Stop – S.H.I.E.L.D. time!
This weeks episode opens with a familiar scene; Phil Coulson crushing in the ribcage of the number one thorn in his side, Grant Ward. Of course, this does little to end his reign of terror, as we see the tentacle of Hive slither into his body, and many rapid flashbacks before we cut the the reanimated corpse of Ward in present day. Hive is fascinated by his host and wishes they could have met under different circumstances, but thanks Gideon for the body nonetheless. Gideon then brings Hive a gift – Lucio, the Medusa-Eyed Inhuman from last episode – and leaves. After removing his blindfold, Lucio quickly paralyzes Giyera and his two guards, but is unable to paralyze SquidWard. As Ward steps out of his body like a lizard shedding a skin made out of mist (it’s as weird as it sounds), Lucio asks “Who are you?”. Hive corrects him with “Who are we?”, and the mist makes it’s way towards Lucio.
Is this how Hive is building an army? Ward is his host, but other Inhumans such as Lucio and Giyera are part of the pun-intended “hivemind”, so to speak? I guess we shall find out.
At an airport, Carla Talbot is leaving General Glenn Talbot, the new head of the A.T.C.U., blaming him for something he did – he claims that he can fix it, but she leaves anyway. Coulson shows up and asks if everything is okay, and Talbot accuses him of spying on him. Coulson agrees – after Talbot refused to answer his calls, he did spy on him; after all, Coulson is his new boss and they have to get ready for a “Symposium” in Taiwan. As they leave, a mysterious bald man in sunglasses and a hat starts following them.
Preparing for a mission at the base, Hunter is packing up every weapon he can find. Fitz questions the necessity of this as they have Lincoln and Daisy (or as Hunter and shippers everywhere call them, “Shake N’ Bake”) on their side, but Hunter likes to be overprepared. For a conference in Taiwan. Fitz loads a new toy, a machine that “makes gloves”, in Coulson’s cabin as Bobbi and Daisy discuss the conference, which is titled “A Symposium on the Alien Contagion”. Daisy laments that everyone sees Inhumans as aliens or freaks, and that she uses her powers to stop bad guys; Bobbi points out that some of those bad guys are also Inhumans.
Speaking of Inhumans, Lincoln is doing a training mission with May. Their job is to protect Coulson. Lincoln spots Coulson and Talbot discussing the upcoming Symposium, where Coulson points out that their intention is to find out if other countries are harboring Inhumans. Lincoln then spots the suspicious man following them and alerts May. As Coulson and Talbot make their way to the parking garage, Coulson tells them that they have reason to believe Gideon Malick has an inside man at the conference in Taiwan and they need to find out who it is. He wishes Talbot the best with his marriage for his son, and then as they go to part ways, May warns him of their follower. Coulson realizes it’s Carl Creel, The Absorbing Man himself, and urges Talbot into the car.
If you don’t remember The Absorbing Man, Carl “Crusher” Creel was the young boxer that fought “Battlin’ Jack” Murdock, Daredevil’s dad, in the match that cost him his life. He has the ability to turn his body into the material of whatever he touches. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., after being brainwashed by HYDRA, Creel attempted to steal the Obelisk for Daniel Whitehall, resulting in the death of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Hartley and Idaho. He was taken into custody last season after touching the Obelisk and turning his body into the Diviner stone that surrounded the Terrigen crystal – not making it glow like an Inhuman would, but not turning to dust after touching it like a human being would, either.
As Coulson fires at him, May runs from her vantage point in a car and tells Lincoln to rush him. Lincoln begins to electrocute Creel, so he turns his skin to rubber by touching a car tire. As May attempts to knock him out with a tire iron, he turns his skin to the metal of the tire iron. Lincoln begins to electrocute him again, slowly killing him, before May and eventually Coulson order him to stand down. An angry Talbot leaves the car Coulson locked him in and says that Creel wasn’t there to assassinate him; he is his bodyguard.
In the containment pod, Fitz and Simmons interrogate Creel. He reveals that he got his powers from an experiment, and he has no idea why he survived when he touched the Obelisk. They realize they still have a sample of his blood from their previous encounter, and decide to reopen the file on him now that they know more about Inhuman biology.
