Synopsis of 2×09: SHIELD discovers the ancient city but uncovering the secrets may require a major sacrifice; May and Skye are determined to get Raina before Whitehall.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This week’s episode totally shook up the dynamic of the show and brought us soaring towards the mid-season break for the show as SHIELD and HYDRA both close in on finding out what exactly the obelisk is going to do.

The team arrives in San Juan, where Coulson leads Bobbi, Mack, Hunter, Fitz, and Simmons in search for the alien city that is found deep under ground the island. Coulson, cautious of what the obelisk could hold and what could be found within the depths of the alien city, informs them that they will need to destroy the city in order to keep the people safe.

Coulson, who has consistently revealed himself to be a different person than Fury, who is considerably more cutthroat and cunning, begins to exhibit some signs relating him back to Fury. Bobbi continues to remind him that his plan is not what Fury would have done. That there is always a casualty, and that people always get hurt. This is made painfully real when they breach the entrance to the city and Mack goes into the tunnel but activates some sort of defense that turns him into a monster.

The team fights Mack, but because he is their friend, they have to hold back. Fitz isn’t able to shoot him with a gun that contains real bullets after ICERs fail, Bobbi begs him to clear his head while fighting more defensively than offensively, and when he is finally defeated and falls into the tunnel, Coulson decides that they must leave him there, because he’s no longer Mack any more.

Coulson, as we’ve seen, has always worked as a sort of foil to Fury. While Fury works through espionage and need-to-know, Coulson has always operated under transparency, but this episode we truly start to see how becoming director has changed him. In the wake of HYDRA and the events of TAHITI, he’s closed himself off from the team. He decides to keep Skye away from the city, not only because he worries about what the city might do to her but what her father might do, but consequently loses her to Whitehall.

Skye and May spend much of the episode retrieving Raina, who realizes that Whitehall is after her. But after realizing that Whitehall has the diviner, she knows that Whitehall’s intention is not to kill her but to use her since she can touch it without being turned to stone. She tells Skye about the Kree as well as them leaving behind a legacy concerning those who are worthy enough to inherit the earth. We can use comic book knowledge and point ourselves in the direction of the Inhumans as the ones who are worthy. Raina also tells Skye that those who are unworthy, who try and enter the temple, will face death.

This news comes as a shock to Skye as she realizes that the rest of team is attempting to break into the temple as they speak and could face unexpected obstacles should Raina turn out to be right. The episode sees Skye increasingly anxious about the events concerning the obelisk, from a nightmare that manifests her fear of being a bad seed to the feelings she gets that tells her something is very wrong.

Raina also tells Skye about her father and that although Skye may view him as a violent and dangerous man, he is “misunderstood” and the only thing he’s ever wanted is to be reunited with his daughter. It doesn’t seem like Skye is completely convinced, and after seeing what her father is capable of, who can blame her. However, we know she’s always wanted a family, and while the team has been a worthy substitute, she has always wanted to know where she’s come from.

This is opportune, as after she finds out about the temple from Raina she tries to contact Coulson and realizes that someone is jamming their frequency. Turns out that Agent 33 found out that Raina has the tracking chip within her, and Whitehall uses Ward’s skills from his time with SHIELD to tack down Raina. He comes on board to collect Raina, and all guns are drawn on him.

Whitehall informs them that if they shoot, the bus will be shot down and everyone will die. Ward asks for Raina and Skye to come with him, telling Skye that he promised to bring her to his father and that he’s keeping his promise. He also promises that they plane will not be shot down if she comes with him. Skye reluctantly goes with them, as May, Trip, and the Koenigs watch helplessly.

Although satisfied that he has finally captured Raina, Whitehall is not only curious as to why Ward has brought Skye but also upset that he let The Bus go. He orders a strike on the Bus himself.

The episode did a good job in setting things up for the mid-season finale. We hear talks from Mack and Bobbi about a secret project that they had intended to bring Hartley on, seeing Bobbi rekindle her relationship with Hunter makes Mack assume that they are bringing Hunter in on the plan to replace Izzy, but it’s clear Bobbi has no intention of such things.

Mack and Bobbi also give advice to Fitz and Simmons, respectively, about confronting one another instead of avoiding. But when Fitz finally does come clean to Simmons, he informs her that he will not be working with Simmons, leaving her to lead the science division, and instead he is going to work with Mack on The Bus.

Having not confronted Fitz’s confession at the end of Season 1, their relationship has been strained, at best, and although they still work alongside one another its painfully clear that the dynamic will never be the same.

As SHIELD and HYDRA race towards the temple with the obelisk in hand, it’s anyone’s game as to what the finale will bring to us. With the team split apart, might we be looking at some major character deaths? Or rather, is Coulson right in that Mack is officially gone?


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