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- At the end of the pilot episode, when you realize that the shot was not a bullet but the cure that the team managed to come up with in time. It then cuts to Mike Peterson's son out on a idyllic farm in the countryside, and Coulson and Skye discussing Mike's recovery.
- Also, Agent Ward's smile after taking the shot. Despite having butted heads with Coulson the whole episode over Coulson's friendly, non-violent "welcoming committee" approach, he seems genuinely pleased that his shot saved Mike's life rather than killing him. This gets an extra dose of heartwarming after watching the rest of season one. This is Ward's first experience contrasting Coulson's approach with Garrett's, and this time the dog lives.
- Coulson breaking his cool to demand that his team find a way to cure Mike, and sympathizing with Mike about how it feels to be an ordinary man in a world full of superheroes.
- We discover that while Ward may come across as a No Social Skills Jerkass, he reveals he dearly loves his grandmother. Also a Funny Moment, given how the normally stoic Ward acts like a little kid for a few moments.
- Skye insisting to Mike that S.H.I.E.L.D. can help him. That's a lot of faith to put in a group that she openly distrusts.
- It took more than a few years, and he can't be here to see it, but Howard Stark finally gave the world flying cars. Man's dead, and still taking us to school.
- Camilla mocks Coulson for downgrading from leading hundreds of agents to a team of six. Coulson answers with a Badass Boast saying that his team will defeat Camilla and her soldiers. They're that good. He's right, too.
- The team relaxing and watching the rocket carrying the 0-8-4 device blasting off into space. Grant even gives Leo a friendly clap on the back. Even if it's revealed that Skye's acting as The Mole for the Rising Tide, it's still a nice moment.
- Quinn reminds Skye that S.H.I.E.L.D. is everything she's against and that they're Big Brother. This is her response, which borrows a bit from Grant's "Defining Moment" story:
Skye: (tearfully) Yeah, but they're the nice big brother who stands up for his helpless little brother who's getting beaten up because he ate a piece of cake.
- May being so concerned for Coulson's safety that despite her reasons not to (which are implied to be strong reasons not to) she immediately asks to be put into field work on his return so he doesn't have to risk himself.
- Coulson's almost fatherly concern for Akela.
- Particular mention to his realization that she's being forced to do all these villainous things. The way his face lights up knowing she didn't willingly betray him...
- Skye says that Coulson is a great judge of character and thanking him for being the first person to value her in a long time. Because of this, she says she trusts him when he says that Akela deserves a second chance even though May disagrees.
- When Coulson and Ward visit the hotel Akela's staying at, the receptionist tells them how Akela told her to go to the doctor, where she was diagnosed with a tumor. Akela spotted it with her implant, and more than likely saved the woman's life.
- When Ward, pretending to be Akela, completes her mission, her handler tells her "Good luck" when "she" has to escape. It's heartwarming in hindsight once you realize that her handler was a prisoner just like Akela. Even though she didn't know it, her handler did actually give a damn about her.
- Akela finally being able to sleep at the end without someone watching her every move.
Girl in the Flower Dress
- Skye and Ward playing a friendly game of Battleship. She even gets him to finally smile!
- Coulson making sure Agent Quan's family gets some money.
- Coulson agreeing not to cut Skye loose after finding out that she joined the team in order to search for her parents. He still clearly doesn't trust her entirely, but he agrees to help nonetheless.
- It's especially notable that once the truth is revealed, Coulson immediately goes from anger and disappointment to sympathy and understanding. Despite all that's happened, he's still willing to give Skye a second chance.
- While the rest of the team is either angry or upset at Skye for her betrayal, Simmons is the only one who understands what she did, and still considers her the team's friend.
Fitz: Why would Skye do this to us? For him. Thought she was our friend.
Simmons: I think she is, Fitz. He's just obviously more than that.
Fitz: Yeah, but we've been through so much together, and she didn't even tell us that she has a guy.
Simmons: Well, who knows what they've been through together.
- Fitz being totally understanding of Skye, apparently having already forgiven her. To the point of awkward flirting.
- Coulson comforting the volunteer firefighter after the team realizes the latter is infected with an alien virus, and will die in a few minutes. Coulson tells him that he has died already, and spent a few moments in the afterlife. He also assures the fireman that it's beautiful.
- Fitz's unwavering support while helping Simmons cure her own infection. Including being totally willing to parachute after her and cure her in midair after she jumps out of the bus.
Simmons: No, uh, You can't be in here.
- Including jumping into quarantine with her, despite not even wanting to be in the same room as a dead body. When Fitz enters the quarantine with the Chitauri helmet:
Fitz: Too late, it's done. Just try and do your best to keep your hands off me yeah?
- Before that, how he's making jokes and trying to cheer her up behind the glass doors.
- Even before that, there's a moment when Fitz is just sat on the floor with her on the other side of the glass. He doesn't say anything; he doesn't need to. He knows that just sitting next to her is enough.
- Ward pretending not to notice how heavy the gun is the second time, to play along with Fitz and Simmons.
- Once everything's said and done, Skye says nothing. She just hugs Simmons as hard as she can.
- Simmons thanking Fitz for staying with her and saving her, complete with a kiss on the cheek.
Simmons: You're the hero.
- Coulson finally confesses to May that he's convinced he Came Back Wrong. She tells him dying is traumatic, and he shouldn't expect to be the same as before, but that doesn't mean anything's wrong with him.
- Coulson's Anger Born of Worry rant. And the fact that he disobeyed orders without hesitation.
- Skye hugs Coulson after he finds out what the redacted document from her orphanage said.
- The entire conversation between Fitz and Simmons before he goes on the mission. And the sandwich.
- At the end, Fitz doesn't have the heart to tell Simmons he didn't eat the sandwich, so just tells her it was delicious.
- Fitz and Ward realizing Coulson told both of them to take care of the other.
- May leading the girls to the Bus to extract Ward and Fitz. "Let's go get our boys back."
- Coulson joining them.
- Skye is willing to give up what she knows might be her only chance to look at the files about her past, to keep looking for info to help Ward and Fitz, when she realizes she won't have time to do both.
- Of all people, Victoria Hand is the reason for one. Coulson confronts her earlier in the episode when he discovers that Fitz and Grant do not have an extraction team. Later, when Agent Sitwell asks why she did not assign an extraction team, she says that all their resources were being used elsewhere, and that they didn't need an extraction team: she knew Coulson's team would rescue them anyway.
- Randolph to Simmons after being revived: "You're the most beautiful thing I've seen in a thousand years."
- Simmons finally mustering the courage to talk to her parents after all the drama since "FZZT."
- May's silent invitation to Ward to share some wine in her room after the Berserker Staff brought out their worst pain.
- Also earlier, after using two parts of the staff to fight off assailants, reinforcements arrive. Ward wearily reaches for the pieces again when May stops him and uses them in his place.
- Grant, who has previously been accused of having no people skills, helping Jemma with her fear of heights and her acknowledgement of her own awareness of him trying to trick her and him assuring her that if she falls, he'll catch her. It takes on more meaning when you remember how he caught her in F.Z.Z.T.
- During the flashback to Ward's childhood, where Ward is told if he helps his brother out of the well he'll be thrown in too. What does Ward do? Help him out anyway, all whilst visibly terrified.
- Skye's genuine concern for Ward while the staff is affecting him, especially given how terrified she must be of him in that moment. (Imagine how you would feel if your normally calm, collected co-worker started losing his cool like that.)
- Both Skye and Coulson are confident that they can help May go back to being the warmer, kinder person she once was even if she doesn't.
- Skye goes to keep May company in the cockpit. Even though May once said she enjoys the solitude of the cockpit, she doesn't kick Skye out.
- Skye comforting Hannah, telling her that, even though she's not religious, her preferred interpretation of God is that "God is love" and therefore would not punish Hannah in the way she fears.
- Towards the end of the episode, Coulson tells Skye that she has the potential to do this kind of thing (finding people like Hannah and comforting them) all the time.
- While it was a little creepy, there is something heartwarming about the villain's motives; he wanted to protect Hannah because he loves her.
- In the stinger, May pulls a prank on Fitz, showing whatever traumatic experience she had with the Gifted girl didn't completely destroy the person she used to be.
- In that same stinger, we see that the Team (minus May and Fitz) is enjoying a game of Scrabble together, perhaps showing even more of the closeness that Coulson had hoped for when he assembled them.
- Coulson's little chat with Ward about The Cellist. It's clear he was quite taken with her and losing her due to his "death" wasn't easy.
- Ward, Fitz, and Simmons are uncomfortable with Mike joining the team as the last time they met, Ward shot him with a gun Fitz and Simmons designed. Mike reassures them by thanking them for tranqing him instead of killing him. He also thanks them because the tranquilizer helped stabilize the serum, preventing any more explosions.
The Magical Place
- The real reason May told Hand that Skye should be kicked off The Bus. The girl works better when she doesn't have by-the-book S.H.I.E.L.D. agents breathing down her neck. Despite how harsh and cold she seemed, she was counting on Skye to find Coulson, which means she values Skye's skills and trusts her to do a good job.
- The little look they give each other at the end says it all. Skye seemed to have understood May's intention and realize she doesn't really hate her, while May seems genuinely flattered Skye choose to model her "S.H.I.E.L.D. agent" self after her.
- Nick Fury "moved Heaven and Earth" to keep Coulson alive after Loki stabbed him. That's how important "his one good eye" is to him.
- Becomes some Fridge Horror after "T.A.H.I.T.I." when we learn exactly what "moving Heaven and Earth" meant: Fury captured a half-dead member of an unidentified alien race and had it kept on life support so as to continue pumping a healing drug out of its body. This was used to save Coulson. Judging by the look on Coulson's face when he discovers it and his subsequent rush to stop it from being used on Skye, it's a procedure that he would not have knowingly permitted Fury to use on him.
- Coulson reuniting with his team; major feels from everybody but especially Skye.
- Coulson rewarding Skye for saving him by removing her Walking Techbane bracelet.
- After two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents lose their entire team to recover an 0-8-4 that was Skye as a baby, they set up a hidden protocol to keep her safe throughout her life.
- Coulson and May talk to one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who found Skye as a baby. After all he's been through, his top concern is whether the baby is okay.
- Fitz bonds with Donnie, a loner student at the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, by helping him improve a high-power battery he's working on. It turns out badly later on, but it's still a nice scene.
- In the same scene, when Fitz is commiserating with Donnie about being lonely at the academy, he mentions how much better everything got for him once he became friends with Simmons.
- Couslon holding Skye's hand as The Bus was descending down the eye of the storm.
