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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2 E20 "Scars"

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Skye is torn between her loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and her connection to the Inhumans as tensions rise between the groups — and Coulson reveals a secret he’s been hiding from even those closest to him.

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  • Aggressive Negotiations: The meeting between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhuman society is supposed to be a peaceful and diplomatic one so each can see that the other is not a threat. It ends with Jiayang killing Gonzales and pulling a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Raina sees a vision of S.H.I.E.L.D. heading towards Afterlife and burning it to the ground. Though it seems like a power play at first, Jiaying's actions indicate it might really come to pass.
  • Arc Welding: Theta Protocol is revealed to be the Helicarrier from Age of Ultron. Coulson kept it in storage and operational just in case.
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  • Ascended Extra: Alicia Vela-Bailey, Adrienne Palicki's stunt double, appears as the Inhuman Alisha.
  • Batman Gambit: Jiaying's Wounded Gazelle Gambit seems to hinge on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s negotiator having a gun, which means that if Gonzales hadn't managed to talk Coulson out of going himself, she would either have needed her own gun or the whole thing would have backfired.
  • Berserk Button: Every time Jiaying's treatment at the hands of Whitehall is brought up, she's taken it in stride... until an outsider like Gonzales tries to sympathize with her, and she's outright insulted that he would compare a mere battle injury to her torture and vivisection at Whitehall's hands. The end of the episode is the first time we truly see her get angry.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jiaying shows shades of this. While maintaining a gentle veneer in front of her people, she is ruthless in protecting them, murdering Gonzales and faking a gunshot by him to start a war with S.H.I.E.L.D. that they would otherwise be unwilling to fight.
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  • Blatant Lies: When Cal is searched and several empty vials are discovered on him, he says "Beats me!" when asked their purpose. His tone is so playful it's clear he's not even trying.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase:
    • Jiaying, while remembering Whitehall's actions, uses his "Discovery requires experimentation" line.
    • Raina tries to calm down an excited Cal with "Let's not lose our heads".
  • Broken Masquerade: The Inhumans as a group are revealed to S.H.I.E.L.D. Lincoln even complains to this effect, telling Skye that they relied on their secrecy to protect themselves.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Coulson and May try to explain to Skye how supposedly dangerous Gordon is and why S.H.I.E.L.D. is scared of what they can do, Skye fires back that she knows what went down in Bahrain, and that May of all people should know why the Inhumans want to be left alone, so that things like that don't happen.
    • Lincoln previously mentioned to Skye that she and Raina were the first two Inhumans in centuries to undergo Terrigenesis the "old-school" way — through a Diviner and a Kree temple. Jiaying and Gonzales' meeting reveals that Lai Xi uses Terrigen crystals extracted and reproduced from a melted-down Diviner. This also explains why Vin-Tak only arrived after Skye and Raina transformed, even though the Inhumans have been using the crystals for thousands of years; because they don't activate a Diviner or a temple to transform, the Kree have no idea they exist.
  • Cassandra Truth: Raina attempts to warn the other Inhumans that war will come if Jiaying is allowed to talk with S.H.I.E.L.D., even pleading with Skye to listen to her, but everyone assumes that she's being a Manipulative Bitch. By the end of the episode, it becomes clear that they really should have listened.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Gordon mocks Cal for being powerless without taking his Super Serum regularly. When he's taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, he's found with several empty vials on his person that he refuses to identify.
    • May comments to Bobbi that she doesn't trust Kara because the latter can assume her face. Bobbi should have listened more closely.
    • Gonzales said that gun would only shoot someone who deserved it.
  • Conflicting Loyalty:
    • Skye is grateful to the Inhumans for helping her but also still thinks of herself as part of S.H.I.E.L.D., which puts her between a rock and a hard place when Gordon pays a visit to the Iliad and things go downhill from there.
    • Averted with Gordon, who trusts Jiaying over Raina despite her efforts to gain his favor.
  • Conflict Killer: After the events of the previous episode and Avengers: Age of Ultron, "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. allows itself to be folded into Coulson's command with little trouble. Presumably a man with ties to the Avengers and Nick Fury is one they'd rather not antagonize further.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The events of Avengers: Age of Ultron are on the news. Coulson is where Fury got that Helicarrier from.
    • May is still unwilling to trust Kara because Kara impersonated her back in "Face My Enemy". Fittingly, Kara does it again to lead Bobbi into a trap.
    • Skye recalls that Gonzales tried to have her killed in "One Door Closes". Though that was technically Calderon, Gonzales wasn't the least bit apologetic.
    • Gonzales mentions how Jiaying was vivisected by Whitehall, which was seen in "The Things We Bury", and that Coulson killed him, which happened in "What They Become". Skye apparently filled him in on the former at some point.
