Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is done until March, so let’s stop our heads from spinning, count our losses, and figure out what the hell just happened.

A lot has happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the events of the season two finale – and I don’t just mean Ant-Man. Terrigen has now made it’s way into the water supply and especially into fish oil pills, so new Inhumans are popping up everywhere. The government considers this an alien threat, and has created the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (or A.T.C.U.) to deal with the problem. S.H.I.E.L.D. still don’t know what happened to Simmons after she was “eaten” by the Monolith, and everyone has given up looking months ago – everyone except for Fitz. The Bus (R.I.P.) has been replaced with a cool new jet called the Zephyr One.

When the season starts, Daisy is in full “Agent” mode, being the S.H.I.E.L.D. “Welcome Wagon” Coulson foretold in season 1, as they bring in Joey, a new and scared Inhuman who has the ability to melt and shape metal, for evaluation. We learn that Daisy and Mack are spearheading an Inhuman retrieval project that will eventually culminate in a new superhero spy team, The Secret Warriors, led by Daisy (who, by the way, has dropped the “Skye” moniker entirely). There are three problems with this: the team psychologist Andrew is very strict on who he considers ready for the team, the A.T.C.U. is getting to new Inhumans before S.H.I.E.L.D. can, and a giant new Inhuman monster named Lash is searing holes in the chest of Inhumans he deems unworthy of their powers. After Lash’s destructive failed attempt to assassinate Lincoln (who has graduated from med school and is a doctor now), Lincoln is put on the A.T.C.U.’s wanted list and is on the run.

While Coulson, with his new robotic hand, is flirting with the head of the A.T.C.U. Rosalind Price, Ward is rebuilding HYDRA from the ground up – a new, very “Project Mayhem” HYDRA, with the help of his henchman Kebo, Wolfgang von Strucker’s son Werner, and last remaining HYDRA head and former World Security Council member Gideon Malick. Hunter seeks out May, who has been AWOL since season two, to help him infiltrate HYDRA and kill Ward to pay him back for benching Bobbi. Bobbi has not fully recovered from Ward’s sick torturing and attempted murder, and she is helping in the lab and covering for Fitz as he scours the globe looking for hints on how to rescue Jemma from the Monolith.

We quickly learn that the Monolith is a portal and Jemma was transported to some sort of hell-planet, nicknamed Maveth for the Hebrew word for “Death (by punishment)”. With help from our season one ancient Asgardian friend, Dr. Elliot Randolph, we find out that this portal has been around for centuries, and some sort of cult has seemingly been sacrificing people through it for as long as he can remember. They discover that the portal can be manually opened with acoustic frequency, which has intense vibrations that almost kill Daisy, but Fitz rescues Simmons in the nick of time – though she has some wicked PTSD. Fitz and Simmons have their promised first date. It…doesn’t go well. While S.H.I.E.L.D. infiltrates HYDRA through Hunter, HYDRA infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. by posing Werner von Strucker as a student in Andrew’s class.

While on the run, Lincoln and Daisy start a relationship. Coulson makes a deal to cooperate with the A.T.C.U. to bring Lincoln in and “contain the threat”, though he escapes. The two agencies start working together and slowly sharing secrets as the two directors get closer and closer. After agreeing to take Daisy and Mack to the A.T.C.U. facility, their transport is attacked by Lash on the way. He kills all Inhumans in the vicinity except for Daisy. A stunned Daisy watches as Lash transforms back into a human. Meanwhile, Hunter’s botched attempt at assassinating Ward results in Ward making the call and blowing up the gas station Andrew is in. Meanwhile, Simmons has been trying to go back to the alien planet Maveth, despite blowing up the Monolith. Bobbi agrees to help her. But why?

We take a break from the action for an episode to see what really happened on the alien planet in the fantastic episode “4,722 Hours”, which details the six months Simmons spent stranded on the planet. She meets a fellow survivor named Will, who has been there for fourteen years as part of a failed NASA experiment. She learns of an evil creature on the planet that can drive people insane. After spending months on calculations, Simmons calculates when the portal will open next, but they fail to get there in time. Will and Simmons start a romantic relationship, before Simmons comes face to face with the monster “It”, and is ultimately rescued by Fitz, leaving Will stranded behind on the planet. In present day, a heartbroken Fitz resolves to help Simmons rescue Will.

Andrew has survived his attack, but Hunter’s recklessness has him taken off the mission. While Hunter helps Daisy and Mack try to prove that Rosalind’s right-hand man Banks is secretly Lash, May takes Bobbi on a new mission to go after Ward. They manage to kill Kebo and put Werner in a coma, but not before May learns that Andrew is Lash. While Andrew is evaluating and preparing to kill a very excited Joey, who is loving his new powers, May goes on a solo mission to take him down. While this is happening, and Rosalind is getting a tour of the Zephyr One, Lincoln arrives and tells them what he has deduced – that Lash is with S.H.I.E.L.D., whether they know it or not. They realize it is Andrew and go on a mission to rescue May, and capture Andrew, which almost kills Rosalind in the process before she is saved by Daisy. Andrew is taken in by the A.T.C.U., and Rosalind and Coulson start a romantic relationship – but we find out that Rosalind is secretly working with HYDRA’s top brass, Gideon.

Coulson loves Ros, but he doesn’t trust her. He gives her a tour of their base, The Playground, while Hunter, Bobbi, Mack, May, Lincoln and Daisy are on a mission to infiltrate the A.T.C.U. and find out what they are really up to. They discover that Andrew is not being held there – he was taken by Gideon – and that the A.T.C.U. is making as many new Inhumans as they can, instead of working on a cure. Coulson confronts Ros, who doesn’t know anything about this; she then realizes she’s been accidentally working with HYDRA. Woops! But with the last 70 years of S.H.I.E.L.D. history being secretly shaped by HYDRA, can you really blame her?