- Skye goes to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy memorial wall to honor the agents who died protecting her as a baby. It becomes more heartwarming when you consider something she said earlier in this episode. Even at this point she feels an outsider because she didn't go to the Academy and so she isn't part of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s history and tradition. Now, she's learned that her original foster parents were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
- Coulson expected the Awful Truth to break Skye's faith in Humanity. Instead, she restored some of his.
- Skye tells Ward that she feels like she cheated by getting into S.H.I.E.L.D. by hacking their system. Ward gives this as his response:
Ward: All you need to join is dedication to the greater good. Coulson saw that in you the moment he met you.
- The Mythology Gag of Skye reading off Bucky Barnes's name at the Wall of Honor also manages to combine moments of Heartwarming, Tear Jerker, and Funny: heartwarming that Bucky has been honored and remembered, tearjerker considering the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and funny as another instance of Skye's fangirl tendencies towards the superhero universe.
- Simmons sees Fitz and Skye fighting off a man with a grenade. Simmons immediately grabs the guy and holds their bodies together to contain the blast. Granted, it was a nonlethal tranquilizer grenade, but the fact remains that Simmons' first instinct was to protect her friends at the cost of her own life.
- Not to mention Fitz' steps to care for her while she's still unconscious/paralyzed: helping move her body into a comfortable position, making sure she has a weapon to defend herself with when she wakes up, and gently closing her eyelids.
- After Simmons has finished stabilizing a dying Skye, Fitz holds her while she quietly cries in the supply closet.
- When a doctor tells the team there's nothing that can be done to save Skye and they should call her family, Coulson looks over the team and says "We're her family."
- What the team is willing to do for Skye. Period.
- May showing that despite her initial dismissiveness towards Skye, she's come to care for her. First, her desperately asking if the hyperbaric chamber is working. Then see the beatdown she lays on Quinn in the interrogation room for real proof.
Quinn: You can't!
May: Why? Because you're defenseless? Like she was?!
- Simmons saying that even though she and Skye are "nothing alike", she "can't imagine her life without her". More proof that Skye and Simmons are great friends.
- Simmons fussing over Skye while she's in the hospital bed. She acts like a mother hen, or in Skye's words "a prison warden". Then Ward comes by and they share a sweet moment.
- Sif telling Coulson that Thor considers him a good friend and was very upset about his death.
- Coulson tells her he feels the same way, which is why he wants to tell Thor he's alive himself.
- Just look at at the way May smiles through all her interactions with Sif. In particular, she looks happier when the two of them are talking privately and comparing weaponry techniques than she has at any other point in the series. Whatever other issues she has going on, she's a total Fangirl for Asgardian warrior women.
- While the scene where Coulson tells Skye about the alien corpse that provided the miracle drug that saved them both is plenty serious, it still counts because he sounds more worried about her than for himself or she is for either of them. Thus, he sounds like an Overprotective Dad.
- Skye's reaction, too. She's not upset or blaming him or anything. In fact she's genuinely confused as to why Coulson seems to think she'd have anything but gratitude for saving her. In fact, Skye's whole reaction to the entire situation is basically "I need to get better so I don't have to burden everyone to worry and need to save me like this again."
End of the Beginning
- Skye finally officially being accepted as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent
Coulson: Welcome to S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye.
- Agent Blake, a character who appeared to be somewhat callous previously, still offers to get Mike/Deathlok help, even when he has him by the throat.
- And knowing that he might be about to die, he thinks of others, tagging Deathlok with a tracker.
- Just before shit starts to go down, Coulson tells Fitz to get back to the van. It's a small thing, but Coulson knows that not only would Fitz be useless in combat, more importantly he'd be in danger.
Turn, Turn, Turn
- When Simmons and Fitz are finally reunited, she runs directly to him and they share a hug of relief.
- Ward and Skye's heart-to-heart (ending with something of a Big Damn Kiss) is something of a CMOH for them—especially for shippers of the two. How it jibes with the episode's last big "reveal" has yet to be seen....
- Triplett's protecting Simmons from the chaos in spite of barely knowing each other at this point and the risk that either of them could be HYDRA.
- May and Coulson were not exactly getting along in this episode, but there were a few moments that stood out.
Garrett:I know you'd follow him to the grave so...
- Coulson was absolutely livid with May, but he still pulls her down and tries to shield her when Hand's men start firing on the Bus.
- May's entire motivation for spying on Coulson was to protect him. Her explanation sounds suspiciously like an Aborted Declaration of Love.
- Once Coulson refuses to join Hydra, Garrett doesn't even bother offering May a position.
- Raina's "Gift from the Clairyovant" is a new flower dress. Given how evil the guy is, it's awfully thoughtful. The look on Raina's face is comparable to Coulson receiving a gift from Captain America.
- Ward is still showing concern for Skye in his HYDRA agent persona, thus his "true" persona. He gave Garrett an earful for calling a hit on her. Then he admits that killing her would difficult for him even if Garrett were to order it.
- FitzSimmons almost manage to have a heartwarming moment together when discussing their doubts about Coulson, when Simmons says that despite everything that's happened at least they still have each other. This cheers Fitz up enough to raise the fact that he hopes things won't change (meaning that the two of them will still stay together even without S.H.I.E.L.D. keeping them that way) - at which point, Simmons being Simmons misses the point completely and, thinking he's talking about the team and the organisation more generally, gently explains "It's too late for that." Fitz's expression makes it pretty clear she's inadvertently killed the moment stone dead.
The Only Light In the Darkness
- As part of Koenig's vetting process, he has each agent undergo a polygraph test on steroids. One of the questions places the subject in a scenario where they are trapped on a desert island with a box and asks what the character would find in the box. Fitz's answer, after a bit of beating around the bush, is Simmons.
- Ward's attempt to get Fitz to tell Simmons how he feels about her is a weirdly heartwarming Pet the Dog moment. "Weirdly heartwarming" in that he's trying to encourage Fitz to do something about it now, because he's planning on killing them both later. His annoyance when Fitz pretends to have no idea what he's talking about makes his initial attempt to be nice seem quite genuine.
- Audrey talking about how when Blackout first attacked her years ago, Coulson was the one that came and tried to comfort her and reassure her that everything would be all right and that S.H.I.E.L.D. would take care of everything.
- When Audrey is knocked unconscious by Blackout's explosive death, Coulson kneels over her, kisses her forehead, and assures her that he's there and watching over her before vanishing back into the shadows. It's as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking.
- Alone in the wilderness, on the run from HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D., abandoned by one of her closest friends in the world, who does Melinda May call for a ride? Her mother. She may dish out a few gentle reminders about manners, along with what's apparently genetic levels of deadpan snarkery, but she clearly cares for her daughter enough to cross the Canadian border and hijack an unnamed agency's intel to help her.
- Doubles as one for May. She left because Coulson couldn't get past her lying to him about his resurrection. Since she doesn't have all the details, she's apparently intent on tracking down one of the few people who do: Maria Hill. Even when he doesn't consider her a friend anymore, she's still doing everything she can for him.
- There's something quite comfortably sweet about Maria Hill casually discussing her bad day over the phone with Pepper Potts. Partly because it's maybe the first scene of Hill's in the MCU to break down her stoic persona for a few moments, partly because Pepper manages to play the role of everyone's best friend even when she's not featured on-screen.
- And the fact that Stark is taking in former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, giving them jobs and keeping them out of prison using his army of lawyers.
- Coulson refusing to sell out his team to Talbot.
- The relieved hug Coulson and Skye share on the Bus after he manages to sneak on board in order to rescue her.
- Fitz and Simmons at the motel pool, telling each other that they aren't HYDRA, just so they could hear it from the other person.
- Also at the pool, Coulson giving Skye a candy bar — and in the background, Trip sharing his snacks with Fitz and Simmons. Everyone's had a terrible few days, and they're working with each other on getting over them. Fitz seems to accept, hopefully meaning that Fitz will stop feeling so threatened by Trip's presence in the future.
- Hill says that Coulson could join her at Stark Industries, since Stark would more than happily employ him. Coulson turns her down then asks her to pass his greetings along... before remembering that Stark still thinks he's dead.
- The reveal of Project T.A.H.I.T.I.'s purpose is one after analysis is the epitome of this (with healthy levels of tear-jerker mixed in): Project T.A.H.I.T.I.'s purpose was to revive an Avenger if things came to worst. How is that a heartwarming moment? 'Cause Coulson was its subject, which means Nick Fury values Coulson as much as or more than he values an Avenger.
- Skye calls herself weak for saving Ward. Coulson's response: "You're not weak. You have compassion. That's harder."
- May comes to Skye's room to make Skye feel better about what happened with Deathlok and Ward.
- Fitz's unshakable faith that Ward is not truly evil and that there is still good in him.
- Fitz palling around and generally bonding with Tripplet. Even their failed attempt at a Handshake Substitute has them both grinning at the awkwardness, a telling departure from their non-stop snarking at each other given the slightest excuse in previous episodes.
- Coulson telling May how glad he is that she's back. She even smiles at this comment.
- When Fitz and Simmons are discussing which Dwarf robot to sneak onto the plane, Fitz nominates Sleepy because "He's our best listener. Apart from you." Simmons looks quietly pleased with the compliment.
- Odd example; as Ward has been sulking after Garrett nearly had him killed to motivate Skye, he quickly snaps out of it to help Garrett get his cybernetics working again, snapping at Raina when she doesn't clear the room like he demands, then muses how its 'been a while' since he had an incident like that, implying that he's spent a lot of time helping Garrett out with his cybernetics. And Garrett saying that it hasn't been a while, he's just been keep his condition secret, implying he didn't want to make Ward worry. Then later when an EMP shuts them off completely, he's visibly even more worried than he was prior. And, lastly, his initial refusal to kill Buddy, and his clear trouble with dumping FitsSimmons out of the airlock when ordered to kill them.
Beginning Of The End
- "Dad, what are we? We're a team." A wonderful Call Back to the pilot episode.
- Fitz and Simmons telling each other just how important they are to each other - Fitz is Simmons' "closest friend", and Simmons is "more than that" to Fitz, though he can't tell her how much more. So he shows her.
- Nick Fury responding to Coulson's What the Hell, Hero? speech about T.A.H.I.T.I. being meant for a fallen Avenger with not only the fact that Fury considered Coulson an Avenger, but a true believer in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s founding principle of "protection", and caps it off with entrusting the rebuilding of the agency to Director Coulson. Coulson's face is just... indescribable. All that he's done, all that he's been, and he still can't believe how highly he's valued by all of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Skye does this in a Kirk Summation when she tells Ward that Fitz is a hero since he tried to give Ward a chance to explain himself.
- There's something oddly touching and beautiful about Simmons's speech about the First Law of Thermodynamics and how it pertains to the afterlife. Nothing is ever destroyed, it just becomes something new.
- Fury tells Simmons that she saved Fitz's life. She immediately insists that it was the other way around.