Meanwhile, Talbot is trying to convince the gang Creel is good now; they spent months undoing the brainwashing HYDRA put him through. Sure, he had a criminal record before, but he’s reformed! Hunter is particularly unhappy with him because he killed Izzy and Idaho, but Talbot won’t go if Creel can’t. Daisy promises to take him out if there is any funny business, but Coulson tells her she isn’t going, as the Symposium has two rules: No aliens and no weapons (to Hunter’s dismay). Creel is an asset as he barely passes both these criteria.
In the hidden HYDRA lair, Gideon Malick requests a word with Hive. I would like to point out that Hive is currently watching ten simultaneous TV screens and has several tables of discarded books. Dude absorbs information fast. Gideon mentions that Hive is still looking worse for wear, and Ward’s body isn’t getting better. He offers Giyera as a new host. Hive mentions that they (yes, it is speaking in the plural now) cannot inhabit Inhumans, and that Ward will suit their needs for now.
On the Zephyr One, Hunter is glaring at Creel in the hangar, debating on whether or not to throw him off the plane. May approaches and tells him it’s time for briefing, but he isn’t listening. She accuses him of not caring about the mission itself, and he accuses her of the same when it came to Andrew’s life on the line – he’s only here to protect his friends, like her. May says they are not friends.
Don’t do it, Hunter, you might get kicked out of S.H.I.E.L.D. and spin off onto your own show!
During briefing, Coulson tells the team that Gideon’s obsession with Inhumans continues, and that one of the delegates is likely an inside man for him – our options being Xiao Chen from Taiwan, Ellen King from Australia, Nathi Zuma from Nigeria, Haruto Yakimura from Japan and Anton Petrov from Russia.
In Taipei City, Coulson (posing as Dr. Sean Lundwall) and Talbot (in a traditional Taiwanese outfit) go and meet the other delegates. Each one seems suspicious in their own way, and Talbot narrows down the suspects to everyone, while manages to make a complete ass of himself through cultural ignorance. Coulson is wearing a sling on his right arm, forcing delegates to shake his prosthetic robot hand; this scans their handprints, which allows the S.H.I.E.L.D. team access to their rooms through the new gadget Fitz created.
In the HYDRA base corridor, Gideon tells Giyera to keep eyes on Hive. As Giyera approaches, Hive tells him that Giyera and Lucio need to go get him five living humans, and they comply.
At the Symposium, Talbot continues to make an ass of himself on behalf of America. He starts to address the alien threat, but Coulson interrupts, saying they prefer to be called Inhumans. This name offends a rather on-edge King, who May notes via communicator is hostile before breaking into Yakimura’s room. As Coulson continues to explain Inhumanity to the group, Yakimura notes that the have potential to be very dangerous. Petrov, however, agrees that they are humans and could make powerful allies, and is willing to create a sanctuary state for them in Russia. Bobbi mentions on the comm that this would make Russia a “one-stop shop for Malick”. Yakimura argues that this would be the equivalent of sending Russia nuclear bombs. Zuma argues that Inhumans are not weapons, but King is afraid of them potentially “rising up against them”, because more Inhumans are likely on the way. Hunter decides to check her room to see what she’s hiding, and he sees Kreel apparently leaving his post through the window, so he grabs a hidden gun and runs after him.
As Daisy and Lincoln spar and flirt in the training room, and I try my hardest to detect a spark of chemistry between them, Simmons asks for a second pair of eyes – one that understands Inhuman biology. She shows him samples of Daisy’s blood and how it reacts with Terrigen and with Creel’s blood – long story short, she believes she has discovered a “cure” for Inhumanity. In a role reversal from season two, Lincoln is happy to be unburdened from his powers, while Daisy considers them a gift and the idea of getting rid of them is unheard of.
At the meeting, Zuma says that we need to look at Inhumans as people and not weapons, and supports Petrov’s sanctuary state. He moves to vote on the matter and Chen seconds the vote.
