Coulson brings the original agents back together to fight Hydra, but how does it connect to The Age of Ultron? And (more importantly) which agent becomes a cold-hearted murderer?!
Before anyone asks, I have not watched Avengers: The Age of Ultron yet, so there are no spoilers for that film here (despite Coulson’s warnings). Definitely will see it sometime this weekend though. Again, NO SPOILERS (and please, don’t spoil me, either!).
That said, this episode does do a lot to set the stage for the big screen adventure without feeling too forced or out of place (like the Thor: The Dark World “crossover”) or overwhelming (like the Captain America: The Winter Soldier crossover episodes).
This episode was a really good one, though an emotional roller coaster for fans as it does two seemingly impossible things: it made Ward seem almost human again, and it made Simmons seem utterly inhuman (no pun intended).
Also, I hoped to have regular updates on Daredevil, but paying work and college work is monopolizing my time – sorry guys, but soon!
Before moving on, a note on the title (and yes, “the” is part of the title, but there’s only so much room Kinja provides for headlines).
If it even needs said, “The Dirty Half-Dozen” is a reference to the 1967 classic, The Dirty Dozen, in which 12 soldiers with sordid pasts worked together to fight a greater evil. That being said, Marvel had its own knock-off of the DD, with Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen, a contemporary of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos that involved criminals and ne’er-do-wells fighting against the Nazis.
Now, the Spoiler-Light Recap: Coulson has walked into enemy hands (or has he) but is willing to make deals with the devil to take out greater evil. Who else is willing to go that dark to do what seems right?
Picking up where last episode ended, Jiaying is left dealing with the awkwardness of her delusional (ex?) husband who has outed Skye as Jiaying’s daughter. In the political world of the Inhuman community called the Afterlife, that can be a very bad thing. Interestingly, with Jiaying as the reigning Elder, this sets up Skye’s relatives as something of a Royal Family. In the more advanced Inhuman city of Attilan, the king (or queen)‘s Royal Family are special positions and privileges within city government – even the psychologically unhinged ones. King Black Bolt has been plagued by the insanity of his brother Maximus the Mad for most of his life.
Before that can be dealt with, there is the growing intrigue around Raina, whose gift seems to be clairvoyance, and not, as Skye suggests, “spinning really fast to collect gold rings.” In fact, it’s Raina’s premonition that encourages Skye to rejoin Coulson’s team, which Gordon facilitates without consulting Jiaying. Cal warns Jiaying to keep an eye on Raina, as her scheming could be as dangerous as her visions are useful. Cal also has a fun way with words: “Butterflies in the stomach, except in the heart.” That’s poetry, Cal.
Trapped by Hydra, the cyborg Deathlok and Inhuman Lincoln find themselves in cells remarkably like the ones housing the Twins in the mid-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dr. List laments to (the seemingly mind-controlled) Bakshi that Strucker has had more success with “the Twins,” but is keeping them to himself in Segovia (the city in Spain? EDIT: “Segovia” is based on the episode’s subtitles, apparently it should have been “Sokovia,” a fictional Marvel country). Hoping for similar success with Enhanced individuals, List has the two prisoners biopsied. Interestingly, Hydra seems to have some kind of energy stun technology that worked equally well on Lincoln’s Inhuman physiology and Deathlok’s technology – wonder why they don’t use that more often.
Meanwhile it’s old home week for Coulson’s crew, albeit not one any of them feel comfortable with. Having informed “real SHIELD” de facto leader Gonzales about List and Strucker’s Hydra operations involving Enhanced people, and List’s Arctic base, Coulson decides to reassemble his original team to rescue Deathlok and Lincoln, and take down the Hydra base. Gonzales agrees, partly because Coulson offered to open Fury’s Toolbox for him, and partly because he wouldn’t be too heartbroken if Coulson’s compadres died fighting Hydra (seems rather harsh).
Also at the SHIELD base, former Hydra-affiliated terrorists Ward and Kara (Agent 33) are wandering around like foxes in a henhouse. Ward wants to fit in, as in his messed up version of reality, these people are his family, whereas Kara has every reason to be accepted, but views herself as an outsider due to Hydra’s brainwashing. Ward seems to genuinely want her to recover and resume her life as a field agent (“genuine” because there doesn’t seem to be an ulterior benefit he could gain from that). During their casual flirting, Kara suggests flying somewhere nicer than SHIELD, like Mykonos, where according to ancient legend, Hercules slew Titans. Kara’s comic book counterpart is a SHIELD archeologist obsessed with Greek mythology, and especially Hercules (whom she partnered with for a while). Ladygadfly pointed out previously that Agent Kara Lynn Palamas is clearly named after the Star Trek character Lt. Carolyn Palamas, the Starfleet archeologist obsessed with Greek gods who ended up partnering with Apollo!
