I’m not going to lie: I was finding this season of Agents of SHIELD a little lackluster. No more. “Many Heads, One Tale” not only completely changes the game of this season, but also the game of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hail Hydra and the ram cult they came from.

Mark Dacascos Joining the Cast of Agents of SHIELD >>>

Update: Ward is Still Evil

Ward has been largely sidelined so far in season three. He’s made the full descent from “Irredeemable Psychopath Who Thinks He’s Redeemable” to plain old Irredeemable “Psychopath,” so he doesn’t need all the emotional development screen time he got in season two. And his attempts at being his own leader haven’t gone well. If we know one thing about Ward, it’s that he doesn’t really flourish unless there’s someone giving him marching orders.  He finds that someone in Malick. Well, first Malick brushes him off and tries to have him killed. But Ward can’t be choosy.

Proving that he’s actually a highly skilled agent-something we haven’t seen in a while-Ward quickly dispatches the team of men Malick sends to kill him. He keeps them alive, though, because he needs some information. There’s a secret Hydra vault filled with invaluable items, and he wants the location. Eventually he tortures a location in Germany out of the operatives, and thanks them with death. In case that wasn’t evil enough for you, he also hijacks a commercial plane and blows a hole in it so that he can parachute into Germany, possibly killing everyone on board in the process. Still think he’s redeemable, Tumblr?

Update: Coulson is Still Good at His Job

Also reminding us that he has skill is Coulson. Coulson’s done pretty much nothing this season except for Rosalind. Their relationship has been fun to watch, but that’s mostly because Rosalind turned out to be a complex and likable character. Coulson’s mostly just seemed to practice poor judgement.

As it turns out, he’s got trust issues and he knows how to use them for personal gain. Rosalind is coming to the SHIELD base, which initially seems to Coulson’s team like a bad security decision. But Coulson actually has an elaborate plan to infiltrate the ATCU while Rosalind is with them. You don’t get to be the Director of a covert government organization without some smarts, and it’s nice to see Coulson using his again.

It’s also nice to see Daisy hacking again. Remember when her main function on the team was as a genius-level hacker? Remember when her name was Skye? Those were fun times. Now she’s helping computer-illiterate Hunter pose as a hacker by feeding him instructions at a distance. After SHIELD orchestrates an obvious security breach within the ATCU, Hunter and Bobbi go in as FBI employees. They say that they need to investigate the breach as a matter of protocol, and are granted access. Let the information gathering begin.

Your Weekly Emotional Trauma

At the same time, Simmons and Fitz are still researching the ram head logo Fitz found on the English castle and Will’s uniform. What they discover is not good; the people sent through the Monolith weren’t gathering information, they were sacrificed. Evidence of the sacrifices go back thousands of years, and coincide with the creation of pagan devil myths. A devil like the death entity Simmons and Will encountered on the alien world? Seems like it.

Simmons is overwhelmed by this information. Moreover, she’s overwhelmed by how good Fitz is being to her. She knows that she’s putting him through hell, and he’s just taking it. Why isn’t he angry? Oh, but he is. Fitz is pissed. But not at Simmons. He’s angry at the cosmos for cursing them to always be apart. They’ve been inseparable for years, but every time they get close to actually being together something catastrophic happens, like brain damage or being sucked into an alien world. 

Fitz asks Simmons if she loves will, and she admits that she does. He kisses her anyway. It seems to go well, and she kisses him back. But when they break apart, Fitz just says, “We’re cursed.” Not exactly what you want to hear after a first kiss.

Trust Issues Galore

Over at the ATCU, Bobbi explores the facility while Hunter continues to distract security. Her goal is to see how many Inhumans they have, what conditions they’re being kept in, and to locate and steal samples of the cure the ATCU purports to be working on. But when she finds the facility’s labs, there are neither Inhumans nor any sign of a cure. Instead, there’s cases of fish oil tablets. The SHIELD team realize that the ATCU aren’t trying to cure Inhumans, they’re trying to make as many of them as possible. And given the pile of stone body parts Bobbi finds, they don’t always do so successfully.

