‘Tis the season to prepping for the murder and mayhem that is the mid-season finale of Agents of SHIELD by enjoying the holiday favorite Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Hey kids! After you watch a Christmas special with a description that actually reads “A mailman explains why Santa has whiskers,” here’s comic book violence and a bunch of scary things you won’t understand!

It’s hard to stay focused on the Marvel Universe while pondering if Santa is really a kitty cat, or who spends the holidays telling “scary ghost stories,” as the song entails. But “What They Become” is a fitting end to the first half of the second season, even though that’s the one question the episode doesn’t actually answer.

Along the way, there are family reunions, real family reunions, betrayals and lots and lots of death and destruction. Heroes perish, villains are vanquished, blood is spilled and the worthy are reborn in Divine(r) fashion as the world crumbles around them. And there’s a severe lack of night-night bullets.

Then there’s the epic cliffhanger that we’ll have to wait until March to resolve. I’m as excited for Agent Carter (premiering January 6) as the next fan, but that is one hell of a hiatus.

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Viva a Puerto Rico!

We left off with Ward boarding the Bus and taking Raina and Skye before Whitehall orders the plane shot down, and so May nosedives into the clouds and cloaks at the exact moment HYDRA’s missiles hit the countermeasures. Thus, HYDRA thinks the mission is a success despite the fact that no wreckage or people parts are falling from the sky. 

Both sides head to the 51st state for a date with destiny in the secret Kree city, with HYDRA using a drill to shortcut their way into the tunnel while FitzSimmons and Tripp plant bombs around the temple in an attempt to destroy it first. Mack’s unknown fate leads them to believe that wearing hazmat suits will prevent the city’s powers from controlling them, but it remains to be seen if that’s true since everyone seems to just run around down there in the end anyway.

 But first, it’s time for a father-daughter relationship that makes the Lohans look functional.

Ward Keeps His Promise

Skye is a little less than enthused to meet her dear old dad, whose name is apparently Cal. We know he is murderous when he loses self-control, but it doesn’t appear that he turns into the Hulk or anything that drastic. Just gets really, really pissed. But he struggles to keep his emotions in check as he explains the past to his grown-up little girl.

He is a monster, yes, but he wasn’t always that way. He changed when his daughter was stolen from him. He worked at a clinic in China, where the people liked him. He liked himself. Then (HDYRA sleeper agents within) SHIELD kidnapped his beloved because she had special gifts, and he left Skye with people he trusted and went after his wife. But Whitehall had already cut her to pieces.

Speaking of the HYDRA chief, Whitehall interrupts to request a meeting, and Cal vows to get his vengeance before finishing Skye’s origin story. #BestDayEver.

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Put Your Hands on My Obelisk

Whitehall gathers Ward, Raina and Cal, the three who brought HYDRA to this momentous occasion. They have all questionable loyalties, but they all serve a purpose. But what he can’t figure out is why Ward brought Skye along. Raina suggests it’s because he loves her and thinks if he helps her fulfill her destiny, she will see him as he really is. Whitehall has his own ideas, and since he’s an evil genius, he’s put it together that she can also hold the Diviner. He tests his theory.

She grabs the obelisk and uses it to kill a guard while Cal stabs another with a scalpel, and Whitehall finally connects the dots about their relationship. His devious new plans involve reprogramming Ward, dissecting Skye in front of Cal to find out her special gift (like her mom’s anti-aging ability) and then killing them both. After all, discovery requires experimentation.

Thankfully, SHIELD arrives to shake things up.

Life and Death

Coulson, May, Hunter and Morse storm the facility, taking out HYDRA agents and creating enough of a ruckus that Whitehall gets distracted. Cal gets free and takes out the guard, but he leaves Skye and Ward tied up to go after Whitehall on his own. They face off for a final confrontation, but Coulson fatally shoots Whitehall before the fight can begin. An enraged Cal then goes after Papa Coulson.

Ward gets free and unties Skye, who grabs a gun and shoots him multiple times without hesitation before going after her dad. Ward is stunned but survives, and Fake May/Agent 33, programmed to follow Whitehall and seeking a new leader with his death, latches on to him. They flee.

Skye stops Cal from pummeling Coulson, her real fake dad, but she is unable to kill her real real dad. She lets Cal leave, and he vows that he’ll be there for her after the transformation is complete. Then he calls her Daisy. Yep, Skye’s real name is Daisy. Like the duck.

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Into the Darkness

Even though Skye has no intention of entering the Kree city, she finds the obelisk gone and chases Raina down into the tunnels. Coulson follows, directing May to get everyone out, right around the same time that FitzSimmons and Tripp emerge from planting the bombs. When he finds out Coulson and Skye are down below, Tripp dives back in and disarms the bombs.

Raina finds a black-eyed Mack, who leads her to the temple. She enters, followed by Skye (who Mack lets pass because she is “worthy”), but Coulson is attacked and kept out. The obelisk hovers to the center pedestal, Indiana Jones-style, and triggers a reaction that closes off the temple just as Tripp manages to enter. 

The three of them watch as the Diviner morphs into a crystal-stalagmite sort of object, which explodes. Tripp watches Raina and Skye turn to stone, then realizes he’s been hit with a piece. He transforms as well, but in the old-school deadly way we’ve grown accustomed to.

Rebirth and Destruction

Everything from FitzSimmons’ cave to May’s HYDRA tunnel to the Kree city itself begins to crumble, with the only positive being that it appears Mack has snapped out of his trance. Inside the temple, Skye is reborn in the image of the Diviner, whatever the heck that means. She watches horrified as Tripp’s hardened head splits in two. There is no revelation of what happens to Raina, but you have to expect she’s less Tripp and more Skye. I mean Daisy. 

And that’s it.

The epilogue shows some dude with an obelisk of his own that has just started glowing. He’s on the phone, telling someone that “There’s another one.” Then it’s revealed that he has no eyes. 

Really? Three Months?

And just like that, we’re an Agent Carter away from figuring out what any of this means. Is Tripp really dead? Since the Diviner has the ability to give life, can Skye now bring him back? Did Raina also survive the transformation, and is she now the Yin to Skye’s Yang? 

And who is the guy at the end? Some quick research tells me he may be Reader and that we’re looking at the introduction of Inhumans to the series. Which may also mean the Diviner is not, in fact, an Infinity Stone. Arrghh.

What do you make of all this? What are your theories and hypotheses? Let’s chat it up, because it looks like we’ve got quite a while to discuss before we get any answers…

Agents of SHIELD returns on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at 9pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order