One year ago, S.H.I.E.L.D. cronies/twins Billy and Sam discuss Coulson’s impending visit. Coulson arrives shortly thereafter on one of the many trips he took and concealed from his team. Sam hands Coulson his new lanyard to take a look at Theta Protocol – which turns out to be a helicarrier under construction.
In the present, Coulson surveys the fallout from Sokovia and lays his cards on the table with Gonzalez, Weaver, Oliver, May, and Bobbi. He tells them that he and Fury wanted a backup plan in case S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, and that when everything hit the fan, he felt like he failed as Director. Coulson says his mistake was unilaterally leading S.H.I.E.L.D. with no advisers and proposes that he lead S.H.I.E.L.D. as Director with Gonzalez as an adviser.
Skye keeps a close watch on Lincoln as Fitz and Simmons keep an eye on her. Kara has just completed her brain scans but Simmons tells her that her Hydra indoctrination is clear from her mind. Kara breathes a sigh of relief that Bakshi’s dead, making Simmons shift in her shoes a little, and asks if Simmons knew Bobbi when she was at Hydra, making Simmons shift a little more. Simmons says that she didn’t realize she and Bobbi were there at the same time, but Bobbi did save her when it came to it. Just then Lincoln causes an electrical surge in the facility and wakes. Skye tells him he’s safe but he panics when he sees a S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem. He says now that they know Afterlife is an actual thing, they won’t stop trying to find it which will put their people in danger.
Raina counsels an Afterlife inhabitant about his son’s transition and is adjusting to her new life well. Gordon pays her a visit and she thanks him, saying he was right about her changes being gifts and she’s happy to be able to help her people. He asks if she’s had any other visions since her vision of Sokovia and she says last night she saw something peculiar last night. She said it was a stone but not a stone, and suddenly it was liquid like ocean waves. Gordon recognizes the description and brings Raina to Jiaying at once, who tells them that the Cree made this item to destroy their kind once the Cree had decided they were mistakes. Jiaying asks Gordon to locate it and Raina says she could be helpful in finding it, so they teleport to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and Raina instantly knows it’s there with them. They walk the halls and Raina recalls a red door just as they duck into a room to hide from a passing May and Bobbi.
Jiaying asks Cal if Raina is dangerous and he’s like, “Um, yeah. I would say she is.” Cal says that when he met Raina, she had nothing but had convinced a cafe owner to give her day-old pastries and a tailor to give her leftover fabric to make dresses. Soon, she proved her selfishness by demanding fresh pastries and the best fabrics, and Cal says she always “wants” something. Jiaying wants to know what she wants now.
Gordon and Raina continue to search for the room with the red door and Raina describes herself as an annoyance who wasn’t chosen to be brought through the mist. Just then, Hunter spots them and when they teleport away, he trips the emergency alarms. When they reappear, they’ve discovered the red door and go inside to find the stone Raina described to Gordon and Jiaying back at Afterlife. May and Bobbi turn up so Gordon and Raina teleport away again.
Gonzalez says they should have destroyed the stone long ago. It was discovered at a dig site almost 100 years ago and its energy is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Hunter wonders if anyone knows anything about it, and no one does. Since there’s nothing about the stone in Fury’s toolbox except that Hydra wanted it, Gonzalez wants to know why it’s of interested to those at Afterlife all of a sudden. So Coulson pays Skye a visit.
Skye says neither she nor Lincoln know anything about the stone, which Coulson finds dubious since she doesn’t even really know Lincoln or what he knows about. Skye says that Jiaying and Co. are good people who helped her learn to channel her power so she wasn’t hurting herself, but Coulson wonders if they’re even people. (They’re people just as much as you believe Skye is a person, Coulson. Get it together.) He’s concerned at how tight-lipped Skye has been about her experiences since they parted, noting they don’t even know what to call the group she’s been living with, and she’s like, “We’re called inhumans and we just want to be left alone.” May’s like, “Well if they wanted to be left alone they shouldn’t go around breaking into secure military vessels!” Skye says they’re assuming the stone is a weapon (which it might be) and that maybe Jiaying and Co. are just concerned at what Gonzalez may be preparing to do with it. May says Gordon is clearly very dangerous and Skye’s like, “Says you, Cavalry. I heard about Bahrain. That little girl was an inhuman, so you should know why Jiaying wants to keep their location secret.” (OUCH.)
When Bobbi reports back to Gonzalez, Weaver, and Oliver, they inform her they’ve used Hydra’s tracking technology to locate Gordon – and Afterlife – and plan to pay them a visit. Gonzalez wants to make a plan of attack but Coulson doesn’t want to start a war, especially since they just finished one. Coulson wants to sit down with Jiaying and Bobbi suggests using Skye as a liason. May thinks it’s time to find out where Skye’s allegiance lies.
