Ah, so many questions answered. So many more raised. But truly, despite being more or less forty minutes of exposition, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 15 made for some great cameos, entertaining moments, and a boatload of callbacks and Easter eggs.
How fitting, given that Easter is two days after this episode aired!
With Coulson in General Hale's hands, we the viewers got the opportunity to be clued in on this heretofore fairly mysterious character. Who would've thought the tale would bring back so many familiar faces?
The first, and perhaps most surprising, being none other than Jasper Sitwell. Anyone hoping that he was one of the forcible converts to Hydra via brainwashing were crushed to see him as a willing recruit attending Hydra Academy.
It was amusing to see that even so many years ago Hydra was big into branding, throwing their logo everywhere and on everything just so everyone knows they're at Hydra School for Sociopathic Nazi Wannabes.
The reveal that Ruby was the product of a Hydra supersoldier product (by Daniel Whitehall, no less) didn't come across as a huge surprise, but it definitely answered some questions.
Like the reason for the tension, apparent bitterness and resentment, displayed by General Hale towards her daughter.
This whole revelation reminded me of the absolutely horrifying scientific experiments done by the real-life Nazis during World War II. The name of Josef Mengele came to mind.
Young Hale: You want me to be…
Daniel Whitehall: Artificially inseminated, yes. It’s quite exciting. You should be honored!
Reed Diamond made a fantastic return as Whitehall, with his completely twisted and horrifying worldview and utterly cold and calculating demeanor. Yes, being artificially inseminated and forced to raise a science project is an honor, yup.
Maybe this explains Hale's otherwise odd attitude towards Coulson at the end of the episode, where she expresses a desire that the perfected human isn't a man, and seems to think that Coulson isn't being straight with her because she's a woman.
Hydra doesn't seem to have a high opinion of women, given the indication that Hale was one of the few females to make it to graduation.
I'm honestly not sure how that's supposed to be interpreted. Are they saying that women aren't physically or mentally strong (or, alternatively, malleable) enough to make it through the Hydra indoctrination program?
There are unfortunate implications in there somewhere, I'm just not certain where.
Another interesting reveal came towards the end, with this telling exchange:
She [Daisy] would have the power to level alien armies, blow their ships apart. She would be worthy of Whitehall’s codename for the project. ‘Destroyer of Worlds.’Hale
There's the immediate implication, that imbuing Daisy with the power of gravitonium was what destroyed the Earth. But what if that's not what happened? What if it was Ruby all along, motivated and blinded by her jealousy?
A few moments earlier, Coulson had pointed out the obvious:
The idea is to put your ninja daughter into that chamber?! This is gonna be a long conversation. Cap was selected for his *heart*, not cutting off hands.Coulson
Turning back to Captain America: The First Avenger, it was stated quite plainly that the super-soldier process made good into great and bad into worse.
Given that Ruby has clear sociopathic tendencies coupled with her already terrifying physical prowess, how potentially catastrophic would it be to imbue her with the gravitonium?
I'm also led to wonder if General Hale isn't suffering from the same problem as Denethor from The Lord of the Rings.
Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, used a magical orb to see afar. But the Big Bad, Sauron, manipulated Denethor into only seeing what Sauron wanted him to see.
Hale was given a deal by the mysterious Confederacy: give them gravitonium and Inhumans, and they will protect Earth from an alien invasion. But why would the Confederacy ever need to deal with Hale if they had the power to defeat an alien invasion force?
Couldn't they just come to Earth and take the gravitonium and Inhumans themselves? Or do they simply want to avoid attracting the attention of those who would actually protect Earth?
Read: The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Asgardians, and maybe even the Nova Corps.
Some assorted thoughts and musings before I turn the discussion over to you, fellow fans:
- Ruby's used that "walk into the cafeteria and ignore the other person" strategy several times now. Coulson's response was the best.
- Poor Talbot. While it's nice to see he's not dead, he definitely wasn't in good shape. Also of note: he knew that it was an LMD that shot him, and had faith Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. would come for him.
- Speaking of Talbot, he had some absolutely fantastic choice words for General Hale. "Calamari Mata Hari" anyone?
- Cap was "chosen for his heart." Coulson, a noted Cap fanboy, is the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Nick Fury himself called Phil an Avenger. Any bets on whether Coulson will get saved with that super-chamber thing?
- This episode was stuffed full of some great dialogue, so stop by our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. quotes page for some of the best!
What did you think of "Rise and Shine"? Were you excited to discover the truth about General Hale's past and her connections to so many familiar characters?
Let us know in the comments section below!