Wow, there was quite a lot going on in this episode, so let's get right to it.
But before we do, one thing-- there's only one more episode this year and then the series is going on hiatus until March. MARCH! That's four months! I hate, hate, hate these damned split seasons that every show seems to be doing these days.
This series is firing on all cylinders right now and building up a really nice momentum, and they're going to throw that all away-- and risk losing their audience-- by going off the air for four goddamned months. I guess I'd have to be a studio executive to understand the logic behind this.
We will be getting the eight episode Agent Carter series in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s absence, but still... going off the air for four months seems like a bad idea to me.
OK, enough whining. On with the review!
We begin in the closing days of WWII, with the secret origin of Werner Reinhardt, aka Daniel Whitehall. He's forcing a bunch of Chinese villagers to grab hold of the Diviner, which naturally turns them all to stone. Well, all except for one woman who can pick it up with no ill effects, and who totally won't turn out to be Skye's mom.
Whitehall is about to find out what makes this woman tick, when he's captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and interrogated by Agent Peggy Carter herself. She locks Whitehall in prison for 45 years.
Whitehall's an old man when he's freed from prison by secret HYDRA agents. Now an old man, he somehow tracks down the Chinese woman from before. The woman, who totally isn't Skye's mom, hasn't aged a day in 45 years. Whitehall performs horrifying experiments on her, discovers her anti-aging secret and somehow transfers it to himself.
In the present day, Coulson and the rest of the Team cook up an extremely complicated plan to hack into an Australian satellite system so they can discover the location of the secret alien city from Coulson's wall carvings. You know, the city that absolutely isn't the home of the Inhumans.
Meanwhile, Evil Ward captures his older brother Christian and takes him into the woods, to the well in which their younger brother Tommy died. Evil Ward says Christain forced him to throw Tommy down the well, while Christian says he tried to stop Evil Ward from doing so. They're both such despicable people and so good at lying that at this point I don't care which one is telling the truth. Maybe Tommy jumped into the well of his own accord just to get away from the two of them.
Bakshi kills himself during his interrogation by Mockingbird, Skye's dad teams up with Whitehall because he secretly wants revenge against him for killing Skye's mom, and Evil Ward teams up with Whitehall as well, because why not.
• Whitehall was released from S.H.I.E.L.D. prison in 1989 by order of Alexander Pierce. You may remember him from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He was the former head of S.H.I.E.L.D. who was also secretly a HYDRA agent.
At the time of Whitehall's release in '89 he still had a pronounced (and not very convincing) German accent, but in the present day he doesn't.
I guess 25 years is long enough to get rid of an accent. If you work at it, that is, and you're not Arnold Schwarzenegger.
• Agent Carter questions Whitehall about the Diviner. He tells her it was brought to Earth by "blue angels" who came down from the sky.
I doubt he's talking about the US Navy & Marine Corps stunt flying team. He's almost certainly referring to the Kree, one of the more prominent alien races in the Marvel Universe, and most likely the source of the magical GH-323 that brought Coulson back to life.
• Whitehall's "years in prison" montage-- in which the camera slowly rotates 360 degrees around his cell as it changes over the decades-- was very well done.
• Coulson wants Fitz to practice assembling some sort of technobabble device so that S.H.I.E.L.D. can hack into an Australian satellite system. Fitz isn't sure he can do it, and reminds Coulson that he only has one good hand now.
Is this new? I know Fitz suffered brain damage from almost drowning, but I don't recall him mentioning nerve damage to his hand before.
• Skye's dad chastises Daniel Whitehall's methods for discovering the secret of the Diviner. He tells him the old saw that performing the same action over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.
I don't know how that belief got started, but I don't buy it. Why is performing the same action more than once a bad thing? If you get in your car and turn the key and it doesn't start, does turning the key again and hoping it turns over this time mean you're insane? If it doesn't start on the first try should you just abandon your vehicle and walk home, lest you're put in the looney bin?
• In 1989, Whitehall finds Skye's mother, who hasn't aged a day since 1945. He gruesomely (and I do mean gruesomely!) dissects her to discover the secret of her immortality. He figures out what makes her tick and somehow applies this secret to himself, shaving years off his actual age.
How exactly would that work? How does one extract immortality from one person and apply it to another? Did it involve a transfusion of her blood? Did he inject himself with her DNA? Or did she have some sort of "immortality organ" right next to her spleen and he stuck it in his own gut?
• Also in 1989, Skye's dad finds the mutilated remains of her mother and vows revenge against Whitehall. Actor Kyle MacLachlan looks a good 25 years younger here, and I'm assuming they did a healthy amount of CGI de-aging on him. If so it was very well done,
especially for a TV budget.
• During Mockingbird's interrogation of Bakshi/Buckshi/Bokshi, he bites down on a poison capsule in his cheek and kills himself rather than betray Whitehall. I guess now we'll never find out exactly how his name was supposed to be pronounced.
• Although I think Evil Ward is vastly more interesting than Good Ward, I reeeeeally don't care about his backstory or his nutty family. The scenes with Evil Ward and his brother were the dullest part of the episode.
• Next week: Well, there ain't no next week, as ABC apparently thinks we'll all be standing in line waiting for Best Buy to open on Black Friday and won't have time to watch TV.