We finally got a chance to dive deeper into the mysterious team that General Hale is assembling, and now she’s added a new recruit who is a major blast from the past in regard to S.H.I.E.L.D. canon.
Spoilers ahead for “Principia,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
We pick up the story of long-lost Hydra heir Werner von Strucker, going by the name Alex now, as he’s apparently being held in a mental institution. Hale bails him out to join her burgeoning team comprised of Ruby and Crusher Creel, and it turns out the time he spent being tortured and questioned by Grant Ward and later S.H.I.E.L.D. left him with the unique ability to remember everything in his life in perfect detail — including all that torture and pain, as well. For Hale, the ability to tap into his eidetic memory of all that old Hydra knowledge is too good to pass up, so she sends in Ruby to seduce him into joining the team.
The only problem? It seems Ruby might be playing her own side. The extremely dangerous Ruby, the killer in the mask who chopped off Yo-Yo’s arms, is a mystery wrapped in an enigma hanging out in a creepily normal girl’s bedroom. Ruby seems to be working Alex onto her own side, with a brewing coup against Hale. Ruby seems to be an audience surrogate in a sense here, pointing out that whatever Hale is cooking up is almost certainly destined to be just another variation of Hydra, simply with a new serpent at the top. After five seasons of Hydra fake-outs and remnants kicking around, she’s right. That story is tired and the writers seem to be using Ruby as a means to make it clear this isn’t that same tired story. Here’s hoping, at least.
As Hale continues to search and chase after Coulson and his team, a brewing coup within her midst could be a fascinating X-factor. Who knows, could it finally be the action that tips the scale into a new timeline where the Earth doesn’t break apart?
*The .S.H.I.E.L.D. story this week had the team chasing after a long-lost cache of Gravitonium from the old S.H.I.E.L.D. days, which was lost at sea. Turns out, the reason they couldn’t find the shipwreck is that the Gravitonium launched the entire ship into the clouds. We get a very cool, very daring mission to track it down, and Mack saves the day in just the nick of time to get the Gravitonium back to Fitz in hopes of shutting down that tear in spacetime that is causing so many wild hallucinations.
*We also got a chance to meet Mack’s old pal Jake Busey, aka former agent Tony Caine, who lends a hand to track down those Gravitonium assets. The scientists were recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. after Hydra fell, in a move that (as Coulson points out) mirrors what the U.S. government did in real life with some prominent Nazi scientists. Busey made for a great addition to the cast this week, and he had a natural chemistry with Henry Simmons. We also learn that Mack was obsessed with MC Hammer, and we will now exclusively be referring to the character as Mack Hammer.
*Well, that didn’t take long: Deke has figured out that Fitz and Simmons are actually his grandparents, though he didn’t let them in on the secret just yet. This is a fascinating time-travel wrinkle to throw into this story, and I’m curious to see where they take it. Will Deke actually get to live out the life he always wanted in the past? Or will he ultimately sacrifice himself (again) to ensure his own birth eventually happens?
*Coulson is still dying as part of the fallout from his Ghost Rider deal, though Daisy and May are determined to find a way to save him. The deus ex machina they’re looking for could be the defunct Deathlok program, which we’ve seen work wonders over the years. But Coulson wants nothing to do with cheating death. Umm, again. He’s a man who has gotten to live the greatest adventure of all on borrowed time, and he seems at ease with the idea that even if it is over, it’s been one hell of a ride. With the series possibly facing cancellation at the end of the season, it’s an attitude that makes a lot of sense.
*The line: “It’s like somebody let Scrappy Doo in here.” - Fitz, about Deke
*Hey, Yo-Yo might have a lead on some new arms! Mack salvages one of Hale’s robot-ninjas, which Fitz can almost certainly retrofit. Here’s hoping Yo-Yo is back to zipping around soon.