Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really returning already? Let’s take a look at the last three seasons, so we know what to expect from the fourth. Full spoilers ahead!
Shortly after the insane success of The Avengers, we were introduced to first of our many Marvel television shows (now there are at least 14 in various stages of development!) – a show initially just called S.H.I.E.L.D. by Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon. Supposed to focus on the idea that “not all heroes are super”, the casting call listed Grant Ward, Althea Rice, Skye and quirky team scientist duo Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons. At Comic-Con, Clark Gregg was announced to reprise his role as the deceased fan favorite Agent Phil Coulson, sparking many questions and speculation. The cast was rounded out with Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May (a renamed Althea Rice, as the showrunners refused to have an Asian-American named “Agent Rice”) and relative newcomers Brett Dalton as Ward, Iain de Caestecker as Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons, and finally Chloe Bennet as Skye. The pilot was picked up for 22 episodes under the name Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the show was born.
Straight after Iron Man 3, the show begins with S.H.I.E.L.D. field Agent Grant Ward being promoted to Level 7 by Deputy Director Maria Hill. Level 7 allows for access to previously classified information; for example, Agent Phil Coulson was revived after the battle of New York, and is putting together a specialized team of agents. The team consists of team leader Agent Phil Coulson, the humorless but professional field agent Agent Grant Ward, the geeky team biochemist Agent Dr. Jemma Simmons, her goofy best friend and team engineer Agent Dr. Leopold Fitz, and the pilot: a quiet and grumpy desk agent named Agent Melinda May, who was a legendary field agent nicknamed “The Cavalry” before her mysterious retirement. Their first mission is to track down a super-powered individual named Mike Peterson, who is using illegal experimental body enhancements based on Chitauri, Super Soldier and Extremis technology, manufactured by a mysterious organization known as The C.E.N.T.I.P.E.D.E. Project. Also on his tail is a hacker known only as “Skye”, an activist operating for the anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. group The Rising Tide.
S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits Mike and takes Skye in as an “asset” against Director Nick Fury’s wishes, and find a new purpose for the team: to find and stop C.E.N.T.I.P.E.D.E., which is led by scientist Raina and a shadowy all-knowing figure known only as The Clairvoyant. The deeper they dig, the stranger it becomes – the project is using former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with eye implants and brain killswitches that display commands which must be obeyed. They have ties to international billionaire Ian Quinn, as well as villains Graviton, Scorch, and Blizzard. They are researching alien writing and have a machine that can recall your deepest memories. They discover the Clairvoyant is trying to build a team of manufactured supersoldiers and is missing one key ingredient: he wants to know how Coulson was brought back to life, something Coulson himself doesn’t know. C.E.N.T.I.P.E.D.E. mortally wounds Mike, and nurses him back to health with many weaponized cybernetic enhancements and artificial limbs, installing the artificial eye/killswitch and dubbing him Deathlok.
As the orphan Skye uses S.H.I.E.L.D. resources to try and uncover her parentage while building a relationship with Ward, Coulson’s team partners with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Agent Jasper Sitwell, Agent John Garrett, Agent Victoria Hand, Agent Felix Blake, and Agent Antoine “Trip” Triplett to try and track down The Clairvoyant and the circumstances surrounding his own resurrection. Coulson discovers the T.A.H.I.T.I. facility where he was revived, and finds out the horrifying truth – he was given an experimental Kree alien blood serum and had his brain painfully rewired to display positive memories, all while begging for death. Skye is shot, and Coulson uses the alien blood to bring her back to life. After a brief encounter with Asgardians including Sif and Dr. Elliot Randolph, Ward hastily kills a man believed to be the Clairvoyant – before it is revealed the Clairvoyant is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself.
In tandem with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the team discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by HYDRA – straight through to the top. With May held for interrogation and Hand ordering the team’s beloved jet The Bus shot out of the sky, no one trust anyone, as no one can be trusted – before Garrett reveals he is the Clairvoyant. He has been working with HYDRA and private technology manufacturer Cybertek to create the Deathlok supersoldiers – after all, he is the original Deathlok himself. After the remaining fractured S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have a standoff against HYDRA, Hand and Ward capture Garrett and take him to prison – before Ward kills Agent Hand, revealing himself as a HYDRA traitor all along.
