This was a great episode. The misdirection and suspicion permeating the episode and the team was amazing to watch, and that ending was gut wrenching. I know it was only a few weeks ago I was gushing about how awesome Marvel’s television villains are, but the same applies to the heroes: We’ve seen these people grow for almost three full seasons now, and whatever you think about those early episodes in Season 1, they got us where we are. Sure, people had issues about the characters (and even the actors) right up until those helicarriers fell from the sky, but those episodes took the time to build these characters and establish these relationships, so the connections felt real and the betrayals hurt so damn much. Ward wouldn’t be such an awesome villain if for the entirety of Season one we saw cut-aways of him putting his plan together and twirling his mustache. He was built up as a hero over a season, and the rug was pulled at the end.
This post contains spoilers. Enter at ye own risk.
The same can be said about the rest of the team, too. FitzSimmons have been partners for ten years now, and it feels like we’ve been along for the ride the whole time. Their chemistry and inevitability feel natural, because it didn’t just happen in one episode. May was the silent warrior, and we got to see past the Cavalry over three seasons, and finally know what makes her tick. Hell, even the relationship between May and Coulson has been fleshed out, and we get to see how well they work together and how much trust they have (even after May was outed as working for Fury).
The same can be said about the newer members of the team, too. Mack was only introduced last season, and was initially a hard line Pointier Shield member, and did not trust Coulson because the whole “not dead” thing. Then the Inhumans came about, and he completely did not trust or like them. Over the course of almost a full season, he’s evolved, and is tremors’ partner. They play XBox (TM)(C)(R) together. The hardest episode to watch was him saying goodbye to Hunter and Bobbie. And he’s pretty much Shield’s welcome wagon.
And the secret warriors. Lincoln had a rough start there at Afterlife, but he’s growing on everyone. After the conclusion of his arc with Lash the HGHog, he’s become part of the team. Even though his betrayal was a fake out (more on that in a bit), it still hurt just like when we thought May was the one with bad intentions all the way back in the first season. Joey and Yo Yo have only been in a few episodes between the two of them, but they are strong characters and we already care about them. GO GET IT, JOEY.
That’s why, when it was revealed that not only did the human members of SHIELD still not fully trust the Inhumans, but that fucking DAISY was the Hive mole, it had such an impact. For almost two seasons we’ve had the Inhumans, and watched how Coulson and the rest trusted Daisy more and more, and even brought in more Inhumans to help fight the good fight. But at the first sign of corruption, they “quietly” locked the base down, and all of them were suspicious. And Daisy, holy shit. Hive-controlled Skye (she’s Skye again until she’s back with us) was oddly calm and collected. It reminded me of the switch that went off in Ward after SHIELD fell. He went from the anxious and, frankly, bored, SHIELD enforcer to a cool and calm Hydra agent. Again, that’s why it hit so hard: because we’ve come to know these people, and we feel for them. I felt like Lincoln in that cell while Skye was trying to convince him to go with her. That scene was played so well, and Lincoln absolutely nailed it. HOLY SHIT WHAT DID YOU DO?
That’s why this show is so much fun to watch. There’s always the hope that it’ll have some heavier crossover with the overall MCU, but in the meantime, just watching these characters and stories is enough to bring me back each week.
1. About that fake out with Lincoln. This episode did a great job with setting it up so everyone should be suspicious: During the raid on the base to rescue the team, each of the Secret Warriors was alone for a time, so it truly could have been any one of them. Skye was in the control tower, Lincoln was with Malick, Yo Yo fought ten dudes and got hurt, and Joey poked Mandusa. Then, when you thought about it, each one had a hole in their stories. Just like Mack said: Everyone looks suspicious if you stare at them long enough.
For a while there, it felt like it was going to be Joey, because he just kind of disappeared after not being able to deal with killing Mandusa. Then, Skye decided to help them all escape, but really lead them right to Coulson. given Lincoln’s shaky past with authority, the deed was pinned on Lincoln, who rightfully flipped. Tazing Joey and Yo Yo didn’t really help his cause. And right up until Skye said Shield couldn’t “hold” them, we were convinced it was Lincoln.
Back in season one, they did the same kind of misdirection with May and Ward. For a few episodes, it seemed like May was the one working for the enemy, but it turned out that she was working for Fury, just to keep tabs on Coulson. The real twist was Ward, and his stone cold murder of Hand and leaving FitzSimmons to die on the sea floor. I saw a lot of that last night, and it was amazing and gut wrenching all at the same time.
2. We learned something about Hive, too. For a while there, we wondered what his power of persuasion looked like in Inhumans. Now we know. Hive sand blasts your brain, and while not directly controlling the target, he alters their mind to accept him as their true lord and savior. As Skye said, he fills that hole (CALM DOWN 12 YEAR OLD ME) in every Inhuman, and they see the light, so to speak. One thing is for sure: Hive has a connection with his persuaded Inhumans. it’s almost telepathic. Hive knew that Skye killed Malick, and that she obtained the Kree Orb. I think he doesn’t so much control their actions as much as “convinces” them to follow him, and then just monitors the results. When he got control of Skye, she didn’t fight it or repeat what he said or anything like that. Skye immediately reported that Shield had something they needed, and he set her on her way. You do you.
Remember: Hive was created to control the Inhuman army for the Kree. They didn’t realize that their control mechanism would have a mind and goals of its own. That’s why Hive was so dangerous. He wasn’t just one Inhuman, he was every Inhuman.
