Agents of SHIELD Season 3 recovers from a slight slump with the fantastic Many Heads, One Tale: getting back to the show's roots as a sleek spy caper, S03E08 features the team infiltrating ATCU, peeling back layers of conspiracy to reveal the secret root of all the evil this season. Which is Hydra again (colour me unsurprised). But instead of falling back on the Hydra-is-secretly-everywhere gambit, Agents Of Shield adds an interesting twist to the tale, unveiling the hidden truth behind everything Hydra has done...
Ancient Hydra Origins
Episode 8 weaves an interesting story, paralleling Fitz and Jemma's investigation of the NASA symbol with Ward's quest to find Von Strucker's vault. When Ward eventually gets to the complex, he ends up having a "history lesson" with Malick, and as Fitz and Jemma discover the truth, so does Ward.
Think you know Hydra? Well, you don't! The Marvel Cinematic Universe likes to deviate from its comic origins, and now the MCU has a whole new origin story for Hydra.
Instead of being founded by Red Skull in World War II, it turns out that Hydra was formed thousands of years ago, with the purpose of returning an immensely powerful and dangerous Inhuman to Earth. This puts Hydra's roots in "ritualistic blood sacrifice", as they're revealed to be a cult that is dedicated to helping this Inhuman rule the planet.
Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of this. On the one hand, it's nice to have some baddie continuity, and this revelation adds an interesting element to Hydra, who were kinda turning into a one-trick villain.
On the other hand, it's a bit dull for SHIELD to always be fighting the same foe, and the idea of an ancient Inhuman worshipping cult is interesting enough to be its own entity. But I digress. This plot twist is a huge game changer and creates plenty of new mysteries, the most intriguing being...
Just Who Is This Ancient Inhuman?
With dozens upon dozens of Inhuman characters to choose from, the Agents Of Shield writers could be talking about many different comic characters, or they could have invented a new Inhuman! Malick did give us a handy checklist as we hunt for clues through comic history.
The Inhuman was born on Earth thousands of years ago, so if Hydra think they're still alive they must be immortal. The Inhuman was immensely powerful and dangerous and crucially, Malick said they were "destined to rule this planet"!
So who's most likely to be the Inhuman? Here's our top picks!
Black Bolt: he's a hero, but Black Bolt is incredibly powerful and crucially, he's the King of the Inhumans. It would be a nice twist for Hydra to work so hard to free Black Bolt, only for him to turn around and become a hero instead! But that wouldn't make for a satisfying final battle for the SHIELD team so... maybe not.
Unspoken: this one actually seems the most likely - he ruled as the Inhuman King before his people banished him for abusing his power. That definitely lines up with both the "destined to rule" hint and the banishment plot! But it doesn't really make sense with the Ram symbol...
- Gorgon: a lesser known Inhuman, Gorgon is a villain allied with Hydra. He's not hugely powerful, but he has ties to Hydra and his hoofed feet mean there's plenty of Ram imagery associated with him.
None of these options totally fit, but they would all work with what we know so far. My money's on Unspoken though!
The Plot Hole
This might just be me nitpicking, but if Andrew really wasn't in the ATCU base all along, how did SHIELD's entire plan work? They used the homing beacon in Andrew's containment box to alert ATCU to an infiltration, allowing Bobbi and Hunter to get in. But at the end of the episode, Bobbi charges into the room Andrew was held in, and he's not there!
We don't know where Andrew is being held, but he does say he was flown there, while at the beginning of the episode he was taken away on the truck. This means he was much further away from the ATCU than we expected, so the homing beacon gambit doesn't make a lot of sense.
Is this a plot hole or a clever twist? And who do you think the ancient Inhuman is? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!