Catch up on the previous episode here.
We pick up where we left Phil Coulson; being transported, blindfolded, to a secret facility. He deduces from the fact that General Hale is working with the Superior and Absorbing Man that she must not be really Air Force. Before he can voice his suspicions, she confirms them: She’s HYDRA. They aren’t all stomped out yet. But it’s time for S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA to work together.
28 YEARS AGO
In the early 90’s, a young General Hale wakes up and prepares for a day at HYDRA Academy. She goes to the cafeteria and sits with her friend, a young Jasper Sitwell (remember him?). They talk about how graduation is soon, and how Hale is really excited for today’s class speaker in Professor Steger’s class – but Sitwell is not.
In class, they are introduced to their guest speaker: the ageless Daniel Whitehall (remember him?), who in 1990 would have only recently been broken out from prison and restored to his youthful look. He tells them about a new project he is working on: a particle infusion chamber that can infuse man with raw materials. (This is the very same machine that will later “create” Absorbing Man.) A young Wilhelm von Strucker (remember him?) pipes up and says that they could infuse man with Red Skull’s Tesseract, and Whitehall appreciates him looking to the past for answers – but Hale proposes they search space for similar objects. Whitehall strongly praises her forward thinking, earning the ire of Strucker.
While working out in the gym, Strucker has two of his goons put way too much weight on the barbell that the un-spotted Hale is bench-pressing. With difficulty, she is able to lift it off and attacks Strucker. The next day after the traditional HYDRA graduation ceremony (killing their pet dog, as you will recall Grant Ward had to do), Sitwell sees the bruised Strucker and warns Hale that she’s in for it; you don’t beat the future leader of HYDRA and walk away fine. Whitehall asks to speak with her.
In Whitehall’s office, he admires Hale’s strength and offers her a task – No, not the infusion chamber she wanted so badly; that’s going to Strucker. Hale will participate in a new project involving creating the perfect human, who will lead HYDRA. As she is the only female who graduated, they will artificially inseminate her. Hale wishes to uses her strength in other ways, but ultimately is reluctantly convinced by a menacing Whitehall. Hail HYDRA.
2 YEARS AGO
26 years later, Hale’s daughter Ruby is almost ready to graduate from HYDRA Academy. As Hale and her old professor Steger watch Ruby take on all the boys from her class in a fighting match. Steger is less than impressed; he thinks she has some glaring flaws. Hale reminds him that Whitehall designed her to lead HYDRA, and Steger points out that Whitehall is dead.
Hale and Ruby have lunch and talk about Ruby’s placement – apparently, their relationship was less strained in 2016 – when Hale is called to General Fischer’s office. He warns her that S.H.I.E.L.D. captured HYDRA head Gideon Malick, so he is placing her in charge of communications. He tells her that they found an alien device in the wreckage of a Chitauri ship after The Avengers’ Battle of New York, and they contacted an alliance of alien races called The Confederacy. Before he can say more, the not-yet-comatose General Talbot bursts in and orders Fischer to surrender. Fischer commits suicide via cyanide pill. Talbot tells Hale that they will never see HYDRA again.
In their bunker, Ruby and Steger argue as Ruby won’t complete her final exam: she loves her dog and refuses to kill it. She sees the “tradition” as ridiculous and outdated, and accuses Steger’s clinging on the past as one of the reasons HYDRA failed. Steger starts to get violent and Hale shoots him, claiming she and Ruby are the last remaining heads.
6 MONTHS AGO
General Talbot has awoken from his coma after being shot by an android decoy of Quake, and is recovering his mental facilities using flashcards with his son. His replacement, now-General Hale, requests a transfer to a different facility. This confuses the nurse; he’s getting better. Hale has a nurse inject something into Talbot’s IV, which makes him angry and erratic while guessing flashcards, scaring his son. Hale insists that Talbot still has a long way to go, and takes him into her care.
Talbot wakes up in the bunker and runs into Ruby in the cafeteria, like Strucker’s son Werner did just episodes ago. Annoyed that she won’t respond or even take out her earbuds, he tries to take them out himself. She beats him up and pulls her chakram blades on him. Hale enters, and he learns she is Hale’s daughter – whom he didn’t know she had, even though he has known her for 20 years. He demands to know what is going on, so she shows him.
