While Ward, Skye and Fitz-Simmons investigate a problem at a S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, Coulson and May turn up unexpected information about Skye's past.
- Anti-Villain: Both Donnie and Seth are seeking to make a money on their ice machine but the latter is undoubtedly more villainous since he insists on a demonstration despite the danger posed to a lot of people.
- Artistic License Physics: "A battery that carries a terawatt of energy". The Watt is a unit of power. The appropriate unit would be the Joule. Both Fitz (who says this) and Donnie (who he's talking to) are nerdy scientists and should not make this mistake.
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Ward says "I can get there." to Coulson, opens the door and sees the super-storm outside, closes the door. "Yeah, I can't get there."
- Armor-Piercing Question:May: What's in that file - it's the truth.
Coulson: Says who?
May: Director Fury.
Coulson: If I hadn't asked, he'd have kept it from me. Kept me from knowing.
May: And now that you know, you feel better?
- Call-Back: Every Academy has a wall of valor to honor agents who died in the line of duty. Bucky Barnes is listed there.
- Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Donnie is never referred to as "Blizzard", the codename of his comic book counterpart. Justified as this episode is an Origin Story for Blizzard, so he would not have picked up the codename yet.
- Coolest Club Ever: The Boiler Room. Students at the academy used to gather there to socialize because it was one of the few places on campus with no surveillance, but after seventy years of continuous refurbishments it's now a nightclub.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: More like Skye's Foster Families had a Good Reason for Giving Her Up. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that found her in Hunan set up an invisible protocol to keep her from being discovered by having her moved frequently.
- Evil Plan: Ian Quinn is funding S.H.I.E.L.D. students to create a weather control ice machine and the students lure Fitz to the Academy by staging a deadly prank so he can help them fix it. What Quinn wants with such a device goes unsaid.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:Fitz: He's a good kid. I even helped him with his... power problem.
- Facial Recognition Software: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s is so good it can recognize someone who's been missing for twenty five years when he unintentionally appears in the background of some random vacation photo that was posted on the FaceBook page of somebody that S.H.I.E.L.D. has no reason to care about. This also implies that their data mining software is also tremendously effective.
- Foreshadowing: When Fitz bonds with Donnie, he only mentions his mother not understanding him as a kid. We don't learn about his father or lack thereof until season 4.
- Also towards the end of the episode during Coulson's monologue. As he says world is filled with "evil and lies and pain, and death...", the camera pans over to Ward.
- Harmless Freezing: Averted; Donnie could have likely frozen to death if Fitz-Simmons hadn't acted quickly to thaw him out.
- He Knows Too Much: The rogue agent preempts this trope by refusing any knowledge of Skye other than the fact that she's safe.
- Heroic BSoD: Coulson is in the middle of one due to the discovery of what really happened to him after he was killed. He expects Skye to go into one when he reveals the truth about what's known of her past, but she surprises him and starts pulling him out of his own.
- An Ice Person: The power surge from the ice-making machine seems to have given Donnie the ability to freeze things.
- Interservice Rivalry: We see there's a friendly one between the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academies, as Fitz-Simmons compare the Science/Tech Academy to Ward's time in Operations (essentially nerds vs. jocks). A Communications Academy is also mentioned, but the rivalry doesn't extend to it because a) it's their job to monitor communications from the other two and b) it's the easiest of the three to get into and graduate from.
- Skye's goals when she was captured and recruited were to publicly reveal the secrets S.H.I.E.L.D. protected and to find out why they were involved in covering up her past. If she'd succeeded, she would have made herself and anyone she knew a target to whoever had murdered (practically) everyone who knew or protected her when she was a baby.
- In the episode "0-8-4", Coulson told Skye that a 0-8-4 was something of unknown origin, "kind of like you". In this episode, we find out that Skye was once literally a S.H.I.E.L.D. 0-8-4.
- Karmic Death: Seth is killed by the ice machine. The comparatively more noble Donnie survives.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Quinn knows better than to try to recover the ice machine after Seth and Donnie blow their secrecy. Instead he just tells them to activate it, implicitly to make trouble for S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: A shock from the ice-making machine gives Donnie ice powers. It also kills Seth.
- Living Legend: Skye is quite surprised to learn that Fitz-Simmons are treated like celebrities by the recruits at S.H.I.E.L.D. academy, because they were two of the youngest recruits ever to join, and again two of the youngest ever to graduate (which they did several years early).Skye: Huh. Look at them. The cool kids.
- Magical Defibrillator: Averted. An AED couldn't revive Seth.
- Mythology Gag: A Professor Vaughn is mentioned, who could be Gilbert Vaughn. He's the father of Wendell Vaughn, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and the Avenger Quasar.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Fitz unknowingly gives Donnie the technical advice he needs to complete the larger ice-making device, exactly as Donnie had planned.
- Donnie is the second potential supervillain the team has unintentionally had some responsibility in creating due to a scientific mishap (the first being Franklin Hall in "The Asset"). Ironically, neither Hall nor Donnie really get the chance to actually become a supervillain, as we find out later.
- Not So Different: Fitz and Donnie are a lot alike, and bond over such. However, Fitz has Simmons, and later the Team, while Donnie was manipulated by Seth and Ian Quinn.
- One-Word Title
- OOC Is Serious Business:Coulson: Okay, what's going on?
May: What do you mean?
Coulson: You're talking.
May: Because you aren't.
- Origin Story: For the MCU version of Blizzard.
- Paying Their Dues: In-Universe example. May considers Skye's work in tracking down Coulson's location in the previous episode as proof that she's serious about being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, so now she's willing to help Skye on a personal matter.
- Persona Non Grata: Coulson warns Quinn in no uncertain terms that he's been banned from everywhere S.H.I.E.L.D. has influence. If his plane so much as grazes their airspace, it's getting shot down.
- Poor Communication Kills: If Coulson and May had identified themselves as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents when going after the rogue agent, he would have gone with them on the spot. Instead, May tried to apprehend him by force and he came very close to taking a Suicide Pill to avoid capture.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: May discusses what she would do if she ever decided to quit S.H.I.E.L.D. and go off the grid. It involves hiding in the wheel well of a jumbo jet on a long flight and parachuting out at a random point (this is incidentally how they allow the rogue agent to drop back off the map). She brings it up as she wonders if Coulson is about to quit S.H.I.E.L.D. himself.
- There is a similarity to the Science Academy and Pacific Tech from the movie Real Genius.
- A S.H.I.E.L.D. computer genius by the name of Callie Hannigan is mentioned. In another Whedon project, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ALYson Hannigan played Willow Rosenberg, whose original role was as the resident computer whiz of the main cast.
- Stock Scream: Heard during the scene when Donnie is frozen, just before the commercial break. The same scream is regularly used on The Stephanie Miller Show, and has also been heard on Gravity Falls.
- Suicide Pill: The rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent tries to take one when May has him cornered, but she kicks it out of his hand.
- Teen Genius:
- Donnie, who is 18 and whose engineering capabilities rival those of Fitz.
- Agent Weaver notes that this trope applied to Fitz-Simmons when they were at the Academy: Donnie is one of the youngest recruits since they joined (implying they were the same age or younger), and they both had PhDs before joining.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The Team is divided to tackle two main plot threads: One to deal with the strange occurrences at S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, and the other to find out Skye's origins. Ironically, Skye herself is part of the former.
- Weather-Control Machine: In the climax, Donnie and Seth build a machine (with financial backing from Quinn) that creates an ice hurricane, with the machine itself in the eye.
- Wham Line:Quinn: And I have a message for you. The Clairvoyant told me to say hello.