Last episode’s excitement ended with the team all back together +1. Skye’s dad also made a portentous offer to ally himself with HYDRA. Oh, and that +1, she happens to be both Mockingbird, Hunter’s ‘psycho’ ex-wife. So, are the sparks going to continue to fly this ep? Oh yeah…
We start this episode with Talbot at the UN, badmouthing Shield. In response to his speech, a group of armed men show up, disintegrate the Italian ambassador and throw the meeting into panic. The armed men wear Shield badges, but we all know they are HYDRA.
Back at the Playground Skye and Simmons watch Ward exercising in his cell. May arrives back with news of the HYDRA attack and the team is in action. Bobbi recognizes Marcus Scarlotti (the actual Whiplash, not that other one) as the leader of the attack, and identifies the inventor of the weapon used in the attack. Off go her, May and… Hunter to Okinawa.
Elsewhere, an angry senator has a meeting with Talbot, who somehow avoided being disintegrated. Talk turns to Senator Christian Ward’s brother. Guess who that might be? Senator Ward goes on to propose a worldwide witch-hunt against Shield, which, oddly enough, only a Belgium Foreign Minister appears to be against.
On the Quinnjet to Okinawa, Bobbi and Hunter start bickering, and the frustrated Mockingbird earns a pair of raised eyebrows from May, who clearly knows better than to talk to her ex. This mirrors Fitz and Simmons as they work on the hard drive Bobbi grabbed last episode. Bitterness = sad.
Sky talks with Ward about his brother. Turns out, Ward is freaked out that Christian might find out where he is, and warns that his brother can’t be trusted. Talk turns to her dad, of course, and that’s where Coulson cuts it off.
In Okinawa, Bobbi goes in undercover as the HYDRA agent she was, to charm and flatter the info on the ‘Splinter Bombs’ that were used at the UN. She learns they’re on their way to Belgium, and that they were derived from the Obelisk. While watching Hunter attempts to curry some sympathy from May re: Bobbi’s ‘talent at deception’. May’s not biting. The moment a message comes through that blows Bobbi’s cover he’s off to save her, not that Bobbi is appreciative. Then it’s off to Belgium. Hmm…
In continuing the rough adjustments for former couples, Fitz can’t hold in his simmering resentment over Simmons’ leaving when he needed her. Later, though, it becomes clear that having Simmons around to remind him what he used to be may have been Fitz’s real problem all along.
Meanwhile, Coulson shows up at Christian’s office advising him that HYDRA was behind the UN attack, then appears to offer up Ward, as an ‘I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine’ thing. Ward, I think, has good reason to be freaked.
Cut with that meeting, Skye chat’s with Ward, persuading him to tell her everything he knows about her parents: HYDRA tried to kill both her and her mother, then her father lost it and killed them all, but did it out of love. Ward again offers to help Skye find her father. Seemingly accepting this, Skye tells him its time they let cut him loose.
The moment Ward gives her a hopeful look, though, she drops the hammer. He’s being handed over to Christian, but not before Coulson comes by takes the time to remind Ward that there is no redemption for him. Nope, none at all. Never.
Meanwhile, Simmons returns to the lab to discover that Fitz as found a new partner in Mack, and they have found the Splinter Bombs were invented in the 1940’s by a HYDRA scientist named… Beckers. Same name as that Belgian Minister. Uh-oh.
Yes, grandson Minister Becker is a HYDRA agent, and the whole Belgian safe haven is a well-conceived trap. But, now clued in, our agents show they have reached the point where they can match HYDRA play for play. Hunter distracts Scarlotti and his team, allowing May and Bobbi to stage a surprise attack. Sadly, brave agent Noelle Walters was disintegrated before they got there. You win one, you lose six (agents).
On the plus side we are gifted with, hands down, two of the best fight scenes yet on shown on AOS. May gets to take on Scarlotti and his chain-whip. And Hunter and Bobbie (in excellent Mr. & Mrs. Smith fashion, showing they are a well-oiled fighting machine. Awesome. And since Shield isn’t same Shield that tore them apart, maybe some future reconciliation is possible…
To top this all off, we get a near perfect montage wrap up, played out to Senator Ward’s re-written and pro-Shield speech: And it is brilliant, starting with the worried Grant being handed over to the military, facing his former team members as he is lead away. This is followed by Talbot shaking hands with May, empathizing over her lost agents.
Christian winds up his fantastic speech with a claim that his younger brother will pay for his crimes, adding an ominous warning for the world re: HYDRA. This man is going to get re-elected for sure. Then again, as I watched Ward pull off his escape, I considered, maybe not.
Then there’s the end tag: a stranger walks into a tattoo shop looking to complete his full torso tattoo, which looks awfully familiar. Yep, he’s a human canvas for the alien map. Now that’s a punch line.
This is the fourth excellent episode of this season. Not bad, considering it’s the sixth. How so? By being a masterfully written weave between character and action, where relationships take center stage, thus raising the personal stakes in the storyline without taking away from the episode plot one iota. In fact they all contribute to both character and season arcs brilliantly. And despite it’s only taken a few episodes for Shield to get back into the good graces of the world, it still feels well earned. Great performances, beautiful writing. AOS is firing on all cylinders.