This information puts a dent in an otherwise pleasant visit for Rosalind. She’s gotten a tour of the base, admired Coulson’s old-school spyware collection, and flirted like there’s no tomorrow. But when Coulson gives her a tour of the impenetrable cell they use to imprison enemies, he locks them both inside. “Start telling the truth or you’re never leaving this room again,” he says.

And this is where it’s really apparent how great Agents of SHIELD has handled Rosalind’s character. She’s possibly in league with Hydra, might be committing some kind of Inhuman genocide, and yet I find myself rooting for her in this scene. Coulson is the show’s main character and he comes off like the jackass, not Rosalind. She seems genuinely hurt by Coulson’s barrage of accusations, and accuses him of not being human enough to have emotions himself. He explains that he’s known she was a liar since the moment they met, when she reference TAHITI. The only way she could have known about that is if she had SHIELD connections or Hydra connections, and she’s already admitted to having no contacts in SHIELD.

It’s not until Coulson mentions the lack of a cure in the ATCU that Rosalind realizes something is wrong. She says that their science division is handled by Gideon Malick, who works with the President and helped found the ATCU. He was also the one who told her about TAHITI. Though she’s known him for over a decade, it takes her only an instant for her to recognize him as Hydra and side with Coulson. She really must have fallen hard for him. The question is, did he fall equally hard for her?

Lincoln Joins the Team

That question gets an immediate answer, because Bobbi and Hunter are in trouble. Rosalind’s second in command Banks identifies them, blowing their cover. Even worse, the ATCU has Inhumans on their security staff. Magneto A nameless metal manipulator who in no way violates copyright goes on the attack. Bobbi has an awesome new set of magnetic batons, which would normally be the stuff that dreams are made of, but they can only go so far against someone who can control metal. If Coulson doesn’t let Rosalind call and intervene, Bobbi and Hunter are screwed.

Ultimately, Coulson’s trust is not completely broken. He allows Rosalind to call Banks, who gets Bobbi and Hunter to an evacuation point. May and Lincoln are piloting the getaway plane. Lincoln is still here by the way. He’s getting more and more used to the idea of joining the team, and May helps him feel more comfortable. She apologizes for Garner, saying that she should have known he was responsible for the deaths of Lincoln’s friends. Lincoln accepts, and they seem to reach an understanding. Stick around, Lincoln. I was promised a task force of Inhumans this season and so far I have not gotten one.

Hydra’s Doing What Now?

As SHIELD and Rosalind get one the same page about Hydra, Hydra continues to grow. Ward makes his way to the vault, where Malick is waiting for him. He’s duly impressed by Ward’s resourcefulness and ability to not die. Though he really did want him dead, he decides to team up with him instead. This involves a history lesson.

Contrary to what Ward and everyone who saw Captain America believe, Hydra did not start in World War II with the Red Skull. It’s been around for thousands of years. About the same about of time as that ram cult Fitz and Simmons were researching, in fact. Centuries ago, Malick says, there was an Inhuman so terrible that it was banished to another world. Hydra’s sole purpose is to bring that Inhuman back. As he brings out a piece of stone cut from the Monolith, he says that they’ve been sending sacrifices through the portal for generations, hoping to keep the Inhuman alive long enough to ensure its return. Now they’re in a better positon to succeed than ever before. They’re building an army of Inhumans to fight behind their leader, and SHIELD has learned how to bring someone back through the portal. Malick offers Ward a deal; he’ll help him bring down SHIELD for revenge if Ward helps him learn what SHIELD knows about traveling to and from the other world.

Ward accepts. He ends the episode by confronting Garner, who is locked in his module and in Hydra custody. Garner isn’t eager to work with Ward, but he doesn’t have to be. Ward intends to bring Lash out to help him with the cause, and gets started by dousing Garner with mustard gas. He’s thrilled to have found one other way to hurt May. Good thing he’s doing it through Garner, because he certainly can’t do it in a fight. 

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC. 

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Mary Kate Costigan

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV