The SHIELD hits the fan as fallout from Captain America: The Winter Soldier has immediate effects on Coulson's kiddos. In case it isn't obvious enough, THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER HERE.
Sorry if this installment is a bit late, my home internet decided to have a conniption.
Man, it seems like this show's been pulling its punches till now. With any luck, this kind of desperation and action will continue as the series progresses. It's clear to see why they were unable to touch major threats like this until after the film came out.
On that note: How amazing is it that the movie and TV series crossed over on the same week the film debuted?! Even Deep Space Nine and the Next Generation movies didn't cross over that quickly! (NOTE: Feel free to correct me if that is not factually accurate.)
Spoiler-light recap: Bad stuff is going down in SHIELD - not everyone's gunna make it out alive, and someone close to Coulson is a traitor!
Huh, that was a short recap.
On with the Marvel Connections:
Okay, this has nothing to do with nothing, but on the topic of "the Reaper" (from Blue Oyster Cult's classic, used in this episode's cold open), there's actually a pretty major Avengers villain called the Grim Reaper. He's the brother of long-time Avenger Wonder Man (no relation). Interestingly, both brothers have been dead and returned to life repeatedly, removing all potential suspense.
Garrett's cool jet is called SHIELD Echo-3. While "echo" is a pretty standard military designation, there is a Marvel hero named Echo. She was a deaf interpretive dancer who could copy any physical movement. She joined the Avengers as the enigmatic Ronin, but sadly, did not last long. Of course, the naming here is likely a coincidence.
The drones chasing Echo-3 are nicknamed "Joanie" and "Chachi." For those born after Reaganomics, Joanie Loves Chachi was a memorable (if not super popular) Happy Days spin-off. Garrett likes him some non-topical, topical references.
Aside from the drones apparently out to kill Garrett, we learn Coulson's plane, SHIELD-616 aka the Bus, can be remotely controlled. If the Bus lasts to next season (as I'm hoping it will), they better find a way to prevent that. Especially considering the Star Wars-esque guns they busted out this episode.
Aboard the Bus, May is keeping secrets from Coulson who is keeping secrets from Fitz who is keeping secrets from May. Time for some secrets to come out! (After a little arm-shooting between friends.)
May's mysterious boss turns out to be Nick Fury, and the reason is both believable and creepy. Fury (who was Garrett and Coulson's SO back in the day), needed someone to repair Coulson if he broke (Simmons), a technician to reprogram him if he snapped (Fitz) and a specialist to put him down if he went rogue (Ward). Isn't it nice to know you have friends? Still no word on why Coulson was brought back, but I presume this will be forthcoming, at least by the season finale.
Back at the Hub, all kind of activity is happening because of shenanigans between Captain America, Nick Fury, Alexander Pierce and worldwide human rights. Simmons and Trip run through some deadly trust exercises, but eventually Level 5 Simmons decides to stick with Level 6 Trip - of course, it helps that both seem to have stated crushes on each other. (See? This can be a soap opera.)
The first hint that something really bad is coming comes from Agent Weaver over at SHIELD academy (first seen in "Seeds"). Weaver seems a little worse for the wear, but alive - for now.
Several fake-outs are meant to convince the audience Hand is evil, even as her cohort Agent Shaw (from "The Hub")seems reluctant to kill any former friends, although Agent Jacobson was willing to get the job done. Not that compassion will get you anywhere after Hydra comes "out of the shadows, into the light." It's a tenuous connection at best, but Marvel actually had a great black-and-white series called Shadows and Light, featuring tales of classic Marvel heroes with a slightly noir tone.
For those who don't know, Hydra is an evil organization that always finds itself at odds with SHIELD. In the comics, it was founded by former Nazi Baron Strucker, who hasn't aged much since World War II thanks to evil super-science (and occasional cloning). Named for the Greek monster that would famously grow new heads after losing one, Hydra seems to be the catch-all terrorist group, very much in the vein of SPECTRE from the 007 series. There's talk in this episode of people "changing colors" for Hydra - for the record, Hydra colors are green and yellow.
By the way, did anyone else think it was funny that Coulson warned of the "Hydra theme song" right before the music started up?
Ward rightly points out all of the top secret tech and intel that needs hidden from Hydra, including the 0-8-4 specs (from the episode of the same name), info on Asgardian weaponry (from "the Well" and "Yes Man"), portal creation technology (from "Repairs"), Donnie's weather machine (from "Seeds"), Gravitonium (from "The Asset") and info on the drug from TAHITI (from "TAHITI"). That's a lot of in-show references! Hand later lists off some more SHIELD episodes, including a mention of Akela Amador from "Eye Spy."
Skye puts all of that sensitive info on a harddrive and gives it to Ward. I bet it'll be safe there!
Ah, but there's movie references too. It turns out that snazzy device used by Hill and Fury in the movie is called the Mouse Hole. It was invented by Fitz just prior to the start of this series, and even though he'd thought it was lost in red tape, some top agents have access to their own emergency back doors.
Revealing himself to be a Hydra agent, and apparently the Clairvoyant, Garrett namechecks Jasper Sitwell before going all Bond-villain on everyone. Ah poor Sitwell. In the unlikely event someone watched this episode and last, but has no intention of watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sitwell was revealed to be a Hydra agent before he was killed in the name of Hydra. He will be missed.
Coulson fights Garrett, May fights a dozen Hydra agent, Fitz shoots a few people and Ward - we're not sure what all Ward did. Did he kill Hydra agents to keep his cover? Kill SHIELD agents revealing his cover? Or simply whisper "Hail Hydra" and have everyone leave him alone.
Coulson ultimately takes out Garrett using the bouncy energy bomb thing from the movie Serenity and the episode "0-8-4." While Garrett's being led away, Trip yells out his betrayal and frustration. Part of me really hopes he becomes a regular on the show, another part fears he may be a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Speaking of, exactly how much intel did Black Widow leak? She claims to have dumped all of SHIELD and Hydra's secrets, but if that's the case, that would presumably include instructions on how to build some of SHIELD's nasty toys, the identities of deep cover operatives, and evidence that Ward is a turncoat. Hmmm...
Hand's handy map indicates SHIELD victories in DC, West Africa (the "Sandbox"?), Saudi Arbabia and the Himalayas (near Bangladesh?), but Hydra claimed SHIELD's East African headquarters and the Treehouse (whatever the Treehouse is, it sounds amazing).
One area not yet secure is the Fridge, where Hand planed to send Garrett. The Firdge, as previously established, is a top secret Area 51-like base for handling dangerous people and things. Apparently within the Fridge is the Icebox, for holding prisoners all Guantanamo Bay-style.
Speaking of, Hand thinks she and Coulson are the highest-ranking SHEILD agents alive, and she's half-right.
Ward seemingly showed his true colors (i.e. yellow and green) by seemingly killing Hand (along with Shaw and Jacobson). So the Hydra roll call now includes Garrett, Ward and Sitwell. No word on Blake just yet, although he was the one who told Hand that Coulson was suspicious.
This episode's stinger ends with indications Ward may be snapping more than we previously suspected. This bodes not so well for our heroes. See you next time!