Fitz and Simmons, who have since admitted their love to eachother and kissed, which really complicates the “Will” situation, discover that the ancient cult that has been sacrificing people through the Monolith, is in fact the same “independent contractor” who funded Will’s NASA expedition: HYDRA. Gideon reveals to Ward that HYDRA has existed for thousands of years before Red Skull brought it into the limelight; they were a cult founded on the idea of bringing back an ancient evil Inhuman (“It”) back through the portal and supplying it with an Inhuman army to take over the world. They still have pieces of the Monolith and can open the portal, now they just need Fitz and Simmons’ knowledge of how to bring something back.

Well, that’s big.

To get the ball rolling, during a date, Ward snipes Rosalind in the throat from a distant rooftop, which understandably sends Coulson into a blind rage. He takes Hunter and Bobbi on a off-the-books mission to lure out and kill Ward, appointing Mack as acting director. Fitz, Simmons and Banks decide to check out the old NASA facility for clues, before Banks is killed by HYDRA’s resident telekinetic, Giyera. R.I.P. the entire A.T.C.U. sideplot. Fitz and Simmons are captured by HYDRA and tortured until Fitz agrees to help Ward bring “It” back through the portal – though he promises Simmons he is only bringing back Will. To piss off Ward, Coulson, Bobbi and Hunter kidnap Ward’s younger brother Thomas, who hates Grant for torturing him as a kid and killing their parents. They use the call to track Ward and make their way to the HYDRA castle, where Coulson dives out the plane straight the portal after Fitz and Ward.

As acting director, Mack decides everything is FUBAR and assembles the Secret Warriors, consisting of Daisy, Lincoln and Joey. The whole team storms the castle in an attempt to hold the portal room and rescue their team. Simmons manages to escape from HYDRA, and releases Andrew – who immediately becomes Lash and escapes in a murderous rampage. Upon regrouping with the team, Simmons tells the team of HYDRA’s plan, and Mack decides to stay behind, with the team ready to bomb the castle if HYDRA gets too close.

On the alien planet, Fitz guides Ward and party to an injured Will, who he says will help them escape in time. As Will guides them to “It”s domain, Coulson follows by closely. Will and Fitz get separated from Ward in a sandstorm, kill their HYDRA guards and start making their way to the portal – while Coulson catches up and has Ward as his prisoner. Upon reaching the portal site, Will tells Fitz of the ancient civilization that used to live there, and reveals he isn’t Will at all – Will died saving Jemma, and this is “It” inhabiting his body. Fitz kills him by lighting him on fire with a flare. As Coulson gets in a fight with Ward, ending with him killing Ward by slowly crushing his ribcage with his robot hand, they quickly escape the planet and the HYDRA castle, making it back to the Zephyr One just in time.

The midseason ends with a reanimated Ward back on Earth, possessed by “It” – HYDRA has achieved their ultimate goal.

What a roller coaster! Let’s see what I rated each episode.

Laws of Nature – 8/10
Purpose in the Machine – 8/10
A Wanted (Inhu)man – 7/10
Devils You Know – 7/10
4,722 Hours – 10/10
Among Us Hide… – 6.5/10
Chaos Theory – 7/10
Many Heads, One Tail – 9/10
Closure – 9/10
Maveth – 10/10

Average: 8.15/10

This half-season was great, hitting a still fairly strong weak point with episode 6 trying to follow up the fantastic 4,722 Hours. But with fantastic space-themed episodes 4,722 Hours and Maveth, taking the Marvel Cinematic Universe where only Guardians of the Galaxy dared to go, this half-season is the strongest yet, firmly standing up against other Marvel television properties like Daredevil, Agent Carter and Jessica Jones.

Let’s see how my crackpot theories held up!

Rosalind is Lincoln’s mom!

Considering they’ve now met, and Lincoln didn’t seem too upset about her death, probably not.

Simmons is in Death’s domain (x2)!

We don’t know what “It” is yet, but it seems unlikely that it is the Death we know from the comics – even though I posed this theory twice.

Simmons is on Pluto (x2)!

Well, that’s definitely not Pluto.

Simmons is in the Cancerverse!

Wow did I have some out-there theories. No, Simmons did not appear to leave the universe.

Simmons is on an exile planet where Inhumans are banished and sent to die!

It was only one specific Inhuman in question, but this theory is actually true. Good for me!

Simmons is on Hel!

I had a lot of theories about where Simmons was. No, she probably wasn’t on Hel.

Simmons met the lord sacrificed by the cult!

Well, she did find his corpse, which I also speculated. Go me!

Lincoln and Ward are the same person!

I was kidding about this theory, but now that you mention it…

Andrew isn’t dead!

Another one correct!

Andrew is Lash!

I’m on fire!

Simmons is on Ego the Living Planet!

The theory I was so passionate about I dedicated an entire post to it. This seems unlikely; or at least, “It” is probably not associated with the planet. But some things like the shifting landscape and Will claiming the planet is alive remain unanswered points that still support this theory.

Andrew isn’t Lash!

I was right the first time. Way to put my foot in my mouth.

“It” is the Unspoken!

Maybe an amalgamation of The Unspoken and a different character.

The ancient evil Inhuman is Will!

I accidentally got this one right. Not what I meant when I posed the theory, but I will take it!

Ward will gain powers (by being possessed by “It”)!

Nailed it!

Gideon was lying about “It” all along!

Surprisingly not.

Joey’s codename will be Meltdown!

He hasn’t received his codename yet. Fingers crossed!

Ward will die in the mid-season finale!

..And it’s about damn time!

“It” is The Hive!

We don’t know yet, but it seems likely.

Lash and “It” will clash in an epic battle!

They had better!