  • Crying Wolf: Raina's manipulative tendencies finally bite her in the butt when no-one believes her warnings that having Jiaying meet S.H.I.E.L.D. would lead to war. It didn't help that she insisted that she should be the one to meet S.H.I.E.L.D. and tried to convince Gordon to keep her visions secret from Jiaying.
  • Curse Cut Short: Gonzales's Famous Last Words, before he petrifies completely:
    Gonzales: You're going to get everyone killed, you crazy—
  • Dangerous Phlebotinum Interaction: The Diviner casing kills humans and is harmless to Inhumans, while the terrigen crystals within are harmless to humans but trigger terrigenesis in Inhumans. The Inhumans managed to melt a Diviner down so they could mass-produce the crystals, but as a consequence the Diviner metal was bonded to the crystals. That's no big deal to them, since they're immune to the metal anyway, but it means the normally harmless gas is now lethal to normal humans. Gonzales learns this the hard way. Doubles as a nod to the mid-season finale: Agent Tripp wasn't affected by the Terrigen Mists, but was hit by a shard of the Diviner when he shattered the crystal, turning him to stone.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: After killing Gonzales, Jiaying shoots herself with his gun, then claims that he shot her.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Gordon and Raina stick around on the Iliad even after they know it's a S.H.I.E.L.D. base and their presence has been discovered. Because Raina insisted on getting confirmation that S.H.I.E.L.D. had the artifact, S.H.I.E.L.D. realizes the Inhumans have an interest in it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Jiaying implicitly compares "Indexing" to Nazi Germany's actions during World War II.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Simmons gives Skye a dashboard hula girl as a souvenir from the destroyed Bus. Fitz then explains that the fact that it shakes is meant as a joke in reference to her powers.
  • Exploited Immunity: Jiaying smashes a tainted terrigen crystal in front of Gonzales. As neither the metal impurity or the mist itself can affect her, the latter because she's already been exposed, Gonzales is the only one to suffer.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Gonzales' faction — minus Bobbi but including May — immediately assume the worst about the Inhumans. May gets worse when she finds out the Inhumans are related to the child gifted she killed in Bahrain.
    • The Inhumans are no saints in that department, either. Gordon cruelly taunts Cal for not having real powers and Jiaying is disgusted by a human taking pity on her.
    • Mack quits S.H.I.E.L.D., saying he wants no part of S.H.I.E.L.D. as long as Coulson's in charge due to the GH325 serum in Coulson.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Coulson describes the Helicarrier as this. If the situation ever gets bad enough that no-one will bat an eye at an Airborne Aircraft Carrier, that's good reason to use it.
  • Good Vs Good: Or rather, Inhumans vs S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson just wants to keep the peace, Gonzales attempts to be a Big Good but definitely has ulterior motives for the Inhumans, and the Inhumans just want S.H.I.E.L.D. to stay out of their business.
  • Greed: Raina's Fatal Flaw, as lampshaded by Cal. Even though she seems to be genuine in her desire to stop a war between the Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D., she can't divorce that from her desire to gain more power, in the process sabotaging both because her ploys are transparent to the people that have worked with her.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: While both of them may be good as a whole, Jiaying and Gonzales are both ruthless in the protection of their people. Not to mention both sides have their share of Fantastic Racism.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Cal offers to turn himself over to S.H.I.E.L.D. as an act of good will, hoping they'll pat themselves on the back for nabbing him and give the Inhumans a break for the gift. Jiaying adjusts the deal a bit, but it's the sentiment that counts.
  • Hypocrite: May and Gonzales insist that Coulson can't be the arbitrator for the Inhumans given his fatherly-like love for Skye, which is true. But neither Gonzales or May are impartial either: Gonzales' main trait is Fantastic Racism, while May is still haunted by what happened at Bahrain and clearly sees the Inhumans as threats.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Coulson agreeing to send Gonzales when it's claimed Coulson's relationship with Skye doesn't make him an objective negotiator. Gonzales has proven the same for the opposite reason, a fact so transparent that Hunter quips that he let "Captain Ahab" go and Skye rightly points out this is the same guy that tried to kill her a few weeks earlier just for having powers. Coulson insists that he didn't want to burn the bridge he just semi-mended with Gonzales' faction by arguing, but that hardly changes the fact that he could have made a better choice (Bobbi, for instance). The worst part is that May has the gall to claim Gonzales is objective, when he clearly isn't. If Coulson had shut Gonzales down for the perfectly legitimate reason that he is no more objective than Coulson, and in fact clearly wouldn't negotiate in good faith, Jiaying's plan arguably wouldn't have worked, if she had still gone through with it.
    • Despite the above, Gonzales actually ends up making a legitimate push for peace. He tries to bond with Jiaying by bringing up that HYDRA hurt them both and gives her back an important keepsake. He does, however, make two diplomatic blunders: coming in with an escort of armed agents and matter-of-factly bringing up the Index like it's non-negotiable. Plus he brought a gun, which Coulson had the good sense to know was a bad idea.