Ward and Kara’s presence brings up all sorts of problems. Bobbi, for example, says she met Kara a few times before, even if Kara doesn’t remember – interestingly Kara was captured by Hydra while Bobbi was working there, and we know Kara is almost as good a fighter as May (who is herself as good as Bobbi), so is it possible Bobbi captured Kara for Hydra? More obviously, May hates Ward for betraying her (after they were pretty close), Skye hates/fears him (even comparing his tendency to pop up when mentioned to the Candyman) and Fitz-Simmons hates him for dumping them in the ocean. Simmons even takes her hatred so far that she would use Hydra-created splinter bombs (which uses Kree/Inhuman technology to fast-petrify targets) against Ward. That’s a pretty brutal way to kill someone – and she does use it on Bakshi, who protected Ward from Simmons’ attack (apparently he was fully brainwashed). That’s… that’s really harsh. Geez. Having innocent characters go bad is a staple of comic books, but it’s harder to get away with in live action. (And no, Aunt May didn’t “go bad” in the image above, but isn’t it nuts that Aunt May totally tried to kill Spider-Man?)
On the lighter side of things, the still-wounded Hunter seems to forgive (but not forget) Mack’s transgressions. What’s a little handcuffing-to-the-men’s-room-floor between friends, right?
Anyway, Coulson’s original six arrive at the Hydra base, but their plane the Bus (callsign: SHIELD-616) is blown up as they move into their Quinjet (SHIELD-218, the same Quinjet used earlier in the season). Sad to see the VTOL plane go, as it had been the main set piece for several episodes. Between the destruction of the Bus and the bittersweet reunion of Coulson’s gang, it seems like either a series conclusion or major transition is imminent. The plane is destroyed, by the way, because Hydra can see everything, even “a blip” caused by cloaked jets. Neither here nor there, but Blips are actually major threats in the Marvel Universe. They’re electrical beings that can actually give the Hulk a run for his money!
Once it’s all over, the Hydra base is destroyed (probably not List though), Lincoln is in SHIELD custody (for now), and Deathlok is in pieces (Fitz-Simmons mention a facility that can put him back together, Project PEGASUS, maybe?). Simmons repeatedly says Bakshi isn’t coming back, but neglects to tell anyone she brutally murdered him (sure, he was an evil killer before, but still… geez). Ward also flies the coop, but leaves Kara in SHIELD’s care. Ominously, Gonzales says he plans to keep Skye and Lincoln in custody so he can have his own powered people, but that doesn’t sit well with Bobbi. Coulson finally opens the (presumably nerfed) Toolbox for Gonzales, and drops the figurative bombshell that Fury will be back soon (Spoiler Alert!) – slyly informing Gonzales that Coulson is still in charge in his own way.
On that note, Coulson secretly hacked Hydra’s files while the rest of the team was saving Deathlok and Lincoln. He learns that Hydra has “the weapon that killed” him, Loki’s Scepter, and confirms that “it can control minds.” This, combined with the Infinity War montage from early Avengers: Age of Ultron trailers seems to heavily imply that the scepter holds the Mind Gem, one of the six Infinity Stones needed to form the Infinity Gauntlet. That means so far we might be able to account for the Mind Gem, the Tesseract/Space Gem (confirmed), Ronin’s Universal Weapon/Power Gem (confirmed) and the Aether/Reality Gem (all-but confirmed). We just need Time and Soul and we’re ready for a War!
Coulson provides this information, as well as info about Strucker’s plans in Segovia, to Maria Hill, then says it’s time for the Theta Protocol – “Time to bring in the Avengers.” It’s unclear (yet) what all that entails and why it necessitated keeping May in the dark, but good to know none-the-less. Interestingly, Colson and Hill laugh at Team Gonzales for voting about every little decision. Yes, this is an inefficient way to run a spy agency, but doesn’t that mean they’re making fun of democracy? Maybe that’s just reading too much into it.
As stated above, I have not watched Age of Ultron yet, but a brief clip aired in during the episode in which Black Widow sped around town with Cap’s shield attached to the front of her motorcycle. This is a pretty common transportation method for Cap in the comics, but it really took off after the live-action version of Cap (and Cap Jr.) rode around on a shield-cycle in a few TV movies! How’s that for a weird callback?!
Next week: Inhumans!
Kevin Garcia is a professional educator and freelance writer whose work has appeared in Marvel Comics, the Associated Press and on various blogs. As a fan, he doesn’t get paid to write Secrets of SHIELD posts about Marvel shows – or any other geeky posts for that matter – but hey, wouldn’t that be nice?