The remainder of the team (Coulson, May, Fitz, Simmons, Skye, and Trip) make their way to a secret base named Providence, where they are joined by Agent Eric Koenig. Meanwhile Garrett, Ward, Raina, Quinn and Deathlok free all the S.H.I.E.L.D. prisoners, and send Ward undercover to acquire Skye, so they can decrypt Simmons’ data. As S.H.I.E.L.D. stops an attack on Coulson’s former girlfriend, cellist Audrey, from escaped villain Blackout, Ward kills Koenig and escapes with Skye. Coulson discovers he himself was the former head of the T.A.H.I.T.I. project, which was to resurrect fallen Avengers – he ordered the project shut down, but had his memory wiped and had the project used on him. Garrett uses the entirely of the Kree blood serum to power his cybernetic enhancements, driving himself insane with a compulsion to carve the alien writing mentioned above. Ward locks Fitz and Simmons in a detachable infirmary pod on The Bus, and ejects them into the ocean.
Tracking down Deathlok’s signals to a Cybertek facility, S.H.I.E.L.D. (with the help of former Deputy Director Maria Hill) shuts down the killswitches and tracks down Raina, Garrett and Quinn – who are currently trying to strike a deal with the U.S. military for their supersoldiers. May defeats Ward and Coulson defeats Garrett. At the bottom of the ocean, Fitz confesses his love to Simmons and gives her the only oxygen mask, sacrifices his life to save hers – but she drags him unconscious to the surface, where they are rescued by Nick Fury. Fury takes Coulson and team to a new base dubbed The Playground, led by Eric Koenig’s identical brother Billy Koenig, and appoints Coulson the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.; meanwhile, escaped villain Raina approaches a mysterious man with a photograph of Skye, and says she found his daughter. Garrett tries to escape, and is immediately killed by Coulson. Our season ends with, May back in the field, Simmons with confusing feelings, Fitz in a coma with severe brain damage, Skye as a new S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Ward in captivity, and Coulson as the new director – who has started compulsively carving alien writing into any surface he can find.
Trying to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. from the ground up, Coulson, May, Skye and Trip (plus mysterious identical Koenig brothers Billy and Sam) are joined by a new team of agents: team leader Agent Isabelle Hartley, mechanic Agent Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, and mercenaries-for-hire Lance Hunter and “Idaho”. Fitz is still experiencing severe effects of hypoxia, and has difficulty thinking and speaking. He is calmed by a hallucination of Simmons, who is on an undercover mission as a HYDRA scientist. The team is looking for a powerful weapon taken from HYDRA decades ago by Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos, an object HYDRA is trying to reacquire; known only as an “Obelisk”, it turn anyones who touches it to ash. Spearheading HYDRA’s search for the Obelisk is the eerie Dr. Daniel Whitehall, the man who was arrested by Peggy Carter in the 40’s and has not aged a day – and his right hand man, Sunil Bakshi. Meanwhile, the US goverment tasks General Glenn Talbot to bring in the ragtag S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, believing them to be HYDRA. Whitehall and Bakshi hire villain Carl Creel, The Absorbing Man, to steal the Obelisk, as his absorbing powers allow him to touch the metal without dying. Creel causes a car crash that kills Idaho and Hartley, and leaves Hunter alive. Creel steals a ring from Raina, helping with the adverse effects of the Obelisk – however, Raina contacts S.H.I.E.L.D. and notifies them of the tracking coordinates embedded in the the ring. As Creel is to deliver the Obelisk to Bakshi, S.H.I.E.L.D. stops the trade and takes Creel into custody. Hunter joins S.H.I.E.L.D. while Raina acquires the Obelisk and delivers to to Skye’s father, a mentally unstable doctor. Raina reveals that she can touch the Obelisk, causing it to glow.
