TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 8 "Many Heads One Tale"
EPISODE 8: "Many Heads, One Tale"
SYNOPSIS: The S.H.I.E.L.D. team discovers dangerous truths about the ATCU, and Grant Ward’s (Brett Dalton) plans to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. take a surprising twist.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
With the season long mystery about Lash resolved last week, we are back to the primary plot of S.H.I.E.L.D. versus the ATCU. With the stinger last week revealing that Rosalind was working for (or with) HYDRA member Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe), the question remains whether Coulson would continue to fall for the rival agency leader. Well, not far into this episode we find out that Coulson may not be as far gone as previously thought. After being confronted by Mack about whether he is sleeping with Rosalind or not, Phil Coulson revealed that the incarceration of Andrew by the ATCU has opened the door to begin Operation Spotlight.
Spotlight will once and for all reveal what the ATCU is actually up to. With a homing device on Andrew's containment unit and Rosalind headed for a tour of S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Coulson dispatches his team to infiltrate the ATCU. Hunter and Bobbie pose as an FBI hacking taskforce while May, Lincoln, Mack and Daisy run the op from the plane. But, it looks like the ATCU isn't holding any Inhumans at all. The evidence found on site shows that they are administering Terrigen to as many civilians and ATCU personnel as possible, trying to turn them into Inhumans. Coulson also locks Rosalind into a containment room with him and tells her she needs to convince him that she is not HYDRA or he will never let her go.
As Bobbi and Hunter blow their cover and are confronted by an Inhuman named Giyera, played by Mark Dacascos, who is telekinetic and a martial arts expert, Coulson calls out Rosalind because of her mention of Tahiti when they first met. Rosalind reveals she had no idea about what they found at the ATCU site and that her intel came from Gideon Malick himself. It looks like Rosalind's feelings for Coulson were real as well as her unwittingly working on behalf of HYDRA.
Ward's storyline continues and finally seems to be making some logical headway. I have struggled to see why Ward has even been included this season but we finally learn that he is looking for Baron Von Strucker's family vault in search of something powerful that will help him take over HYDRA and the world. Gideon Malick doesn't seem to be confident in Ward's abilities any longer and tries to have him killed, but Ward escapes and makes his way to Germany via a cool mid-air parachute sequence.
The other main storyline this week was Fitz and Simmons continued efforts to find a way back to the planet Simmons was stranded on. Confronted by dead ends as they search to find a portal, FItz and Simmons finally reveal their full feelings for one another and kiss. Fitz still says they are cursed and can never be together when Simmons notices something in an old manuscript knocked to the floor: the symbol on Will's NASA patch on the other planet matches an evolving symbol of an ancient order that eventually evolved into HYDRA's logo. When Ward finds Von Strucker's vault, Malick is waiting and reveals the truth that pulls together everything built over this and the last season. HYDRA is actually thousands of years old with the stone monoliths having been passed down through the generations. HYDRA began with an ancient Inhuman who was banished to the other planet and the HYDRA descendents have been trying to save him for centuries. Now, with the Inhuman army growing, Malick tells Ward they will rule alongside this Inhuman, presumably the Death-like being Simmns encountered. But, Malick says they first need to learn how S.H.I.E.L.D. did what HYDRA never could when they brought Simmons back from the other planet.
In the stinger scene, Ward thanks Andrew for helping him find closure in hurting May as he pumps the containment unit with mustard gas to try and turn Andrew back into Lash. Overall, this was a very good episode. The action and tension during the ATCU infiltration was solid, but the final reveals as to what connects everything together was quite shocking. Marvel definitely has an endgame in mind for this story arc and I am beginning to think it is going to lead right into AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. The fact that the Inhuman HYDRA has been worshipping is so powerful leads me to believe it could be connected to or a threat against Thanos. Or, this could be leading to Marvel's planned INHUMANS film. In either case, this was one of the best Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes to date with a promised showdown between Ward and Coulson coming in just a couple of weeks.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Aside from the return of Powers Boothe we also have a call back to HYDRA's genesis with the Red Skull as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Episode 9 "Closure" airs December 1st - Ward and Coulson finally come face to face as the former colleagues battle each other with only one able to live.