I also love how there wasn’t some awkward talk between Skye and SquidWard before he took her over. Just like the first time the met after he was outed as Hydra and she immediately shot him three times in the chest, there was no angst or exposition. SCHOOP. She’s under Hive’s control. It was that quick.
3. Malick was more than delighted to be caught by Shield, because after last week, he wanted the fuck away from SquidWard. I assumed last week that Hive would kill Malick in the way he saw it in his vision after realizing Malick had betrayed him. I also noted that the death visions weren’t literal, and were open to interpretation and context - the only constant was that someone died. Malick assumed his death would be at the hands of SquidWard. He was half right.
SquidWard didn’t kill Malick because of any betrayal, but because he was no longer useful, and to prevent any further discussions about his plans. And even though Skye was the one that shook him to death, and she was acting under her own volition (SquidWard didn’t pull the trigger), it really wasn’t Daisy. It was Skye. Context was missing, but the vision came to pass.
4. In the course of one episode, all of the trust that built up between the members of the team and the Inhumans was shot to hell. Yo Yo doesn’t trust Mack anymore. Joey doesn’t see the fun in being a Shield agent any more (for good reason, he killed a guy!) Lincoln seems the most heart broken because Skye used his sparky attitude and temper against him (again, SquidWard wasn’t in control, he just altered Skye so she wanted to help, and used her knowledge to that effect) to get what she wanted: The Kree orb and most of the Terrigen crystals.
Going forward, any Inhuman the team meets is potentially a Hive agent, up to and until hive is killed. Coulson will have to decide whether to continue integrating Inhumans into his team, or to catalog and incarcerate them. This is SHIELD’s Civil War.
5. The interrogation scene between Malick and Coulson was the best of the season, hands down. Malick explained that he was raised to worship this Inhuman, and taught that bringing him back would usher in a new era and all that jazz. When he finally did, though, things were not as promised: Hive was a god, alright, just not their god. Oops.
And Coulson, holy shit bringing the fire. When Malick kept talking about how Hive was a god, Coulson said “I’ve met gods. Gods bleed.” Holy fuck. Sorry WB, but this is how it’s done. (I expect my royalty check to be direct deposited, thanks!)
6. It was interesting to see both sides of Coulson in action this week: On the one hand, Coulson was telling Malick that he should help Shield to get revenge for his daughter, and related the story of how his love for Rosalind turned to hate against Malick and Ward, and that he killed Ward for no other reason than revenge. Then, not a few minutes later, Coulson was talking to Skye, and telling her not to seek revenge for what was “happening” to “Lincoln.” The only real difference was that Coulson could tell that Lincoln (if he was the Hive mole) wasn’t himself. That thread continued when he realized Skye was the actual mole (and the preview for next week confirmed it).
7. Even though this iteration of the Secret Warriors felt more like a Marvel One Shot than a first mission of many for the team, it was awesome watching the team use their powers to solve unique problems. Joey went full Neo on those bullets, and Yo Yo made quick work of the Hydra goons. Skye dug a 50 foot tunnel with her powers. Lincoln was using is lightning bolts like lassos of motherfucking truth in his melee with those commandos. How freaking cool was that?
8. Speaking of trust: Yo Yo was practicing saying “it’s good to see you again, you look well” or some iteration thereof at the beginning of the episode, while she was waiting for a bus. Then her Apple Watch Secret Warrior App(C)(TM)(R) went off, and he had a different ride. Yo Yo originally said she wanted to stay in her home town to help where she could. Now, she was on her way to go see Mack and join the team for good. When she first broke Mack and the rest of them out of that closet, the first things she said was “it’s good to see you again. You look well.”
9. FitzSimmons is the best. Really. They had some rough patches there last season and the beginning of this one, but time and space couldn’t keep them apart. Not just as a couple, but as friends. From the beginning of the episode, they were right back at it, being snarky but complimentary to one another, just like Season one. There wasn’t any angst or conflict over whether should or shouldn’t they - they just were. I loved how Fitz and Simmons went back and forth during the autopsy, making quips about the voice notes. Then, at the end, they were just chillin, and the kiss came naturally. Fitz sort of backed off, but Simmons brought him back down to Earth (returning the favor). They wasted enough time.
My second favorite line of the night (behind Coulson’s “Gods bleed” mic drop) was Fitz: “You needed space. I have something magnificent right here. A picture. of Space.” I know this is a Whedon joint and the only couple meant to be was Wash and Zoe (TOO SOON), so I’m worried. Maybe FitzSimmons is the next Joe and Wash. I’LL TAKE SOME OF THAT HOPE MAY WAS HAVING.
10. Hive’s “persuasion” had an eerily Kilgrave-esque feel to it. FUCK RIGHT OFF, KILGRAVE.
11. Creel’s vaccine / cure / suppressant / elixir will come in to play here, I just know it. FitzSimmons isolated the Hive infection after taking Mandusa’s hat off. We’ve flirted with the idea that Creel’s blood naturally rejects the Terrigenesis. Here’s what I think: FitzSimmons will use Creel’s blood to fight the Hive infection inside Skye. It might have some adverse effects on her powers, but not permanently. However, it will shake SquidWard’s influence, and she’ll go Jessica Jones / Trish Walker and act like she’s under its influence to get close enough to SquidWard to do some damage.
12. Malick had 960 Million in liquidated assets upon his death. I wish we could have an episode of SquidWard and Budget Magneto spending it all, Brewster’s Millions style.