After weeks of questions and uncertainty, we finally have some real information and answers about what the heck is going on in the second half of Agents of SHIELD. But to get there, we have to go back in time to see how General Hale became the stoic woman we (barely) know.
Back in HYDRA’s good ole’ days when they had agents everywhere and a thriving version of their own Hitler Youth, those youths went to a secret HYDRA academy. Hale is top of her class and receives praise from visiting lecturer Daniel Whitehall (always good to see Reed Diamond again!) when she suggests HYDRA search outer space for a Tesseract-like power source that could give them an edge. But this earns her no goodwill from a young Wolfgang Von Strucker, the once and future HYDRA prince, who goads her into a fight in the weight room. For the record, she beats the crap out of him.
At first, it seems the fight won’t affect her placement post-graduation. Whitehall specifically requests her for his team. She’ll get to infiltrate the Air Force, like she wanted, but her true placement has to do with her special ability: she’s the only graduating recruit who can carry a child. Whitehall is designing the perfect leader for HYDRA and, when the time comes, Hale will carry the genetically engineering baby to term. Goodie?
And that is how Ruby came to be. She was created to go into a particle fusion machine that would imbue her with the power and strength. But right as she’s about to graduate from that same secret academy, HYDRA collapses. Hale shoots Ruby’s overzealous teacher, making her and her daughter the last two members of HYDRA left. How very Sith-like of her.
Hale is able to get the recovering General Talbot transferred to her facility. She reveals to him a device HYDRA found among the Chituri wreckage from the Battle of New York. It allows her to contact the Confederacy, an alliance of alien races that are willing to help save humanity from an impending Infinity war. But Talbot wants no part in helping Hale and so he’s restrained and tucked away and Hale moves on to her next option: Coulson.
She convinces him to go with her to meet the Confederacy and there Coulson is shown a vision of an alien ship (Thanos’ ship?) coming to destroy Earth. He doesn’t trust the Confederacy because, in exchange for saving humanity, they want Inhumans to use as weapons. Hale believes HYDRA and SHIELD need to align in order to show a force of strength to the Confederacy and try to strike a new bargain. The best way to do this is to put someone in the particle fusion machine where they will merge with gravitonium and become, as Whitehall called it, the Destroyer of Worlds.
That name obviously rings some warning bells for Coulson, especially because Hale realizes her daughter’s attitude precludes her from being the best candidate. Her choice? Daisy Johnson. Coulson tries to warn Hale about what they saw in the future but she doesn’t believe his story. Meanwhile, Ruby is resentful that her birthright is being stripped away and wants more than ever to take out Daisy.
At the Lighthouse, things are slightly calmer. Daisy and May are able to deduce that Hale is HYDRA and May suggests using Fitz’s “Doctor Leopold” personality to figure out HYDRA’s play. That ends with Daisy quaking Fitz against the wall for what he did to her and him replying with a pretty weak “sorry not sorry.” Inadvertently, he does give her the idea to go find the seer Robin for some insights.
Simmons successfully attaches robots arms to Yo-Yo. Mack worries that the new arms will make Yo-Yo even more reckless because she believes since she saw her future self, she can’t die in the present (past?). This gives Simmons an idea and she visits Fitz. She tells him Deke is their grandson and he’s proof they are “invincible.”
- Talbot’s nickname for Ruby: “Crossfit Tinkerbell.”
- Everyone we’ve seen wake-up in Hale’s facility has fallen for her and Ruby’s games but not Coulson. He sees right through it and doesn’t play. He also has no fear of Ruby because he’s already dying. If anyone is “invincible,” it’s probably Phil Coulson.
- Daisy’s disdain at the “Hale HYDRA” pun was life-giving.
- I’m happy Fitz and Simmons are going to be able to work things out but let’s not move too quickly past the part where Fitz forcibly restrained and operated on Daisy. He could’ve paralyzed her. He might still be partially responsible for the world’s destruction. He had his wife and grandson held at gunpoint. And his actions got Mack shot in the leg.