(Warning for PG-13 level violence. And spoilers!)
May: “Did you just spoil a perfect moment by capturing it?”
Garner says he couldn’t resist--she looked too good. He sits down, and they chat. They’re going home tomorrow, and May brings up the possibility of her leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. She says there are a lot of reasons why she and Andrew won’t work out, and she doesn’t want to be one of those reasons. Garner says they’re older and wiser now. He asks her to go steady. May laughs and Garner toasts to “new beginnings.”
Two days later, they’re home. Garner is in his office. He thanks Coulson over the phone for sending over Jiaying’s things from Afterlife. He says he’ll keep Coulson posted if he finds anything interesting. He flips through the stuff on his desk and tells Coulson he wouldn’t wait for Melinda to call either. He hangs up and opens a book with names written in it. A mist comes out. Garner steps away, but it’s too late--he gets covered with the brown stuff that we now know transforms humans into Inhumans. This is how Garner became Lash. The camera pans to the floor, focusing on a framed photo of Melinda. The glass from the frame is shattered.
Cue opening credits.
At S.H.I.E.L.D.’s base (and in the present), Coulson is trying to sell Daisy on Rosalind’s stasis idea, using the same spiel on Daisy that Rosalind used on him. Garner walks behind them, listening intently. Daisy argues that Inhumans are not a disease and don’t need a cure. She says becoming an Inhuman is a hard transformation, and they can’t expect everyone to immediately have a handle on their new powers. She mentions her transformation, reminding Coulson how scared she was. Coulson reminds Daisy that she voluntarily iced herself, so Daisy has to admit things are getting out of hand. Daisy agrees but says that everyone deserves a chance to be who they are.
Garner chimes in, saying that Daisy is “being seduced by her own experiences.” He says that while she’s learned to control her powers, not everyone else will. He asks what happens when an Inhuman’s powers are hurting themselves… or other people. (Ironic, Garner, considering you are hurting other people.)
Coulson brings it back to Lash, asking what will happen if trying to kill Lash doesn’t work. Daisy says that’s not fair since most people fall somewhere between Lash and Daisy (on the spectrum of how-unbalanced-of-an-Inhuman-are-you, I guess). Coulson says he hopes to present that message to the President and his advisors when he meets with them later that day. Daisy is surprised. Coulson explains that the Global Community will discuss the future of enhanced people. (Do I smell a hint of Captain America: Civil War and the Superhero Registration Act?) They’re meeting at NORAD in Colorado. Since S.H.I.E.L.D. technically doesn’t exist, Coulson is going as a consultant to the ATCU. Daisy, naturally, questions this idea, since Rosalind was technically a villain a few episodes ago. (I guess she just doesn’t ship them as much as we do yet.) Coulson says he wants Daisy to try to get Rosalind to see things from Daisy’s perspective. Garner says that it would help if they presented a case of a balanced Inhuman, so he agrees to give another psych eval of Joey Guiterrez from episode 1. (Bad idea, bad idea.)
Garner: “It’s what I’m here for.”Me: “No, it is not.”
Garner walks through the base, passing Mack, who’s talking to someone on the phone about picking them up. (Hmm, I sense that this will come into play later.) Garner runs into Jemma in the halls, who’s heading to the lab. She says she regrets telling Fitz everything about the portal and her time on the blue planet. (I think she’s secretly referring to Will, the third part of this little Fitzsimmons love triangle.) Garner reassures her that she did the right thing in telling Fitz the truth, saying that, “Secrets can eat you up from the inside.”
Me to the AOS screenwriters:
Jemma goes to Fitz in the lab and apologizes for not being in the lab more; Fitz says she doesn’t need to explain. Jemma gives him her damaged phone, hoping he can salvage the data (her recordings, photos, etc.).
She hopes the information will help lead them to a way to get Will back.
Jemma: “I always felt better having you as my second pair of eyes.”
Fitz starts trying to recover the data.
