Last year, Agents of SHIELD picked up massive speed following the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The storyline played heavily into the last half of the season, unfurling storylines and characters that helped bring the show from “good” to “positively great.”

The events of Age of Ultron weren’t entirely as prominent this time around, though it certainly tied into the universe enough that there was a strong connection. And a return surprise from Koenig (Patton Oswalt) during a flashback in which he showed Coulson “Theta Protocol,” aka the helicarrier that we saw Fury resurrect to rescue the Avengers in the film – was a nice subtle tie-in to show events of the show are working concurrently with the MCU, even if we don’t see it. (The line about Gonzales was nice, too.) And it was an interesting note to show how much Coulson had been lying about where he was taking trips to.

Back in the present, Coulson and the team are watching the destruction of Sokovia. Gonzales is not entirely happy that Coulson knew about the helicarrier and refused to say anything. Coulson defends himself, but then tells Gonzales that he’s since realized he can’t do anything alone, so he wants one S.H.I.E.L.D. – where he operates as Director under Gonzales’ advisement. Surprisingly, Gonzales is on board with this.

Skye is still overly obsessed with recovering Lincoln, who wakes up freaking out because, well, he’s in S.H.I.E.L.D. and traditionally, that doesn’t mean a good thing. Lincoln’s convinced that now that S.H.I.E.L.D. knows they exist, the group won’t stop until they find Afterlife. (He’s also not happy that he’s been indexed, but, well, who is?) Meanwhile, Simmons is not entirely okay that Skye has become someone who not only keeps secrets, but has an entirely new group of people she feels comfortable with. She tries to connect with her old friend, offers her things that she thinks Skye might want and busies herself by working on Kara, who seems to be mostly brainwash-free. Kara notes that having Bakshi gone has helped a lot in that respect and you can almost see the guilt on Simmons’ face. Fitz tries to tell her she shouldn’t feel bad about Ward – he wanted to kill him too, but at least she made an effort. And Simmons says she’s still upset she didn’t kill him. Simmons, what has happened to you.

After proving to have predicted the events of Ultron at the end of the last episode, Raina has now started to embrace her gift and use it to help other people in the community. She tells Gordon she sees a giant stone and an ocean, and Gordon realizes that she’s talking about seeing a dangerous Kree weapon intended to destroy their people. Jiaying wants Gordon to go confirm it exists (within S.H.I.E.L.D., where it’s being held) and Raina offers to go with him.

They’re caught pretty easily by Hunter, which gives Coulson the confirmation that the artifiact is hiding in their Bus. Skye promises Coulson and May that she doesn’t know anything about the artifact, but what’s more interesting about this conversation is that she specifically references “Inhumans” for the first time when speaking about who she is. It’s apparently that May and Coulson are wary of her because she’s not telling them much about her “new” world, and are unsure of where she really stands — but then again, as Skye implies, why should she have to tell them about her life? She trusts it, and that’s enough.

Gonzales tells Bobbi that because of Deathlok’s eye and tracking, they know where the Inhumans are. Gonzales clearly sees them as a threat, while Coulson doesn’t want to start a war, and considering the fact we just came out of Ultron, the whole thing has a very “Civil War” feel to it. Coulson proposes a sit-down with Jiaying where she can explain herself. But Gonzales doesn’t trust Coulson to go by himself because the last time someone decided to do whatever they wanted (aka Tony Stark), the world went to hell in a hand basket as the Avengers destroyed it.

Gordon and Raina return to Afterlife and tell Jiaying what they’ve found, and Raina tells Gordon she’s had a vision about S.H.I.E.L.D. coming to destroy them. She implores Jiaying not to talk to them, because that’s how she sees it starting, and instead proposes that it should be her who talks to Coulson. Cal has remained wary of Raina ever since he brought her in, and sees her proposal as a way for her to be manipulative. It’s interesting, because we’re not really sure what Raina’s true agenda is – I’m inclined to believe her, but I can also see how people wouldn’t be trusting. Cal freaks out over the fact that he’s going to lose his daughter again to S.H.I.E.L.D., and then suggests that they give him up in order to find an agreement. It’s almost self-sacrifice, and I wonder how much of this is rooted in Cal’s true desire to unite his family and how much is rooted in that “Dr. Hyde” personality.

In the quinjet on the way to Afterlife, Bobbi and May have a discussion about S.H.I.E.L.D. – if they’ve ever considered life without it, where they’d be without it. Bobbi has a nice line about Hunter being the only time she’d have considered leaving, before May turns on her…except it’s not May, it’s actually Kara, wearing May’s face again. Bobbi puts up a decently good fight but Ward shows up and stuns her, and, well, that’s the end of that.

As the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. touches down, Raina is finally starting to believe she has a purpose. But Jiaying is starting to believe otherwise – she doesn’t trust Raina, and neither does anyone else in the community, and no one is comfortable with her taking the reigns on this mission. Which means Jiaying is going to talk to S.H.I.E.L.D. herself, the very thing Raina (supposedly) sees as their downfall.

The crux of the meeting with Gonzales is pretty simple: S.H.I.E.L.D.’s goal is to protect the Inhumans, and they want to only help them. But Jiaying doesn’t want her people to be helped. They don’t need help just because they’re powered. He brings her an offering, a Chinese gift, and Jiaying gives him one in return – the terrigan crystals with the mist. She breaks the vial and Gonzales dies in a similar way that Trip did when he was caught in the Temple with Skye and the Diviner. Jiaying is positively livid that Gonzales would go so far as to try to even empathize with what her and her people had gone through, and after taking care of Gonzales, she shoots herself in the shoulder (TWICE) to make it look like Gonzales attacked her. Which, given the way she exits the building, Skye seems to wholeheartedly believe. And I have a feeling Skye is not going to take kindly to the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. “attacked” her mother…

“This is war.”

Odds & Ends:

The return of the lanyards! Also, I love that Koenig is an avid Star Wars fan.

I understand why Mack left, but I’m assuming he can’t be really gone for good given we only have two episodes to go. Come back, Mack!

I know now that it wasn’t really Bobbi and May in the quinjet, but still, Bobbi and May working together in any capacity is my new favorite thing.

“S.H.I.E.L.D. loves it when they get to lock someone up!” Well, Cal, you’re not wrong…

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