After a second encounter with Blizzard, Coulson and May go on a mission to find a painting containing the mysterious alien writing. May is captured by Bakshi, and Coulson is attacked by Agent 33, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who has been brainwashed by HYDRA. She has a S.H.I.E.L.D. photostatic veil, so her face is a digital mask of May. Coulson and May defeat Bakshi and Agent 33 and escape with the painting, but Agent 33’s mask is electrocuted, burning a damaged mask of May onto her face. As HYDRA attempts to recreate the effects of the Obelisk, Whitehall demands Raina return the object. Skye’s dad brings to to HYDRA, as Coulson is their common enemy. After discovering that S.H.I.E.L.D. has reports of their testing, Bakshi orders a lockdown, realizing there is a mole in the HYDRA base. He calls in head of security Dr. Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse to track down the infiltrator. Bobbi discovers Simmons is the mole, and then helps her escape, revealing she is also an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Lance Hunter’s on-again/off-again ex-wife. Simmons and the brain-damaged Fitz have difficulty readjusting as friends after his confession of love and her perceived abandonment.
After Talbot is attacked by HYDRA agent Blacklash posing as S.H.I.E.L.D., he approaches Ward’s brother Senator Christian Ward, who publicly declares S.H.I.E.L.D. a terrorist organization. Skye has the prisoner Ward tell her everything he learned about her father from Raina, revealing that she stopped HYDRA from taking her as a baby but could not save her mother. Coulson strikes a deal with the senator to have Ward delivered to his custody if he recants his statement about S.H.I.E.L.D., but Ward escapes custody, exposes his brother as an abusive manipulator and kills him with their parents, framing it as a murder-suicide. He returns to HYDRA. After stopping a former T.A.H.I.T.I. patient who has become a serial killer, tracking down other patients and carving the alien symbols into them, Coulson discovers that the carvings are a three-dimensional map to an ancient alien city. It is revealed that Skye’s father is actually partnering with HYDRA with the intention of killing Whitehall, who tortured, killed and operated on Skye’s ageless mother to learn her secrets of immortality. The team captures Bakshi, which they trade to Talbot as a truce.
S.H.I.E.L.D. captures Raina before HYDRA does, and Raina reveals to Skye that she can touch the Obelisk too – they both have a gift that will be unlocked. Coulson sends his team the the ancient alien city underground, and Mack is possessed by an ancient alien sentry, attacking the team; he is subdued. Ward kidnaps Skye and Raina and brings them to a HYDRA base, introducing Skye to her father, Dr. Calvin Zabo, who reveals her name is Daisy Johnson. He has been taking a makeshift superstrength serum which has been driving him slowly insane. While the rest of the team places explosives around the alien city, Coulson kills Whitehall on a rescue mission for Skye. Zabo becomes very angry, intending to kill Whitehall himself, and attempts to kill Coulson. Skye shoots Ward repeatedly, and Raina takes her to the ancient city with the Obelisk to discover her “birthright”. In a Kree temple underground, the Obelisk opens to reveal Terrigen crystals, blasting Skye and Raina with mist and encasing them in cocoons. Trip sees this and tries to destroy the Obelisk, dying in the process. Skye and Raina emerge from their cocoons as the temple collapses. The injured Ward escapes with Agent 33 as Zabo swears revenge on Coulson.
As S.H.I.E.L.D. investigates the wreckage, they discover Raina has been transformed into a hideous monster covered in spikes. Skye has acquired the ability to cause earthquakes and seismic shocks, which she and Fitz keep secret from the team, as Simmons and the recovered Mack are distrustful of anything alien. Raina attempts suicide, but is rescued by a blind man with teleportation abilities named Gordon. Bobbi and Mack reveal a secret agenda working against Coulson, and plan to steal his “Toolbox”, an all-encompassing director’s tool. Sif returns to Earth and assists the team in tracking down a Kree named Vin-Tak who has come to Earth, looking for several remaining Obelisks. He explains that Skye is an Inhuman – a weaponized experiment created by the Kree, revealing to the team her powers. The team brings in May’s ex-husband, Dr. Andrew Garner, to psychologically evaluate Skye. Meanwhile, Zabo forms a team of small-time supervillains called The Slicing Talons and publicly challenges S.H.I.E.L.D., before being abducted by Gordon. Ward and Agent 33 are now in a relationship and have the Veil fixed, allowing her to change her face at will. They kidnap and brainwash Bakshi. Raina discovers she has the ability to see the future.
