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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2 E15 "One Door Closes"

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...but which is the real S.H.I.E.L.D.?
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Bobbi and Mack's conspiracy starts to roll out against Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. Flashbacks reveal how the "real S.H.I.E.L.D." formed in the aftermath of HYDRA coming out of the shadows.


One Trope Closes:

  • Action Girl: Skye firmly cements her status even without the use of her powers, taking down an armoured trooper in a fight that would have done May proud.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. seizes the Playground.
  • The Bad Guys Win: While their status as "bad" is debatable, Gonzales' faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. spends most of the episode flawlessly achieving their objectives, whether retaking the Iliad in flashbacks or seizing The Playground and most of the agents and equipment in it in the present day. Skye does escape with Gordon's help, and Fury's "toolbox" hasn't yet been forcibly opened, but otherwise only Coulson and Hunter remain at large and able to strike back.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
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    • In the flashback, Bobbi and Hartley rescue Mack and his fellow technicians from being executed by HYDRA.
    • When Gonzales is about to leave Coulson's office, May charges in and takes out all the guards and Gonzales, even shooting one without looking while cutting Coulson free.
      Coulson: Really nice entrance.
    • Invoked by Skye when she's cornered in the retreat. Since Gordon assured her that he'd know if she wanted help, she just asks and he pops up on the spot to rescue her.
  • Blow You Away: Skye's first controlled usage of her powers results in her creating a shockwave to deflect a bullet. Though she succeeds, the shockwave is so powerful that it levels the forest for about 20 meters ahead of her, causes an entire tree in her path to basically explode, and knocks Bobbi and Calderon on their asses with the added benefit of putting a large stake in the latter's shoulder.
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  • Broken Pedestal: Fitz and Simmons lose the respect they once had for their mentor Agent Weaver, due to her hostility towards Coulson. There's a subtler example with Bobbi and Gonzales, as she's visibly uncomfortable with his attitude toward Skye.
  • Call-Back:
    • May mentions to Bobbi that the last person to betray her had his larynx crushed, a reference to the Season One finale where she did exactly this to her former lover and teammate Ward.
    • The conversation that Bobbi had with Coulson on how he's a different leader from Fury (and how he won't tolerate any civilian casualties) comes full circle when we see a flashback where Bobbi ignores Fury's orders to sink the Iliad and instead save the loyal agents still onboard. But it doesn't explain why she distrusts Coulson.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: "...another door opens."
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Gonzales refers to the Retreat (the cabin Skye is living in) as "the house that Banner built", implying that it's the same cabin that Bruce Banner made his first controlled transformation into the Hulk at the end of The Incredible Hulk. When she peels off the wall paneling, Skye finds a Hulk-sized fist dent in the metallic wall beneath.
    • Doubled as a Mythology Gag, Hartley off-handedly mentions that "Vic" has secured the Hub, referring to Victoria Hand. Victoria was shown to hate being called that, implying that the two of them were close. In the comics, they were a couple.
    • Back in "Nothing Personal", Ward was offended when Skye called him a Nazi due to his allegiance to HYDRA. Here, in a flashback to the day S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, an agent aboard the Iliad shows similar disgust.
      HYDRA Agent: Always with the Nazi thing!
  • Conflict Ball: Nothing the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. does endears them much to Team Coulson. Coulson specifically calls them out on putting moles on his team and invading his base rather than calling him up and talking to him, especially since he was specifically looking for most of them, and had been ever since HYDRA's attack. Gonzales refuses to even address that point.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Gordon finally makes himself known to Skye, delivering an encouraging speech and calling for her to look on her powers with less trepidation and more pride. Afterwards, Skye begins to show more passive control of her wave vibrations, and later releases a much more focused self-defense blast that levels a wide area.
  • Death Glare: Coulson gives one to Bobbi as he's led away to see Gonzales.
  • Designated Girl Fight: While Coulson has all his forces out looking for Mack and Bobbi, Bobbi and May get a one-on-one fight scene.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: During the stinger, Coulson and Hunter are drinking in a bar because their home was invaded and all they have left is each other.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In one of the flashbacks to the day S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, a HYDRA agent shows offense when a newscaster refers to HYDRA as Nazis.
  • Exact Words:
    • Coulson recalls Mack's interview, in which he said he was loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. He just didn't say which one.
    • In a flashback to the day S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, Bobbi says she has orders from Fury to sink the Iliad so HYDRA doesn't get its cargo. Mack convinces her to take a different approach to those orders: retake the ship so HYDRA doesn't get the cargo.
  • Fantastic Racism: In full play here.
    • Why does Gonzales want the Toolbox? Because he thinks Fury's hidden the location of various Gifted people on it and wants them taken out. He also treats Coulson as little more than an experiment, accusing Fury of having made Coulson into an "heir" for the new S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Gonzales tries to insinuate that Coulson entered the Kree city in Puerto Rico to deliberately activate it. When Coulson points out that they went there to deny it to HYDRA and destroy it, things that are not only true but actually happened, Gonzales treats it as if activating the city was a hidden agenda anyway.