- Skye and Simmons' hug when the Bus arrives at their new S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Simmons in particular looks like she really needs it.
- Simmons' whole final scene of the season sees her trying to maintain a reassuring smile and take a positive approach to Fitz's condition as she explains it to the others.
- Skye bringing Ace a Hulk action figure. And later, she encourages Mike to go to him.
- After Coulson calls out Nick Fury on subjecting him to a process that could drive him insane, Fury replies that May was on it and told him Coulson was fine. Then, just before leaving, Fury tells May he assumes she'll have Coulson's back as usual, to which she responds, "Of course." It's nice to see that he appreciates what May has done for Coulson, and that Coulson has absolutely forgiven her.
- Fury flat out calls Coulson an Avenger. Doubles as a Call Back to The Avengers when Stark lists all the people Loki "pissed off".
- Fitz-Simmons are still shown to have a good relationship, despite Fitz's personality being quite different due to the brain damage he suffered. But they're obviously still extremely close, and Fitz acknowledges that Simmons's patience and support is the main reason he's able to keep going. Even though this is heartrendingly undercut by The Reveal that Simmons is gone and Fitz is pretty well on the way to disconnecting from reality entirely, some aspects of his hallucination of her remain quite sweet in hindsight: particularly the fact that she still makes Innocently Insensitive comments (or at least he wants her to - he really tries to twist an innocuous statement into one that works), finishes his sentences for him, and literally holds his hand when he's in need of reassurance; all of it demonstrating that he knows her so well that his imaginary version of her is nearly dead-on.
- Despite the general melancholy of the situation, it is quite clear that the team still cares deeply about Fitz—even if they don't really know what to do to help him right now. Even Simmons leaving was due to her hoping that Fitz would get better if he didn't get too dependent on her. Sadly, it had the opposite effect.
- In the end, despite May's misgivings, it turns out that Hartley's mercs really were good guys; faced with a choice between continuing the mission and getting medical attention for Hartley, they decide to screw the mission and bail, and are clearly and sincerely worried about her. Too bad it didn't work out well.
- The fact that the Playground has more than half a dozen in it is heartwarming. Joining S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point is not a pragmatic career move; Director Coulson has little to offer as compensation and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s reputation is trashed, but he's still pulling in new recruits/old agents.
Heavy is the Head
- After everyone else has been treating Fitz with kid gloves and writing off his refrain of "I didn't solve this today" as a self-pitying statement, Mack figures out that Fitz is actually trying to say that he's figured out a way to negate Creel's powers using one of the devices from the first season.
- Mack's treatment of Fitz in general is pretty heartwarming. Even though he never met Fitz before his brain damage and has no idea what he was like in his prime, Mack is willing to accept Fitz's limitations and help him find ways to work around them, allowing Fitz to once again be an asset to the team.
- Coulson confided in May about his resurrection-caused drawing episodes, and she's been helping him control and direct it. It says something about the amount of trust they share.
- Hunter's conditions for betraying Coulson to Talbot (even though he goes back on it): 2 million dollars...and a proper burial for Hartley, as she didn't deserve to be treated like a terrorist in death while she was a hero in life.
- Coulson reconciling with Hunter at the end of the episode. Despite disobeying orders, shooting other agents (non-fatally) and acting on his own, Coulson wants him back in. Part of it is because he can't spare "warm bodies" but lot of the other agents still vouched for him after this.
Making Friends and Influencing People
- Coulson worrying over Simmons' diet while she's undercover and subsequently buying her groceries and cooking her dinner. It's reminiscent of a father making sure his college-student daughter has something besides pizza and beer.
- When Coulson confronts Fitz at the end of the episode, he begins the conversation by recognizing the progress Fitz has made and praising him for it. The same conversation has Coulson telling Fitz the truth about where Simmons has been.
- On a similar note, when Fitz calls the team to tell them about Donnie's conditioning, which he admits he learned from Ward, Coulson's only response to the Ward part is "We'll talk about this when I get home," and then tells him good work on finding the information.
- Simmons' Hydra supervisor seems to genuinely care about her, and she's warm and friendly right back.
- Once Skye learns of Simmons' undercover assignment, she's considerably less pissed off at her than before, and even mentions in passing that she loves her. She's also sweetly concerned that Simmons' notorious status as a Bad Liar will get her in trouble.
- Mack geeking out over the fact that he and Fitz have an evening off and free access to Koenig's XBOX 360, and trying to get Fitz enthused in order to take his mind off the fact that he's been left off the mission.
- Also, the fact that he seems to have appointed himself Fitz's personal translator—when Fitz blanked on a word to describe Donnie, Mack only let him struggle for a few seconds before starting to list off a variety of likely words for Fitz to choose from. Notably, Fitz was fully participating in a team meeting at this point, a huge improvement over his isolation in previous episodes.
Face My Enemy
- Fitz finally starting to bond with Mack and Lance after they save the Bus.
- Lance insists on buying him a beer and says that he looks forward to more successful missions with him (and also more beer).
- Fitz opens up to them about his sadness concerning Simmons's absence and, in his mind, her rejection of him. Lance is quick to comfort him with "her loss."
- What's especially nice about this scene is that Hunter's character rarely misses a chance to snark, and there's a brief pause between Fitz's rushed and largely out-of-the-blue comment about Simmons when it seems like he might be about to dismiss the subject as with the rest of his and Mack's banter about their exes. But when he does speak it's to say something kind and supportive.
- For once May is unwilling to Cut The Knot. Instead of shooting Coulson in the head (like he wants if he goes nutso) she prepared a cabin in the Australian Outback. It even comes with a Declaration of Protection!
A Hen in the Wolf House
- Skye having to be physically restrained from giving herself up to Raina to save Simmons.
- Coulson refusing Raina's deal appeared heartless, but in retrospect, it was heartwarming. Coulson is the Team Dad. He doesn't put his agents in needless danger. He knew Simmons wasn't really in danger because he placed Bobbi in there to watch over her. Given her position as Chief of Security, the most likely outcome of Simmons' cover being blown was her being delivered directly to the person who could save her. Sending Skye with Raina was bound to be dangerous and he had no safety net for her. Thus, the answer was clearly "No".
- Along with that, Bobbi's rescue of Simmons was pretty sweet; while rather blunt and straight forward during the extraction itself, once out of it, she instantly gives Simmons First-Name Basis with her by insisting she call her Bobbi rather than 'Agent Morse', then seems unable to stop smiling at Simmons' blatant Hero Worship, building up to Simmons declaring her 'amazing' when they get back to Coulson, with Coulson concluding that as fact and announces that she's joining the team properly, much to Simmons' happiness.
- Bobbi being mature enough to vouch for Lance, considering the fact he'd previously made it appear their divorce was brutal.
- The whole scene in general of Bobbi joining the group, hugging Mack and arranging drinks, teasing Lance, and generally establishing that she's fairly good friends with the team.
- Coulson spots Simmons and Fitz catching sight of one another for the first time after Simmons returns from her deep cover mission. He immediately cuts short his debriefing and quietly tells Simmons she can go and talk to Fitz instead.
- Fitz finally seeing the real Simmons again, able to tell instantly that she's not the hallucination this time.
- Skye and Coulson finally hugging it out, something long overdue for the both of them.
- Coulson : You've had a helluva day, haven't you?Skye : [nods tearfully]
- In a way, Raina's reaction in regards to both the Doctor's rejection and Coulson apparent sacrifice of Simmons. She clearly isn't completely devoid of empathy, so much as she is irresponsible with the consequences of her actions. This is best shown when she expresses the belief that some power structures don't involve potential danger, which reveals her as rather naive.
A Fractured House
- Talbot starts coming to a new understanding about S.H.I.E.L.D. First he suspects from the start that they wouldn't do something like the False Flag Operation HYDRA employs in front of him, and by episode's end he gives May his sincere condolences on the deaths of six agents, to which they shake hands.
- Bobbi and Lance on the plane, doing their best to be mature and be polite to each other.
- Lance going in to save Bobbi, once he realizes her cover has been blown.
- Bobbi finally acknowledging that Lance saved her life three times that day.
- Although it's already awesome, Jemma stepping in front of Skye and threatening Ward is extremely heartwarming and shows how much she cares for Skye and how protective she is of her.
- The fact that her threat against Ward probably also has more than a little to do with holding him responsible for Fitz's condition and her own inability to respond properly to it, to the point where their whole relationship has pretty much been destroyed. It's somewhere between heartwarming (she still clearly cares for Fitz enough to want Ward dead for what he did) and a Tear Jerker (threatening Ward is literally her only way of expressing it without causing Fitz more harm than good).
The Writing On The Wall
- Hank Thompson, when he found out about his super spy/action hero past life, immediately decided not to pursue it again because he already has a loving wife, adoring son and a simple, happy life.
- Fitz and Mack bonding over playing Halo, especially in that Fitz doesn't stutter or hunt for words once when the controller is in his hand.
- The look of utter peace that comes over both Coulson and Sebastian when they discover the truth behind the symbols.
- The wide shot of all of Coulson's people near the end of the episode - it's the closest they're getting to a family photo.
The Things We Bury
- Coulson having no doubt in Fitz's ability, and treating him as though nothing had ever changed.
- Simmons geeking out over getting to touch an order signed by Peggy Carter.
- Trip's faith in Coulson's leadership, despite having to reassure The Team that he wasn't crazy in the previous episode. Coulson flies them to Hawaii to run his errands, but Trip believes that he knows what he's doing. He's right.
- One of the random-seeming assignments Coulson gives Trip - to collect a tie from a dry cleaner - is actually not part of the mission, it was just a tie he owned that he'd spilled something on. The reason it was so important he'd sidetrack a vital mission for it, though? It was a gift from Audrey.
- It's understated, but Mack and Simmons manage to be perfectly civil to one another throughout the episode, which departs from their constant snarking at one another in the previous episode. (Though this may simply be because Fitz isn't there for them to argue over.)
- To a lesser extent, Hunter's casual friendliness to Simmons at the beginning of the episode, considering his growing friendship with Fitz and sympathy over Simmons' rejection of him (not to mention her friendship with his own ex-wife) would seem likely to throw up a few obstacles to the two of them getting on.
- Lance and Bobbi's interactions throughout the episode, between bickering (as always), with Lance giving her a file and saying to himself that it's time for her to reel him in, and culminating in him confirming that he'll never trust her because she's a spy, he'll always want to.
