Many Heads, One Tale Plot:
Confident that he has enough trust with Rosalind (Constance Zimmer), Coulson (Clark Gregg) brings her to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top secret facility under the guise of openness. His real plan, however, is to divert her attention from an infiltration team out to find the ATCU’s darkest secrets. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) make a breakthrough in their mission to rescue Will.
Okay, “Many Heads, One Tale” was packed with some major revelations. One of them I’m particularly happy with. As it turns out, Rosalind isn’t actually part of Hydra as “Chaos Theory” made viewers believe. Her partnership with Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) is more normal than this show usually features. He’s the creator of the ATCU, her legitimate superior, and everything she’s done so far has been exactly what Gideon wanted her to support. She’s never mislead Coulson because in her mind she was being entirely honest about her group’s intentions. Coulson’s actions against her were entirely justified considering his history, and it’s outstanding that he didn’t just get a confirmation of exactly what he expected. The ATCU is much more nefarious than previously thought, but Rosalind, and presumably Banks (Andrew Howard), are not intentional contributors on that front.
Hydra is an entirely different story. Apparently, and this is where things get a bit crazy (even by this show’s standards), Hydra is behind everything. That’s not even an exaggeration either. All elements of this season connect back to them. Gideon isn’t only the head of the ATCU, actively creating new Inhumans to fulfill their own needs. His organization has actually existed for centuries under several different names (many heads) and have always had one overarching goal (one tale) which is going through the monolith’s portal. The crazy monster Simmons and Will were so terrified of isn’t just an interstellar demon. It’s actually the leader of Hydra. NASA wasn’t just sending people there to investigate. Hydra was funding missions to bring that monster back to Earth. The Inhumans aren’t just weapons that this evil group can use. As we saw with Daisy (Chloe Bennet), they are key to opening the portals. Gideon is aware of this because S.H.I.E.L.D. brought someone back before Hydra and they had several centuries of a head start. Hydra. Runs. All.
This is entering some seriously silly territory. I get that putting everything under a single banner probably makes this show somewhat easier to write, but this is still such a reach. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is insanely dead set on keeping Hydra the overwhelming evil force. If anything, this makes me glad the Inhumans already have an incredibly deep history in comics. No doubt the show would find a way to make that about Hydra if it was an original creation. (Unless the Kree are actually Hydra agents that left Earth during the stone age and the Inhumans are their deep secret plan to dominate the universe. If that happens, I will kick my television over). It’s also just weird knowing that, despite all this extra padding brought upon by new planets, new organizations, and the Inhumans, this show can still be broken down to S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra. If this show wants to last for many years, serious consideration needs to be taken with phasing Hydra out for something different.
Outside of this though, “Many Heads, One Tale” was one thriller of an episode from start to finish. Coulson reveals to his team what his actual plans are, and the episode just goes from there. It’s always so fun whenever S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes a bonafide spy show and this episode was a great example of it. Daisy uses Andrew’s (Blair Underwood) containment cell to worm into the ATCU mainframe which allows Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood) to sneak in as FBI cyber security experts. Daisy is, of course, in Hunter’s ear the entire time. Hunter was really funny as an aggressively British hacker and it’s still exciting to have Bobbi back in the field. Those magnetic bands that allow her to throw her trademark batons was pure awesomeness, rivaled only by the fact that she can still go toe-to-toe with an Inhuman. There was such a sense of fun throughout all those segments.
The same can be said about Ward’s (Brett Dalton) material. Despite his incredibly cruel intentions, it’s a not-so-guilty pleasure watching Ward just goes balls to the wall. A group of killers are sent in by Gideon to take him out, and Ward dispatches all of them with brutal ease. He then interrogates the guys promising them safety if they talk, only to kill the only blabber mouth because Hydra doesn’t support rats. How he even gets to Gideon’s secret vault is even better. He takes a regular commercial airline and blows off the door so he can parachute out. Talk about doing things with flair! He also delivered a deliciously evil one liner: “From all of us at Hydra, thank you for flying the friendly skies.” His response to Gideon’s crazy history lesson was perfectly reminiscent of viewers too. “Okay…that’s a lot to take in,” indeed. This may just be my favorite Ward focus all season.
Considering how much attention May (Ming-Na Wen) received last week, I’m not surprised she was pushed into the background. We already got everything we need to know regarding her reaction to Andrew. She did get a great little scene with Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) though. Despite her history with Inhumans and Lincoln’s own distrust of S.H.I.E.L.D., they both find common ground to bridge tension through Lash. May’s sorry Lincoln’s friends died due to her oversight, and Lincoln is reassured in May’s convictions since she put several bullets into Lash herself. One step forward on Inhuman/human relations by the looks of things.
Lastly, Fitz-Simmons finally took a giant relationship jump with one passionate kiss. Tension is running high between these two because neither of them are entirely on the same page. Simmons cannot grasp why Fitz is so willing to help a man take his love away, and Fitz is having difficulty keeping his cool despite it being what Simmons wants. There’s also the belief Fitz has that the universe will do everything it can to keep them apart. The kiss was a delicate mix of both want and defiance, especially since it came after Simmons confirmed she loved Will, and her mutual response is evidence there’s still a deep love towards Fitz. This was a very necessary step between them and I’m eager to see where it goes from here. Clearly it’s known the public wants this too because, right before the episode aired, ABC asked as a teaser, “Will Fitz and Simmons take their relationship to the next step? Find out on an all new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., next.” The ATCU mystery was the main story too. Clearly, Fitz-Simmons is where it’s at.
“Many Heads, One Tale” was a really exciting episode. It was a truly fun experience from the moment Coulson let everyone know his plans. Ward completely dominated his focus, and Hunter easily stole the show with humor on his front. Fitz-Simmons finally made some major headway as partners too. While it’s great that Rosalind really is a good person instead of a Hydra supporter like we were lead to believe, it’s insane that this one organization has hands everywhere. Now they go back centuries and are directly related to that entirely different world? Eventually, before it gets even more ridiculous, Hydra will need to have its reach limited.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor. Every Saturday afternoon you can read his video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.