In the back of a plane, May looks distraught. You’ll remember where we left her last: finding out her ex-husband is actually a murderous Inhuman. Bobbi snaps May out of her daze by asking if May is worried about Garner. (Haha, yes, Bobbi, but not in the way you would expect.) She also mentions that Von Strucker went comatose before May could get more info. (So he isn’t dead! Good. I’m glad they didn’t get rid of a Von Strucker that easily.) Bobbi says Garner is fine and safe back at headquarters, then says they will get Hydra. Bobbi says she hopes May stays with S.H.I.E.L.D.--between the Inhumans, this monster, and the ATCU, they need all the help they can get. May mentions the “monster,” almost questioning Bobbi’s usage of the word, then asks if Bobbi has been tracking him. Bobbi says she’s trying, but since he can turn into a man, he’s impossible to find. May gets a look, and we all know what she’s thinking about.
A bit later, the plane lands, and Bobbi and May look determined to take on twelve attackers even though they’re just landing at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. May access Garner’s files, then runs into Daisy. May says she needs to talk to Garner, but he’s at another facility offsite: a facility codenamed The Cocoon.
We see Garner talking to Joey at said facility. Joey turns a filing cabinet into a metal sphere, which is pretty darn cool. He’s gushing, excited about how much more control he has now. Suddenly--pretty much immediately--Lash rips a hole in Joey’s chest. I’m panicking! RIP Joey!
Garner blinks, still in human form and still talking to a very-much-alive Joey. Ah. It was a fantasy. Okaaaay.
Joey says Daisy thinks he can be an asset to S.H.I.E.L.D., but Daisy told him that his fate lies in Garner’s hand. “Yes,” Garner creepily agrees, “it is.”
At S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Bobbi looks at her scar in the mirror. Hunter comes in, saying he heard about the Hydra pool party and he shouldn’t have been worried about her. He asks how Bobbi is doing. She says she’s good, which Hunter says is also good. He suggests going on a mission to find Ward again. Bobbi quickly shoots him down, but Hunter tries to talk her into it. He mentions the fact that he put Garner’s life at risk, saying that everything he did was to protect her. Bobbi keeps walking until Hunter stops her, asking her to talk to him. Bobbi admits she doesn’t want either of them to go after Ward. She thinks Hunter was reckless and stupid. Hunter agrees with that but says, “It’s because I love you!” She says she doesn’t need a knight in shining armor--she needs him alive.
Bobbi: “I don’t want to lose you.”
She doesn’t want them to lose themselves, either, lest they get caught up in revenge and turn into monsters… just like Ward.
In the sky, a little plane attaches itself to a bigger plane. Rosalind and her soldiers are welcomed into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “flying base,” which she says is a first for her. Coulson asks Daisy to show Rosalind around, a prospect neither of the women are thrilled about.
Fitz is working on Jemma’s phone and has managed to recover the data. He watches the happy birthday video he made for her, then scrolls through to photos of the blue planet.
Fitz: “Wow. Two moons. Bloody hell.”
Jemma took a selfie of herself on the blue planet, and holy cow, it’s so adorable. There are more photos of the planet, then a selfie (or an “ussie”?) with Will and Jemma. Fitz gets mad and throws something off the desk. Then Jemma’s voice, saying his name, stops him. It’s a video recording playing from his computer. She talks about how the stars disappear and reappear, but there’s never a sun.
Back on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flying base, Daisy shows Rosalind their fancy boxes meant for containing Inhumans--she calls them modules. Rosalind steps inside the module. Daisy says it’s bulletproof, which is helpful when people like Rosalind shoot at people like Daisy. (Shots fired?) Rosalind asks if Daisy really thinks the module is more humane than the ATCU’s stasis method. Daisy says their goal is to observe the Inhumans and educate them. Daisy says it can take time, but Rosalind interrupts, saying they don’t always have that luxury. Daisy says throwing people away like they don’t exist isn’t the answer. Rosalind says that’s not what they’re doing. Daisy says it looks like it, but Rosalind says it’s not that simple. Daisy accuses Rosalind of being afraid of Inhumans. Rosalind says she absolutely is. She asks if Daisy knows her own strength, hypothesizing about Daisy taking down the plane with her powers or even killing Rosalind herself.
