It’s the leadup to the midseason finale, and you know what that means–big things are happening. The city awaits, but everyone seems to have a bad feeling about it. And if ever there’s a time in TV land to trust your gut reactions, it’s right around midseason finale time. Just ask Deathlok about last year’s.
The episode starts off with a creepy dream of Skye’s, where May and Coulson discuss the fate of a baby Skye and ultimately decide to abandon her because “poison fruit from a poison tree.” Then Skye gets turned to stone (the grown Skye, not the baby, that is), essentially representing her rejection from both sides. Her subconscious is playing rough, huh? Noteworthy mention goes to the background music here, which is definitely “Daisy, Daisy,” so… hmm. In the waking world, Mack has a cute remote control Lola he’s going to give Coulson, and he runs into Fitz in the hall, reminding him that he has to talk to Simmons sooner or later. Simmons, for her part, is patching up Trip after his near-death experience last week, but he’s not one to follow doctor’s orders. They begin to discuss Skye’s Dad, until she comes into the room.
But now it’s time to get down to business, with a brief recap of the previous episode (I’m guessing they knew there’d be a break in between) and it’s off to Puerto Rico, where evidently the alien city is buried. HYDRA still doesn’t know it’s there, so SHIELD does have the advantage for once. I’m just glad they resisted the urge to locate it in actual Tahiti. Over in Vancouver, Raina spots May sitting at the table watching her and approaches, but it’s not May–it’s Agent 33/Q, who still looks like her from the nanomask malfunction, trying to take Raina to HYDRA. She makes a run for it, and two different Koenigs help her to escape (one of whom has a pretty kickass cloaking umbrella). Raina on the good guys team? Sign me up.
The Koenigs call Coulson and fill him in; apparently they’ve been watching Raina for a while and this is the first time Hydra’s shown their face. Why? No idea, yet, but Coulson’s sending May and a team to secure Raina and bring her to the base. May, meanwhile, is watching the report on the demise of Senator Christian Ward with Skye, and they’re both in agreement on who the guilty party really is. When Coulson shows up to give May her orders, he sends Skye along, too, which is pretty significant since she’s been with Coulson’s team for most of the season. He says he doesn’t want her on his team to keep her away from her Dad, but it seems that there might be more to it, since the city itself could respond to her presence.
Morse goes down to talk to Simmons, who finally gives us some details on what happened to Fitz–she hasn’t really said anything to him about his confession in the season one finale, and she doesn’t know how she feels about it herself. Fitz was in a coma for 9 days afterward and even once it ended, he couldn’t speak. Really, all that taken into account, it’s amazing he’s recovered as much as he has. Morse suggests she talk things over with him, but she can’t offer much more advice than that, as none of her relationships have evolved out of friendships.
The teams ship out, and we get a weird scene between Mack and Morse cryptically discussing whether she plans to bring Hunter in on “the other thing,” now that Hartley’s gone. No idea what this means but it certain doesn’t sound like a good thing, especially knowing that Hartley and her crew were all mercenaries hired by Coulson. They’re the most likely to have an alternate agenda going on. Once they’ve split off, (Sam) Koenig is walking down the Vancouver streets about to get jumped by HYDRA when Hunter takes the guy out discreetly. May gets two more, and Skye heads to the place where (Billy) Koenig and Raina are to lead them to safety. But she’s been followed, and is forced into a fight with Agent 33. She holds her own for a while, and gets the upper hand for long enough to offer help, but 33 turns the tables and it’s only due to the well-timed arrival of Hunter that they escape. Time to start heading to Puerto Rico to catch up with the others.