Hale takes Talbot to the alien device that she uses to contact the Confederacy, and explains it use. He is confused why this never crossed his desk, and she admits that it came from Fischer. He realizes that Hale is HYDRA, which she brushes off. He was born American, she was born HYDRA, so what? S.H.I.E.L.D. was the one who shot him. Talbot claims it wasn’t Daisy, and Hale says S.H.I.E.L.D. made the LMD regardless. Realizing why he was taken here, Talbot refuses to hand over the HYDRA contraband he confiscated after leading the raid that ended HYDRA. He is strapped to a chair and taken away. She has ways of making him talk.
24 HOURS AGO
Coulson wakes up in the base. Like Strucker and Talbot, he goes to the cafeteria and runs into Ruby. Rather than reacting like his predecessors, he tells Ruby to tell Hale he was done playing games and takes a bowl of cereal to his room. Hale arrives and Coulson asks if Ruby was the one who maimed one of his agents. Hale admits that she is, and tells him that she is her daughter. Hale decides to show him why S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA need to work together.
She takes him to the alien device and puts in the longitude, latitude and altitude of the Confederacy. Coulson doesn’t want to return to space, but reluctantly accompanies her, and they teleport to the mysterious dark room with digital alien symbols. Qovas asks who Coulson is, and Hale claims he is one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Qovas shows Coulson a vision of a giant warship approaching (Probably not Thanos. Kasius Sr.?) and says that they need the Gravitonium and Inhumans to defend against it.
Back on Earth, Coulson points out that the Confederacy could easily be lying and that they should fight them, and Hale admits that she thinks so too – this is why S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA need to work together. They are on the same page. Hale tells him about Whitehall’s program, and admits that while Ruby was bred for it, she doesn’t have the temperament. She suggests his agent Daisy. Infused with Gravitonium, she could truly live up to the project title: Project Destroyer of Worlds. Coulson suddenly realizes this is a very bad idea, quickly explaining that he went to the future and the Destroyer of Worlds literally destroyed the world. Hale thinks he is bullshitting her and has him taken away, annoyed.
Ruby visits Coulson in his room, and asks if he really went to the future – and if so, how she destroyed the world. Coulson admits that it wasn’t her, it was Daisy. Ruby wants to know where Daisy is, but Coulson won’t tell her. To threaten him, she brings in a clearly tortured Talbot. He tells Coulson that he talked when he realized S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t coming and apologizes before being dragged away again.
In present day, Daisy is leading S.H.I.E.L.D. as she was trained by Coulson to do – but she doesn’t wanna. She insists she is only leading until they find Coulson. They deduce that Hale is HYDRA, and in order to get in the mind of a HYDRA supervillain, they confront their recent prisoner: “The Doctor”, former teammate Fitz.
May tries to sympathize with Fitz; she was HYDRA in the Framework too, and did things she regrets. Fitz admits that he doesn’t regret the things he did. Using the information given to him, he discovers that Hale is building a weapon and needs Gravitonium. He requests to be let out of his cell so he can access the computers to finish researching, but Daisy storms in, refusing. Fitz tries to level with her: If he asked, she wouldn’t have let him experiment on her to restore her powers. He didn’t have a choice. She quakes him into a wall. She says that they don’t betray each other here, so he just points out that she often does that. Daisy is done dealing with Fitz, and has another plan: She is going to find Robin Hinton and see if she can get her to see the future.
Mack and Simmons operate on Yo-Yo, installing her new cybernetic arms. It appears to be a success. Mack is concerned; Yo-Yo was already acting reckless since seeing herself in the future, believing that she is invincible since she knows she lives. Simmons sees some logic in this idea.
Simmons enters Fitz’s cell. She has news for him, and it’s not easy to break; the time-travelling thorn-in-Fitz’s-side, Deke, is their grandson. She proves it to him. Fitz is aghast by this news. Deke is the worst! Simmons points out that they have a daughter and a grandson, and that means that they will make it through this. They are invincible!
Another good episode. You think I’d get tired of saying “It’s good to see some old familiar faces”, but it never gets old. It definitely feels like a final season curtain call, however. Let’s hope it isn’t.
I give it a 7.5/10.