Gordon and Raina report to Jiaying (and Cal, to Gordon’s displeasure) about finding the stone with S.H.I.E.L.D. Cal becomes upset with Gordon and Raina tries to calm him, but Cal’s having none of that, saying he doesn’t believe her selfless act. He wonders if she’s making things up, saying her power lets Raina control them because she thrives on chaos. Gordon steps between them, taunting Cal, and Jiaying says she will not allow S.H.I.E.L.D. will not fracture their group or wreck their culture.
Coulson tells Skye the plan and she begs him not to go to Afterlife. He says at the very least she knows they have Index everyone there, that she knows how this works since she’s an agent, but Skye says she doesn’t know what she is anymore. She proposes that she and Lincoln go first to speak to Jiaying and explain why the agents are coming, saying Jiaying will understand because she is her mother.
May and Bobbi have differing views on how to deal with Kara and Bobbi joins Mack’s workout. She says she was late practicing her speech, but he says he’s not changing his mind and asks if she’s spoken to Hunter yet. Bobbi says Hunter hasn’t even looked her in the eye yet and wonders if something is wrong with her because she can’t wear her heart on her sleeve.
May tells Coulson she misses her jet and Coulson reveals that Jiaying is Skye’s mother. She moves to tell the counsel but Coulson stops her to apologize. She tries to shut him down angrily but he tells her that what happened in Bahrain doesn’t matter to him and she’s like, “Yes you do, or you wouldn’t bring it up.” (Truth.) May tells him that the little girl wasn’t killed in crossfire, that she made the call to kill the child to save everyone else and only told Andrew. She mourns the loss of the trust in their relationship, saying she should have stopped him when he began carving into the wall when he was brought back to life. Coulson says he never lost control, but May counters that Skye is living proof that he did.
Skye says her goodbyes to Fitz and Simmons and Simmons has a little gift for her: a hula dancer figurine they saved from the jet before it went down. Then Coulson, Skye and Lincoln discuss his Indexing during which Lincolns snipes that S.H.I.E.L.D., like Hydra, took his blood without his consent. Coulson asks how Gordon will find them, and Skye begins to explain before simply stating that Gordon can sense them and will retrieve her and Lincoln when he knows they’re far away from S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
Raina runs up to Gordon saying she’s had another vision: she’s seen quinjets from S.H.I.E.L.D. raining fire down on Afterlife. He wants to tell Jiaying, but Raina says he shouldn’t because it’s because of Jiaying meeting with them that they attack. Gordon wonders who should meet with them if Jiaying doesn’t, so Raina’s like, “Why not me?”
Jiaying checks in with a scientist who’s holding a blue and blackcrystal, asking how the packing is going. She tells the scientist that the packing is just a precaution and just then, Gordon, Skye, and Lincoln return. Skye tells Jiaying that doctors at S.H.I.E.L.D. patched up Lincoln, causing her to take Skye to her office to talk. Skye asks Jiaying to please speak with Coulson and drops the “mom” bomb, so it seems like Jiaying’ll agree.
Coulson finalizes plans to go to Afterlife and Gonzalez doesn’t think Couson should be the one to be their envoy given how close he is to Skye. May agrees with him, as does Weaver, and they all vote to send Gonzalez instead.
Fitz is worried about Simmons going back into the field after almost dying last time and tells her that she shouldn’t feel bad about Ward. He says he wanted to kill him, too, and she’s like, “Well, I did try to kill him and failed, so if he goes around wrecking stuff again, it’s my fault.”
May tells Bobbi that Coulson wants them to scout ahead and has locked in coordinates, so the two take off in a jet.
Mack visits Coulson to tell him that he’s resigning from S.H.I.E.L.D. He doesn’t care that Theta Protocol just turned out to be a helijet but he won’t work for a S.H.I.E.L.D. that has a director who was brought back to life by alien blood. He knows what it’s like to be under alien control and can’t trust the actions of a man who has experienced the same. Coulson doesn’t fight his decision so Mack hands over his badge and leaves.
Cal is pissed that S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming to Afterlife and Jiaying asks him if they can trust S.H.I.E.L.D. He says Coulson is his least favorite but he does care about Skye, so that’s something. She mentions the Index and he’s vehemently against that, saying they’ll brand them. Cal says she has power to attack first and Jiaying says Skye wouldn’t like that and her people wouldn’t blindly follow her into a war, anyway. Cal’s like, “I would.” She wonders what she can do to make S.H.I.E.L.D. believe the inhumans mean them no harm and keep Skye safe from them, so Cal offers himself up for a trade.
Bobbi tells May that Mack quit and asks her if she’s ever wondered who she’d be without S.H.I.E.L.D., which May says she’s been contemplating recently. Bobbi says Hunter asked her to leave with him to be together once, and though she was tempted, she stayed.
Coulson meets with Hunter and Fitz about the operation. Hunter and Fitz are both dubious about the decision to send Gonzalez in to meet with Jiaying and Coulson expresses doubts in his decision making, saying that following their lead might avert another downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hunter points out that S.H.I.E.L.D. will also fall if a bunch of angry enhanced people decide to attack them, so there’s that.