Hunter discovers Mack and Bobbi’s plan, so they take him to their leader: Robert Gonzales, who has formed a separate council of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents after the HYDRA Uprising and are planning to overthrow Coulson, believing him unstable. Skye is teleported by Gordon to Afterlife, an Inhuman colony in China that was run by her mother Jiaying where Zabo and Raina are being rehabilitated and the other Obelisks are being kept. She meets Lincoln Campbell, a young medical student with electric abilities who is tasked with training her to use her powers. Gonzales’ faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. overthrows Coulson’s, causing Coulson and Hunter to go on the run with reinstated agent Deathlok. May joins Gonzales’ faction, and Fitz quits S.H.I.E.L.D. – secretly taking The Toolbox with him and joining Coulson, Hunter and Deathlok. Skye’s mom Jiaying reveals herself to still be alive but stitched up, and tells Skye the tragic story of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent being forced to kill a dangerous Inhuman child – Skye realizes this is how May got the nickname “The Cavalry” and why she divorced Andrew and quit field duty. Coulson strikes a deal with Ward and Agent 33, and use the brainwashed Bakshi to get close to HYDRA’s Dr. List, right-hand man of new head Wolfgang von Strucker.
Skye and Zabo go on a field trip to his old office in Milwaukee, with Lincoln standing guard. Realizing Fitz is working with Coulson, May has Simmons hack into Deathlok’s cybernetic eye. The team realizes HYDRA is going after them, so they approach the building. Simmons sees Coulson and Ward working together, and Gordon teleports Zabo and Skye out of the building. Deathlok and Lincoln are captured by HYDRA. Coulson surrenders to Gonzales’ faction. After Raina sees Skye saving Lincoln and Gordon teleports her to the team, In order to rescue Deathlok and Lincoln the original six agents team up: Coulson, May, Simmons, Fitz, Skye, and Ward. Deathlok and Lincoln are rescued while Coulson gathers intel from the HYDRA base, with Deathlok being sent to another facility for extensive repairs. Simmons attempts to kill Ward, but kills Bakshi in the process. Coulson gives Gonzales the Toolbox, and then secretly notifies Maria Hill of the HYDRA intel and tells her to call in The Avengers. (Remember the start of Age of Ultron?). He also reveals he knows about an item in Gonzales possession: a mysterious alien Monolith that can turn to liquid, which is locked up tight and the Inhumans fear.
The Inhumans hand over Zabo to S.H.I.E.L.D. as a peace offering, and Gonzales is sent to meet with Jiaying and discuss a peace treaty between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans overThe Monolith. Jiaying kills Gonzales with a Terrigen crystal laced with Diviner metal from the Obelisk and injures herself, claiming it was him and starting a war. Bobbi and May leave on a mission together, but May is quickly revealed to be Agent 33 in disguise, who has a personal vendetta against Bobbi and is torturing her with the help of Ward. The Inhumans Gordon, Lincoln and self-multiplying Alisha attack S.H.I.E.L.D., killing members of Gonzales’ faction with the Diviner-laced crystals. Mack resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D., effective after the battle. Zabo takes his experimental drug, becoming the monstrous Mr. Hyde and starts destroying the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Raina confronts Jiaying about the plan, but is murdered by the immortal Inhuman as Skye watches horrified. As S.H.I.E.L.D. protects The Monolith from the Inhumans, Hunter and May go on a mission to rescue Bobbi. Coulson convinces Zabo to help S.H.I.E.L.D. for Skye’s sake. Hunter discovers Bobbi caught in a booby-trap meant to kill him, but she takes the bullet for him, getting severely injured. Ward accidentally kills Agent 33 disguised May, believing her to be May. Jiaying reveals that in order to maintain her youth, she needs to sap the life of living people, and starts to kill Skye. Zabo tearfully kills his wife to protect his daughter. Gordon is killed by Fitz, but he drops a Terrigen crystal which is caught by Coulson. As Coulson’s arm starts to turn to ash, it is severed by an axe-wielding Mack, who has agreed to stay. Daisy uses her seismic powers to blast the Terrigen crystals into the sea, where she thinks they will be safe – until they start making their way into the water supply and the Terrigen mist is inhaled by fish. Zabo has his mind erased and is living happily as a veterinarian named Dr. Winslow. Simmons confesses that she does have feelings for Fitz, but is swallowed by the Monolith. Our season ends with Coulson back as director but missing an arm, Skye with seismic superpowers, May leaves S.H.I.E.L.D. for her first vacation with her ex-husband Dr. Garner, Simmons is swallowed by an alien artifact while Fitz is waiting for a date, Bobbi in intensive care with Hunter by her side, and a heart-broken Ward deciding to rebuild HYDRA.