Rosalind: “Mankind’s scary enough as it is. Some psycho gets a gun and watch out. But now people are their own weapon.”
Daisy: “Not everyone is like--”
Rosalind: “Some is enough. that’s all it takes.”
Daisy says she protects people, but Rosalind says that doesn’t matter because for every Daisy Johnson there’s a Lash, and it’s ignorant for Daisy to think otherwise. Daisy walks away.
Back at The Cocoon, May says she needs to know for herself. She tracked his flights to within 30 miles of all the Inhuman deaths. She checked his medical records, too, and his bloodwork was deleted. She says Von Strucker is alive. Garner looks shocked. She tells him what Von Strucker told her, saying that he wasn’t lying since he had a look of pure terror on his face. She asks what happened to him and says he can tell her. He says she doesn’t want to know. She keeps pushing, asking how this could have happened, despite Garner’s protests. Finally, he ices her. (Not cool, dude.) He looks like he’s panicking.
Fitz watches and listens to Jemma’s voice and video recordings. She thinks Fitz will never see them, and she is worried that she won’t be able to find water. She asks if he remembers when they first met, and there are tears in his eyes. He was so quiet and pasty and so incredibly smart… and handsome. She says it’s quite the strange feeling, isn’t it? Not wanting to be without someone. She says he must have been so annoyed with her following him around all the time. He says, “No, never,” and wipes a tear.
Jemma: “I’ll always be with you, Fitz.”
We cut to Culver University. May is chained to something. Garner apologizes for locking her up; he panicked. He needed time to explain. There are so many times he almost told her. May asks what he’s done, tries to get free, and yells, “LET ME GO.” Garner yells back, telling her not to get heated since his Inhuman/Lash instinct might take over like it did at the convenience store. He didn’t want to hurt anyone. May’s expression changes as she realizes just how many people Garner has killed. She asks when it happened. Garner says it happened after Hawaii. Daisy’s mom had stuff--a book of records, filled with Inhuman names. It was rigged with Terrigen crystal to keep out anyone who couldn’t survive the mist.
Garner: “Lucky me.”
(Blair Underwood’s acting is so on point in this scene.)
We see a continuation of Garner’s transformation. The crusty Inhuman substance falls off of him--he survived the mist. He was relieved at first, but then he became nauseous and his heart was beating in his head. It felt like a part of him was unlocked. He was compelled to be with other Inhumans--it was like a hunger on his skin. Then he met an Inhuman. His body took over and he lashed out.
After he did so, he felt relief. Directly after he killed said Inhuman, May knocked on the door. That’s why he broke it off with her again--because he knew she didn’t understand, and he needed to protect her. He’s still in love with her, and he needs her help.
We go back to Coulson on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flying base. (As a side note, something seems off about Coulson this season. Maybe it’s because season 2 was all about him, and now he’s not so much the focus anymore? Who knows.) He hears about the fact that May’s missing, then he hangs up and talks to Rosalind about how Daisy’s got fire. Rosalind says she hasn’t told anyone in the ATCU about Daisy. In the meantime, Coulson has an untied tie around his neck. Rosalind asks if it’s a new look, and Coulson says it’s an old one--he’s had trouble figuring out how to tie a tie with his new bionic limb. Rosalind comes over to help him tie it. She asks what really happened to his hand--she’s not really buying the whole shark attack thing. He tells her one of his men cut it off to save his life. (Yesss, Mack.)
Rosalind: “By chopping off your hand?”
Coulson: “You kind of had to be there.”