- A very subtle one: When Triplett's trying to cheer Fitz up about the possibility that Coulson is just giving him pointless busy-work, he says "We've all been through some crazy - you two especially." It's unclear who the second person he's referring to is who qualifies for that "especially" as much as Fitz does; from context, it might be Coulson. On the other hand, the heartwarming kicks in once you realise that Trip has possibly just automatically referred to Fitz-Simmons as The Dividual again, even though Simmons isn't even present on this occasion - something only Coulson has done so far in Season 2, and then he talked about them in the past tense. The slip, if that's what it is, makes it seem like he believes that the rift between them, however bad it is at the moment, can only be temporary, and is especially heartwarming coming from the guy Fitz saw as The Rival for much of Season 1.
- There's something oddly touching about the expression on Reinhardt/Whitehall's face when he hears his guard say "Hail HYDRA". It's clear, especially from his tone as he repeats it, that he thought he'd never hear those words again and believed he was doomed to die alone in his cell as an old man. Pure evil though he and many other HYDRA agents may be, in that moment, Whitehall regained his hope for the future.
Ye Who Enter Here
- Coulson makes clear to Bobbi how he's different as director from Fury — he will not risk lives trying to harvest alien tech from the city, and doesn't believe in acceptable losses. He also gives a speech, pointing out all the ordinary people around them, and states that they are who he's fighting for.
- Bobbi and Hunter, now that they're back together, seem to spend no time bickering, instead laughing together and telling each other not to die out there.
- Mack's caution and worry about the above reunited couple; given the fact he knows how many times the two have broken up, and how hard it always is for the two, he's worried for Bobbi and doesn't want her to go through any more turmoil. In general, and as she acknowledges, he's acting like a worried older brother towards her. There's also her losing her usual upbeat persona when Mack gets possessed and is almost crying over what's happening to him.
- Bobbi earns more Cool Big Sis points by trying to get Simmons to patch things up with Fitz, and pushing her to at least try to have an honest conversation with him even if she's not sure how she feels about him yet.
- Bobbi's gentle response to Simmons' assertion that she and Fitz were never romantically interested in one another is that if she were interrogating her right now, she'd be getting a dozen different visual cues that she ought to arrest her for something.
- After Fitz tells Simmons he doesn't want to work with her any more she manages for the first time this season to supply a couple of words when he gets stuck on them and Mack can't help him.
- Coulson calling Fitz-Simmons by their Portmanteau Couple Name in the present tense for the first time this season.
- Every single person on the team standing against Ward demanding Skye come with him and Raina, even with the threat of their getting shot down.
- One of the Koenigs is ready to put a bullet in Ward but takes his finger off the trigger because his brother simply shakes his head.
What They Become
- Hunter and Bobbi and their affectionate habit of telling the other not to die before a mission.
- Lance giving Bobbi a hug after she said she was going to "cry for a week" when all this was over.
- Skye defending Coulson from her father, and him chasing her desperately into the tunnels.
- Tripp following Skye into the chamber because he "came to get her."
- Fitz and Simmons finally starting to get back in sync. Not only do they work together, they begin to follow each other's thoughts again, but the final shot of them in the episode is them as the city tunnels come crumbling down, huddled together and holding each other as close as humanly possible. Tellingly, it's Fitz holding and comforting Simmons as she clings onto him for dear life.
- When Ward realizes that Agent 33's programming has made her similar to him, in that she's loyal to Whitehall specifically and not HYDRA itself, and that Whitehall's death makes her now aimless, he takes her with him and the two leave together. It's probably more of an Oh, Crap! moment for the audience, but there is something oddly nice about him deciding to look out for her, given their common ground.
- Cal sitting next to Skye, humming her favorite childhood lullaby. When a HYDRA agent comes by to say that Whitehall wants to talk with him, he holds up a hand to request that it wait for a minute and finishes the song. It's the only touching father-daughter moment the two have had since Skye was in diapers.
- Said lullaby is "A Bicycle Built for Two," making it even more emotional when it turns out Skye's real name is Daisy.
- Depending on how you look at it, it's pretty heartwarming that the HYDRA agent doesn't argue about it. He just got a direct order from his boss to go get Cal, but he's willing to let Cal finish the song, even though he knows that his superior is not the kind of guy who likes to be kept waiting. Seems even HYDRA agents are not so cold-hearted as to deny a father a nice moment with his daughter.
- When Whitehall has HYDRA agents turn on Skye and Cal, Ward draws his gun on them despite being outnumbered and outgunned. He is willing to die rather than betray Skye again.
- The opening flashback reveals more of who Skye's mother was, both as a person and in Inhuman culture: she guided the newly transformed in adjusting to their altered states. Unlike the harsh and strict mentor figures we've seen before on the show, Jiaying is very warm and comforting (which makes her eventual fate all the more tragic). It's also something to see the scared and sad young boy, Gordon, turn out to be a success story who grew into his full power under her tutelage.
- Gordon later pays this kindness forward by succeeding her as The Mentor for new Inhumans. In this episode, he stopped Raina's suicide attempt and teleported her away, presumably to try and restore her will to live as well as teach her about her new Inhumanity. He's the only one who shows compassion toward her following her transformation. To emphasize it, Gordon tells Raina exactly what Jiaying said to him all those years ago
- After Skye spends the whole episode in quarantine and realizing the Terrigen Mist did something very serious to her, and worrying how the rest of the team will react, Fitz switches the sample for one taken before the incident, allowing her time to adjust to her new abilities and letting the rest of the team calm down from their panic over what happened before they deal with it.
Fitz: You're just different now, and there's nothing wrong with that.
- Cal learning about Skye's transformation and doing a Snoopy dance for a bit.
- Everyone visiting Skye individually as she waits in quarantine, with Bobbi giving her a "Quarantine survival kit" and some helpful words, May checking in on her, and Fitz's above mentioned gesture.
- Fitz giving Skye a comforting hug when she breaks down once he promises not to reveal her secret to the rest of the team. It's a sweet moment, as they both look like they really needed a friendly hug just about then. It's made all the more heartwarming by the fact that, despite his crush on her early on in the series, it's not remotely portrayed as a romantic gesture: he just understands how badly she's hurting from everything that's happened, (partly because he's been changed as well and partly because - unlike Simmons - he's held on to the beliefs that define him), and he wants to help her.
Who You Really Are
- After Sif loses her memory and has no idea who Thor is, hearing his name still makes her smile.
- Despite their understandable concern for their safety regarding Skye's superpowers, no one on Team Coulson is having any when Sif and Vin-Tak try to take her. Bobbi even goes one-on-one with Vin-Tak, despite being outmatched and having been beaten by him before.
Coulson: If you take her away from the people she loves, she'll only get worse.
- Fitz sums up his feelings about Skye's situation perfectly in the face of Mack's Fantastic Racism:
"We should be protecting her!"
- In the face of all the Fantastic Racism being directed at Skye, Coulson's and May's reactions to her revelation are utterly heartwarming. This episode shows, more clearly than any other, the roles they have taken as Skye's Parental Substitutes.
- Though May is clearly worried about the potential damage that could be caused by Skye's powers going rogue — and not unjustifiably, it must be noted — she is also quite obviously worried to death over Skye herself, exemplified when Skye ICERs herself: May runs over to her, calling her name and as obviously terrified as Melinda May ever gets.
- Coulson, while also obviously concerned about how much damage a terrified Skye could cause, flatly declares that she belongs with "the people who love her" and that they will help her get control of her powers. More importantly, when certain concerned parties try to take Skye away from them, his reaction is a flat, instinctive Go Through Me declaration, punctuated with a live handgun aimed straight at said parties—which, it should be noted, are a Kree and an Asgardian.
- At the climax of the episode, Skye is freaking out about her powers while they are going out of control. May takes her hand, encourages her, and guides her in order to help her gain control of her powers. Notice the parallel with Jiaying and Gordon.
One of Us
- For all her standoffish behavior, May makes it quite clear through her actions in this episode she deeply cares about Skye to the point of allowing her ex-husband to reveal private information in order to earn Skye's trust.
- Andrew tells May after their session that "Skye thinks the world of you." which May responds "I taught her to fire an automatic. Of course she likes me."
- During a light-hearted conversation with Andrew, May laughs at something he said; genuinely and honestly laughs. The only other time she laughed was when she was undercover and the team considered it "unsettling". No wonder Fitz and Simmons think she's still in love with him.
- Coulson and May immediately start sprinting toward Skye when they see her collapse on the football field.
- Fitz and Simmons falling back into their old camaraderie through gossiping about May and her ex-husband. This is shortly after Simmons insisted that Fitz's duplicity had destroyed any chance of repairing their friendship, and yet she's the one who starts it.
- Simmons caring for the injured Skye sounding just like her regular self, showing her bout of Fantastic Racism is over.
- Well... not quite. She still regards the only solution as helping Skye minimise the damage she causes herself by turning her powers inward, rather than helping her control them better by using them without hurting herself or others. May calls her out on it at the end of the scene. Still, by the end of the episode she seems to have thawed a little towards both Skye and Fitz, which is nice after the previous couple of episodes.
Love in the Time of HYDRA
- Hunter's Undying Loyalty to Coulson because he realizes that despite what happened in Puerto Rico, Coulson is a good man.
- The real reason Coulson is so protective of Lola: his father spent months obsessively restoring the car, with the young Coulson thinking it was a waste of time until he saw how beautiful the finished product was. And then he notes that even though it can now fly, what makes it great is that it's still that car, explicitly comparing it to Skye and her new powers.
- Ward moving on from his troubled past with his family and Garrett, and finally accepting the notion that he will never get back together with Skye. While he's still a remorseless killer, he seems to genuinely want to help Agent 33 reclaim her identity and purpose in life. In a twisted way, it's touching to see someone who had fallen so far to get back up and still find the capacity to care for someone else suffering in the same way he once had.
One Door Closes
- After "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken over the Playground, there's a scene where Fitz and Simmons are shown sitting together on the floor of the lab while security swarm around them. Neither speaks, but Simmons grabs Fitz's hand for comfort, and after a moment he puts his other hand over hers. After quarreling for so long, their friendship might be on the mend.
- In the stinger, Hunter sits next to Coulson at the bar, puts his signature on a napkin, and says that he just signed up to be a member of Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Bobbi and Mack, despite being supposedly enemies to Team Coulson, still care about the team:
- Mack shields Fitz as the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. blows through the wall during their infiltration.
- Bobbi is still caring towards Skye; when she figures out that Calderon is about to shoot her despite her orders to only use icers, she immediately freaks.
- After knocking out Gonzales, May gives Coulson some provisions and ushers him through a secret exit because "without [him] there is no S.H.I.E.L.D." She also urges him to help Skye.
- When Skye accidentally uses her power on the water from the faucet, her glee is a sight to behold. For the first time, she's happy to have her powers.
- Gordon's conversation with Skye regarding her powers. Ever since "What They Become", Skye has feared using her powers because she fears she would be ostracized and lose control. Gordon imparts some words of encouragement as he tells Skye to embrace her powers and that her powers can be controlled, if she is open and willing to learn.