Everyone potential Inhuman who ate fish or took fish oil pills now has superpowers. As a result, Inhumans are popping up all over the globe. Skye (now going by Daisy) is partnered with Mack, and they are tasked with bringing in new Inhumans and conditioning them to their powers, while trying to build a team evaluated by Dr. Garner called the Secret Warriors. They encounter Joey Gutierrez, a new Inhuman with the ability to melt metal – but a new government-mandated organization, the A.T.C.U. led by Rosalind Price and her right-hand man Luther Banks, is also on the trail on new Inhumans. As Coulson (with new robotic hand) meets with Price, Mack tries to recruit new doctor Lincoln to S.H.I.E.L.D. to help with Inhuman transitioning. Lincoln wants nothing to do with S.H.I.E.L.D. or Inhumans and just wants a normal life, until he is attacked by a large Inhuman monster named Lash who is searing holes in the chests of all Inhumans it deems unworthy. Meanwhile, Bobbi is in rehab and has been handling Fitz and Simmons’ lab duty – Simmons is reported missing and Fitz has not been showing up for work, on a worldwide mission to try and uncover secrets of the Monolith to bring Simmons back, who is revealed to be on a distant other planet. Fitz finds Asgardian Dr. Elliot Randolph who agrees to help, explaining that a cult has been sending human sacrifices through the Monolith for centuries.
As Joey is deemed unfit for the Secret Warriors program, Ward is rebuilding HYDRA with his right hand man Kebo. They track down Wolfgang von Strucker’s son Werner, and convince him to join their new HYDRA. Hunter is seeking revenge on Ward for injuring Bobbi, so he tracks down May, who has not returned from vacation, and recruits her. Using Randolph’s knowledge, the team is able to pull Simmons out of the portal from the other planet, though she is experiencing PTSD. The process destroys the Monolith. The A.T.C.U. researches the Lash attack and puts out a wanted bulletin for Lincoln, realizing he is Inhuman. Lincoln tries to hide with his friend John from Alcoholics Anonymous, who realizes Lincoln is a fugitive and calls the authorities – prompting Lincoln to accidentally kill him. May helps Hunter join HYDRA undercover. Daisy arrives and tries to help Lincoln and they kiss, but Coulson reveals S.H.I.E.L.D. has partnered with the A.T.C.U. and tries to turn Lincoln over, who escapes. Werner joins Garner’s psychology class, and Bobbi discovers Simmons is trying to go back to the hell planet. S.H.I.E.L.D. and the A.T.C.U. try to take down Lash, discovering he is working with an Inhuman named Dwight who is providing him lists of Inhumans to kill. En route to the A.T.C.U. facility, Lash attacks the convoy and kills Dwight, leaving Daisy injured. She sees his shadow as he transforms into a human and leaves.
