveal of the connections was really well handled. The clues have been scattered throughout this season, and it was really satisfying seeing them all brought together, particularly with Ward and SHIELD having different parts of the same story. If I were a betting man, I imagine we’ll see a race to stop HYDRA from bringing the Inhuman back to earth that will take us to the midseason break, probably with the winter finale bringing him (and Will) back, leaving the fight against his Inhuman army and HYDRA for the second half of the season. Actually, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that neither Will nor Ward survive season 3, but that’s just a hunch. (I’m really not big on predictions, at all, but I can’t be the only one seeing a connection with Angel villains Wolfram and Hart, can I?)
Favorite Quote: Simmons: “You dove through a hole in the universe for me.”
There were definite mixed feelings for FitzSimmons fans tonight. The kiss was spectacular, and emotional, and pretty damn hot, but it came alongside and acknowledgment that it’s going to be a while before the two of them get together. Will looms large over that relationship, and until his fate is known one way or the other I don’t think Simmons will be able to commit to Fitz. Still, this seemed like a pretty clear declaration that FitzSimmons is an endgame ship, that they absolutely have feelings for each other and things are working in that direction. It’s a fine line writing relationships for TV. If you bring a couple together too soon, they can stagnate and become boring, but if you draw it out too long or put too many obstacles in the way people might give up on the pairing. So far I think SHIELD has handled things remarkably well, but if there’s not some sort of resolution this season I think people will start jumping ship.
What do you think? Did you enjoy “Many Heads, One Tale”? What did you think of the FitzSimmons kiss? Were you surprised by the true origin of HYDRA? Where do Rosalind’s loyalties lie? Am I the only fan of Mark Dacascos? How do you think things will play out before the midseason break? (Don’t forget there’s no new episode this week!) Do you have any thoughts on the Lincoln/Daisy pairing, because I’m pretty ambivalent towards it at the moment? What should Hunter go under cover as next? A mime? A musician? A kindergarten teacher? Let me know in the comments!