HYDRA returns in an interesting fashion, as the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dives deeper into the organization’s history. One of the show’s greatest strengths lies in the way it can explore the history of the MCU. The latest episode gives us an insight into General Hale and her daughter Ruby while also revealing the end game as the fifth season is building up to its final act. Slowly some pieces are coming together and Coulson will be faced with the truth behind the “Destroyer of Worlds” title that Daisy was given in the future. Will everything finally fall into place or is the destruction of earth inevitable?
The episode gives us quite a lot of backstory on Hale and how HYDRA was able to infiltrate as many governmental positions as they could. It was a clever route to take as her own history has a strong tie with HYDRA’s overall operation that was revealed back in Captain America: Winter Soldier. The showrunners used the opportunity to bring back three major HYDRA agents as well. We finally got the return of Jasper Sitwell, who actually was a good friend of Hale’s during their “school” years at the HYDRA Academy. There is even a rivalry between her and Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s Wolfgang van Strucker. She seems to be one of the very few female applicants to make it through the process, something Daniel Whitehall, once again played by the intimidating Reed Diamond, points out. Sadly, even if she passed the more brutal version of the Kingsman final exam, HYDRA deemed her main purpose to breed the perfect human being that could even surpass Captain America through a Particle Infusion Chamber, who we all know ends up being her daughter Ruby.
We get another jump to when Coulson got his hands on Malick and the leftover HYDRA agents were stomped out. It was great to see this callback for the third season, especially as it shows what was happening behind-the-scenes. Hale is told that HYDRA made contact with an alien organization called the Confederacy that warns them of an upcoming invasion. This ties into the post-credit stinger from the last episode where she meets up with an alien played by Spartacus actor Peter Mensah.
Before we return to the present day, the flashbacks continue as we get our first look at what happened to Talbott since the events of the last season. He has recovered slightly from being shot in the head by the Daisy LMD but his usual anger has been dialed up. Plagued with constant outbursts of anger he scares off his family, which Hale uses to her advantage. She brings him to her base to slowly break him and get the info she needs on where everything that once belonged to HYDRA is being kept. It was heartbreaking to see Talbott like this, as he may have been an asshole at times, he did have a good heart. Also, you have to respect the fact that he instantly knew that the Daisy who shot him was an LMD and how he trusts Coulson enough to come save him. The moment they brought him back to see Coulson was uplifting, as he was right but painful given that Coulson had no clue he was there. Hopefully, we will see Coulson help out his unlikely friend to break out from this underground base.
Hale and Ruby have a strange way to get people on their side. Werner and Talbott all were lured into the kitchen, caught off guard by Ruby ignoring them only to then get overwhelmed in some manner. They tried the exact same formula with Coulson, but he had seen so much in his life he did not care. Love the way he started evaluating the place only to give it a better score thanks to the cereal. He also deducts quite quickly that Ruby was the one that cut off Yo-Yo’s arms and even what Hale is exactly after. Have to give it to him, the last episode made him look like a fool for falling for a simple trick by Hale only to have him turn the tables by figuring out most of the details on his own. That is why he is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. after all.
On a side note, we also get some smaller moments with the rest of the team. Fitz is still in a dark place after his actions from the last episode but shows no regret. They use his experience as a HYDRA agent in the Framework to maybe figure out where Coulson is being kept. Yo-Yo is slowly getting her arms back and Mack highlights a fear that her knowledge of the future might make her believe she is unkillable. This backfires as the same thought now pops into Simmons’ head after last week’s revelation that Deke is her grandson. She uses this opportunity to inform Fitz, who has quite a hilarious reaction towards the knowledge that his daughter would end up giving birth to Deke.
The biggest revelation of the episode came from the way Whitehall described the new super soldier their Particle Infusion Chamber would create. After a brief meeting in space with Qovas (Peter Mensah) and our glimpse at an invading fleet, which surprisingly is not Thanos’ ship, as one would assume it has a connection to Avengers: Infinity War and both sides agreeing they will most likely be betrayed, Hale reveals that the machine would create the “Destroyer of Worlds”. This title was given to Daisy on multiple occasions at the beginning of the season and Hale believes she is the perfect candidate for the job. We never saw her in any flashbacks that take place between now and the future, so her powers combined with Gravitonium could lead to the world’s destruction. After last week took away the fear dimension, something many believed to be the reason, it turns out that was a red herring as the world’s destruction may still have happened at the hands of Daisy. However, Ruby seems to have a rivalry and aims to receive that title and power for herself.
This does lead me to one interesting theory. We know that Hale has most of the Gravitonium and she wants to use it with this device. If she infuses it with Daisy, her powers would certainly be strong enough to destroy the world but there is one major flaw in her plan. The Gravitonium she has is already infused in a human being, Dr. Franklin Hall who might still be trapped within it. It would not be too surprised if the device actually gives him back his own body and, as a result, Graviton becomes the true Destroyer of Worlds. His powers are similar in a way to Daisy’s and with him being gone for so long people might not make the connection but assume it was her. It would be a fantastic twist and a great final enemy to face this season, as Hale has already put together part of a new Secret Warriors team. Just imagine if we get to see her, Absorbing Man, Ruby, Werner von Strucker and maybe even a returning Ghost Rider facing the Destroyer of Worlds. Yes, I am still hoping for a return of Graviton!
4.5 All-Berries out of 5. Getting some more insight into HYDRA’s history with some great returning characters is always a delight. The parts involving Talbott are heartbreaking and we finally get some much-needed revelations on Hale and the show’s direction.
- Also a huge thanks from me to Chris Compendio for covering for me last week!
- Fun Fact: Peter Mensah is an MCU veteran, as he played General Joe Greller in The Incredible Hulk.
- I loved the exchange between Hale and Coulson when she mentioned Whitehall. The delivery of Coulson revealing that he was the one who killed him was hilarious.
- Wonder if Hale has some kind of sentimental value to her time at the HYDRA academy, as the base she currently uses is the same one. It even seems her daughter also has the exact same room as her.
- Hale tells her history with HYDRA and how she made contact with aliens, but the fact that Coulson traveled through time is too unbelievable?
- The “dog ritual” seems to be stolen from Kingsman at first, but is also a fantastic callback to Ward. He had to do the exact same thing when he was being taught by Garrett. Have to respect the showrunners for their attention to detail!
- Poor Deke, his own grandfather thinks he is the worst. Hopefully, he gets a chance at redemption to prove himself at some point in the coming episodes.