- When Skye calls for help, Gordon appears in an instant. He asks if she's "ready to go home", she nods, and he teleports her by hugging her.
- Gordon is also directly repaying his mentor Jiaying by taking care of her daughter.
- After spending most of the season at cross purposes, Fitz and Simmons—sorry, FitzSimmons are finally back on the same wavelength. It's especially heartwarming considered when Jemma first came back she couldn't even finish Fitz's sentences.
- They worked together to steal the Toolbox right under Bobbi and Mack's noses as if FitzSimmons was never split. They don't need to say a word or anything. Fitz immediately realizes what she's up to and Simmons started knowing that Fitz would catch on.
- In a lovely Call Back to "The Hub", Simmons makes Fitz another mozzarella and prosciutto sandwich with a hint of pesto aioli. He gets to take a bite.
- The note that goes with the Toolbox and sandwich "Be Safe. Love, Jemma".
- Hunter offering Coulson a drink as a sign of how close he trusts him. He also says that he wouldn't side with Gonzales "if Hell froze over."
- May is asked by Gonzales if she's loyal to Coulson or S.H.I.E.L.D. She replies that they're the same thing. When he further implies that he plans to kill Coulson and Skye, she assures him that Coulson is the one man you can never put down.
- Jiaying's relief at having met Skye after 25 years.
- Jiaying pleading with Skye to stay for a few days becomes this when your realize what she's really asking for: A few days to spend with the daughter she never got a chance to raise.
- Lincoln and Jiaying defending Raina from Skye. She may look like a monster and she may have done monstrous things but she's "one of us" and deserves their care just as much as Skye does.
- Take a good look at Cal when his wife visits him. His entire demeanor changes. If it had been anyone else telling him he could not meet Skye, he would have flown into one of his rage but when she does it, he just conveys a sense of withdrawn disappointment.
- Jiaying's mentoring of Skye. It's great bonding for the two of them and also Skye coming closer to accepting her gift.
- Jiaying revealing to Skye that she's her mother. Both women sell the scene beautifully.
- Gordon sparing no effort to make advances to Raina, showing that her physical change shouldn't be a barrier to accepting her new self.
- Despite how jerk-ish Cal can be and how badly he's damaged his relationship with his wife and daughter, they're still willing to sit down to dinner with him and allow him at least one happy moment with his family. Jiaying even silently gets Skye to not reveal learning when her birthday is so that Cal can have the opportunity to tell the story of when she was born. That happy and adorkable guy you see pouring wine is a glimpse of what he was before his family was torn apart by HYDRA.
- May's phone conversation with Andrew in the flashback, and her determination to save the little girl. Which makes what happens all that much worse.
- His response was full of trust and belief in her ability, with a hint of worry about his wife going in harm's way. Andrew was the perfect husband for a field agent!
- Even though she now shares "real" SHIELD's concern about the secrets Coulson is hiding, May remains steadfast in her belief that Coulson has his reasons, knowing that he wouldn't do something like this otherwise.
- Bobbi spent the entire episode being the bridge between May and "real" SHIELD. It was clear that despite her allegiance, she considered Coulson's team friends and only want what's best for SHIELD.
- The first thing Simmons does when she sees May free is hug her.
The Frenemy of My Enemy
- Despite her misgivings about Cal's violent nature, Skye believes that he deserves to be treated with respect and seems willing to try and build some sort of relationship with her father when Jiaying wants to simply dump him in Milwaukee. Skye also points out that she knows exactly what he's going through because she's spent just as long looking for the same thing.
- Cal and Skye strolling down the streets of Milwaukee together and having a civilized conversation. It's easy to almost forget that they are anything but a father and his newfound child.
- When Jiayang says that the people Cal might hurt aren't her responsibility, Skye says "They're mine. I'm a SHIELD agent." Coulson taught her well.
- Skye finds out what Cal was doing in China. He was volunteering for Doctors Without Borders. The only reason he stayed longer than two weeks was he met her mother and couldn't leave. "She stole my heart."
- Ward and Kara have built up what seems to be a very solid relationship and are helping each other move on from their pasts.
- Hunter can see that being in Ward's presence is upsetting to Fitz so he does what he can to calm Fitz down.
- Coulson and Ward say that they don't trust each other and expect to be betrayed at any moment. But, Ward clearly enjoys being back on Coulson's team (however temporarily) and they work well together while fighting off HYDRA agents. Ward even shows actual deference towards Coulson, and calls Coulson "Boss" like he'd done before betraying the team.
- It's telling when Ward wordlessly follows Coulson to cover his former colleague's back.
- Coulson also genuinely seems to believe that there is good left in Ward, evidence being him not running away when he could have, but checking on his lover. He wants to give him an honest shot at redemption by putting him through TAHITI afterwards.
- Ward shoots an agent who was about to shoot Coulson. The looks they share after is somewhat of a Heartwarming Moment itself.
- Skye's face when she sees Ward is helping Coulson. In that moment, it's almost as though the bad blood doesn't matter.
- Coulson seems to believe, or at least wants to believe, that there is still some good in Ward that wasn't taken from him by Garrett and his family. Hopefully, Ward will prove him right.
- Ward genuinely seems to be trying to reconnect with Fitz. Though the way he goes about it is less than ideal and prompts an understandably violent reaction from Fitz.
The Dirty Half Dozen
- Ward saying he regrets that everything he did cost the team, his "family" and attempting to try to make amends with them.
- Ward calling Coulson and openly acknowledging that he may very well be beyond redemption, but Kara isn't, and asks that SHIELD do what they can to help put her life back together.
- With that very action, Ward may have proven that he is not beyond redemption.... if the next episode didn't put a nasty Trojan Horse twist on it, lowering him back towards irredeemability.
- In a strange way, Ward helping Kara abduct and torture Bobbi. It's clear that the only reason he's doing it at all is for her.
- After Simmons' attempt to kill Ward resulting in Bakshi's death and nearly putting the mission in danger, he would have had a little justification to kill her, but proved himself better than that by letting her live.
- Raina volunteering information about her vision to convince Gordon to help Skye save Lincoln. Even if she only did it Because Destiny Says So, she could have just kept the info to herself and let Skye go in blind. Is our former villain possibly showing some Character Development?
- Bobbi reveals that she knew Kara before HYDRA got her, and offers to help her regain her old self. Kara in turn is grateful that someone is finally treating her like a person who wasn't responsible for what HYDRA made her do.
- Despite her stoic resolve about it later, Bobbi clearly regrets being forced to give Kara to HYDRA as part of her cover fully and wishes she could have made a different decision, even though she won't admit it.
- Hunter and Mac talking things out. Hunter explicitly forgives Mac for his choice and actions, but it isn't until Mac offers to buy the first round of drinks, and Hunter declares with amused indignation that one round of drinks isn't nearly enough to balance the scales, that we realize that yes, they're still friends despite everything.
- Seeing Fitz and Simmons hanging out in the lab again. It's great to finally see these two as friends again, especially after everything they've been through.
- Even Fitz's awkward attempts at flirting were adorable. Hearing him retell one of his nervous fits as a bit of manly bravado was cute, too.
- Raina's complete acceptance of her gift, and her use of it to aid the citizens of Lai Xi. She isn't quite over her character flaws, but this is a big step.
- Skye notes that Coulson was the first person to really care about her and the closest thing she had to a family, before meeting Jiaying.
- Likewise, Cal grudgingly admits to Jiaying that Coulson does care about their daughter.
- When Skye demands to know why, if they needed an objective negotiator instead of Coulson, they couldn't have May do it, May quietly says that she's not objective when it comes to Skye either. The message is clear: She sees her as a daughter too.
- Despite the hostility between them, Coulson is sad to see a good agent like Mack go, and they respectfully shake hands before Mack leaves.
- After half a season of Fantastic Racism and consistently hypocritical behavior, Gonzales makes an honest effort at opening peaceful communication with the Inhumans, including returning an heirloom that Whitehall stole from Jiaying twenty-five years ago. Too bad Jiaying wasn't as willing to negotiate in good faith...
- Instead of having Cal thrown in prison for his crimes, Coulson puts him through the TAHITI protocol, giving him a new life as Dr. Winslow, Veterinarian.
- When Skye goes to see him, she introduces herself as Daisy.
- Coulson letting Skye drive Lola.
- Cal's simple description of his best day ever: "July 2, 1988." In case it's unclear, it's Skye's birthdate.
- Fitz and Simmons confronting their feelings for each other. Simmons finally spits it out (sort of) and Fitz asks her out for a dinner date.
- Having Mack, one of the most vocal fantastic racist within SHIELD be the one who rescued Skye and worked with her to save SHIELD was Heartwarming and meaningful on many level. First, it showed that human and inhuman can work together to acchieve their goal. Second, it opened up the possibility of co-existence.
- Watch Skye's face when Mack says he needs her skills... and then elaborates that he means her hacking skills. She looks startled, and then delighted.
- Mack calling Coulson Director has a lot of weight given how hostile he's been all season.
- Coulson going out of his way to spare Cal's life, because despite how much of a threat he is, he's still Skye's father.
- Coulson also admits that Skye is the closest thing he's got to family, and both he and Cal bonding and working together due to their shared fatherly love of Skye.
- Raina calling herself Skye's guardian angel and calmly accepting her death in order to help her.
- Skye's obvious distress over Raina's death and calling Jiaying out on it. Despite their history, it's clear that Skye didn't really want Raina to die.
- May's calling Andrew in a very similar manner to what she did before the incident in Bahrain.
- On a related note, towards the end of the episode, May deciding to bring a gun for her excursion. Ever since Bahrain, she's refused to be anywhere near them unless a fight forces her to pick one up. In a small way, this shows her starting to move past that trauma.
- Despite all the animosity Hunter had after finding out that Bobbi was working for 'Real' SHIELD, he still cares for her deeply, from dropping everything to go after her, to his frantic pleas for Bobbi to stay with him after she took a bullet that would have killed him, and staying by her side until she wakes up after surgery.
- Cal does not want his daughter to carry the weight of killing her mother, so he does it himself.
Laws of Nature
- "Skye," the lost orphan living in a van, has fully found herself as "Daisy Johnson," super-powered Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Daisy stepping into her mother's shoes as someone who helps new Inhumans adjust after Terrigenesis. She is now the one saying You Are Not Alone, "you have a gift, not a curse", and "don't worry; we can help you".
- Fitz openly confessing his love of Simmons as he continues searching for answers regarding her disappearance.
- While Joey was freaking out about his metamorphosis, he laments about not being able to have a beer. Near the end of the episode, Daisy gets him a beer and they both drink while watching President Ellis's broadcast.