Yay, simplified international politics!
The room service team received an encrypted text during the meeting from Ellen King saying to “move him now”, so they decide they need someone to check her room ASAP. Bobbi breaks in and finds in her safe a classified document on Eden Fesi, an Inhuman that King has locked up and experimented on for government experiments; but nothing links her to Gideon.
Side-note: Eden Fesi is Manifold from the comics, a mutant with the ability to bend reality to create portals for himself. He just so happens to be a member of The Secret Warriors, as well.
Hunter, tracking down Absorbing Man, finds a A.T.C.U. Inhuman stasis gel container in the truck. He tells Bobbi and May to get Coulson out now, before Creel knocks him out.
In the meeting, the group is getting ready to call a vote, when Talbot calls in guards, announcing that there is a traitor in their midst: Dr. Sean Lundwall, whom Gideon Malick approaches and identifies as Phil Coulson, the director of HYDRA.
Dammit, Talbot, you were the inside man all along!
Gideon proceeds to convince everyone that Coulson is evil, using images of his own research and madlibbing the name “Phil Coulson” in.
Hunter wakes up outside with goons pointing guns at him, and tells them it’s a gun-free zone before Bobbi and May take ‘em out. Hunter tells May that they have Talbot’s son in the gel container, meaning Talbot is probably being blackmailed into working with Gideon. Luckily, he secretly brought a ton of weapons.
On the ship, Lincoln and Daisy are arguing about the idea of a vaccine. Lincoln thinks Inhumanity is getting out of control, and that there was a reason Jiaying carefully selected and prepared people to transform. Daisy believes that it should be every Inhuman’s birthright to reach their full potential; that this isn’t a disease (which Lincoln points out, technically, it is.)
In the HYDRA base, Hive is turning to sand or mist and enjoying the five humans Giyera and Lucio brought him, to the horrified screams within.
As Gideon locks up Coulson, Talbot makes him keep his end of the bargain – to free his son. He refuses and locks up Talbot too. However, Talbot has an inside man…Creel rushes in and helps them escape. In the conference room, Bobbi and Hunter take out all the guards. Creel saves Hunter from a sniper, but Hunter claims that doesn’t make them even.
May arrives with Talbot’s son. Coulson appoints Bobbi and Hunter to go track down Gideon. On the Zephyr One, Daisy and Lincoln apologize and have makeup sex.
In the recovery bay, Talbot is sitting with his son. Coulson’s reassures him that he will be okay, and they form a partnership. Coulson leaves and catches up with May, letting her know that they were able to recover Eden Fesi from Mrs. King. (!!!!) They also have not made contact with Bobbi and Hunter but are still trying. Coulson also tells May he can’t help but shake the feeling that Malick isn’t the last head of HYDRA.
Meanwhile, among a pile of burnt bodies, a fully revived and healthy-looking Grant Ward covered in a sticky slimy fluid stands up naked.
On a plane back to Russia, Gideon is toasting to his new business partner Anton Petrov – while Bobbi and Hunter sit patiently below in the hangar.
This episode, again, feels like a build-up episode. It does set up for some cool things but is mostly just setting up. I give it a 7/10. It would earn a 7.5/10, but Mack doesn’t appear at all for some reason.
Crackpot Theories and Speculation
- The final Secret Warriors team by the end of the season will consist of Quake (Daisy), Sparkplug (Lincoln), Meltdown (Joey), Absorbing Man (Carl), Slingshot (Elena) and Manifold (Eden). While Absorbing Man is never a Secret Warrior in the comics, his son Stonewall is. They may even give Creel that name because it’s cooler than Absorbing Man.
- Next episode is called Parting Shots and the plot synopsis sounds awfully similar to the new Bobbi/Hunter spinoff show, Most Wanted. It involves Bobbi and Hunter doing or being framed for doing something so controversial that they are on the run and have no friends and no contacts within S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore. My only guess is that they either kill the Russian diplomat Anton Petrov or that Hive kills world-renowned businessman and “philanthropist” Gideon Malick and they take the rap. Either way, expect to say goodbye to two beloved characters.