Synopsis of 2×07: With a killer on the loose, Coulson and Skye are on a mission to discover the secrets behind the carvings and Project TAHITI. Other members of the team go on the hunt for the recently escaped Ward.

Rating: ★★★½☆☆

Coulson finally knows what the carvings are about! Kind of…

The episode opens with the man from the previous episode walking in with a woman into her apartment as she tries to figure out how she knows him (including a reference to Burning Man, which comforts me to know it exists in the MCU). She’s completely stumped, but knows that she knows him somehow. He begins to take off his shirt, and she recognizes the tattoos immediately, asking how he knows what those are. He goes on some rant about knowing each other from across the cosmos or something and it fades to black as she screams.

Back at the Playground, Coulson’s compulsion to carve is getting worse, but the team really can’t focus on it because Ward escaped and is being a real douche about it. However, it comes right to the forefront when one of Skye’s hacker friends comes across the woman’s dead body with the symbols carved into her while searching crime scene databases. Coulson swears that he knows her from S.H.I.E.L.D, but nothing in her background indicates that she even had a history as a spy. Still, they break into a crime scene under investigation to find out because they’re already outlaws anyway, so why not?

In her apartment, they do find several paintings with the designs in them. One of them is titled “A Magical Place,” so that’s terrifying. Upon further investigation, Skye finds that the woman’s face does match the face of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who died five years ago because of cancer. Coulson needs to know more, so he has Mack and Fitz STEAL THE WOMAN’S BODY FROM THE MORGUE. OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS ARE JUST DIGGING THIS HOLE OF ILLEGAL FURTHER AND FURTHER.

We're all a little concerned, guys. [ABC]
We’re all a little concerned, guys. [ABC]
Simmons and Mack have this weird bit of tension over whether you get what you want out of life by working hard or taking it, but it doesn’t linger for long as Simmons begins her autopsy. She finds that the woman died not of blood loss, but cardiac arrest and that it appears that she was being carved into long after she died. That’s not the most interesting thing though: both the victim and the murderer had GH-325 in their system. Simmons begins to question both Skye and Coulson, who assures her that they’re fine. Coulson having no other option though since he doesn’t remember anything about anyone else besides him and Skye having GH-325 in them unearths the memory device machine from the season 1 episode ‘A Magical Place.’ Oh yeah, it’s about to get real in here.

Mack meanwhile is feeling weirded out by all of this, especially the fact Coulson appears to have holes in his memories. Fitz tells him that a brain is like a hard drive. You always have backups, but you may lose connections. Mack asks Fitz if he has backups, but his question goes unanswered as Skye asks Mack to be nearby just in case they need to hold Coulson down. I think Mack in this episode can be summed up with this gif.

Entering the memory machine is hell for Coulson on the outside, but we do get to the truth of the matter through a brilliantly edited sequence: Project TAHITI started off as an experiment on six S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with various health issues. Results appeared to be good at first, but the subjects soon began to lose their minds and were driven insane by the carvings. Coulson ordered the project to be shut down and the Host destroyed, but the doctor who headed up Coulson’s recovery said that this was a first step and destroying the Host is not an option. In fact, due to the Host’s age, it’s causing a psychic link to it and its history now that the patients are genetically grafted with it. She suggests that the memories of the patients be erased and replaced to help them recover. Much like it was for Coulson, it’s a gruesome process, but it was able to let them lead somewhat normal lives. Except when the carvings started coming back into their memories.

Now is the time for “Ashley’s Rudimentary Knowledge of the Inhumans Courtesy of Wikipedia and the latest arc of Ms. Marvel.

While the theory that this entire season is tied into the Inhumans has not been proven yet, it’s certainly coming to fruition. The Inhumans are a race of evolved beings descended from the genetic experiments of the Kree and humans. We’re fairly certain that whatever is being referred to as the Host is a Kree, considering the fact it is giant and blue and that fits the Kree for the most part. Ronan the Accuser is the best example of this so far in the MCU. Project TAHITI could have produced some… rudimentary results, but Skye is an outlier. The GH-325 would have basically been a booster shot to her if she has Inhuman DNA.

