As Karla Faye Gideon tries to enjoy her dinner in spite of the contraptions on her hands, she hears a knock on the door. We get a look at her squalid apartment as she looks through the peep hole: Cal is there (with two pals in tow) to meet and recruit Karla. Cal says that he found her on the Gifted Index. Even with her knowledge of the GI and how S.H.I.E.L.D. has treated people on said list in the past (including her), she opens her door to Cal after saying that is how he found her and only asks if he’s with S.H.I.E.L.D. after they are face to face. Simply in terms of personal safety, why wouldn’t she assume he’s there to do her harm and, like, make an escape or something? Neither here nor there, I guess.
Anyway, Cal tries not to be offended at her mistake – as they are most certainly not with S.H.I.E.L.D. – and goes on to explain that he’s putting together a little crew to go out and wreck stuff. He helped Levi, one of the pals, remove a chip S.H.I.E.L.D. had implanted in his arm so he could approach tech materials and obtain and decrypt the GI for Cal. And through the list Cal found Francis, the second pal, who had been imprisoned and drugged by S.H.I.E.L.D. for three years. Cal’s laying out a strong sales pitch for Karla: he knows that S.H.I.E.L.D. put those doohickeys on her hands and how she must really be longing for sensation in her fingertips, and he’s offering her freedom in exchange for her allegiance. She slams the door in his face, considers it, then lets the group inside. Levi is full of so much tech prowess that he’s able to disassemble the devices on Karla’s hands revealing that she has razor blades – scalpels from the look of them – for fingertips. No wonder she had special mittens! She touches her face as Cal reiterates his plan.
Cal: Don’t you think it’s time everyone learned how S.H.I.E.L.D. treats people like us? You should come help us teach them a lesson. I know I sound bat-guano crazy, but S.H.I.E.L.D. is a shadow of its former self. The director is a door to door salesman of a man. We can do some real destruction together!
Karla: I’m in.
Coulson and Skye enjoy grilled cheese and soup in her little cell and have a chat. Coulson tells her that they’re putting her on the Gifted Index and she begins to run down the highlights of her life: crazy, twitchy dad, dead mom, alien mist that turned her into a walking a natural disaster, dead friend… Coulson reassures her that Trip’s death isn’t her fault, but she’s pointing these things out to show how she’s getting a handle on her power. As he leaves, Coulson tells May that Skye thinks things will eventually return to normal for her in a tone that heavily implies delusion. As it’s policy for all new entries to the Gifted Index to undergo a full psychological evaluation and threat assessment, he asks May to reach out to someone named Andrew – if it’s not a thing.
May: Andrew? It’s not a thing. He might say no.
Coulson: Call him anyway.
Across the way in the lab, Bobbi wonders where May is off to and Simmons is having trouble completing Skye’s GI file. The DNA she’s dealing with only leaves her with questions. Fitz comes in and Simmons halts mid sentence and only resumes her thought when he leaves. Bobbi wonders how long she’s going to freeze him out.
Simmons: A betrayal of trust like that, it changes everything.
Bobbi gets a call from Mack who is panicking. He’s cuffed Hunter under a sink in a hotel room and Hunter’s spitting all kinds of venom Bobbi’s way. Mack is worried that this plan is going to the crapper (YA THINK?!) and that his and Hunter’s absences will begin to attract questions. Bobbi says they’ll bring Hunter in and that Mack should hang tight and grab some beer for Hunter in the mean time.
May shows up in action figure posture to speak with Andrew. He seems to be a professor at a university and there is thick, palpable tension between the two. In his office, May begins to explain that S.H.I.E.L.D. needs his help evaluating Skye. He reminds her that he doesn’t work with S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore for good reason, but she insists that S.H.I.E.L.D. has changed now that Coulson is director.
Andrew: What the hell, Melinda? You show up asking for a favor but when I called you after S.H.I.E.L.D. collapsed to check if you were all right, not a word.
May: It was a busy time.
Andrew: *scoff* Thanks for the apology.
Andrew agrees to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. with conditions: he operates without supervision except as medically necessary, sessions with Skye are private, only he and Skye will get copies of the evaluation, and S.H.I.E.L.D. remembers that his duty is to Skye, not them. May agrees.
May: I should have called you back.
Andrew: Nah, I talked to your mom. She told me you were alive. We had a nice talk. She invited me over for dinner.
May: I’m not surprised. She still hasn’t forgiven me for divorcing you.