Kebo introduces Hunter to the Ward, and Ward recognizes him immediately. During the firefight, Ward asks Werner to kill Garner if anything happens – but Hunter refuses to let up, blinded by rage. May arrives as backup, and Hunter shoots Ward, who escapes. Werner blows up a gas station with Dr. Garner inside, which he barely survives. Fitz discovers that Simmons is trying to return to the planet, so she explains what happened on the planet. After days spend alone looking for food and shelter, she encountered Will Daniels, an astronaut that NASA has sent to the planet over a decade ago. His crew was all killed by “It”, a monster that inhabits part of the planet. Despite never giving up on the idea of rescue and loving Fitz, Simmons and Will fall in love and become determined to leave the planet. They calculate an escape and fail, and are attacked by “It”. As Will fights off the creature, Fitz rescues Simmons. Simmons has been trying to return to rescue Will as well. Fitz is heartbroken but resolves to save Will.
A furious Coulson takes Hunter off the mission and May replaces him with Bobbi. Kebo learns of Werner’s whereabouts from old HYDRA head Gideon Malick, and tortures him mostly to death. Daisy, Mack and Hunter believe that Banks is secretly Lash, so they knock him unconscious and do tests on him, finding he is human but that the A.T.C.U. has been doing seeming inhumane tests in Inhumans involving suspending them in statis gel. Bobbi kills Kebo and May finds Werner, who reveals that he saw Dr. Garner transform into Lash. Coulson gives Price a tour of the new plane, the Zephyr One, and they start a relationship, to Daisy’s dismay. Fitz uses videos recorded on Simmons phone to find more information about Will, discovering his NASA mission patch matches the symbol that was used by the cult to open the Monolith. Garner goes to evaluate Joey, but May confronts him before he can kill him – he knocks out May and takes her to an abandoned building. Lincoln has independently discovered that Lash is Garner, and tells Mack who instructs the rest of the team and the A.T.C.U., who go to rescue May. Lincoln’s anger issues come through as he almost kills Lash, who is captured and held by the A.T.C.U. in gel. Price calls HYDRA head Gideon Malick and gives him a status update.
Grant Ward and Gideon Malick meet, looking to use an object in the von Strucker’s vault to achieve world domination. Coulson invites Price to the base, but has Hunter and Bobbi working with Daisy and Mack to secretly investigate the A.T.C.U. base as well. They discover that Gideon Malick has been using the A.T.C.U. for unethical experiments trying to create new Inhumans, something that Price was unaware of. Fitz and Simmons investigate the symbol of the cult and realize that it is an ancient faction of HYDRA. Malick explains to Ward in the vault that HYDRA was not created in WWII; it was created centuries ago with the intention of bringing an ancient Inhuman – “It” – back to rule the Earth. He reveals that they still have part of the Monolith kept safe and can reopen to portal to the other planet, Maveth. Rosalind Price is assassinated by Ward while on a dinner date with Coulson, as Ward blames Coulson for Agent 33’s death. Banks, Simmons and Fitz go to investigate the NASA/HYDRA facility, but Banks is killed by HYDRA Inhuman Giyera, who is working for Malick. He captures and tortures Fitz and Simmons. Coulson, Hunter and Bobbi kidnap Ward’s other brother Thomas, and use him as a bargaining chip, tracing his location. Going on a suicide mission to the HYDRA base, Coulson appoints Mack the new leader, who greenlights the Secret Warriors – appointing Joey and Lincoln as agents alongside Daisy. In exchange for Simmons’ freedom, Fitz agrees to help Ward and Malick bring back “It”, and they enter the Monolith portal to Maveth – though Fitz secretly plans on rescuing Will. Coulson dives through the portal from a plane. As the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and the Secret Warriors take control of the room containing the portal and holds back HYDRA forces, Fitz takes Ward and the team to see Will, explaining that he can help. Realizing they cannot hold the base, Mack orders the team to leave while he holds the portal alone, and instructs them to blow up the base on his command. Lost on the planet, Will kills some of Ward’s team and Coulson kills the rest. Fitz realizes that Will’s leg is completely rotted, and Will revealed that the REAL Will died when Simmons escaped. This wasn’t Will, it was Hive, the ancient Inhuman; “It”. Fitz attempts to kill Hive as Coulson kills Ward. They leave the planet and escape with Mack as the castle blows up. Malick realizes that HYDRA is winning, as he encounters Grant Ward’s body possessed by Hive.
