Hot damn. Thanks to cryptic tweets from cast members and ominous headlines all week, I was legitimately worried that we might lose Fitz or Coulson or Ward this episode. There was so much going on, and Ward went full Hydra there at the end of the last episode - breaking his promise never to hurt Simmons himself - that I was very concerned about Fitz and Coulson’s well being.

That ending, though.

1. Fitz has had it up to HERE with Ward. Like, he really hated him going into the last two episodes, but the brutality he made Fitz listen to (Simmons’ screaming) pushed him to a whole new level of contempt. When Ward was getting on him at the beginning about focusing on finding the portal, his response was glorious: “Why don’t you shut the hell up.”

And in line with Ward crossing his own line, when Fitz kind of sort of reached for his weapon (but maybe it was just interesting hand placement that caught both of them off guard), Ward knocked him the fuck off that ledge. Fitz didn’t crack. He knew what Ward wouldn’t let himself believe: The only reason Malick sent them through the portal was because the entire team, Ward included, was expendable. Fitz was keeping it real: He knew he might not make it back, and knew that Ward was using Fitz as bait for the Hydra thing - not just for his smarts and help locating the portal.

Throughout the episode Ward made remarks to insinuate that Fitz was bait - an offering, if you will - to the monster. Fitz knew it. Every time Ward made those remarks, Fitz gave him the stink eye or immediately changed the subject. And yet, he stayed calm, and got the job done.

It was interesting to see Fitz use Hogface’s knowledge of the monster as an excuse to keep Ward from killing him. Not only did Hogface know his way around the planet (he HAD been there for 14 years...), but Fitz genuinely needed to get Hogface back. For Simmons.

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2. Okay, the monster: It has to be Hive, right? Maybe not Hydra-created-it-in-a-lab Hive, but the MCU version of Hive. Instead of being genetically engineered parasites, maybe this Hive was an early Inhuman, who was sent though the portal by other Inhumans because they recognized the danger it posed. Once it got to this new planet (which apparently had an ancient civilization and nine cities on planet) it wrecked shit - exactly what the Inhumans that sent it away feared it would do to Earth.

In the comics, Hydra “fed” unwitting agents to Hive as a host, so the parasites could merge into one being. All those people Hydra sent through the portal were sacrifices to act as new hosts, allowing Hive to live on. Hive is very intelligent, but has no identity of its own. Hive takes over for it’s host, and makes that identity it’s own.

That’s what it did to Hogface. People were speculating that Hogface was the monster all along, but apparently only took over right after Simmons left. Remember that episode: Hogface had one bullet left, and right as Simmons was leaving we heard a shot. After Simmons left, we see Hogface standing there with no ammo. It’s entierly possible that Hogface tried to kill himself and the monster to give Simmons time to escape, and after Hogface’s death, Hive took over his form as a new host.

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Interestingly, Hive is limited by the limitations of its host. If Hogface was weak, so too would be Hive. He’s not immortal - Coulson shot (and stopped) Hive multiple times, and even KILLED IT WITH FIRE. Mostly. Hive has some increased strength, but can’t fly or shoot lasers out of its eyes, unless the host bady can. Ward is a super spy with some pretty good fighting skills. Now, as Walker Ward, he has all that with some added strength as well.

This explains Malick’s plan with the Inhumans, too: It wasn’t so much an army for Hive, but rather a buffet for him to pick the most capable and special host to take over. That’s why Malick was so interested in sending Andrew. Could you imagine if Hive took over Lash’s form? He’d be fucking unstoppable. Hell, Lash is basically unstoppable, and he’s kind of a good guy!

Another interesting point: Ward was dead when Hive took over. After Fitz tried to kill him with fire, some tentacles came out of the mouth. Another thing Hive can do: He can shoot his parasites at high speed at targets. Maybe Hive lives within each individual parasite, and like Groot, only needs one to survive, making him mostly immortal. Groot just needs a twig; Hive just needs a parasite. In the comics, when Hive took over the form of a dead Hydra boss, Norman Osbourne developed a method of removing Hive from the host, while keeping the host alive. This leaves the door open for a possible return of real Ward, if Hive is ever removed from his body.

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Also: Hive seems to retain the memories of its host, as well as it’s personality. Hogface Hive wanted to help Fitz until it helped himself. It knew about Simmons. Walker Ward is going to retain all the shitty parts of Ward we all know and love.

Oh, and Hive was first introduced in Secret Warriors #2. This was the second episode with the secret warriors being active - they were activated by Director Mack last episode and this one was their first mission.

3. Coulson. Why did you leave your laser finger hand with Ward? HE’S DANGEROUS ENOUGH DON’T GIVE HIM SOMETHING TO PASS ON TO HYDRA SCIENTISTS, TOO!