Speaking of, Morse is talking to Coulson, trying to assess whether he’s got some ulterior motives. They discuss what makes Fury different from Coulson as a leader: Fury would try to recover this weapon, Coulson refuses. Coulson sees no such thing as “acceptable losses” and he’s here primarily to protect the people of Puerto Rico from HYDRA. It’s a pretty interesting moment, and it seems to give some hint as to what Mack and Morse’s agenda might be. Better still, almost everything they say could be supported with evidence from the show so far, which is an excellent thing to be able to say. No informed attributes here. Mack’s back at the Quinjet with Fitz and Simmons, but the silence is getting so uncomfortable that he excuses himself to force them to talk. It looks like it might be the heartwrenching moment we’ve all been waiting for, but it’s stolen away again–Fitz simply tells her that he’s planning to leave the lab to her because they just can’t work together anymore. Ouch. And it seemed like whatever Simmons was going to say was inspired by Morse, too…
Skye and Raina are waiting for Hunter to return with May and the van so they can leave, and Skye lets her in on a bit of the plan. She mentions that Whitehall has the Obelisk, and Raina admits that she was able to touch it without being harmed, and that Skye probably can, too. But Skye’s not in the mood for what she perceives to be mind games, and when Raina tries to get the attention of nearby HYDRA agents, May plows them over with the van and shoves both girls in the back.They continue their discussion on the Bus, as Raina dishes out some backstory of her own, about how Skye’s Dad found her and several other self-described “Freaks” on the streets of Thailand and took them in. She doesn’t seem to see herself as a replacement daughter, nor is she upset with Skye about how much her Dad is focused on her instead. Very interesting dynamic at play; it’s quite sisterly, and that’s very much deliberate, and yet it falls short. The Kree are mentioned by name here, so confirmation at last in-universe. And if anyone’s still doubting whether Skye and Raina are Inhumans, well… I don’t know what more you want.
Over in Puerto Rico, the team is digging up the basement of an old fort, which is allegedly haunted but also it’s the entrance to an alien city so let’s not rule anything out (especially with Doctor Strange on the way, eh?). They open the passage and send in the little drones from season 1, but the transmission is lost soon after. They decide to lower Mack down to try to figure out what happened, and there’s a distinct possibility that all electronics will stop working down there. He makes it down to the surface, but Raina has Skye convinced that he’s about to get vaporized or something if they as ordinary humans try to enter through this hatch.
And worse, HYDRA’s arrived, following the tracking chip that Raina had in her (which was mentioned at the episode’s start). You’d think they’d have shut that off once they had her on board their invisible plane. HYDRA sends someone aboard, and surprise! It’s Ward. He was able to identify the frequency of her tracker and now he’s here to bring her back, and Skye, too. Naturally, that’s not well received, but in the end she has no choice but to go along.
Mack touches the floor and activates a symbol, which appears on his hand and he begins screaming in pain. They reel him up, but it’s too late. He’s been possessed by something, and throws Coulson across the room with newfound superhuman powers. Morse is stuck fighting him, trying to get through to no avail. She spots her baton-stick things across the room, and tries to get to them, but he’s got her by the neck. Coulson fills him with Icer bullets–nothing. Coulson tries to strangle him with a cord, which is enough to get his attention away from Morse. Simmons smashes a crate on his head, but he tosses her away and nearly down the pit. With Coulson helping her not to fall, it’s come down to Fitz, who’s only got a real gun. It looks, for a moment, like Fitz might have to shoot his new best friend at point blank range, but Morse saves him from having to do it by shocking Mack with her batons. Mack falls forward–right down the pit, and Coulson orders it covered over, saying that Mack was already gone, to Morse’s astonishment. Seems there may be acceptable losses, after all…
In the tag, we see Agent 33 reporting to Whitehall, claiming that Ward was not supposed to take Skye and, surprise of surprises, they’d have gone back on their word and blown up the Bus no matter what. Ward spared them. Whitehall can’t have that, however, and has 33 order the Bus shot down. CLIFFHANGER.
All in all, a decently good episode, albeit one with a slow start. We got a lot of backstory and characterization all around, and things set up earlier are being put to good use. Next week is the real midseason finale, and what a setup we’ve got going into it. Skye will be meeting her Dad for the first time, the city is waiting, and the mysteries surrounding Mack’s fate are still unresolved. Next time: What They Become…