Coulson meets with the President Matthew Ellis to discuss the future of the A.T.C.U., and decides that S.H.I.E.L.D. will operate in the shadows under the name. He appoints Talbot as a figurehead, as Coulson is believed dead by most of the world. The team encounters a new Inhuman from Colombia named Elena Rodriguez, who has super-speed but snaps back to her point of origin. Mack nicknames her Yo-Yo and she joins the Secret Warriors. Determined to track down Malick, Coulson uses the memory recollection machine on the tortured Werner, finding how to contact Malick. Malick and Giyera are unhappy with Hive’s weakened state, but capture another Inhuman, Lucio, and recruit him to Hive’s army. Unbeknownst to Malick, Hive infects Lucio and Giyera with parasites, creating a hivemind between them. Talbot and Coulson are invited to an internation conference on Inhumans, and decide to attend with The Absorbing Man Carl Creel as Talbot’s bodyguard. Simmons realizes that Creel was able to touch the Obelisk despite not being Inhuman, and his DNA may hold the “antidote” for Inhumanity. Coulson and Talbot are suspicious of the delegates attending the conference, believing one to be working with HYDRA, so the team goes through their things. They recover an Inhuman named Eden Fesi from the Australian delegate, but Talbot reveals himself to be the HYDRA mole all along; Malick had his son hostage. As Daisy and Lincoln further their relationship, the team rescues Talbots son. Meanwhile, Malick flies to meet the Russian delegate to discuss building a sanctuary state for Inhumans. Hunter and Bobbi hide on their plane.
Malick meets with Petrov, the Russian delegate, at a facility in Siberia. It is revealed he is working against the Prime Ministers wishes, and has killed his attaché. Bobbi and Hunter stop the meeting and prevent an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister’s life, but kill Petrov and Inhuman General Androvich in the process. The Prime Minister demands that S.H.I.E.L.D. be held accountable for the deaths of his government officials, so Bobbi and Hunter are willfully disavowed as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents rather than turn in the team. They leave the team, and are under government surveillance – they can never interact with the team again. They share a tearful goodbye as Malick recruits his daughter Stephanie to his cause. Mack goes on vacation with his brother Ruben after Hunter and Bobbi’s disavowal, but this is cut short by an attack on an A.T.C.U. facility by an anti-Inhuman terrorist group known as the Watchdogs, headed by former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Felix Blake. Lincoln undergoes S.H.I.E.L.D. training and evaluation, and is deemed unfit to be an agent. The Watchdogs are neutralized, but deliver a stolen A.T.C.U. warhead to Giyera at HYDRA. Hive uses his parasites to draw health from many people and is restored.
A clairvoyant homeless Inhuman Charles gives Daisy a vague vision of the future – an agent will die in a Quinjet stranded in space soon, but she doesn’t know who. He also shows Malick his own death, with terrifies him as he believes it to be at the hands of Hive. Daisy is unable to save Charles’ life, but promises to protect his daughter Robin. On the mission to save Charles, the team encounters Hive – in the body of Grant Ward – and realize something has taken over his body. Daisy and Lincoln go to meet James, a cantankerous untransformed Inhuman who had read Jiaying’s archives and mentioned Hive. He reveals details of Lincoln’s angry alcoholic past, and offers them a Kree artifact he stole from Jiaying for a Terrigenesis crystal. They agree, but refuse to give him the crystal after acquiring the orb. Malick invites the other HYDRA heads to meet Hive, becoming increasingly suspicious. Hive reveals that one of the bodies he inhabited was Malick’s brother, who was sacrificed to the portal by Malick. He kills Malick’s daughter Stephanie instead, to torture him. Daisy reveals her vision to Lincoln. S.H.I.E.L.D. captures Giyera, but he escapes and takes control of the plane. Daisy assembles the Secret Warriors.
