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'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' recap: 'Love in the Time of Hydra'

Ward returns while a second S.H.I.E.L.D. plots to overthrow Coulson.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

Current Status:
In Season
150 minutes
Wide Release Date:
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Andy Serkis, Cobie Smulders, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Joss Whedon
Stan Lee, Joss Whedon
ActionAdventure, Sci-fi

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might as well have been renamed after another ABC drama tonight, Secrets & Lies. Okay… so I’ve never actually watched Secrets & Lies, but S.H.I.E.L.D. had more than enough of both tonight, so the title would have been fitting.

Secrets and lies were at the heart of the three main arcs in “Love in the Time of Hyrdra,” as Skye and Coulson continued to grapple with the former’s newfound powers, Mack and Bobbi revealed what’s been going on with the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D., and Ward took Agent 33 on as his new mentee. All these webs of lies are bound to have repercussions for the S.H.I.E.L.D. we’ve come to know and love, so let’s take a look at how they affected the team in the short term and what that might mean for the rest of the season.

Coulson and Skye

Skye’s powers remain unstable, and May agrees with her ex-husband Andrew’s diagnosis from the last episode. She should be removed from active field duty as long as she presents a threat.

Coulson is reticent to isolate Skye. He cares for her like a father would a daughter—which is a good thing considering her actual father is a murderous psychopath. But he can’t deny that even as Skye heals from her accidentally self-inflicted wounds, she’s still a giant safety question mark.

So Coulson asks Skye to take a trip with him to an unknown location. Clark Gregg proves once again why so many Marvel fans wanted Coulson brought back from the dead in the first place as he speaks with Skye. He describes working with his father for years on a car, initially begrudging him for all the work but coming out of the experience with a newfound gratitude for the project.

That car was a 1962 red Corvette, which just so happens to now fly, but Coulson uses his beloved Lola for a reason. At its heart, Lola is still a Corvette that had a lot of love and work put into it. Whatever Skye is transforming into, at her core, she’s still the Skye Coulson loves and trusts, and they’re going to work to make sure that remains true. Gregg imbues the scene with such a gentle but light tone that I’d be okay with a S.H.I.E.L.D. episode consisting of Coulson telling stories for 45 minutes.

Unfortunately, the work he mentions requires bringing Skye to a remote cabin, complete with a laser fence, where she can come to terms with her powers. Coulson tries to soften the blow of her exile—Steve Rogers hid out there after his defrosting—but she’s still angered by this decision.

She wants to be free, to be with the team, but Coulson needs her and the team to be as safe as possible while they try to understand what’s happening. In the meantime, he leaves her with a set of gloves that will help inhibit her powers—which apparently have some side effects that go unexplained—as he returns to unknowingly deal with the ticking time bomb that is his team.

The real(?)S.H.I.E.L.D.

And while that bomb doesn’t go off in “Hydra,” the fuse has certainly been lit. Mack brings Hunter to a boardroom at this supposed second S.H.I.E.L.D., where he’s introduced to four leaders, chief among them Agent Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos).

Gonzales reveals they hope to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. while avoiding the mistakes they believe Nick Fury made. Namely, keeping too many secrets, and it’s something they fear Coulson is continuing. So they are plotting a takeover, with Bobbi and Mack collecting intel. 

But Hunter is not so inclined to turn on Coulson, and he has a hard time believing Bobbi would want to do the same. While Mack goes back to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ to save face with Coulson and May, Hunter and Bobbi have a heart to heart.

Hunter is worried that the rekindling of their romance was just a front for her hidden agenda with this new S.H.I.E.L.D. Bobbi protests, but Hunter asks her to prove it, to run away with him so they can have their lives back. Bobbi can’t let go of all the work she’s done and the cause she believes in. Hunter won’t follow suit, however, and flees the mysterious location. He escapes only to realize he’s stranded in the middle of an ocean on an airship.

Luckily, he commandeers a submarine and makes his way back to the mainland. Weaver estimates it will take him about 12 hours to reach dry land. In the meantime, Bobbi wants to return to S.H.I.E.L.D. and initiate their takeover plans. Calderon is incredulous at the idea with only 12 hours to pull it off. But Bobbi’s not worried. She only needs six.

NEXT: Ward returns, and trouble is on the horizon.