- Mack is seen to have struck up a genuine friendship with Daisy, reminding Coulson about her name change and when people start getting on her case he steps up and basically says "back off". Especially heartwarming given how much of last season since she gained her powers he spent indulging in Fantastic Racism.
- At the end, Coulson consoling Fitz after he seemingly hits another dead end in tracking down Simmons.
- Bobbi covering for Fitz as he goes on his private search, showcasing her Cool Big Sis status doesn't just count for Simmons and Daisy, and the two showing they've apparently struck up a Odd Friendship since she moved into the lab.
- When Mack sees Hunter is avoiding Bobbi, again, he goes to Bobbi to see what's happened this time. While before he always clearly favoured Bobbi's side thanks to their Like Brother and Sister status, he shows genuine concern for Hunter. Bonus points for the fact that Hunter's issue wasn't about Bobbi lying to him, but rather, he was going to propose again, and didn't want to see her until he did so.
Purpose in the Machine
- Hunter, speaking for everyone watching after hearing that Fitz finally got Simmons back after months of searching:
"Fitz, you absolute BEAUTY! Beers, let's go get beers!"
- Even May can't help but crack a smile at the news.
- Simmons, waking up from a nightmare undoubtedly inspired by some unseen event from her time trapped on the other side of the Monolith, walking over to Fitz and resting her head next to him for comfort.
- The fact that Fitz was spending the night at Simmons bedside. By itself it's nice enough, but then one realizes that Simmons is actually in a containment room rather than her own quarters. As if Fitz would let something as small as "quarantine" keep him from Simmons.
- Fitz jumping into the portal without any hesitation, and Daisy keeping the portal open long enough for Fitz despite risking serious injury and possibly her life.
- Before that, when Fitz realized that harmonics are what activates the portal, he deduces that Daisy could open the portal with her powers. Despite the risks to Daisy, Fitz didn't even have to ask; if it could bring Simmons back, Daisy was going to try it.
- After Fitz proves that the Monolith is a portal, Coulson points out that Simmons might have left the spot she was dropped on or even dead, with Fitz concedes with frustration... then Coulson assures Fitz that they're going to find out for sure what happened to Simmons, to everyone's agreement.
- Later, as Coulson gives everyone their marching orders, Bobbi declares that she's helping Fitz find Simmons. Coulson then points out that he knew she already was.
Coulson: Hiding his trip to Morocco, covering for him on a constant basis?
Bobbi: (innocently) Have I?
- Later, as Coulson gives everyone their marching orders, Bobbi declares that she's helping Fitz find Simmons. Coulson then points out that he knew she already was.
- When Daisy collapses, Mack immediately goes to her side to make sure she's OK, and continues to hug her for quite a bit after. The two really have gotten close over the season break.
Mack: You did good, Tremors. You did good.
- Why has May not returned? Her father was injured in a Hit-and-Run (which may-or-may-not have been Ward's doing) and she's been staying with him to make sure he's OK. From the other side, he's noticed that she's bothered by something and is trying to inspire her to overcome it. Made even better by May's father being played by none other than James Hong a.k.a Mr. Ping, one of the best examples of Good Parents out there.
Mr. May: (on her ice-skating) My daughter always got back up.
- Why is Daisy so eager to build a team of Inhumans? It's not because Coulson marked it as a priority but because she wants to help the Inhumans. Her mother made a "halfway house" in Lia Xing but she's not satisified with that. She wants to create a place where Inhumans can not only belong but put their powers to good use, and in doing so, see their powers as a blessing instead of a curse. In her words, "being different means you can make a difference". In other words, she wants to become a Cool Big Sis for every Inhuman out there.
- While Dr. Garner says that he's concerned about the potential damage that a team of untested Inhumans could do, he'll gladly help her build the halfway house.
A Wanted (Inhu)Man
- Fitz and Simmons finally get to go on a date. Fitz was even considerate enough to ensure the restaurant would have no other patrons, as Simmons' ordeal has left her badly shaken and sound distracts her. He even notes that she did the same for him when he was brain-damaged. The topper, though, is when Simmons breaks down and Fitz just comforts her.
- When Simmons says that she doesn't know how to thank Fitz for finding her, Fitz just says "What else was I going to do?".
- Daisy visiting Simmons in her room, showing the friendship they still have, and the concern they have for each other.
- Daisy gives Simmons the okay to call her "Skye" if she wants, a privilege not even extended to Coulson.
- When Lincoln escapes and the ATCU is ordered to take Daisy instead, Mack doesn't hesitate to put a gun to the ATCU team leader's head and let him know what a bad decision that would be.
- Mack not revealing to Coulson what Daisy and Lincoln talked about before the ATCU took Lincoln away. Then to show how true partners they are, he asks Daisy to play Halo with him. That smile when she sits down next to him is adorable; a little kid next to their big brother.
- Daisy telling Lincoln that he is the reason why she doesn't see herself as a monster and that it gave her a purpose to do good and to help other Inhumans.
- When Fitz confesses that he doesn't know how to help Simmons, Bobbi reminds Fitz that he drilled "patience" into her when she started rehab during the six months between Seasons 2 and 3. Even while he was desperately seeking a way to save the woman he loves, Fitz still made sure to look after his friends.
4, 722 Hours
- Simmons watching the video of the team wishing her happy birthday over and over again
- Simmons spends the entire time she's stuck on the planet talking to Fitz, describing how excited she is for their date, how much she misses him and wishes he was here, and overall describing everything she's doing in general. As Will puts it "his name is like your favorite word." Really shows how much she loves and cares for him.
- Simmons refusing to give up hope despite the odds for so long because she believes that Fitz will find a way to save her and her excitement when he does
- By the end of the episode, Simmons has told Fitz everything that happened to her, including the fact that she wants to go back to the planet to save Will. From Fitz's perspective, he just spent six months grasping at straws trying to find a way to bring back the woman he loved, and eventually succeeded. But when she came back, she was broken, distant, and now his hopes of getting together with her are basically dashed. What does he do immediately after finding out? He gets up silently, and walks away... to reveal that he's working on a way to help bring Will back. He may be hurting, but he'll do anything to help his best friend.
Among Us Hide...
- Fitz watching the sunrise with Simmons.
- Coulson bonding with Rosalind, despite her unknown ties to Malick. Special mention to the tie-tying scene.
- Nobody being willing to give up on Andrew despite the circumstances. Even Lincoln comes around to the "containment" idea.
- Fitz's Manly Tears on experiencing Simmons's logs full of reminiscing about their shared past.
- Joey is overjoyed after he finally learns how to keep his powers under control. It's fantastic to see him come to terms with himself after how devastated he was after being taken in by SHIELD back in the season opener. Now he's ready to go out and make a positive impact with his powers.
- Lincoln may or may be joining Skye's Inhuman team. As he says "you can't run forever".
- Lincoln calls Mack for help in unmasking Lash. These guys have bad blood between them but Lincoln trusts him enough to meet him in person. Mack, for his part, takes him seriously and helps him. "You fought beside me against Lash"; true the main point was that Mack can't be Lash and fight him at the same time, but it has a trace of Fire-Forged Friends.
Many Heads, One Tale
- Early in the episode, May demands Lincoln join her on her part of the mission. He spends the entire time worried she's going to kill him for what happened to Andrew, or at least just pull some psychological torture through a Paranoia Gambit by remaining silent the entire mission. Actually, she wanted to apologize for everything Andrew did (including killing Lincoln's friends), and for failing to see it in time. She was just silent because she didn't know what to say.
- As Fitz angsts over the fact that Will is such a nice guy and he can't think of anything he has that would allow him to compete over Simmons, Simmons points out that Fitz had been willing to jump through a hole in the universe for her, and they finally kiss.
- Twisted and sociopathic he may be, there's Ward's reaction to seeing his little brother - the one person he still cares about - held hostage by Coulson.
- Mack continues to show that he has moved on from last season's Fantastic Racism. He affirms that part of the mission's objective is to rescue the dozen captive Inhumans, clears Linclon and Joey for field duty, and on the mission itself, he treats them like any other agent.
- After Fitz makes it clear that he's going to help HYRDA to stop them from hurting Simmons any further, Simmons nearly breaks down and tells him to come back to her alive and without It. Fitz promises her that the only thing he'll bring back is Will.
- Joey shields Daisy from several bullets, and without knowing that he was effectively Immune to Bullets at the time. Further, this validates Daisy's World Half Full view regarding Inhuman development. For every Lash, there's at least one Joey.
- The team's reunions at the end, complete with Daisy and Lincoln's Big Damn Kiss.
- Fitz and Will bonding and saving each other from Ward. Too bad it wasn't really Will...
- Elena using her powers to sack the corrupt police station with S.H.I.E.L.D. It's mostly awesome, but her utter glee makes the kicking ass look adorable.
- Fitz and Simmons putting aside all the emotional baggage that's accumulated over the last couple of seasons and starting anew, giving their relationship another shot.
- After a rough start on his first mission, Joey is now an eager member of the team, jumping at the chance to help another new Inhuman come to terms with her new self.
The Inside Man
- The Taiwanese, South African and Russian delegates wanting to give the Inhumans a haven where they will be safe and have the opportunity to teach people about their kind. Whether or not they have political motives, it's comforting to know that some world leaders are capable of seeing the inhumans as more than loaded weapons.
- Talbot is visibly touched when Coulson assigns some of his team to track down Talbot's son rather than go after Malick. Once the mission is over, he upgrades them to a First-Name Basis (on occasion, at least).
- Talbot's complete faith in Creel is pretty heartwarming in itself. Considering that Creel tried to kill him in the Season 2 premiere, Talbot has just as much of a reason to distrust him as SHIELD does. And yet, not only does he trust Creel with his life, he also trusts him enough to save his son.
- The final pre-stinger scene, after Bobbi and Lance are disavowed. This will be the last time the group will be together with Hunter and Bobbi, and everyone knows it.
- Andrew senses that he's about to turn into Lash permanently, and turns himself in just so he can say goodbye to May. When she notes that none of this would have happened to him if he'd never met her, he says she was the best thing that ever happened to him, and he wouldn't change a thing.
- Coulson gives Daisy last minute orders before she goes on the mission and, during the last and more important one (coming home safe), he accidentally calls her "Skye" again. She gently corrects him while smiling and he acknowledges it in kind.
- Small example: On Mack's recovery, Daisy gives him a brief hug when she sees him. It's a little moment, but it shows just how much they care about the other.
- Daisy's Rousing Speech before the rescue mission is great for S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Inhuman solidarity. Both Joey and Elena jumped on board with a mission that had basically no intel.
Daisy: For one reason or another, each of us has been given a gift. Let's put 'em to good use.
- Fitz and Simmons, or rather, Fitz-Simmons in the lab again, bickering.