Rosalind asks if it hurts, and Coulson says it does, every day. She says the thing that’s missing is the thing you feel the most. Coulson says it makes it hard to forget. Rosalind says maybe you don’t… but it’s also important to look ahead and see what’s in front of her. They share a look, and they ALMOST kiss until Daisy barges in. She says there’s another quinjet that docked. It’s Mack and Lincoln, who have come bearing information on Lash. They are hesitant about Rosalind’s presence, but Rosalind says they all want to catch “that thing.” Lincoln says that in Afterlife, the Inhumans were taught to blend in. Yet most of his friends are dead, killed by Lash. Lincoln gave Mack a list of names, and Mack matched them to the identifiable bodies that S.H.I.E.L.D. has found. Lincoln says this confirms that Lash is using Jiaying’s ledger. Only one person in S.H.I.E.L.D. has access to it: Dr. Andrew Garner.
Mack saw May access Garner’s flight logs, and Daisy talked to her that morning. Coulson says he just got word that May and Garner are missing. He launches a rescue mission, putting his meeting with the President on hold.
Coulson: “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the President’s gonna have to wait.”
Rosalind is totally fine with this and offers to help. Daisy says that Lash wouldn’t hurt May--maybe he blacks out when he goes on his killing sprees. Lincoln says that Inhumans can’t transform like this--it doesn’t work that way. The only reason Garner can go from man to monster is because he’s in the middle of his transition. Eventually, someday, he will stay Lash.
Lincoln: “The man you think you know is disappearing… if he’s not already gone.”
Cue Garner looking out a window. May asks if he was going to hurt Joey before she showed up. Garner says of course not and says he’d also never hurt Daisy. May brings up how he went after Lincoln. Garner says, “That kid has a dark side.”
He talks about Bahrain and how May killed an Inhuman herself in order to protect others. Because of this, she should understand more than anyone. May says that this isn’t the Garner she knows. Garner disagrees and says that he and May are the same. He needs her help. May protests, saying she didn’t want to kill that girl in Bahrain. garner says he isn’t doing this because he wants to--he’s doing it because he has to. He insists that he hasn’t lost himself. May doesn’t know what to do. He brings up their first apartment--cheap, futon for a bed, and oven for heat. He puts a hand on her cheek. She says the world has become a lot more complicated. Garner says he knows they can’t pretend this all away, but he’s still the man she fell in love with. He says he wouldn’t give up on her, so he begs her not to give up on him. They kiss.
Suddenly, Coulson says, “Sorry to interrupt.” (How on earth did he find them?) He tells Garner he’s still waiting on Joey’s psych eval. Garner says Coulson doesn’t understand. Coulson says he’s starting to, then asks May if she’s all right. She is. Coulson says that since they’re old friends he’d like everyone involved in this to survive, but just in case, he isn’t alone. Mack, Daisy, Rosalind (and some ATCU soldiers), and Lincoln are all on board. Garner says he’s trying to help because this is an outbreak. Elsewhere, Lincoln worries to Daisy that Coulson doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Garner continues, saying he’s separating the good from the bad and that Coulson gave him this job.
Coulson: “That’s a pretty poor interpretation of a therapist.”
Coulson tells Garner that he isn’t okay. Garner says that he has a moral responsibility and that Coulson will understand soon.
Garner: “I’m doing you a favor.”
Lincoln is worried, knowing that Lash will come out, but Daisy says they don’t move in until Coulson tells them to. I’m so worried about this; I just know someone’s going to die. (The ominous music isn’t helping.) Garner says he’s only killed those who deserve it. Then the lights explode: Lincoln is on the scene. He confronts Garner, asking who made Garner judge, jury, and executioner. He asks what gave Garner the right to kill his friends. Coulson and May agree that they need to get Lincoln out of here. Garner starts to get agitated. A tiny bit of lightning sparks between Lincoln’s fingers. Coulson says they can help--they’re working on a cure--but it doesn’t work, and Lash transforms. May’s horrified expression at seeing Garner turn into Lash is palpable.
