HYDRA impersonates SHIELD and launches an attack on the UN. This pushes some powerful people to move against SHIELD, including one who has ties to someone at the Playground.
Talbot is giving a presentation to the U.N. when men dressed in SHIELD uniforms break in and attack people with disks that cause then to disintegrate on contact (likely using the technology derived from the Diviner). SHIELD has been trying to keep a low profile and this does not help. Talbot has a partnership with a Senator and the Senator is not happy with the idea that SHIELD is back in the public eye. The Senator also happens to be Ward’s older brother, Christian (played by Tim Dekay). Senator Ward puts forth a proposal that would make it open season on SHIELD agents worldwide. All other issues (alien writing, Skye’s dad, the Obelisk/Diviner) are put on the back burner as Coulson scrambles his team to deal with this new issue. The newly blonde Bobbi gets paired up with her ex-husband and May to contact the HYDRA scientist that likely created the weapons that HYDRA used to attack the U.N. while Coulson sends Skye to talk to Ward about his brother.
Bobbi uses her old HYDRA cover to get a meeting with Toshiro, the HYDRA scientist. Just to make an awkward situation a little more awkward, Bobbi apparently used to have a little fling with Toshiro. Her flirting gets them some information about what’s going on. They find out that the weapons were based on alien tech and that they came from Whitehall. That’s enough to clue them in that the obelisk is behind this. While Bobbi’s in her meeting, a transmission comes through that outs her as a SHIELD agent. Hunter and May burst in to save her and, after taking everyone out and arguing they realize that HYDRA soldiers are heading toward a Belgian politician named Vincent Beckers that offered refuge in his country for SHIELD agents.
When Skye talks to Ward about his brother getting involved, he becomes really agitated and tries to warn them about how dangerous he is. Skye tries to keep the conversation straight, but Ward is insistent and brings up her father to prove the point that he’s telling the truth. Coulson cuts off the conversation and goes to see Christian on his own. That leaves Skye the chance to go back and talk to Ward on her own. The two conversations play out at the same time during the episode. Both Ward and Christian paint opposing pictures of each other to Skye and Coulson. Coulson doesn’t give away much, but he seems to have some kind of deal in mind for Christian. On the other hand, Ward spills the entire story to Skye about her father and, once again, promises to reunite her with her father. However, after he gives her the information, Skye informs Ward that they’re going to be turning him over to his brother’s custody in exchange for him dropping his SHIELD initiative. Later Ward asks Coulson about it but Coulson tells him that he’s not part of his team and that he’s being traded because his brother is more valuable than him.
In the lab, Fitz and Simmons are trying to get reacquainted with each other, but it’s not going well. Fitz is growing impatient with Simmons and lashing about because she left him. Simmons has a reason that she left, but she can’t bring herself to say it. Later, in a conversation with Mac, she tells him that she left because she felt like she was making Fitz worse. Mac comes in and deals with Fitz instead. After a little time, they uncover a connection between the HYDRA tech and a scientist. Simmons comes back in and realizes that the old HYDRA scientist is a past relative of Vincent Beckers. She alerts Coulson, who realizes that the entire thing is a set-up. Sure enough, he’s right and the SHIELD agents that sought refuge in their Belgian safe house are ambushed by HYDRA agents led by Marcus Scarlotti (who seems like he’s a version of the comic book character who was known as Whiplash) and killed.
May’s team arrives at the safe house later. They send Hunter in first to act as a decoy so May and Bobbi can burst in and start the fireworks. Bobbi and Hunter continue to display their uncanny teamwork as they take out Scarlotti’s team and May finishes whiplash by herself. Unfortunately, several SHIELD agents where killed before they could arrive. Talbot’s men come in to help with the cleanup and he actually offers may condolences for the agents that were lost. Coulson sends Ward back to his brother. As he’s being escorted out, Ward leaves Coulson with a message for Skye that he’ll still honor his promise. While Ward is being transported, we see the Senator making a speech admitting that his brother was a member of HYDRA and supporting SHIELD. As we hear Christian promising to bring his brother to justice, Ward escapes his handcuffs and takes out the guards who are transporting him.
The tag scene from this episode lets us know that the show’s going to get back to the alien writing story as we see a man with the writing tattooed all over his body. He’s coming in to a tattoo parlor to get some more put on.
- You betrayed every one of us
I think Coulson was in the best two non-action scenes in this episode, but I really liked his last conversation with Ward. It’s rare to see Coulson start to come unhinged, but it was clear that Coulson wanted to let out a little bit of the steam that had been building up inside him because of having to keep Ward around.
- The Pop Culture Playground
That first scene in the playground has a lot of fun little items in it. There is a moment where Coulson is holding a grumpy cat mug and standing next to Bobbi, who’s wearing a Star Wars t-shirt.
- The Odd Couple
The angry, but connected, ex-es is definitely a cliche, but it’s one that’s working really well so far. I loved that they put Hunter and Bobbi together on a mission. It’s clear that they work well together as agents but, more importantly, they work great together as actors. Their relationship in this episode was really fun. Based on Bobbi’s invitation at the end of the episode, it seems like we may be in for a little more of that.
I am exceptionally happy that Tim Dekay is playing Ward’s brother. I mostly know him from White Collar where he plays a perpetually upstanding FBI agent, but I’ve seen him play devious a little as well. He’s definitely a strong presence to add to the show. Like Clark Gregg, he can simultaneously inject a bit of humor or malice into different situations while not compromising the overall tone of the performance. I think their first scene together was great and I’m sure it won’t be the last one since Ward has now escaped. I also find it interesting that Talbot now seems to be on SHIELD’s side. I guess the implication is that he’s really just been working for Christian and that, if Christian’s happy, Talbot’s happy. I suspect that we’ll see those 3 working together to capture Ward, but I could be wrong. It’s clear that Christian is the bad guy here, it’s just a matter of time until he plays his hand. It’s also likely that Coulson has his own plan since I doubt he bought the story Christian told him about what Ward did as a child.
The last few episodes have really stepped up the action level of the series, so it makes me think that chasing down Ward (or whatever else they do) is going to involve more elaborate action. Not sure why season 2 seems to be generally more action packed, but I’m not complaining. Although, I will say that having that Whiplash off-shoot in the episode was a little weird, even if he could fight. For those that are wondering, Mark Scarlotti was an employee of Stark Enterprises who became the original Whiplash. Since then there have been several characters to don the moniker and a few version of Scarlotti. This particular version seems to be very much removed from any of his comic book incarnations and, aside from his name, only tangentially resembles the character when he uses a chain whip (not the standard issue whips that the character uses). Aside from the weird comic book reference, I’m still not feeling the whole Fitz situation but I won’t go into that again.
I think having Ward out of the cell will be good for the show, but it does seem like there might be a little too much going on. Currently Coulson is going to have to deal with Whitehall, The Doctor, the Diviner, his alien writing fits, both Wards, Talbot and still worry about actually running/rebuilding SHIELD and whatever problems that means. Unless those opponents and issues somehow overlap with each other, that could be a lot to try to fit into an episode. That would mean things get ignored from one episode to another, which usually makes shows a little harder to follow. Still, that would be a minor detail as long as the episodes continue to be as entertaining as they have been this season.