WHOA! May was married?! Cal arrives in an RV outside the gates of some property in Ohio claiming to a guard to have made a wrong turn. Karla pops up out of nowhere and slashes the guard’s throat when he dares to use his vocal chords, Levi uses lots of wires to blow the security box out front, and Francis gives us his best Incredible Hulk and pulls two of the gate’s bars apart for the group to enter what we now know is the Brynmore Maximum Security Psychiatric Facility – all while Cal gives a smile and a wave to the security camera.
May and Andrew arrive at HQ and Coulson alerts Bobbi that he’s just had a call about a break-in at Brynmore. This wouldn’t be important except S.H.I.E.L.D. runs a secret sub-basement on the north end to house mentally unstable people on the Gifted Index, which may be the target. As Bobbi heads off to prep the jet, Coulson asks her if she’s heard from Hunter. Coulson offered Hunter a full-time position but Hunter hasn’t reported in. Bobbi plays it off, like, “Oh, please. This guy hears ‘permanent’ and gets the heebie jeebies. #NotSuprised.” Coulson doesn’t seem entirely convinced.
Simmons has a grand time catching Andrew up on all of her data on Skye. She thinks some sort of sedative would help Skye control her powers but Andrew – rightly – thinks he should meet Skye before prescribing her anything. May offers to bring Andrew to Skye but wants to speak to her first; she thinks Skye might have a…reaction.
Skye: A shrink?!
May: It’s not personal.
Skye: Hell it’s not, it’s a shrink!
May: It’s standard procedure.
Skye: I know, but I’m not some rando on the Index. I’m an agent.
May: So you understand protocol, lovely. Andrew’s good and he’s done this before.
Skye: So have I thanks to growing up in the system. I hate this.
May: You’ll like it this time, because I was married to him.
Gotcha! Skye is totally willing to meet Andrew now and she wants details. Was May a bridezilla or was the wedding more understated? Did they have pillow talk, or pillow stern looks? Andrew’s not there to talk about May. He asks her why she shot herself and Skye says she did it to protect her team. Andrew’s like, “Um, yeah, because you’re an agent. Seems like you’re afraid of losing that.” Skye shuts down so he dangles a carrot for her.
Andrew: We eloped. We didn’t want a big wedding, and no, it wasn’t Vegas. Although Melinda does love Vegas.
Skye says she also shot herself because she couldn’t stop what she was doing. Andrew asks how she feels when it’s happening and predictably, understandably, she says, “terrifying.”
Over at Brynmore, Coulson and Bobbi have a look at the security footage and spot Cal waving at them. Apparently, after frying the communications and electrical systems, Cal and Co. tore through the facility, releasing prisoners in the process. Coulson and Bobbi head to the sub-level basement and Coulson catches Bobbi up on the two prisoners being held by S.H.I.E.L.D. there. The first, John Bruno, was a military assassin who became obsessed with finding new and creative ways to kill people. Just as Coulson’s about to detail Bachelor #2, Bruno pops up out of nowhere to attack Bobbi, saying they should never have come down there. She whips out some kicks, punches, flips and the like and takes him down bodily, prompting a very apropos, “Damn,” from Coulson. But where’s Bachelor #2?
He’s in the RV with Cal, of course! Coulson gives us the deets on him: David A. Angar’s vocal chords were exposed to an energy blast that allows him to render living things catatonic with just a whisper. On the wall of Angar’s cell Cal wrote, “Fight On,” and Coulson doesn’t know what it means, but I bet Cal and the Gang traveling to Manitowoc, WI is a clue.
May and Andrew catch up over drinks. He thanks May for allowing him to divulge some details to Skye in order to get her to open up, and asks if she’s seeing anyone. May laughs mirthlessly, citing her inability to multitask. She offers to cook him something to eat, and as Fitz approaches, Andrew laughs and says he’s not that hungry. Fitz heads over to the lab to use the microwave, where Simmons is working.
Fitz: Won’t stay long, just didn’t want to disturb May and her ex.
Simmons: Disturb them from…
Fitz: They’re in the kitchen…talking.
Simmons: What are they talking about? Skye’s condition?
Fitz: No, it was of a personal nature. It seems that…May isn’t a good cook.
Simmons: Something Agent May doesn’t excel at? Interesting.
Fitz: Yeah. He-he teased her about it. And she was laughing.
Simmons: He makes her laugh! Oh, they clearly still have feelings for each other. Haven’t you seen it?
Fitz: Of course, I have eyes.
Simmons: I wonder what happened to them?
Fitz: They’re a bizarre pair. He listens for a living and she doesn’t speak.
And like that, they’re thick as thieves once more – until everything begins to shake again. May, Fitz, Simmons, and Andrew rush to Skye’s cell to discover Skye caused tremors again while she slept. They wake her and Andrew stays behind with her.