Lash responds, “I am the cure.” Lincoln electrifies him, and they both run away. Coulson and May decide they need to get Lash into the module. Their goal is to capture Garner, not kill him, but Lincoln’s not exactly on the same page. Coulson gives May the keys to unlock her handcuffs and runs off.
Lincoln hurls electricity at Lash. Lash grabs him and throws him down. Right as he’s about to kill Lincoln, someone fires at Lash. It’s Mack.
Mack: “Really gotta commit to that shotgun axe idea.”
Lash pursues Mack now, and Mack asks for backup. He gets knocked down, and just as Lash is about to kill him, Coulson stops him. (I’m sensing a trend here.) Coulson holds Lash’s arm back with his own bionic hand, proving that arm amputations can sometimes work in your favor.
Coulson: “Andrew… we’re friends. Or maybe just acquaintances.”
A bunch of ATCU soldiers fire at Lash, and Rosalind says they’ve got this covered. However… Lash throws the soldiers aside like rag dolls, finally getting to Rosalind. She fires at Lash in a badass moment, but he grabs her and holds her up by the neck. He dangles her over a ledge and drops her. Coulson yells, “No!” Daisy is down below, and she extends her earthquake powers out to ease Rosalind’s fall. It took a lot out of her. Once she’s safely on the ground, Rosalind looks at Daisy and thanks her genuinely. It’s a sweet moment. Coulson appears, too, conceerned about Rosalind.
Coulson to Daisy: “I didn’t know you could do that.”
Daisy: “That makes two of us.”
They don’t know where Lash is, but they know they need to contain him.
Elsewhere, Lincoln is apparently working on this. He lies in wait for Lash, promising S.H.I.E.L.D. he’ll get Lash where he needs to go. He goes into Lash’s view, shrugging and smirking in a way that makes my fangirl heart swoon.
May notices the carnage that Lash left behind. She finds where Lincoln and Lash are, and just as Lash throws Lincoln down, May runs between them. She says Lash may as well kill her. She always considered the ways she might die, but she never thought it would be him. She talks to him about how she was never as kind and empathetic as he was. That’s how she was able to walk away. Lash suddenly shrinks back into Garner here. She says her lack of empathy is why she gave up on him. She lost something when she loved him. He looks at her, half-man, half-monster. May says she won’t do it again, but he has to stop this. He says, “Melinda…” Her gaze hardens and she fires her gun at him, pushing him into the module. May shuts the door. He turns into Lash, and his hand slides down the module’s window as the gas knocks him out.
Coulson: “How’d you know that wouldn’t kill him?”
May: “I didn’t.”
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Fitz looks over his data on the portal with Hunter and Bobbi. They see a picture of Will.
Hunter: “Is that the other man? Well, I’m just gonna say what we’re all thinking. He has a hog face.”
Fitz agrees. He then shows Hunter and Bobbi his theory. He has a picture of the castle chamber floor. There’s a symbol on the floor. It bears a resemblance to the one on Will’s space suit. Bobbi says it’s worth checking out, hinting at the possibility of an ancient secret society within NASA.
Back at the college, Mack asks Lincoln if he’ll stick around. Lincoln says he will.
Lincoln: “Can’t run forever.”
Rosalind says that if they put Garner in stasis, it will slow his transformation, allowing them time to find a cure. She says she doesn’t understand what May is feeling right now, but she does offer some advice that harkens back to the fact that she lost her husband.
Rosalind: “For what it’s worth, if I had a chance to save someone I love… I’d take it.”
May asks what Daisy would do. She says it’s a temporary solution, but since Garner helped her, she’d do whatever it takes. May agrees and says, “Do it.”
She and Daisy leave the room, leaving Coulson and Rosalind alone. Rosalind asks if he needs to go after May. Coulson says May wouldn’t want this. They agree it’s been a long day, and Rosalind offers to buy him a drink. Coulson agrees.
