Review: ‘Agents of SHIELD’ S3 Ep8 – ‘Many Heads, One Tale’

By November 18, 2015
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This week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was all about reveals. We learned what Coulson’s plans were, what the ATCU was really up to, the true origins of HYDRA and we finally got that moment between Fitz and Simmons. Let’s take a look at this week’s episode ‘Many Heads, One Tale’.

This episode brought everyone’s favorite HYDRA baddie back into the forefront, Grant Ward. Some people love to hate Ward. I just love to love him.  Ever since we learned of his devious nature back in season one he has become on the most fascinating characters on this show. For a brief time I thought there might be the opportunity for redemption after learning about how he was manipulated as a boy by Garrett. Nope. That time opportunity has come and gone if it was ever really there at all. Ward has went all in on HYDRA and I love it. Other than being the target of Hunter’s revenge he’s taken a back seat this season popping up here and there as the focus has been mostly on the Inhumans, the ATCU and Lash. After tonight’s episode it looks like we’ll be seeing much more of Grant Ward.

At SHIELD HQ Mack starts questioning Coulson’s relationship with Rosalind and his ability to make sound decisions when it comes to her and the ATCU as he plans to bring her there. Coulson may have grown closer to Rosalind but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten how to be a spy. Rosalind may finally trust Coulson but he isn’t quite there. Not yet. As he tells Mack, “spies without trust issues are either young or dead”. Some members of the team have been questioning Coulson’s decisions and actions when it comes to the ATCU but he’s been playing the long game. He is using Rosalind’s trust to his advantage. While she is visiting SHIELD HQ, SHIELD will be infiltrating the ATCU to learn every deep dark secret that they are still clinging to. This move really felt like something SHIELD would have done back when Fury was in charge. I think he’d be proud of Coulson’s play here.

The board is now set and the pieces are moving. Bobbi and Hunter are ground support, Daisy and Mack are quarterbacking the operation from the skies, and May and Lincoln (i’m still not sure about him) are on extraction. I have to admit I was impressed with the plan. Although I shouldn’t be surprised as Coulson is pretty good at this spy stuff. The fact that they intentionally alerted the ATCU that they tried to scan their system via a signal from Andrew’s containment unit was genius. What better way to allow someone to walk right in and interface with their system directly but to cause the problem in the first place. This of course led to the brilliance that is Hunter and Bobbi.

When Mack intercepted the call from the ATCU to the FBI (which was amazing by the way) I had forgotten the Hunter and Bobbi had been sent in for ground support. Of course when I heard that I was expecting some type of two man strike team not as IT support.  Seeing Hunter in the stereotypical hacker garb with his ‘Damn the Yanks’ t-shirt was hysterical. Only Hunter.  What may have been even better was that he was supposed to be playing this brilliant hacker but his typing skills were abysmal. Mack and Daisy listening in as you could hear Hunter’s single keystrokes was the best. Thank goodness Hunter can ramble on like no other which totally distracted from his lack of actual technical knowhow.

Back at SHIELD HQ Coulson is giving Rosalind a tour of the base and Fitz and Simmons finally put it all on the table. They have been investigating the connection between the symbol on Will’s patch and the ram’s head they found in that hidden laboratory, and Simmons does not like what she has found. Initially it appears that Will and all those that traveled through the portal were sent as sacrifices. Fitz of course is adamant that they will find a way back and will not give up helping Simmons. It’s too much for Simmons as she lashes out at Fitz as she as conflicted with her feelings and wants Fitz to be angry. She can’t stand that he’s taking this so well. This led to an fantastic scene between the two of them where they no longer were dancing around their feelings for each other or how Fitz felt about helping her find a way to bring Will home. They finally said what’s been on their minds (and all of our minds) for seasons let alone the past few episodes. Then we finally had the moment where the two of them kiss. It’s about time! I know I’m not the only one who have been waiting for them to do that for a while. It’s far from them being in a full on relationship but it least it’s a step.

Jumping back over to the ATCU with Bobbi and Hunter I knew they were going to find something that didn’t align with what Rosalind had told Coulson but I had no idea what it would be. I had grown to trust Rosalind (not fully of course but enough) so when we saw her at the end of last episode speaking to Malick on the phone that threw me a bit. Only for a second though because I thought that she doesn’t realize that he’s HYDRA. When Bobbi was searching the ATCU facility and found terrigen mist contaminated fish oil tablets and those crates I thought that perhaps the ATCU while looking for a cure were also looking for a way to use them to give abilities to trained soldiers. A super powered super soldier if you will. But when Bobbie open those storage bins to find crumbling bodies that were exposed the mist I knew that wasn’t the case. I didn’t expect that at all.

Even then I didn’t think Rosalind knew exactly what was going on even though Coulson had her dead to rights when he was confronting her about the ATCU’s true intentions and her knowledge of the TAHITI program.  Can we just stop right here and talk about how great every scene with Coulson and Rosalind has been? I love every moment they are on screen together. They are two great actors who play so well off of each other. I look forward to those scenes each week.

Once Coulson reveals to Rosalind what they found at her facility she realizes that Gideon Malick, someone she has known for over a decade, is behind this and in fact HYDRA. Only certain members of SHIELD and HYDRA knew of the TAHITI project and since Rosalind confirmed that she  didn’t have any other SHIELD connections that could mean only one thing. She learned of it a member of HYDRA. I’m glad we did get confirmation that Powers Boothe was indeed playing the same character he did in The Avengers. I always assumed he was but it’s nice to have that connection confirmed.

Now that we know that Gideon is indeed HYDRA he gives us (and Ward) a little HYDRA history lesson. The organization is much older than Red Skull. It in fact goes back thousands of years and has connections to the Inhumans and the monolith. HYDRA grew out of a group that had been sending people through the portals across history in order to find a powerful Inhuman that had been banished there long ago. Does that mean that Will is HYDRA?  They are also working to build him an army to command upon his return. I have no idea who this Inhuman could be. Most of knowledge about Inhumans comes from this show and Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game, so I am in the dark. Could it be that being or force that Simmons encountered on the planet? I have a feeling that there is a connection there even if that wasn’t actually the Inhuman. I also liked that scene that revealed the evolution of the ram’s head into the HYDRA emblem. It was very eerie and showed us that we are far from being done with HYDRA.

HYDRA will always be SHIELD’s foe. They are always there either front and center or in the background being a constant thorn in their side.  I don’t have a problem with that because the organization is always changing and there’s always someone different running the show with their own agenda goals. It would be one thing if it was constantly the same person with the same agenda but as we learned this week HYDRA is much older and has much wider aspirations that we could have ever imagined.  As their mantra goes, “Cut off one head, two more takes its place.”

I’m fascinated to see where this season goes from here now that we know that HYDRA has Inhuman connections. I also want to know what makes Gideon (and in effect HYDRA) sure that if this Inhuman ever does come back that he won’t kill them because they are not Inumans even if they helped build him an army. It will also be interesting to see what happens between SHIELD and the ATCU. There was a level of trust there but now that Coulson went behind their back and with there being some HYDRA control over the ATCU can anything be salvaged. Rosalind may not like what Coulson did but I’m wondering the fact that he helped uncover HYDRA within her group may strengthen her resolve even more. I really do like seeing the two groups working together and I hope we get more of that. And let us not forget that HYDRA has Andrew and looking for ways to control Lash. Things took a fascinating turn this week and I’m anxious to see what’s next in store for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD!

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs on Tuesday nights on ABC.

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Christopher Skalicky
Chris, a film and television junkie, grew up on Star Wars, all things Disney, Stargate SG-1 and a healthy dose of John Wayne. When not thinking about movies he is busy being an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. He will also argue that Surf Ninjas is the greatest movie about surfing ninjas ever made. Tweet him at @Schlick51