In the jet, Coulson and Bobbi continue to track and profile Cal and his group. Levi has a genius IQ but no regard for human life, and Francis is a former mob enforcer who took super enhanced steroids so as to be able to enforce more…forcefully? Bobbi points out that these people aren’t particularly gifted to be on the Index. He agrees, but they are also criminally dangerous so the Index acts as a kind of catch all watch list. We learn that Karla is a former medical professional who, in order to protect herself from an abusive boyfriend, had razors surgically grafted to her fingertips – and her boyfriend wasn’t her only victim. Bobbi is slightly unsure that Cal is the ringleader, but Coulson thinks “Fight On” is a pretty clear indicator that Cal wants a fight – but he doesn’t know where.
As Coulson mulls this over, Cal and Co. have breakfast at a diner in Manitowoc. Karla thinks maybe they should quit while they’re ahead and hide out from S.H.I.E.L.D. move on, but Cal says that’s phooey.
Cal: That’s the point, we can’t move on! We can’t slink away and let them take from us, from me! They took away my little girl and she isn’t safe there. I’m just like you: I wasn’t strong and couldn’t protect the people I loved so I tried to improve myself with chemistry. The results were…inconsistent. Some volatility issues. But we can’t stop now. WE can’t let them make us afraid. THEY are the criminals and we’re going to shine a light on that!
Probably continuing a conversation he’s been having with himself aloud, Coulson asks Bobbi if she knows why Hunter isn’t around. He says she’s a little hard to read, but Hunter isn’t, so how long have they been seeing each other naked again? Since Coulson says he needs to talk about something else to let his subconscious puzzle out where Cal and Co. are, Bobbi faux confesses.
Bobbi: I know I should have told you we started sleeping together again, but I broke it off. He slipped into his old patterns, bailing and beer, so Mack went off to find him. History repeats itself.
At the same time their computers get a hit on a location, Bobbi’s phrasing jogs Coulson’s memory and he calls May for backup. He now knows that Cal is going to attack in Manitowoc because of Coulson’s history: this is his hometown.
In her cell, Skye shows off her ability to control her heart rate (thanks, May!) to Andrew. He says this technique doesn’t make her feelings disappear it only pushes them aside, allowing them to resurface while she sleeps. He asks what she was dreaming about (which is what I asked immediately after they woke her up) and she deflects. She says she doesn’t want to answer because he keeps pressing her. Skye moves on and uses humor and sarcasm to deflect and Andrew tells her that she’s avoiding the truth, which is that she’s different now and has to learn to deal with that or she doesn’t sleep again.
Skye: I dreamed I was on mission, looking through the scope on my rifle. Next thing I knew, I was on the other side and the rifle was trained on me.
Andrew correctly assumes it’s a parallel to her being put on the Gifted Index and the room begins to tremor. He tells Skye she needs to calm down, but she’s not causing the shaking this time. (Whew!) May has taken off toward Manitowoc because Coulson needs backup. Andrew is a little peeved she didn’t warn him, but she didn’t have time to get his clearance and besides, he was in a session.
In the stadium of Manitowoc High School, Levi solders the thingamajig from Angar’s head and mouth and Karla, as their resident medical professional, removes it from his face revealing a mess of angry-looking, peeling skin. Angar opens his mouth as if to speak, but Cal’s like, “Whoa man! Not yet! Make it count.”
Cal and the rest put on ear guards as Angar walks out onto the football field where players and cheerleaders are practicing. As kids do, they stare and record on their phones, and then Angar opens his mouth inhumanly wide and lets out a horrific and bestial roar. All of the kids pass out simultaneously – and a murder of crows fall from the sky to the field on top of them. Angar and Cal sure look pleased!
Back in the hotel bathroom, Mack brings Hunter some Hawaiian-style pizza, beer, and innocuous banter.
Hunter: Isn’t the prisoner supposed to choose his last meal?
Mack: If you were supposed to be dead, you’d be dead. I’m only doing what has to be done.
Mack recollects the mission where he and Hunter first met, where they were backup for Bobbi, but Hunter doesn’t want to hear any of this. He wants to know what Mack and Bobbi are up to, but Mack says he’ll know soon enough so Hunter’s like, “Eff off!”
Hunter: If you’ve got nothing to say, then get out. I tell you what I do remember: Dubai was a cover. And because I wasn’t S.H.I.E.L.D., you didn’t tell me. Lies, that’s what I remember.
