Having just recovered from the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron SHIELD is on the brink of another war.
In the first scene of the episode Coulson drops the pretenses and tells everyone what the THETA protocol was all about. It includes a flashback to a year ago when Tripp was new to the team, Fitz was still at the beginning of his recovery, and Gonzales was presumed dead. After HYDRA fell, Coulson and Fury agreed that they needed an “off the books” back up measure after the fall of SHIELD. To that end, Agent Koenig had been hiding an entire SHIELD helicarrier. That was what was known as the THETA protocol. So, that big ship that Fury just happened to “find” when the Avengers needed to air lift half of Sokovia off of Ultron’s custom meteorite in Avengers: Age of Ultron, actually came from Coulson. Given the reasoning behind the mission and the success of Coulson’s actions, they’re able to come to an understanding. Coulson proposes that he continue as Director of SHIELD with Gonzales and his compatriots acting as a SHIELD advisory board that he can report to.
The new SHIELD alliance is quickly called into action when the Raina and Gordon appear on the ship. Raina had a vision about a rock that Jaiying and Gordon recognize as a Kree weapon that’s designed to be used against them. While they’re walking around the base, they’re spotted by Hunter which sends the entire base into high alert. They leave after confirming that SHIELD is in possession of the weapon and head back to Afterlife with the disturbing news. Meanwhile the SHIELD heads are on edge because of the ease with which the Inhumans infiltrated their base. They are able to recreate the HYDRA tech that tracks Gordon and learn the location of Afterlife. Gonzales wants to fly right over to them, but Coulson believes that they’ll end up starting a war. Outside of Skye and Coulson, both sides are expecting the worst of each other. Skye strikes a nerve with May when she points out what happened in Bahrain (when she killed a child) as a reason that the Inhumans would be wary of SHIELD.
Both sides are able to tentatively agree to a meeting between leaders after Skye returns to Afterlife with Lincoln. The plan is to have Coulson meet with Jaiying, but Gonzales refuses to let that happen because he feels like Coulson is too close to the situation. It’s a sentiment that’s going around the base. May tells Coulson that he lost control when it came to the alien writing and that’s what led to Skye being changed. Mack also comes to Coulson and quits because of his discomfort with Coulson being full of alien blood. Given everyone’s objections, Coulson wants to go along with the new council in order to try to keep SHIELD together. Jaiying is also faced with her own problems as Cal, Raina and Gordon are all insistent that SHIELD be treated as a threat. Raina is also trying to convince Gordon that she should be the one to take the leadership role and talk to SHIELD. Gordon doesn’t listen to her and ends up telling Jaiying about Raina’s treachery.
While the SHIELD team is on its way to Afterlife, Bobbi gets an unpleasant surprise. She believes that she’s on a flight with May, but it turns out to be Kara. She attacks Bobbi and lands their plane in another location. When Bobbi steps off the plane, she’s shot in the head with a sleeper by Ward. That’s not the only surprise as the episode wraps up. Despite appearances, Gonzales does actually go to Afterlife with the same motivations as Coulson, to have a peaceful relationship with the Inhumans. However, it’s Jaiying that’s not willing to let things go that way. After what she suffered at the hands of Whitehall she has no desire to let the outside world anywhere near her people. Jaiying turns over Cal to them, but allows him to take his super strength serum before he goes. She also kills Gonzales and shots herself in the shoulder to make it look like he tried to kill her. She couldn’t get her people to blindly follow her into a war, but now she’s got a reason for them to fight.
- We’ve been spending too much time together
This was just a little moment between Coulson, Fitz and Hunter, but I thought it was funny how comfortable the three of them got around each other in such a short time.
- THETA protocol explained
After all that fuss, it’s just a helicarrier. Still, I’m glad that they just filled us in on what that was right when the episode started. Plus, it gave us a chance to see Agent Koenig(s) on the screen again.
- Raina was right
After making it seem like Raina was just trying to take over the Inhumans (which she still might be), it turns out that she was actually telling the truth about Jaiying taking them to war.
There’s palpable irony in Gonzales’ comparison of Coulson and Tony Stark. I guess he doesn’t know the full story behind Ultron or he just is too blind to see it. He says that Stark was allowed to create Ultron because the people close to him didn’t check him. In fact, it was Tony Stark’s obsession with dealing with a perceived threat that led to Ultron’s creation. That’s the exact path that Gonzales and Jaiying seemed to be going down. Even though Gonzales seemed to redeem himself in the end, it’s that kind of cold war mentality that plagues SHIELD and the Inhumans. Both sides are afraid of what the other one can do. Now, Jaiying has started what’s going to turn into a full blown war between the two sides with Skye caught in the middle. The episode did do a really good job of setting it up like Gonzales and Raina were going to be the ones to start the fight, was going to be the one to start the fighting just to throw a curve and have it be Jaiying be the one to do it. And she did it with the help of Cal, of all people.
I’m also very curious to see what’s going to happen with Bobbi. I don’t quite get what the grudge is that Kara holds against Bobbi, but it seems like she and Ward are just going down a revenge list for her. I guess that means that Ward isn’t really turning over a new leaf like I had hoped. Instead he and Kara are just going to keep spiraling down this rabbit hole together. It does make me think that the reason for Mack’s abrupt departure is that Bobbi needed him away from the base in case something like this happened. I get that Mack doesn’t trust the alien stuff, but it did seem like he went from being content in his position to ready to leave with almost no warning signs at all. If not him, then I guess Hunter and Coulson will have to go after Ward again. That is if they’re not busy dealing with a full-blown Inhuman war.
With Jaiying and Cal at the forefront of the Inhumans attack, Skye is going to be placed in between her two sets of parents. For most of the series May and Coulson have served as mother and father figures to her. Gonzales even tells Coulson that he can tell Skye’s like a daughter to him. May hasn’t said as much, but you can tell that’s she’s taking hard when Skye reveals that she found out what May did to that little girl. When she tells Skye she hopes her mother was everything she thought she was, she definitely sounds like a scorned foster parent. We can see now that Skye is going to end up going back to her “foster parents” once she finds out what Jaiying and Cal are up to. However, for now she’ll view them as victims and may be tempted to turn against SHIELD in the interim.