- Before his focus gets redirected to other priorities, Lincoln spends most of the episode trying to help Joey after he killed Lucio. Given that Joey did that to save Lincoln, it's heartwarming to know that Lincoln now has his back.
- May telling Daisy that she did a good job leading the Secret Warriors.
- After three seasons, Fitz and Simmons finally undergo a Relationship Upgrade.
- After Fitz keeps going on about the "picture of space" gag, Simmons decides to shut him up.
- Mack and Elena are really getting close. Elena even gives him her cross necklace.
- Crossed with Tear Jerker, Peggy Carter's passing. The Heartwarming part is that she was granted a peaceful death from simply being 95 years old.
- The fact that Peggy was just as much of a hero to Phil as Steve is pretty sweet and shows how much weight Peggy's legacy carries.
- A bit of Freeze-Frame Bonus: The newspaper that Coulson read outright acknowledged Peggy as a hero of World War II. This is something they virtually never did to a woman in her own TV show.
- A shocking moment of tenderness from Lash, previously shown as no more than a monster: He extracts Hive's virus out of Daisy, and gently picks her up to take her back to the jet. He pays for taking this chance to save Daisy over taking out Hive with a chain going through his chest, courtesy of James.
Lash: Now you're free.
- Daisy returning to the base, with everyone there to greet her. It was a sombre moment, yes, but still heartwarming.
Coulson: Welcome back, Agent Johnson.
- It's a small one, but even while Daisy's cuffed, it looks like the agent bringing her in has put his jacket around her shoulders.
- The fact that the first thing she does after Hive's spores are removed is go back to the Playground speaks volumes about where her heart truly lies. "I'm coming home".
- Mack visits Daisy in her cell (against orders) and forgives her. Then he continues forgiving her until she accepts it, even if she hasn't forgiven herself. Then he hugs her, and she just breaks down in tears.
- After a season of heartbreak and terror, Simmons decides that after the current crisis is over, she and Fitz deserve a romantic getaway.
- When an alpha primitive shoots Mack, Elena catches a presumably large number of bullets to save him.
- When Hive tries to use the Not So Different card on Coulson (both of them leaders of soldiers), Coulson points out a key difference. Hive's subordinates have no choice in obeying while Coulson's stick with him even when he orders them to stay out of danger.
- Lincoln's Love Confession to Daisy in the climax, when matched with his words, makes it count as an Act of True Love. That's what he decided was his purpose.
- After the time-skip, Daisy is seen giving Charles' daughter the robin figure he made for her. Charles' wife thanks Daisy for helping them relocate.
- While the rest of Team Coulson has been broken up, Fitz-Simmons are as strong as ever. Not only are they working together perfectly but they are living together. Simmons even suggests using the new VR technology to make a charmingly little cottage get-away.
- The Secret Warriors are still, somewhat, intact. Elena is the only person from S.H.I.E.L.D that Daisy stays in contact with.
- Robbie's scene with his younger brother; he's not just a spirit of vengeance.
- Coulson and May playing Go in the stinger. Too bad the revelation May is infected also occurred.
Meet the New Boss
- When Coulson finally learns that something is wrong with May, he finds her tearing apart the locker room, looking for whatever is "infecting" the others, hoping to destroy it before it can get anyone else. Even in the midst of insanity, May is still looking out for the team, which Coulson lampshades.
Coulson: Always ready to do the brave thing. Always looking out for us.
May: I won't let them take you.
- Jeffrey Mace's Rousing Speech about solidarity between humans and Inhumans, how S.H.I.E.L.D. exists to protect them both and urging his viewers to reject the Watchdog's fear mongering. It's not just a speech; in private he can be heard urging Couslon to give him a "win" that can make the subject of the speech happen. Coulson chose the right person to be The Face of the new, public, S.H.I.E.L.D.
- The resurrection of May and the tearful hug of Simmons.
- Robbie tells Daisy that Gabe doesn't know about his "night job", and tells her that Gabe is to never know about it. Daisy keeps up The Masquerade.
Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire
- Simmons' Tough Love version of You Are Not Alone to Daisy; insisting on coming with her in a tone that brokers no argument. "Suck it up", indeed.
- Daisy's still Shipper on Deck for Fitz-Simmons despite her vigilantism from SHIELD, finding them the "cozy, charming apartment" for the two of them to live together in. Daisy not only got it for them, but it's also rent-controlled! Now all Fitz-Simmons have to do is get Daisy's blood off.
- The scene with Coulson and Daisy in the Zephyr rings with surrogate father-daughterness. He stands in front of her, quietly, while she waits for him to start scolding her. Instead, he just tells her that he is glad she is safe and then says that he needs her help with something. Just like that, Daisy is back onboard with Team Coulson, at least for now.
- May tells Daisy that the latter's attempts to force distance between herself and her friends so they won't get caught up in her self-destruction is as doomed to failure as May's attempt to lose herself after her Bahrain experience, and for the same reason: Phil Coulson.
May: He found me in that cubicle and dragged me out. He didn't give up on me. And he won't give up on you.
Daisy: I never wanted that.
May: Uh-uh, no, you don't get to choose who cares about you. And Coulson? He's got a bigger heart than most.
- Throughout the episode, Coulson is asking May if she saw anything after Simmons and Radcliffe had to kill her. Right before going to rescue Daisy, May finally admits that she did see something when she died. She saw Coulson. But he shouldn't let it go to his head.
The Good Samaritan
- It's adorable to see Gabe geeking out when he thinks Robbie is a secret agent. Unfortunately, it makes learning the real truth about his bro's "condition" all the more heartbreaking.
- The fact that first thing Johnny Blaze did was pull Gabe out of the wrecked car. He may be the host of the Spirit of Vengeance, but he's not a bad man.
Deals With Our Devils
- Director Mace gets FURIOUS after Senator Nadeer refuses to get him in touch with Simmons
- Simmons is able to bring Nadeer's brother out of his Terragenesis cocoonnote using only a heart monitor, compassion, and encouragement.
- Even though he's stuck in another dimension, Robbie stays close to Gabe on the Zephyr.
- When Mack suddenly takes off after being possessed by the Rider, Daisy goes after him without a second thought.
- After learning that Mace sent Simmons into potentially hostile territory, Fitz becomes more concerned with getting back so he can find her. Once he's back, Fitz makes a beeline for the Director, looking ready go up against an Inhuman who just took on the Rider, only for Simmons to come in. Cue one very relieved FitzSimmons hug, with Simmons on the verge of tears.
- After coming back, Coulson talks to May about how she broke her promise not to read the Darkhold, and May is utterly unapologetic about it. Coulson declares that after they care of Eli Morrow, they're opening that bottle of scotch.
Laws of Inferno Dynamics
- Mack sympathizing with Robbie after he was taken over by the spirit of vengeance last episode.
- When the press spots Daisy she's a doe in the headlights. Then Mace steps forwards to cover for her; he admits that he lied and then says that "Agent Johnson saved us all". The fact that, at the start of the series, he considered her a threat to SHIELD's image makes this moment all the more heartwarming.
- After inviting her back to SHIELD properly, Coulson admits that, while he wanted an Inhuman to be the new face of SHIELD, he didn't want Mace in that role, he wanted Daisy. The look on her face when she realises this sells just how much that would actually mean to her, while she tries to stop herself smiling and downplay the compliment.
- Team Coulson is finally back together again. Coulson and May crack open that bottle of scotch he promised to get from Fury. It's undermined a little by the fact that this is a LMD copy of May, but it's still sweet. After all, the LMD is acting exactly how the real May would.
- Simmons talking with Daisy about how nice it is have her back in S.H.I.E.L.D. and how she missed talking with her.
- Nadeer arranges her brother's murder but then backs off from it at the last second after Vijay makes a heartfelt plea. She kills him anyway, but the fact that she hesitated was still significant.
- Mace holds a press conference for Daisy to formally absolve her of her vigilante actions, complete with a cheering crowd and character witness who gives her a hug.
- The crowd is filled with people cheering Daisy. Given that the civilians of the MCU have been starting to have the same feelings toward their superheroes as their comic counterparts, it's nice to know that at least some people recognize that superheroes are people just trying to do the right thing.
- The signs! One of them has a sign saying "Quake will you marry me?" and another says "Mace for President 2020". It's proof positive that Nadeer's crowd has a Good Counterpart in the public.
- The truth behind Mace becoming The Face of S.H.I.E.L.D.: He regularly takes a Super Serum to convincingly fake being an Inhuman. All because he wanted to create a fresh perspective on Inhumans; To help the world see Inhumans as people.
- On a somewhat meta level, all the build up and hints about Mace's past were put forth in very sinister tones, suggesting he might be The Mole or otherwise turn out to be a bad guy the main characters would have to defeat. It turns out that his "dark secret" is that he was given credit for heroics he didn't actually do, and he feels guilty as hell about it, showing that he really is just a good guy who's trying to do right. A rarity for authority figures in the MCU so far and it's refreshing and heartwarming to see Coulson empathize with him.
- While the Zephyr One flies to the crash site, Daisy finds a worried May sitting in Lola. Daisy asks if Coulson ever let May drive Lola, and May relates a mission in Madrid where he gave her the keys, with a promise not to tell anyone.
- Elena goes to ask Mack where he was that day, and Mack admits that he went to see his ex. Though initially assuming the worst, Elena decides to give Mack a chance and hear out why he went to see her: Mack and his ex had a daughter named Hope eleven years earlier, who died four days after she was born. Seeing Mack trust her enough to open up about something so traumatic, Elena is instantly understanding.
Hot Potato Soup
- Jemma reveals to Mack that Fitz did not have a good relationship with his father, who abandoned him when he was 10, and did nothing but call him useless, unintelligent, and that he would never amount to anything. Mack responds with, "I'd like to have a few words with this man." Jemma agrees.
- Afterwards, Simmons checks up on Fitz, who notes that Radcliffe is just the latest in a long line of people who have betrayed him, which began with his father. Simmons notes that despite having ample reason to build up walls to prevent being hurt again, Fitz instead became one of the most loyal and trusting people she has ever met. Fitz worries that's why it keeps happening, but Simmons says they're the reasons she loves him.
- Thurston hugging Billy after he's rescued. Thurston may consider Billy a "sheep", but they're still brothers.
- When Mace tells Fitz and Simmons that he's going to buy them the time they need to trap Shockley and get away with Daisy they go; they have faith in the man who not that long previously neither trusted at all.
- During the entire episode, Mace is in a funk over what his role is to be, comparing it to a place on a football team. After being replaced as head coach by Coulson, Simmons informs him that the Patriot Serum could kill him, meaning that he's no longer the quarterback. Then for a while he considers himself the mascot. All it means is that he just desperately wants to help S.H.I.E.L.D. At the end, he finally finds his role on the team:
Mace: I'm the blocker.