Gordon walks into Jiaying’s office looking really angry, and she wants to know what’s wrong with him.
Gonzalez asks Weaver if she located their “insurance policy” and she hands him a brown box which he stows in his jacket pocket. Then May gives him a ten-minute landing warning. (UH OH!)
Bobbi asks May about the autopilot landing coordinates and May pulls her gun. She says Bobbi couldn’t care less about what Bobbi did to her and Bobbi realizes it’s Kara wearing May’s face again. Kara’s remembered what happened between them with Hydra and all of a sudden arms and legs are flying. They punch and kick each other in an impressive fight but ultimately Bobbi wins with a kick to Kara’s head. The jet lands in an open field and Bobbi disembarks – only to be iced by Ward.
Simmons reports to Gonzalez that there are a lot more unknowns than they anticipated and he says as long as Skye has set up the meeting, he’ll handle it.
Gordon comes to see Raina who is looking at herself in the mirror. She says she always knew she had a purpose and it’s nice to finally know what that is. Then, when she inquires about where Gordon has taken Jiaying, Jiaying herself arrives, along with Skye and another red-haired inhuman. Jiaying says Raina has taken advantage of her power by manipulating people with it, and taken advantage of her own good faith. Raina says she’s trying to save everyone, but Jiaying orders the red-haired inhuman to keep Raina there until S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone and then they’ll decide her fate. Raina insists that something bad will happen and they’ll regret this.
S.H.I.E.L.D. touches down and Gonzalez is led to Jiaying by Gordon. Skye asks where Coulson is, and Gonzalez says he is acting in his stead, but Gonzalez wants to know what Cal’s doing there. Jiaying says that though it pains her, she will trade Cal as an act of good faith.
As Skye escorts Cal to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, he tells her that he’s grateful for having the chance to get to know her, and she returns the sentiment.
Gonzalez tells Jiaying that he knows what Hydra did to her and that they share scars because Hydra took from him, too. He offers her the brown box to prove that S.H.I.E.L.D. is not like Hydra.
Skye asks May why Coulson didn’t come to meet with Jiaying and May says it’s because the council thought it would be better to have someone more objective conduct the meeting. Skye reminds May that Gonzalez sent people to kill her a few weeks ago, and May defends him. Skye asks why May couldn’t be in the meeting and she says she’s not objective.
Jiaying opens the brown box and it’s a traditional Chinese gift to ward off evil spirits that S.H.I.E.L.D. acquired from Whitehall’s office after Coulson killed him that Jiaying had planned to give to Skye. She’s touched by the gift, having given it up for lost.
May tells Skye she hopes her mother is to be everything she wanted her to be and heads back to the jets.
Gonzalez says S.H.I.E.L.D. has a rocky history with people with powers but they need to protect the public from the people who get powers and are bad apples. He says he wants to Index everyone at Afterlife so that if anyone ever tries to do someone harm, S.H.I.E.L.D. will fulfill its purpose and stop the threat. Jiaying says she’s got her own gift to give, noting that she’s seen countless generations fall into the trap of trying to catalog people by their differences. She says it’s due to fear that they feel they have the right to do that, and Gonzalez says they’re just trying to protect people.
May reports to Coulson that they’ve turned over Cal, and they discover vials with yellow liquid on his person which he declines to identify.
Jiaying tells Gonzalez that fear caused her to begin experimenting with terragen crystals, knowing that if their diviners were destroyed their whole race would cease to exist. So they melted one of the diviners down and grew new crystals but couldn’t separate the diviner metal from it. It’s harmless to inhumans, she says, but for humans it’s not so safe, and she slams it on her desk, releasing a grey cloud that causes Gonzalez to begin choking. He pulls his gun as she officially makes a villainous turn, saying that he should be ashamed for trying to equate their scars and that she’ll never let S.H.I.E.L.D. hurt any of her people as Gonzalez turns to stone. She takes his gun and shoots herself twice in the shoulder, then stumbles out of her office to meet Skye and the rest, proclaiming that S.H.I.E.L.D. tried to kill her and this is war before collapsing on the ground.
Ward and Kara have bound and unconscious Bobbi who is being hailed repeatedly by headquarters. Ward says Kara did a great job fooling everyone and she wonders why they can’t just kill Bobbi now. He says closure’s about “digging in and doing the work,” and then they’ll kill Bobbi. Kara notices Bobbi’s regaining consciousness, so Ward ices her three more times for good measure.
The Questions: Why, exactly, have Ward and Kara kidnapped Bobbi? Will Gordon realize Raina was right and try to usurp Jiaying or will they all blindly follow her to war? What was the stone that Gordon and Raina found? What will Mack do without S.H.I.E.L.D.? And what side will Skye choose in the inevitable battle between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans?