Aaand we’re back – but not to a version of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. any of us should recognize. This story line, the third and final “pod” of the season, is called Agents of Hydra, and boy does it live up to that moniker.
We pick up basically where we left off, with Daisy waking up in bed next to none other than Grant Ward. That’s right: Our old friend Brett Dalton is back on the show. As he hands Daisy a Hydra badge and they drive to work at a Triskelion emblazoned with the skull-and-tentacles, it becomes clear that in the universe of The Framework, Ward’s side won. Hydra controls the world now, and they use their power to brutally repress Inhumans – taking them out of school, beating them up, experimenting on them, constantly checking people’s IDs, and so on. As a result, pretty much everyone in this universe looks sad and worried all the time.
Daisy wants answers, so she starts using her Hydra database at work. Spurred by her surprise wake-up, she looks up her other big ex, Lincoln Campbell. She finds that Lincoln was captured and experimented on by Hydra, and his powers malfunctioned in such a way that many S.H.I.E.L.D. academy students were killed – including Jemma Simmons.
Luckily, Simmons is alive and well. Okay, maybe not “well,” considering she has to dig herself out of her own grave, but she’s alive! She’s supposed to be dead, as the bullet holes in her shirt contest – although that M.O. doesn’t sound like Lincoln’s electric powers, does it? Anyway, Simmons stumbles around this creepy woodland grave until she’s finally able to flag a passing car and hitch a ride. The driver seems like a nice woman, but Simmons can only wonder at such a “lifelike” virtual person. The happy times don’t last, as the car quickly runs into one of the aforementioned Hydra checkpoints and the ID-less Simmons has to scram. Agents of Hydra is homaging several pieces of Marvel history
Checking in with the other members of the team, we find that Coulson is indeed a high school teacher. He’s helpfully lecturing his students about how the world became so Hydra-fied (the same catch-up purpose Kitty Pryde served in the comic miniseries House of M, one of many past Marvel alternate-reality story lines that Agents of Hydra is homaging). According to Coulson’s lecture, the catalyzing event was an incident in Cambridge, when S.H.I.E.L.D. agents brought a known and dangerous Inhuman back from Bahrain and tried to put her in a normal school – where she used her powers to cause mass death and carnage. Yes, that’s right: The Bahrain incident is back, still haunting Melinda May and everyone else in her world and life.
Quick note: Although Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is typically concerned with other Marvel Cinematic Universe story lines, Agents of Hydra happens to be overlapping with a similar event in Marvel comics. In the pages of Secret Empire, Captain America will reveal himself as a Hydra agent and try to bring the entire Marvel Universe under Hydra’s control. Although the series hasn’t even begun yet, it’s attracted much controversy from fans. One of those angry fans is apparently in the room with Coulson, because he asks, “Aren’t Hydra just Nazis?” Coulson denies it, but when Hydra agents immediately walk in to take a suspected Inhuman from his classroom like a bad remake of Au Revoir Les Enfants, I think the kid’s point has been made.
Back at Hydra, an even more ruthless version of May has assigned Daisy and Ward to interrogate a newly captured Inhuman. He’s going by the name “Jason Rojan,” but Daisy immediately recognizes him as Vijay Nadeer. It’s nice to see him again; I thought his story line was unfortunately truncated in the last pod. He taunts May with the Bahrain kid, which seems an effective method of torturing May to her core no matter what world it is or what exactly happened. Vijay is able to escape, but he’s brought down by Hydra agents and delivered to “The Doctor” – not Radcliffe, but Fitz! If the black suit and Nazi haircut didn’t give it away, he’s super evil now.