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Speaking of Coulson. Holy shit he had a day. After getting knocked out cold, he had a dream about Rosalind. Harsh. I liked how even in his dream, she was keeping him on his toes. NO. GET UP NOW. How hard did he hit the ground after flying through that portal? When he got up, he took off his parachute, WHICH DID NOT DEPLOY. He was bookin’. Coulson was stone cold for a second episode in a row. He had to have shot Ward at least twice just for kicks. I laughed when Ward was waxing poetic about the clarity and purpose Hydra and seeing that ancient half built Hydra statute gave him, more so than revenge. Coulson SHOT HIM IN THE FUCKING ARM and said “fells pretty satisfying to me.” I was dying.

Nerdgasm line of the night: “I’ll be damned, Tatooine.”

4. SECRET WARRIORS! This was their first mission, and boy was it fun. It took me back, and Joey was absolutely perfect being all giddy about his powers. He straight melted those steel beams (CHECKMATE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS) to get into the aqueduct. He opened that wall like it was a door. HE’S FREAKING BULLET PROOF!

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The best was the quick pep talk Lincoln was going to give Joey when he first felt scared, and was asking about the difference between telekinesis and telepathy: “I don’t want anyone knowing what is in my head right now!” Lincoln was going to give a little motivation speech, and related that just like Joey, he thought he wasn’t a hero and would rather be anywhere else - they all thought that. But then freaking May: “I’m not.” AHAHAHAAH she’s awesome.

Even Mockingbird got in on the action. When Joey realized he could barricade the doors with his powers, but couldn’t think of the words to describe them, Mockingbird jumped in: “with your amazing super powers. GO.” Oh my. Joey is like Flash: excited about his new powers, now that he can control them. He’s going to be the Secret Warriors’ version of Hunter, you watch.

5. Mockingbird and Hunter were hilarious this episode. When they were discussing the plan, Mock said it wouldn’t be easy. Hunter told her she could say it would be and didn’t have to be all doom and gloom, and after she told him it would be easy: “It doesn’t work if I know you’re lying.” HILARIOUS.

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Or when they were looking at their heat signatures from the satellite feed, and Hunter checked if that was them by waving: “Brilliant! Just confirming. You’re welcome.” Mockingbird clearing out the Hydra agents around the portal while Director Mack and Hunter just stood there. GLORIOUS. Oh god this was an intense and funny episode. Keep it up.

6. So Lash is free again. Andrew is slowly turning into Lash, so I wonder how long we have until Andrew is no more. May has about that long to come to terms with losing her husband. I don’t think it’s completely hit her yet.

And even though it was brutal, Lash seems like he made the right choice: If hive was coming through that portal, the last thing anyone needed was it to take over a powered host. I don’t agree with it (he could have used his super strength to move them somewhere), but I see where he was coming from.

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Lash doesn’t kill Inhumans for sport; he things certain ones aren’t worthy of the powers they developed. Maybe in his twisted logic, he’s killing Inhumans so they don’t get used as weapons by someone else - Hydra, mainly.

It’ll be interesting to see the next Lash / Lincoln showdown, now that Lincoln is getting some combat training.

7. Was it me or did it look like Zephyr One and that Quinjet tried to make a little baby SHIELD Cessna twice this episode? TV-MA. YEESH.

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8. Mack is a good boss. Half of his power comes from his voice. Every single agent in that chamber was ready to die by his side, until he went all Black Bolt on them. NO. I GAVE AN ORDER. Even May noped out of that room.

Mack was making tough calls, too. Director May would have been something else, but Mack was right: Just blow the whole damn place up if they send the word. Making sure Hydra didn’t get its hands on the portal or the monster was more important than Fitz or Coulson’s lives.

9. I want to learn more about the ancient ruins on that planet. Hive drained the planet dry over hundreds of years. Was that an group of nine outposts, sent from another planet, or was that their home planet? If the Monolith was a Kree design, did it send people and things to an old Kree outpost? Maybe Hive’s destruction of the planet and its inhabitants is what prompted the Kree to pull the plug on their experiments, after they realized they couldn’t control the weapons they were creating? We never really got a glimpse of Kree society or architecture in Guardians of the Galaxy aside from Ronan’s ship, so it’s possible that city Fitz took pictures of was a Kree creation.

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10. Were there any more mini-monoliths out there? Five were presumably destroyed when May shot up the castle. Pictures of the big Monolith while in SHIELD custody revealed about nine cutouts, so a few still exist. I wonder if Hive cannot be killed, and SHIELD will have to track down those last mini monoliths to send him back for good?

11. When Malick saw Walker Ward at the end: “Well I’ll be damned.” Just like Coulson when he dropped his Star Wars reference. I wonder if Malick knows what he’s getting into with Hive.

MARCH 8 NEEDS TO HURRY THE HELL UP.