Alrighty, SHIELD-o’s. This is a major turning point for the show. We’ve gotten some very clear answers to some of the questions that have been building up, which reorients us toward answering the next big set of questions. Needless to say this review contains spoilers, but this one probably more than usual. So only level 8 from here on out, right guys?
Writing on the Wall – Recap
So Coulson is still delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the circley-liney thing he’s been carving into walls. The urge to carve has been increasing in frequency, as is the absolute uncontrollable need for answers. Skye keeps an eye on him while May is away hunting for Ward.
May, Hunter, Bobbi, and Triplett are splitting up and spying on Ward, who can predict every one of their moves. He’s covered in C4 with a “dead man’s trigger” (meaning if they kill him, he’ll let go of the only button that’s keeping that bomb from exploding), so there’s nothing they can do to stop him or detain him or take him out without also taking out half a city block with him.
One of Skye’s “crime scene junkie” friends sends her pictures of a dead body with the same alien markings carved into her body. Coulson swears he remembers her as a SHIELD agent, but the files disagree. Simmons conducts an autopsy on the stolen body (can we just pause for a moment to remember Fitz saying “Corpse-ay diem, seize the dead”? Okay, let’s move on) and finds two blood samples – one from the body, one from under her nails. Both contain the GH-325 serum. Both were TAHITI patients. The dead woman was an artist and in her room are several paintings of the alien markings, with titles like “A Magical Place”.
Coulson doesn’t have straight answers, so he subjects himself to the memory machine first used by Raina to extract information for the “Clairvoyant”. Skye does her best to calmly talk him through his memories of the TAHITI project, and Coulson remembers 6 other patients. He’s able to produce a list of names before the machine becomes too intense and he starts seeing his own break down, so they bring him out.
After looking into the list of names, only two are still alive – the murderer, and presumably his next victim. Skye tells May about the whole ordeal, and May orders Skye to lock up Coulson. When they get down to the cell, however, Coulson pushes Skye in and locks her up and runs off to do…whatever he plans on doing.
He finds himself at the home of Hank Thompson, a welder who has no memory of Coulson (because TAHITI erases memories to protect sanity, remember). Unfortunately, the other guy, Sebastian Derek, with alien markings tattooed all over his body, and is also very interested in finding out what they mean. Derek ties up Thompson, and hangs Coulson by a beam and proceeds to start slashing away – because pain made him remember, so let’s inflict pain until Coulson remembers. Thompson frees himself and fights Derek by muscle memory alone, and frees Coulson, who wrestles Derek to the upper level of the workshop.
There, he looks down and has the major revelation that never even crossed my mind once: the markings aren’t two dimensional, they’re meant to be in 3D! Thompson, the welder, has been subconsciously building the marking three dimensionally, to the point where it now resembles a city. Coulson and Derek both see it for what it is, and their carving urges fade away altogether.
Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out where that city is. And since this all came from an alien corpse older than the pyramids, here’s hoping it’s on Earth, or some planet we can easily reach.
While all this was happening, Ward’s been ping-ponging across the country, until he finally meets up with Bakshi and some other Hydra agents at a bar. Ward promises to get Bakshi “close enough to Coulson to put a bullet in his brain”, and delivers by tying him up and leaving him for the SHIELD team to find – with duct-tape reading “For Coulson” over his mouth.
Skye is tasked with getting as much info as possible from his phone. Some of that info includes and incoming call from Ward making sure they “got his present” and promising more along the way. Which brings up that nagging question – now that Ward isn’t controlled (by Garrett, by SHIELD, by a cell)…what does Ward really want? What’s he truly after if he is 100% a free agent now? Tune in next week, I guess.
One of my biggest stresses about this show is it always raises more questions than it answers. And to some degree it has to, but still I want to know things! Now we know that the alien markings are a map of a city which links Skye and Coulson and TAHITI and everything. We also know that, at least for now, Coulson’s condition is improving and not getting worse like it was. We also have a glimmer of information into where Skye comes from – and a hint that it may not be altogether human. The prevailing theory has been that Skye is the introduction of the Inhumans into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now that a movie has been announced, that certainly seems more likely. Not having too much prior exposure to the comics, I only know what I Google, but it seems like an interesting direction to go. Of course, the show being written the way it is, this speculation holds only just as much as any other. And, even if we all see it coming, Skye won’t, and I care more about her reaction to the answer than I ever care what the answer is.
I’m loving watching Fitz’ recovery. It’s very much in the background compared to the much larger arcs, but he’s there, and he knows that brains don’t lose information, they just lose connections. They’re building to something with Fitz. They have to, or they wouldn’t spend any time writing for him. I have zero idea what that could be, but there’s a payoff coming.
The preview for next week hints that an agent could lose their life, but really isn’t that every episode? Didn’t we almost lose Simmons on the boat or Bobbi in Japan or May fighting May? However, it’s a very specific phrasing, so I do have to worry a little, and just hope that it’s a second-season character, and not a first-season character. I’d rather lose Hunter than May any day. Not that I want to lose any, but if I had to choose, you know?
So, now that we’ve rounded this corner, it’s time to find out what’s next. And hopefully it’s more answers and not more questions.
See you next week, Agents.