    • Calderon tries to kill Skye on sight in spite of Bobbi ordering the team to use ICERs to take her alive.
    • Weaver developed it after fighting an enhanced HYDRA operative at the Academy. Calderon straight up calls the enhanced "a monster".
  • Fire-Forged Friends: This is the case for "real" S.H.I.E.L.D., with most of the main council having survived the Hydra attack on the Iliad together (and having come to their beliefs about S.H.I.E.L.D. needing to be more open and democratic as a result of these experiences). Similarly, Weaver and Calderon seem to have a huge amount of mutual respect and loyalty towards each other based on events during the HYDRA attack on The Academy.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Simmons calls Fitz "Leo" (the first time anyone in the show's thirty-seven episodes has done so) and he calls Simmons "Jemma". In an unusual twist, this is used to indicate their distance from one another rather than closeness.
    • Skye now consistently refers to Simmons by her first name, too.
  • Freudian Excuse: "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D.'s reason for going up against Coulson's faction is explained here.
    • During the original agency's fall, they came to see Fury's compartmentalized management strategy as a liability and sought to rebuild it with a more democratic hierarchy.
    • They grew to resent how Fury's orders prioritized the protection and/or destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D. assets over the lives of its agents, many of whom were trying to retake the Iliad as Bobbi was trying to sink it.
    • There's also more than a little implied resentment towards Coulson, who was put in charge of rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. in spite of his singular focus on taking down Centipede, while "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. used the resources of the Iliad to rescue as many agents as they could. (Putting aside that Coulson couldn't do this himself because he had virtually no resources until after Fury gave him the Toolbox.)
  • Friendly Enemy: Despite wanting to take down Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D., Gonzales makes sure that the base is subdued non-lethally, something May notes, and the only person they try to hurt is Skye per the Fantastic Racism above. Mack also shields Fitz from the explosion when Gonzales and the others breach through the server room, getting seriously injured in the process, despite Fitz' refusal to let him near him.
  • Good Vs Good: Essentially what the conflict comes down to is heroic S.H.I.E.L.D. agents fighting each other. Gonzales's S.H.I.E.L.D. was formed from agents every bit as dedicated as Coulson and his team, but whereas Coulson has continued with business more or less as usual, they see Fury's (and by extension Coulson's) leadership style as the cause of the original S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fall. Gonzales's S.H.I.E.L.D. has also picked up a rather bad case of Fantastic Racism along the way, pushing them closer to being Well-Intentioned Extremists.
  • Hand Blast: Skye uses her powers to protect herself from Calderon's gunshot, giving the forest a new clearing in the process.
  • Handy Cuffs: Coulson's hands are bound in front of him for his meeting with Gonzalez. It doesn't end up making any difference, but they really should have known better.
  • Holier Than Thou: The "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. is very insistent that Coulson's operation is not S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Hypocrite:
    • This episode makes it clear "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. is anything but. Gonzales outright admits Fury turned S.H.I.E.L.D. over to Coulson, and they only exist because Bobbi disobeyed Fury's order to sink The Iliad and whatever dangerous cargo was aboard. They happened to get a better head start, having secured an entire S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft carrier and its resources, while Coulson got a leg-up from Fury after dealing with Centipede, which they seem to resent.
    • "I don't like liars," says the HYDRA mole who previously pretended to be a loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
  • Irony: Gonzales originally wanted to go through with Fury's orders, and it's only through the impassioned pleas of Mack, Bobbi, and Hartley that he's convinced to try a different way (since there are plenty of loyal agents still onboard fighting to retake the ship).
  • Kirk Summation:
    • Gonzalez begins by saying Coulson doesn't know who he is as they've never met... and then Coulson rattles off his resume; Coulson also uses this to slap down the "used to be a good man" claim Gonzales has been throwing around; he didn't and doesn't know Coulson.
    • Gonzales claims that they want more transparency because secrets are what brought down S.H.I.E.L.D.
      Coulson: Fury's secrets didn't destroy S.H.I.E.L.D.; HYDRA did.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Calderon decides to go against orders and use lethal force against Skye. He gets a shard of wood embedded in his shoulder when she defends herself.
  • Lensman Arms Race: The other reason Gonzales wants Fury's toolbox. Just as was brought up in The Avengers, mankind is getting "hilariously outgunned" in technological warfare, and the kind of marvelous trinkets Fury might have stowed away from the traditional military-industrial complex has "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. champing at the bit to find them. Of course, Coulson knows how easily these kinds of tools can fall into the wrong hands and be used for ill purposes.
  • Made of Iron: The treatment of shockwaves is fairly standard for action movies/shows, in that a shockwave that reduced a large pine tree to splinters somehow only knocks back human bodies, instead of pulverizing them.
  • Mama Bear: Calderon mentions that during the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Weaver single-handedly took on an enhanced HYDRA operative to protect students at the Academy.
  • Monochrome Past: The flashbacks to the day S.H.I.E.L.D. fell are distinguished by muted colors.