The Secret Warriors kill Lucio and capture Malick, rescuing the team. Giyera escapes with Hive. Coulson interrogates Malick who reveals that Hive can use his hivemind to control Inhumans. After Malick is murdered,Coulson orders the base on lockdown as one of the Secret Warriors is infected. The Kree orb is found stolen from the base and is in Lincoln’s locker, and Lincoln is declared the traitor and locked in a containment cell. Joey and Yo-Yo leave the base, and Daisy visits Lincoln in his cell – revealing she was the traitor and offers to break him out so he can join Hive too. He refuses, and Daisy steals Terrigan Crystals and the orb, destroying much of the base in her escape. Meanwhile, Fitz and Simmons start a relationship in earnest. Deciding a extreme body modification doctor Holden Radcliffe can cure Daisy, Fitz, Simmons and Mack go on a mission to recruit him. Hive recruits him first, and also adds Alisha and James (now using the moniker Hellfire) to his army of swayed Inhumans. With Malick dead, Coulson and Talbot decide to destroy HYDRA once and for all and raid all remaining bases. Hive has used Malick’s money to purchase an entire city to use as a lab for Radcliffe’s experiments. Lincoln tries to use the Inhuman antidote created from Creel’s blood so he can’t be swayed, and it fails, causing him to be hospitalized for several days.
Hive explains to Radcliffe that he wants to make the whole world Inhuman, so he can have a hivemind with them all, improving the world. They decide they need Kree blood to recreate the original experiment, and use the orb to call Kree Reaper soldiers to Earth, who kill Alisha. The remaining Reapers are killed by Coulson’s team and Hive, and Radcliffe tries to use the blood to recreate experiments. It fails as the blood is not from a living host, and Daisy offers herself. After the death of Peggy Carter and the passing of the Sokovia Accords, Talbot decides to register the Inhumans. Meanwhile, a lovesick Lincoln is secretly communicating with the brainwashed Daisy, trying to break out and join Hive. Radcliffe is able to use Daisy’s half-Kree blood and turns Watchdog “volunteers” into mostly Inhuman monsters under Hive’s sway, dubbed Alpha Primitives. Lincoln escapes and steals a Quinjet and Daisy has it auto-pilot to their location, but this was secretly a ploy by Lincoln and May to trick Hive. When the Quinjet arrives it only contains Lash, who kills the Alpha Primitives, injures Hive, destroys the infection in Daisy and puts her back on the Quinjet before being killed by Hellfire. May mourns her ex-husband’s death.
Hive tries to fire the warhead into space containing the pathogen to turn the world into Alpha Primitives, but they are foiled last minute by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hive is caught in a stasis gel cube. Giyera and Hellfire disconnect the warhead and escape. While Fitz is clearing the cube for entry into the base, he encounters a booby-trapped fake shipment loaded with the pathogen. He escapes into the locked-down base as many agents are turned into Alpha Primitives, who free Hive from his cube. Hive boards the Zephyr One, intending to use it as his new missile. Daisy overrides the controls and, going through withdrawals, asks Hive to take her back. When he realizes he can’t, Daisy injures him but is captured and brought about the plane. Fitz and May secretly board the plane, freeing Daisy as Fitz kills Giyera. The rest of team and Radcliffe are trapped in the base with Alpha Primitives, and Yo-Yo is shot protecting Mack. Mack, Lincoln, Coulson and Radcliffe cauterize her wounds and use a Quinjet to send Coulson aboard the Zephyr. Coulson confronts Hive, who tries to kill him before realizing it is a hologram. The rest of the team sneak onto the plane, and Lincoln is mortally wounded by a bomb by Hellfire. Daisy decides that in order to stop Hive, she must load the warhead onto a Quinjet and fly it into space – the vision she saw earlier was her own death. She loads the warhead, but Lincoln blasts her off the Quinjet and flies it into space with Hive and the warhead, sharing a last goodbye over the comms with Daisy before dying. Six months later, Coulson has stepped down as director. Daisy has become a vigilante known as Quake, robbing banks to help Charles’ daughter Robin and his wife Polly. Radcliffe and Fitz have completed work on a new project: Life Model Decoys. We end the season with Coulson as a regular field agent with Mack and May, Fitz and Simmons in a loving relationship at last, Daisy as a vigilante on the run, Hunter and Bobbi disavowed, and poor Ward/Hive and Lincoln dead.