Agents of SHIELD Season 3 Episode 8 ANALYZED

“Many Heads, One Tale” was one of the strongest episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet, with plot revelations and a moment that fans had been waiting for…with a twist.

With Coulson, it's never just a casual stroll.

With Coulson, it’s never just a casual stroll.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had a decent season so far, despite moments where it seemed a bit overwhelmed trying to fit the current Inhumans plot in. Any struggles that the show might have faced before disappeared last night, though, with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season 3 episode 8. The show managed to not only make a few major plot reveals, but also featured a moment that some fans have been waiting for since the very first episode.

‘”Many Heads, One Tale” advanced the plot of Ward and Hydra, Coulson and Rosalind, and FitzSimmons in just about the most interesting ways possible. With so much going on, let’s break it down and look at how each part of the plot played out.

Many Heads of Hydra

Ward prepares to get the answers he needs.

Ward prepares to get the answers he needs.

One of the big disappointments of the season has been the seemingly ineffectual way that Ward was trying to bring Hydra back together. It’s seemed like he always needs someone to follow, and last night he found his latest leader in Gideon Malick.

For once, though, it seems he’s chosen wisely, as Malick drops some major knowledge. He reveals to Ward that Hydra was older than anyone imagined, predating the Red Skull by a few thousand years. Hydra began as a cult worshipping a powerful Inhuman, who just so happened to be the death entity on the other world where Simmons had been trapped (and that’s a pretty key detail). Hydra has sent sacrifices through the monolith to sustain the creature over the centuries, trying to keep it alive until it could figure out how to retrieve it from its exile and bring it back to conquer the Earth.

And so what’s likely going to be the major plot arc for the second half of the season arrives: Malick recruits Ward to help him discover how S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to bring someone back from the other side. Ward’s reminded us this episode that he’s a capable agent (dispatching the assassins Malick sent after him), so it’ll be interesting to see how he does with this new task.

Agencies at Odds

The computer-illiterate Hunter poses as a hacker.

The computer-illiterate Hunter poses as a hacker.

The romance between Coulson and Rosalind was doomed to be short-lived, but no one was expecting it to play out quite like this. Admitting that the only spies without trust issues are either young or dead, Coulson brings Rosalind over to tour the S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities while sending an infiltration team in to find out whether the ATCU is really working on a cure for the Inhumans as they claim.

The team pulls off a purposefully bad infiltration, followed by a response by Hunter and Bobby disguised as responding FBI agents. We saw them search the facility, with Daisy doing some hacking again to feed information to a computer-illiterate Hunter who’s posing as a (pretty amusing) hacker on-site. Instead of finding captured Inhumans, though, Bobby and Hunter found body parts from failed Inhuman transformations and a stockpile of Terrigen-laced fish oil supplements.

This was probably one of the big shocks of the episode. While there were suspicions that Rosalind was involved with Hydra, most people were expecting the ATCU to be experimenting on captured Inhumans instead of trying to make more. The revelation that the facility was guarded by Inhumans (including one who immediately brought to mind a certain Master of Magnetism that Fox controls the rights to) was unexpected. When Coulson trapped Rosalind with him in an inescapable cell, a good number of viewers were likely expecting her to reveal some evil Hydra plot.

That’s what made this such a great twist. It turned out that Malick is the one in charge of the ATCU’s science division, and he’s trying to build an Inhuman army for the death entity Hydra’s trying to retrieve. It really brought to mind the twist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when we found out that Rosalind was kept in the dark about the ATCU’s true nature as one of the many heads of Hydra, especially since Malick was apparently experimenting on her people to churn out more Inhumans.

It will be interesting to see where Coulson and Rosalind go from here. It’s all but given that she’ll side with S.H.I.E.L.D. from this point on, but Coulson may not be able to trust her since Malick was able to pull all of this off under her nose. Even if they try to rekindle what they were beginning to feel, Coulson may always wonder whether she’s really as innocent in all of it as she claims… after all, he’s had to deal with double agents before. It’s funny how in as little time as she’s been on the show, Rosalind really seems to be coming out the sympathetic character in all of this.

Fitz + Simmons = ?

The kiss that broke a thousand hearts.

The kiss that broke a thousand hearts.

FitzSimmons has been doing the “will they, won’t they?” dance off and on since the very beginning of the show, and it hasn’t always been pulled off very well. “Many Heads, One Tale” got it right, though, in possibly one of the most tragic ways possible.

Fitz and Simmons discover that the death entity from the other world is related to Hydra and may actually be what some once considered the devil. This makes them more resolved to retrieve Will from the other side, but it also leads to a confrontation between Fitz and Simmons because she thinks he’s too eager to help Will.

She thinks he isn’t upset about the circumstances, but he is… he’s angry, he’s pissed off, and he thinks that the universe has cursed the two of them to always be apart. He asks if she loves Will, and she admits that she thinks she does… and he kisses her. She’s taken by surprise, but returns the kiss. He then pulls away, repeating “We’re cursed” before walking away to the sound of thousands of fan hearts breaking.

Even in an otherwise strong episode, this was really one of the pivotal moments that will be remembered for the rest of the season. Not only does it say a lot about the FitzSimmons relationship dynamic, but it also sets up either a conflict between Fitz and Will in the future or we’re going to see something drastic like one or the other sacrificing himself in the battle against the entity. The safe money would be on Will making the heroic sacrifice with Fitz and Simmons finally getting together in a later story arc, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has pulled the unexpected before.

Other Key Points

Ward enacts the next phase of Hydra's plan.

Ward enacts the next phase of Hydra’s plan.

These were just the major plot revelations in ‘Many Heads, One Tale,’ but there were several other major moments.

  • Lincoln joined up with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to help rescue Bobby and Hunter
  • Ward visits Andrew Garner in his cell and gasses him to turn him into Lash as part of whatever new plan he’s launching
  • Both May and Daisy talk to Lincoln about recent events (Lash in May’s case, the shared kiss in Daisy’s)
  • Though it’s not technically a part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we also got a first trailer for the new season of Agent Carter.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on hiatus next week for Thanksgiving, so we’ll have to wait until December to find out where things go from here.