While Coulson works diligently to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. and recruit the few agents still loyal to the organization, General Talbot fights to discredit them in the media.
In a flashback to Austria 1945, we see Hydra is abandoning their last known post and packing up the very first 0-8-4 (or otherworldly artifact). Agent Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos arrive in time to capture Dr. Whitehall and retrieve the artifact.
At that time Agent Carter was part of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), the agency that preceded S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the present day, we meet several new S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, including Isabelle "Izzy" Hartley, Lance Hunter, Idaho and Alphonso "Mack" MacKenzie who are attempting to gather intel on that very same 0-8-4. Enter Carl "Crusher" Creel (a.k.a. the Absorbing Man) who takes off with the Level 10 file on the object.
Luckily, Agents May and Skye had been sent in by Director Coulson as back up. Can these new agents (or mercenaries) be trusted?
As it happens, John Garrett (the Clairvoyant) had kept Creel and his powers secret. Skye is sent in to question ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ward about the man's abilities. Skye holds her own against Ward, though he promises to only tell her the truth from now on. Is redemption possible?
Creel goes after Talbot and his family. Coulson assures the General they're the good guys, but when Talbot refuses to cooperate his fingerprints and voice modulation is used to break into the secure facility housing the 0-8-4.
Hartley, Hunter, May and Skye set out to stop Creel, but when Hartley touches the artifact Hunter abandons the mission to save her life.
May and Skye had a second mission though and manage to acquire a jet with cloaking capabilities. Moving forward with the mission was a tough but valuable call for Director Coulson.
Creel eventually catches up with Hartley and Hunter toppling their truck and walking away with the 0-8-4. Only Hunter survives the accident. Dr. Whitehall's plan is a success, but why has the villain not aged a day since 1945?