By Josh Axelrod
So much happened in this episode I barely know where to begin. There was sex and ultra violence. We learned more about both Whitehall and Skye’s father’s histories and motivations. We also made some major headway on finding this fabled city that everyone is so keen on getting to first. It all made for an entertaining ride that is further proof of how strong Season 2 of “S.H.I.E.L.D” has been.
The episode opened back in Whitehall’s Nazi days, with him trying to see if anyone can touch the obelisk without immediately dying. It turned out that a young woman (“Dollhouse” alum Dichen Lachman) had such an ability, which made Whitehall quite excited. “Discovery through experimentation” was his mantra this episode, which was a good reminder that we’re dealing with a creepy guy wielding way too much power.
In the present, the S.H.I.E.L.D team was split between a few missions. Coulson, Trip, Skye and Fitz were trying to plant a transceiver at some government base in Hawaii or Australia (I was a little confused about that one) to use their technology to scan for the city. Bobbi was interrogating Bakshi under Hunter’s supervision. May and Simmons were searching an older S.H.I.E.L.D facility for information about Whitehall and his connection to The Red Skull, who was namedropped more than once despite having been M.I.A. since “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
There was a great moment where Simmons fangirled hard over finding documents signed by Peggy Carter herself. Cue to another flashback where Hayley Atwell shows up to interrogate Whitehall after S.H.I.E.L.D raided his H.Y.D.R.A facility. At this point, he went by the name Werner Reinhart. He offered Peggy his assistance in working with the mystical objects S.H.I.E.L.D confiscated, but to her credit Peggy wouldn’t play ball with him. Instead, she locked him up indefinitely.
We then see Whitehall meeting again with Skye’s father, who claims the obelisk’s (which he calls “the diviner”) true purpose is to decide who is worthy of entering the city or not. Whitehall thinks the ancient blue visitors (remember that alien from last season that Coulson found?) were there to conquer earth, while Skye’s father interpreted it as ending humanity. Either way, we don’t want to see either of these two get to that city first.
While all this was happening, Ward kidnapped his brother and forced him to admit some hard truths. I couldn’t tell at all throughout this subplot who was lying or not. Christian claimed that Grant burned down his family’s house and killed a lot of people, while Grant wouldn’t budge on the notion that Christian forced Grant to kill their brother Thomas at that well. Christian kept telling Grant he was deluding himself, and his even-keeled delivery (not to mention Grant’s general untrustworthiness) made me inclined to believe him.
Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D facility, May and Simmons found proof that Whitehall worked directly with the Red Skull. More flashbacks: In 1989, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford in “The Winter Soldier”) got a very old Whitehall out of prison because he found the woman who could touch the obelisk again. She hadn’t aged a day since we saw her in that opening scene. Whitehall literally cut her open in by far the most graphic scene ever for this show. He stole her anti-aging powers and became the man we know and hate today.
Meanwhile, we finally got a firm answer on what happened at that well. Christian did order Grant to kill Thomas because Thomas was the only Ward sibling that their mother didn’t torture. Apparently both their parents were absolutely terrible, which explains why their kids are so hopelessly demented. Ward hugged Christian and began to lead him out of the woods.
Coulson finally began his raid of the facility he needed access to, which obviously didn’t go well. Trip got shot trying to protect Fitz as he patched in that transceiver, and then Skye’s father showed up to help. He had a chilling conversation with Coulson, reminding him of the powers both sides are dealing with here. His line about not knowing what the tesseract was was really funny. Kyle McLachlan was clearly having a lot of fun here.
In the end, Trip was okay and Coulson used the transceiver to find a match for the city in his alien blueprints. Back at H.Y.D.R.A headquarters, Ward showed up and offered Whitehall his assistance. We then learn that Ward killed Christian and his parents, further cementing him as an irredeemable villain. More importantly, we learned that the young woman who didn’t age was Skye’s mother. Her father is really there for revenge on Whitehall for killing her. PLOT TWIST.
A few important notes:
- What is Skye’s real name?! Her father keeps reminding us it’s not Skye, so something tells me that has to be important.
- We need more backstory on Trip. If he had died here, it barely would’ve registered because we know almost nothing about him. He seems like a good guy and we know his grandfather was a Howling Commando, but we need more of a reason to care about him.
- Look at Bobbi and Hunter getting cozy again! After Bakshi released a cyanide capsule in his cheek in order to keep from telling Bobbi any classified H.Y.D.R.A info, the two had a classic Aaron Sorkin-esque fight that led to sex. Ow owww.
- IGN is my go-to place for theories on this show. They (and a lot of their readers) believe Skye, the obelisk and the city are all connected to the recently announced Inhumans movie. I don’t know enough about that mythos, but from what they say it seems like a legitimate thought. What does everyone else think is going on here?