At S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Jemma stares out the window. Fitz comes up behind her and asks if she’s okay. She says she couldn’t sleep and wanted to watch the sunrise. Fitz says he can’t make any promises, but he might have found something. He also says he recovered her pictures and recordings. He says he didn’t know she wanted to settle down in Scotland. He says she was tired and dehydrated when she said that, but Jemma reassures him she was as clear-headed as she’s ever been. Fitz realizes she does love him. Jemma asks Fitz what he thinks they should do about it. Fitz says, “For now, let’s just watch the sunrise.” So they do. And it’s one of the most beautiful Fitzsimmons scenes in history.
May watches the sunrise too--from a plane. We flashback once again to the scene in Hawaii. Garner asks May if she’s okay. She says she is.
May: “I never thought I deserved this.”
Garner: “What, a trip to Hawaii?”
May: “Happiness. This kind of happiness.”
Garner stands up and says of course she does, then he kisses her. He pulls back and says they both do. They kiss again.
Back in the present, May wipes a tear as the sunrise reflects on her face.
(I'm not crying, you're crying. And so is Melinda May, the strongest woman ever. My feels.)
In the last scene, Ward is with Gideon Malick, the guy who betrayed Von Strucker and who is also a member of the World Security Council. Gideon says it’s a shame about Von Strucker--he hopes for Ward’s sake that Von Strucker doesn’t wake up. Ward says Von Strucker is weak like his father. Gideon says that Ward paid a price for Von Strucker and he should see if it’s worth it. Ward says Gideon gave him Von Strucker’s location. Gideon says he gave Ward what he asked for. (Seems like the same thing, but whatever.) Gideon isn’t sure Ward is asking for the right things, since revenge is only a temporary pleasure. He says Ward should look on a grander scale. Ward says he’s going to cut off the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. because without Coulson, S.H.I.E.L.D. won’t grow back.
Gideon’s phone rings, and it’s Rosalind. She says she’s sorry for missing the meeting at NORAD. She says she’ll bring “him” to Gideon soon enough. She hangs up and Coulson appears in the background, clothes disheveled, tie untied. He spent the night with Rosalind. They banter about where to go for breakfast, and then they kiss.
Okay, we got our ship. But it doesn’t even matter anymore BECAUSE ROSALIND IS GOING TO BETRAY HIM. I feel physically sick.
As much as the Lash plot line is feels-inducing (and threatened to slay me multiple times), I do feel it was a good choice. Garner’s motivations as a villain were well done, and this was a spot-on acting performance by both Ming-Na Wen and Blair Underwood. While some have questioned the choice to put Garner in stasis (cleaning up the Lash plot line a little too easily), I don’t mind it because feel that this will have a big pay off later on. Besides, S.H.I.E.L.D. has so much going on--such as Gideon Malick and the fact that ATCU may be lying about trying to find a cure. Not to mention Fitzsimmons’ quest to get back to the blue planet, and the assembling of Daisy Johnson’s secret warriors. S.H.I.E.L.D. has plenty of things to worry about without Lash right now. But you can bet we haven’t seen the last of him.
This episode was harrowing. Especially the end. I’m really not okay with Rosalind now. I hope Coulson knows what he’s doing. (And I ship it so hard, too! I hope Rosalind has a bit of good still left in her because I really like her.)
Fitzsimmons had so many good moments, too. The sunrise moment made me weak in the knees. And Bobbi and Hunter also managed to show us while they're so shippable. In addition, we have Lincoln on board, so I'm looking forward to where they take him.
We got some really good moments from this episode, and as always, the twists and turns majorly drove the plot forward. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still off to an amazing first half.
Next week, it appears we’ll be getting more information about the ATCU's devious (or not-so-devious?) schemes, as well as some badassery from everyone’s favorite Mockingbird. Stay tuned.
Did you see "Chaos Theory"? What did you think of it?