Hey, did you know that there’s only one more episode to go before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes away until March? Crazy, right? While that seems like kind of a crazy long break, we’ll have Agent Carter to tide us over—and what’s more, the big-picture structure of this season is kind of really working so far. These first nine episodes of season 2 seem to function as a prelude of sorts to the 13 that’ll come in the spring—kind of like two seasons in one. And if next week’s episode sticks the landing, it could set things up to leave us in a very interesting place with the show.
I’m pretty hopeful—it’s really quite impressive at how good AoS has gotten about not wasting any time. Everything is continuing to move at a brisk and effective pace, which really helps the whole thing snap together in a way that’s quite pleasing. So what if you can see some of tonight’s plot twists coming—it’s not like the episode is really holding them over your head or anything.
That said, there are some pretty great twists and turns, some more telegraphed than others. There’s a lot happening in this episode, so let’s break it all down, one plot thread at a time.
The secret origin of Daniel Whitehall. A pleasant surprise about this episode is one we get right at the very beginning—a big part of this episode has to do with stuff that went down in 1945, which means more Peggy Carter! (I am very stoked for Agent Carter this January. I hope you are, too. But boy, do I hate the voice-over line in that ad.) As it turns out, much of this episode is concerned with the origin of Daniel Whitehall—which is interesting because I had forgotten that Coulson and the gang don’t actually know what we do—that he’s somehow the same age as he was during WWII and has been pursuing the Diviner for all this time.
This plot thread plays out like a horror story from the perspective of the monster. Whitehall—then Werner Reinhardt—has the Diviner in his possession and is taking captured villagers to his lab in Austria and forcibly exposing them to it. This kills most of them, but one woman doesn’t die—in fact, she causes the Diviner to light up. Reinhardt gleefully wants her to be dissected and cut apart to find out what makes her different—but then word comes in that The Red Skull has been defeated, and Hydra is on the move—it’s all for naught, though. Reinhardt is captured.
He then spends 44 years in captivity, finally set free as an old man by the machinations of a Senator Alexander Pierce (the Cap references are coming hard and fast), because the embedded Hydra agents have discovered something that he should see. So they take him to his old lab back in Austria, and they show him the woman from the very beginning of the episode (The 100‘s Dichen Lachman). She hasn’t aged a day.
So Reinhardt decides to finally make good on his promise—he cuts her to pieces, until he finds what made her young, and after essentially scrapping her body for parts, he uses what he’s found to make himself younger again.
Shit’s getting dark.
The Brothers Ward. Meanwhile, Christian Ward is going about the idyllic life of a United States Senator when his secret agent lethal weapon little brother bashes the window of his SUV in so he can take him on a little walk through the woods. Grant wants to take him somewhere particularly poignant—the well that he claims Christian made him throw their youngest brother in.
Thus far, both Ward brothers have given off serious damaged goods vibes, and AoS has been coy about which one is the lying snake and which is telling the truth. Today, Grant just really wants Christian to admit his version of the story is the right one, and Christian wants Grant to take responsibility for the horrible things he’s done and stop disassociating.
Anyway, this drags out for a little bit—Grant forces Christian to dig up the long-buried well, and threatens to throw him down if he doesn’t confess that he made Grant throw Tommy Ward down the well. Which Christian, fearing for his life, does. He says that he hated Tommy because their mother didn’t torture him they way she tortured them, that he resented him for that and that he wanted her to feel the pain she made them feel, but he didn’t have the courage to do it himself.
With that, Grant helps his brother up, gives him a hug, and tells them they’re good. Then they walk back home together.
The Ward family is next-level dysfunctional.
NEXT: A-hunting we will go