And if you’re wondering if this is the last thing bringing us closer to the Inhumans in this episode, you’re not even close.

Through his pain, Coulson manages to spit out the names of the agents, including Sebastian Derik, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. assassin who is the one killing the other patients of Project TAHITI in a search for answers. The only two left at this point are Coulson and a man named Hank Thompson. Skye goes to put Coulson in holding and to send agents to protect Thompson, but Coulson pushes her into the holding cell and goes after Thompson himself.

On Thompson’s property, Coulson goes to him, begging for answers about the carvings in hopes that he beat Derik there. Thompson claims that he doesn’t know anything and that they have the wrong guy.

Yeah, Derik’s already there. Who’s surprised? It also looks like he’s going to torture Coulson and Thompson. Again… Any surprises? However, using his repressed spy training, Thompson manages to escape with his family and gets Coulson loose. All while Coulson appears to have a revelation about the carvings when he looks at Thompson’s model train setup.

After breaking Skye out, Mack’s level of Done has moved up another 100 percent. He expresses worry about working for an alien and you can practically hear Skye’s eyes shift. However, they can’t dwell on it long because Thompson and his family are by the road begging for help.

Coulson and Derik are fighting it out in the barn while Coulson yells at him to see what’s really going on. Skye and Mack come in, threatening to shoot Coulson if he doesn’t let Derik go, but he continues to urge Derik to open his eyes and look at the answer right in front of him. Derik does so and falls to his knees in relief. Skye looks over the side and see’s that she was partly right: it’s not a map, but rather a top down blueprint to a city.

In a meeting with the team after all is said and done, Coulson assures the team that he isn’t crazy and that his compulsions to carve are gone now that he has his answers. For the team, he produces a digital layout of the city map and tells them that it is their mission to find it before HYDRA does.

Say it with me, Nerds: ATTILAN! I swear, if they go any other direction besides Inhuman at this point, I will eat my Captain Marvel Flerken Hat.

Another effective antiviral drug, which represents valacyclovir, is called The dosage is 500mg.

So glad you nearly died for this, Phil. [ABC]
So glad you nearly died for this, Phil. [ABC]
In the B-plot, the rest of the team is working on chasing down Ward to bring him back into custody. He’s first spotted in Philadelphia, where Trip tries to sneak up on him, but Ward knows that he’s watching and flashes him the deadman’s switch and C4 that’s on his person. He takes a bus to Atlanta where he sits next to Bobbi and lets her know that he knows that she’s watching him and that he’ll blow the bus if she tells. He then jumps on a bus to Boston, where Hunter dressed as a cowboy is keeping an eye on him from a distance. When he arrives in Boston, Ward immediately goes to some bar where the bartender knows who he is and Bakshi and HYDRA aren’t too far behind. Bakshi is surprised that Ward is still alive and Ward tells him that he can take him to Coulson if HYDRA takes him to Von Strucker.

After Bobbi and Hunter continue squabbling about subtlety, the team invades the bar, ready to give Ward a good clean shot to the head. However, he appears to be way ahead of them with the HYDRA agents dead and Bakshi tied to a chair with a piece of duct tape labeled “For Coulson” over his mouth. Oh lord, I can’t wait to see how the Grant Ward Woobifying Patrol justifies THAT one.

In the stinger, we see Ward shaving off his beard and a lot of his hair. He then calls Skye, letting her know that they’ll be receiving more “presents” from him soon similar to Bakshi. Skye justifiably compares it to a cat bringing in dead bird carcasses and asks Ward where he is. He assures her that he’ll see her soon enough and we see him pack a newspaper article about his brother in with a bag full of explosives and other fun terrorist things. YAY.

Well, that’s the episode. Coulson goes Tom Cruise Crazy and Grant Ward is still a sociopath. However, we are one step closer to knowing just what the fresh hell is going on with Skye, Coulson, and Mr. Mayor. Which apparently comes in time of someone dying next week maybe. I swear, if it’s Bobbi, Trip, or Mack, I’m going to riot.

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