Andrew is still peeved that May isn’t communicating with him about where they’re going. May isn’t swayed because Coulson needs backup and innocent people could be hurt. She says he and Skye can stay on the bus and she’ll go out to give Coulson backup, but Skye disagrees. She thinks she can be an asset for this mission, but May and Andrew both agree for once that Skye entering this situation would be an “emotional powder keg.” Skye says she knows she won’t lose control because she’s locking down all the emotions she’s having right now, and if she feels herself losing control she’ll just ice herself again. She suggests they tell her dad about how they’re assessing her and have put her on the Index, because he’ll react very positively to that.
At the high school, Coulson and Bobbi make their way to the edge of the football field and spy some of the catatonic birds. Just then Cal comes on over the loud speaker to call out Coulson. Coulson wants to wait for May because he and Bobbi are outnumbered and Cal continues to bait him. Cal reminds Coulson that Angar has attacked all these innocent high school kids and that he is supposed to be a hero, so Coulson finally walks onto the field with his hands up. The flood lights come on and as Angar disarms Coulson, Cal explains his end game: he simply wants to expose S.H.I.E.L.D. for its barbaric crimes against exceptional people and stop them before they do it to his daughter. Just then, May comes onto the field with a gun to Skye’s head and the situation has gotten very tense! May says they have already put her on the index and offers Cal an choice: do they contain Skye or put her down?
Cal wants to convince Skye to come with him, but May tells him that if he doesn’t let these people go she’ll kill Skye. Cal ignores this and gives us some plot exposition. Skye tried to kill him and chose Coulson so May won’t kill her. But he can hand a microphone to Angar so he can kill the whole town of Manitowoc! With impeccable timing once again, Gordon arrives in a sphere of blue energy and absconds with Cal. Coulson knocks Angar out before he can utter a word, May delivers a supreme ass kicking to Francis, and Bobbi takes down Karla in a locker room while Skye and Andrew watch. Coulson runs after Levi and knocks him out with his own equipment and Skye makes the earth move again. As she realizes what she’s doing, she visibly suppresses her ability and bruises erupt all over her hands and forearms before she passes out.
Back in her cell, she wakes to Simmons, May, and Andrew. Simmons tells her that the bruises are a result of capillary ruptures in her arms and over 75 hairline fractures from her clavicle to her fingers. Andrew clarifies that she wasn’t stopping her powers, only directing them inward. Skye is, naturally, at a loss but May assures her they will find a way. Then Simmons reports to Coulson that they need an “other” category.
Simmons: “Gifted” is both insufficient and too broad. “Enhanced” is what I would suggest we call people like David Angar and Mike Peterson; people whose gifts were man-made. Skye, Raina? This was inside of them, a part of them.
Coulson: We need to understand more about their powers. Espeically how to stop them, in case that becomes necessary. This is a priority, Agent Simmons. But keep this secret. Don’t bring anyone else in.
Hooray, more secrets! Andrew is leaving and recommends that Skye leaves S.H.I.E.L.D. altogether. Her condition is absolutely not conducive to that kind of work environment, but May insists Skye is safe with them. She asks Andrew if he would consider consulting for them, but he says S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t changed and he left for a reason way back when.
Mack black bags Hunter as their extraction arrives. In a random hallway, Mack begins to explain to Hunter who is being escorted by two armed guards.
Mack: You were right. For a while there, it all went to hell. It was bad. But now Bobbi and I work for an organization, an outlier that came out of the wreckage of what Fury left.
Hunter: WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?
Mack: S.H.I.E.L.D. The real S.H.I.E.L.D.
Dun dun DUN!!! Hunter looks down the hallway past Mack and sees a very tell-tale S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem on a wall.
Cal is being held in a red room that’s very familiar to us by now, and he’s trashed all the furniture. Gordon comes by all, “Are you done yet?”
Cal: Why didn’t you take Daisy, dumb dumb?! She needs you!
Gordon: What we do is none of your concern.
Cal: Then why am I here?
Gordon: Because you’re making too much noise.
Cal: Noise? I’m sounding a battle cry! I’m protecting us from S.H.I.E.L.D.!
Gordon: There is no “us.” You’re not one of us, you’re a science experiment.
Cal: So what happens to me then?
Gordon: That’s not up to me.
Cal takes the hint and grabs his suit jack, straightens his tie, and leaves the red room to find out his fate (and to see who holds it).
The Questions: How will Skye live her life now that she knows that her power will either destroy her or other things? Who is Cal meeting with? Who’s running the S.H.I.E.L.D. that Bobbi and Mack are from? And why haven’t they combined forces instead of being double agents?