- During the entire episode, Mace is in a funk over what his role is to be, comparing it to a place on a football team. After being replaced as head coach by Coulson, Simmons informs him that the Patriot Serum could kill him, meaning that he's no longer the quarterback. Then for a while he considers himself the mascot. All it means is that he just desperately wants to help S.H.I.E.L.D. At the end, he finally finds his role on the team:
- Upon getting the call from Agnes, Radcliffe immediately makes preparations to meet her. He might have left her, but he still does love her.
- In the end Radcliffe uses the Framework to allow Agnes to escape the inoperable brain tumor; he can't save her brain but he can save her mind, which is the more important thing.
- After Agnes refuses to help S.H.I.E.L.D. find Radcliffe, Coulson decides to bring her in and force her to help. Mack, however, refuses to be a part of it, saying that with Agnes dying, they should let her live what little time she has left in peace, rather than make her relive old wounds in seeing Radcliffe again. Coulson goes to Agnes anyway, but Mack's words managed to have an effect on him, as Coulson apologizes to Agnes. Then, to get her help, Coulson tells Agnes why he needs her:
Coulson: Radcliffe took something from me too. Her name is Melinda May. And she means everything to me.
The Man Behind the Shield
- Now more than ever, Mace shows that he is not a Fake Ultimate Hero or a Slave to PR. Powerless and being tortured, he is still adamant that what S.H.I.E.L.D. does is the right thing, and if not the right thing than it tries. Ivanov could kill him and drop his body in a ditch but he keeps the faith that S.H.I.E.L.D. will save him. Even Ivanov can't help but respect him for it.
- In the flashback, May gets two of these. The first is when she saves Coulson after he's captured, despite her mission supposedly being to retrieve the 0-8-4 at all costs, and then the truth about her mission. She asked for it so she could save him if he needed it.
- In between the Nightmare Fuel-laden moments at the closer of the episode, Mack is briefly seen outside of a nice looking house, carrying a little kid's bicycle. The implication is that his daughter is still alive in the Framework.
- Though its creepy to see the LMD duplicate of Fitz casually talking to a barely conscious Simmons as he plans to download her mind into the Framework, they reveal that Fitz has been planning to propose to Jemma for some time now, and has just been too scared. Jemma indicates that she'd say yes, when she sees the real Fitz, after killing the duplicate.
- The entire episode is a series of these for Jemma and Daisy. Particular points:
Daisy: This is not how your story ends.
- When Jemma and Daisy, both fresh from run-ins with LMDs that tried to Kill and Replace them, neither is sure if the other is real, until Daisy realises that she can prove it by quaking Jemma. Simmons is still too traumatised to do this, so Daisy pulls her into a Cool Down Hug and quakes her then, confirming their identities to each other and giving them some reprieve.
- As Jemma is overwhelmed by the odds they're facing and fear for Fitz's safety, Daisy tells Jemma that she'll worry about the fighting. Jemma assumes that this is another attempt to sacrifice herself to atone for Lincoln's death, and she emphatically declares that she can't lose Daisy as well as Fitz. Daisy confidently says that it is not a sacrifice play, not just because she intends to survive, but because she will beat them. If for no better reason than that Daisy is going to see Jemma reunited with Fitz, because she has always known that they belong together.
- At the end of the episode, after tending to their injuries, the two get ready to enter the Framework to find and rescue their friends. They make it clear this is a succeed-or-die mission, but before they go in, the two exchange longing looks and hold each other's hand, reassuring each other.
- In the end, LMD May sacrifices herself to save Daisy, Simmons, and the rest of her team, blowing herself and the Coulson LMD to kingdom come. And why did she do that? Because she loved Phil Coulson, and the LMD wasn't the man she loved. She might not have been the original, but she was still Melinda May.
- The rendezvous between Jemma and Daisy is a moment overflowing with relief. After waking up in a Villain World and finding Evil Counterpart versions of their True Companions, finding a friendly face is a life-line.
- At the end of the episode, Daisy tells Coulson that he's always been the one she goes to when things get heavy, since he's the closest thing to family she's got. Then he says her name.
- In this reality, Ward had to choose between Hydra and Skye and he chose Skye. He gave up everything for her. In this reality, he has been covertly protecting her by hiding the fact that she's Inhuman from the rest of HYDRA.
- The episode ends with a title card: In loving memory of our friend, Bill Paxton.
Identity and Change
- While everyone else in the Framework is living some Nightmare Fuel laden horror story, Framework Mack actually did manage to reverse his greatest regret and get a normal life of living with his daughter Hope, and is a very loving father. While waiting for a bus, Mack playfully tests Hope's ability to identify a car by the sound of the engine.
- Despite being kept in the dark and insulted throughout the episode by Simmons, Framework Ward has pangs of conscience and then relents when she begs him not to kill Fitz. At the same time, he's also genuinely concerned that an innocent woman's life is in danger. This is a far cry from the last time real Ward used a sniper rifle.
- Coulson instinctively protects Jemma when the firefight ensues, showing that even though he still can't fully remember her, he doesn't lose his paternal instinct.
- Ward putting two and two together about why Simmons is so hostile towards him, and sincerely apologizing for his (real world counterpart's) actions. Even though she doesn't really accept the apology, she's clearly still relieved to hear it.
- When Mace stays behind to keep the building intact so everyone else can escape in time, he and May exchange respectful nods.
- It's pretty blatant that Framework!Fitz's relationship with his father is psychologically unhealthy (with implications that he was even physically disciplined for showing any signs of "feminine virtue" or personal morality), but it's nice to see Real!Fitz's regret rectified so that he has a loving relationship with his estranged father.
All the Madame's Men
- When Mack finds Daisy and May, Mack is all too ready to put May down for her earlier threatening of Hope. Seeing this, Coulson unhesitatingly stands between May and Mack, saying that he trusts her even though he doesn't know why.
- Later, while Coulson is preparing to deliver a speech on hijacked television, May is helping adjust Coulson's tie, and both get a sense of deja vu. A small sign that they're starting to remember.
- Framework Ward not wanting Daisy to think he's anything like his counterpart. And Daisy responding that she didn't totally understand real-life Ward until she met Framework Ward, and guessing there was some good in the former all along, and hoping that Framework Skye comes back to him.
- After Coulson's speech and the video of HYDRA firing on the reenligthenment center is broadcast, Burrows tells Ward that people are heading toward the station. Assuming this is a Last Stand, Ward picks up his gun, but Burrows says that they're not HYDRA, they're civilians. And they look like they're coming to help. The Fall of HYDRA has begun.
Farewell, Cruel World!
- The moment we've been waiting half the season for: the reunion of Phil Coulson and Melinda May. When Coulson is shot, he tells May to help to the backdoor, and asks her come with him. May, still not entirely convinced the Framework is fake, isn't so sure, but Coulson says it's a leap of faith and falls through the backdoor, returning to the real world. After a few tense moments, May wakes up, and Coulson is there to catch her as she falls. No LMDs, no Framework, just Coulson and May in the flesh.
May: I followed you.
Coulson: I'm amazed you went through. I was a little squirrelly on the other side.
May: It was kind of cute.
- Despite being offered an opportunity to return to the real world with a new flesh-and-blood body if he betrays Daisy and the others, Radcliffe only plays along with it to get Fitz close enough to the back door to push him through, saving Simmons in the process. For all his flaws and weaknesses, Radcliffe's friendship with Fitz means more to him than his own life.
- Even though it all eventually goes to hell when she gets her heart broken, Aida reacts with absolute glee over her first positive experiences and sensations of the human world: the ocean rushing over her feet, her desire to please Fitz however she can, and happiness at rescuing Mack from the sinking oil rig.
- Props to Fitz as well, as he encourages Aida's new-found empathy the best he can, despite the trauma of remembering his second Framework life and not reciprocating Aida's love.
- Even though Fitz is convinced that his relationship with Jemma is dead, he still chooses her over Aida.
- After Team Coulson escapes a rampaging Aida at the Playground, Fitz can't look Jemma in the eyes after everything he has done in the Framework. Rather than try and say anything, Jemma just goes to Fitz, puts her hand on his shoulder to let him know she forgives him, and then hugs him as they both break out in tears over everything that happened.
- Despite the devastation of losing Hope a second time, there is one joy Mack finds in the experience: The idea of the future he is ready to have with Yo-yo.
- Coulson and May have tension surrounding the lost bottle of scotch but work some of it out and then dance around the idea that May would have done the same as her LMD counterpart.
- Daisy refusing to let Fitz blame himself for everything and acknowledging that she did that earlier in the season and how thankful she was when Fitz pulled her back in. "Speaking for the group" was completely accurate as everyone else echoes her.
- Before the army comes to take them in as terrorists, Team Coulson decides to spend what they imagine are their last free moments hanging out at a diner. It's similar to the famous Shawarma Stinger from The Avengers (2012). Then the lights go out.
- When announcing this show and that Coulson would be the lead, the powers that be at Marvel acknowledged that Coulson, through Clark Gregg's portrayal, had become the heart of the MCU.
- While promoting the show at Comic Con, Clark Gregg was asked what it was like to be brought back to life and given his own show. His answer was to happily lean over and hug Joss Whedon.
- Jaime Alexander's guest appearance as Sif happened because she ran into Clark Gregg one day and he asked if she'd like to be on the show. Her answer was an immediate "Yes!" because she considers Gregg to be a good friend and wanted to work with him again.
- Iain De Caestecker steadfastly refused to believe that Ward could be a bad guy even after being given the script that said so because he and Brett Dalton had become such good friends over the course of the first season and he couldn't fathom his friend playing such a treacherous character.
Jeph Loeb: [Iain] and Brett have a bromance that is a little embarrassing. So he absolutely would not buy it at all.
- Ward was supposed to die in the Season 1 finale, but the production team rewrote it so he'd survive his fight with May because they liked Brett Dalton and decided to see where he could take his character in Season 2.
- In an interview with Marvel.com just before the release of the sixth episode of the second season, Adrianne Palicki admits she was somewhat nervous about joining as she felt like 'the new kid', being that she was coming into a cast that had already developed strong bonds, and was relieved that they'd welcomed her. This also makes an earlier interview with the rest of the cast Heartwarming in Hindsight when, during the interview, they mentioned how much they loved working with her and how pleasant she was.
- In this interview, shortly after Triplett's death, BJ Britt makes it clear how much the cast cares for each other, and talks about how during the read through of the episode, Clark called a group hug and there wasn't a dry eye in the room about Triplett dying and Britt leaving.
- This video made by the cast as a send-off to B.J. Britt after Trip's death. Bonus points for Clark Gregg himself personally kickstarting a Twitter movement to bring Trip back with the hashtag #TripLives.
- Guess who is alive in the Framework, and working for SHIELD. Your man Trip of course!