Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: 'All Roads Lead...'
Poor Ruby Hale. Dove Cameron’s character was a vision of a superpowered child soldier, someone who had been raised apart from civilization by a psychotic supervillain of a mother and thus came to believe passionately in Hydra’s ideals of violence and conquering without ever taking stock of what those things actually felt like. Well, now she knows.
But first, coming out of last week’s cliffhanger, we see Talbot is a man on a mission, and that mission is to kidnap Robin Hinton. With Hydra’s commands inside his head, Talbot infiltrates Robin’s room and examines her drawings. He notices a lot of crimson crayon and makes a “Redrum” reference, which is good news because any nod to The Shining is a good way to hook me (this is the main reason I enjoyed Ready Player One). When Robin can’t explain the drawings, Talbot knocks out her mother and kidnaps the girl. Robin reacts in characteristic fashion when Talbot informs her of his kidnapping intentions: “I know.”
Luckily, Coulson and Mack soon notice a glitch in the video feeds for Robin’s room. When they go to investigate, Coulson realizes that Talbot’s six months in Hydra prison really did a number on him. As a friend, Coulson doesn’t want to hurt Talbot, but he’s also not afraid of using the programming against him. Using his knowledge of Hydra commands, Coulson gets Talbot to surrender, freeing Robin.
Speaking of Coulson and Mack, one thing I’m enjoying about these recent episodes is the focus on character relationships. There’s a particularly funny moment this week when Deke asks Coulson and Mack for advice about his Daisy crush — but considering Mack’s last interaction with his girlfriend was her locking him in a cell and Coulson’s less-than-ideal reaction to May’s love confession, they don’t have many romantic tips to give. Meanwhile, FitzSimmons are currently repairing the Gravitonium infuser (and thus endangering the world) in order to safeguard each other from Ruby. As they work, FitzSimmons continue to warn Ruby that the operation isn’t a good idea, that they still don’t know enough about Gravitonium to understand what the effects will be. Raised to be a confident assassin by her mother, Ruby ignores them and goes through with the procedure — much to her later chagrin. (Recap continues on next page)
The Gravitonium is in Ruby’s head for all of like five minutes before she starts screaming. No one listened to Creel when he said the Gravitonium made him hear voices in his head, but he was right. Now that Ruby’s head is filled with the voices of Franklin Hall and Ian Quinn, she can’t stop screaming.
Meanwhile, Daisy and May have stormed the Hydra base. When they found Hale, the Hydra general made the uncharacteristic move of surrendering. Right now, she doesn’t care about old factions or intergalactic plotting; she just wants to protect her daughter. Daisy is happy to help; she was impressed by Ruby’s skills during their fight and thinks with the right training she could make a good S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
Alas, the three of them find quite a scene, as Ruby can’t get the Gravitonium voices out of her head. She begs FitzSimmons to reverse the procedure and take it out, but they can’t; the infuser only works one way. Ruby is losing her sanity by the moment, which is pretty bad for someone with Destroyer of Worlds-level powers; when Alex von Strucker goes to comfort her, she inadvertently crushes in his head with gravity. She then throws Fitz and Simmons against a wall and is only reigned in by her mother.
Ruby tells Daisy that she was her hero, but it’s too late for all that. A shaken Yo-Yo comes in and immediately recognizes Ruby as the person who cut her arms off. On top of that, Yo-Yo sees Ruby’s newfound powers going haywire, and puts two and two together. While Ruby shudders in Hale’s arms, Yo-Yo moves at superspeed and slices Ruby’s throat with her own blade weapon. Damn, Yo-Yo! Everyone looks at her in stunned disbelief, but as far as Yo-Yo is concerned, she just saved the world.
As might be expected, Hale is not too happy about all of this. She contacts the alien Confederacy and tells them to kill S.H.I.E.L.D. if they want their Gravitonium. As we continue to move toward what might very well be the show’s series finale, I can’t wait to see how this all plays out over the next few weeks.
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.