  • Mundane Solution: Like Hunter in the previous episode, Coulson calls out Gonzales for attacking his team rather than just rationally discussing any concerns they might have. Gonzales just brushes it off without addressing it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Skye's second intentional use of her powers deflects the bullet Calderon fired at her, but it also knocks Calderon and Morse flat on their asses and utterly shreds several trees and obliterates the forest around her. This extreme overkill freaks Skye out and causes her to ask Gordon for help.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Simmons pretends that she doesn't know about Bobbi's betrayal when she encounters her by the lockers. She rummages through supplies and distracts Bobbi enough to get her to hold two pieces of "junk" that knock her out.
  • Oddly Small Organization: "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. consists of the couple hundred agents who survived aboard The Iliad when it was saved, as well as a number of scientists they rescued from the Academy. It says something that they sent out half of their ruling council (Bobbi, Mack, and Hartley) as moles. Of course, Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't much bigger.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • May goes from hiding in the shadows to rescuing Coulson from Gonzales with no indication of how she was able to fight or sneak her way past all of Gonzales' men.
    • The last flashback scene on the Iliad sees six S.H.I.E.L.D. agents firing on the HYDRA agents charging into the room, and all but the flight deck of the ship under HYDRA control. They still took the ship back.
    • Calderon coming to the aid of the besieged Academy with a squadron of Quinjets, and Weaver fighting tooth and nail against a HYDRA enhanced operative to protect the students.
    • Gonzales was attacked by a HYDRA agent with an ax, which he took away and killed him with after getting a bad leg wound.
      Gonzales: That man had an ax. Now I have it.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Coulson sees blue gas flowing from the vents, he realizes Bobbi and Mack weren't actually trying to escape, but making sure no one would.
  • Posthumous Character: Izzy Hartley gets significantly more screentime and development in flashbacks here than she did in her only living episode back at the start of the season.
  • Power Incontinence: Averted, for the first time since Skye changed. Whereas mere emotional distress or fear would cause things to shake uncontrollably before, she engages in hand-to-hand combat without once losing control and in the end only activates her power when she absolutely needs to.
  • The Remnant:
    • Established by the season thus far to be Coulson's team, but now we discover that another group believes itself to be the true heirs to S.H.I.E.L.D..
    • Then, at the end of the episode, Coulson and Hunter manage to become the remnant of a remnant.
  • The Reveal:
    • We learn the circumstances behind the formation of the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. Bobbi was sent to sink The Iliad, a S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft carrier overrun by HYDRA and carrying potentially dangerous cargo, but ultimately decided against it and rallied everyone to fight off HYDRA and take the ship as their new base.
    • Gonzales wants the Toolbox because it has all of Fury's hidden resources; technology, Gifted individuals, etc. He believes they would be dangerous if they got out.
  • Shipper on Deck: Bobbi still seems to be subtly trying to encourage Fitz/Simmons — after all, they were captured in separate parts of the base, so there was really no need to keep them under guard literally so close they were touching.
  • Ship Tease: Simmons getting Fitz to hold her hand after they've been captured by "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Shout-Out: Gonzales's aircraft carrier is named The Iliad, after the epic poem detailing the Trojan War. It was probably supposed to be a reference to the Trojan Horse tactic HYDRA used to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., but, despite popular assumption, the Trojan Horse was not mentioned in the Iliad. It's also the name of the Helicarrier Maria Hill uses in Secret Avengers.
    • It's also the first sign we've seen that MCU S.H.I.E.L.D. follows along with comicbook S.H.I.E.L.D.'s habit of naming vessels after terms from Greek antiquity.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The series' main theme kicks in at the very end when Hunter "signs his SHIELD contract", and asks Coulson what the plan is.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Agent Calderon gives off the most unpleasant vibe of the top agents of the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. He expresses the most dislike of enhanced humans and superhumans next to Commander Gonzales, and quietly prepares a real firearm when tracking down Skye. This happens right after Bobbi orders the tactical team to arm themselves with ICERs to capture Skye, who is still a fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
  • Token Good Teammate: Bobbi and Mack for "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. They clearly regret how things turned out and took great pains to make sure their friends didn't get hurt.
  • The Un-Reveal: Much is made of some dangerous cargo aboard The Iliad, but the viewer doesn't get let in on the secret.
  • Villain Has a Point: When Gonzales asks Coulson if he can be sure that he is not under any alien influence, Coulson is too honest a man to deny it. He's happy to deny all the other points Gonzales brings up, though.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Mack and Bobbi's role as moles is over, Team Coulson has been kicked out of the Playground by "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D, and most of them have been captured.
    • Skye accepts Gordon's offer to "go home" and meet her fellow Inhumans.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious:
    • Simmons calls Fitz "Leo" for the first time in the show, setting her up to spend the episode apparently trying to win him back over a little after he gave her "The Reason You Suck" Speech in the last episode. Since he's hinted to hate his first name, it seems like a serious last-ditch move on her part.
    • Mack calls Bobbi by her full first name, "Barbara", in the flashback, while trying to talk her out of committing a Heroic Sacrifice.

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