    • Bobbi grabs a hold of it at one point - after realizing she's been betrayed and is in the middle of nowhere, she knocks out Kara and proceeds to leave the Quinjet like a teenager in a slasher movie. She's promptly shot with an ICER by Ward.
    • S.H.I.E.L.D.'s air control apparently doesn't find anything odd about May piloting two planes at the same time.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • The Inhumans are finally referred to by that name; according to Skye, it is the name their ancestors came up with.
    • The Helicarrier from Age of Ultron is revealed to be the Theta Protocol.
    • After Skye reveals that she knows the truth behind the Bahrain mission, May tells Coulson that she deliberately killed the little girl to save everyone else, which she had only shared with her ex-husband until then.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Cal says that even if Raina's visions do predict the future, they only have her word for it that she's telling the truth about what she sees — and she has a well-deserved reputation for lies, half-truths and manipulations. And she was indeed trying to manipulate events to her own benefit.
    • Gonzales criticizes Coulson about not being objective when it comes to Skye. While this is the pot calling the kettle black given his own attitude toward enhanced humans, Coulson concedes the point.
    • Gonzales also points out that having one member of the group doing things secretly and not running it by other people is what caused the Ultron situation, and that S.H.I.E.L.D. should be better than that. Given Coulson's own experience dealing with Tony Stark, he understands the concern.
    • May correctly, if a bit coldly, points out to Skye that the Inhumans can't expect S.H.I.E.L.D. to leave them in peace when they go teleporting into classified S.H.I.E.L.D. bases uninvited. They didn't know that when they arrived, of course, but that didn't stop them from pressing on when they were discovered.
  • Karma Houdini: Aside from being lightly forced into a subordinate position to Coulson, "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. otherwise faces no consequences for their actions. Coulson claims that their insurrection was a failure on his part, their mistake about Theta Protocol is barely admitted (Weaver even still tries to make Coulson out as the bad guy for using it), and he even accepts their advice even when his own team members express the opinion that it's a terrible idea.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • May tells Coulson that Skye becoming an Inhuman is proof that he lost control.
    • Jiaying kills Gonzales and fakes a gunshot to start a war after he actually tried to sue for peace.
  • Limited Wardrobe: This is lampshaded with the Koenig brothers, as Sam's closet is full of identical suits.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Sam's post-it note reveals the Koenig brothers have a sister.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • By forcing Coulson to stand aside in negotiations because he's too close to Skye, Gonzales gives Jiaying even further reason not to trust S.H.I.E.L.D. First, Skye told Jiaying that she'd be speaking to Coulson, not Gonzales. Second, Jiaying had reason to trust Coulson through their shared connection to Skye, with even Cal admitting that he cares for her. Instead, Gonzales gives the standard sell and Jiaying doesn't buy, starting a war. She may have pulled the same with Coulson, but at least they would have had some common ground. There's also no way in hell Skye would believe Coulson tried to kill Jiaying, meaning the plan to convert her would be dead in the water.
    • Gonzales makes a terrible negotiator. Faced with an entire of community of people that are established to distrust S.H.I.E.L.D., he makes the critical diplomatic blunder of bringing up the Index and asking Jiaying to just allow S.H.I.E.L.D. to walk in and examine all of them with only the assurance that they mean well. He also comes in armed, which plays right into Jiaying's hands, when Coulson's briefing made it clear he would have gone unarmed as a show of good faith.
  • Noble Bigot: Gonzales proves that, despite his mistrust of powered people, he is more than capable of honestly negotiating peace and even sympathizing on a personal level with them. Too bad Jiaying didn't appreciate it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Gonzales decided to give Jiaying a keepsake that Whitehall took from her. The mention of Whitehall, among other things, cause Jiaying to rant about the pains Whitehall caused and ultimately kill Gonzales.
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    • Skye's argument that what happened in Bahrain is an example of why S.H.I.E.L.D. should leave the Inhumans alone falls somewhat flat, as it's precisely because the Inhumans failed to control their own that the debacle happened to begin with. Because Jiaying could neither prevent Eva from stealing terrigen crystals or stop her insane daughter after she was transformed, S.H.I.E.L.D. was left to stop a dangerous threat to the public, which justifies S.H.I.E.L.D. having the Index.
    • Offering to Index the Inhumans right off the bat only proved to Jiaying that she is in the right to kill Gonzales and start a war, considering she's old enough to remember the last group of people who thought branding those that are different is a good idea.
  • Not So Different:
    • Lincoln remarks that his being put on the Index involved answering a lot of questions, since SHIELD presumably already has his blood (taken while he was unconscious and thus without his consent). Coulson remarks that doing so is just protocol. Lincoln tells him that's what HYDRA said.
    • When it comes down to it, Coulson wants to get the facts before taking action while Gonzales wants to preemptively attack the Inhumans as a potential threat, not only making him guilty of what he's been accusing Coulson of, but no better than HYDRA in their own zealous pursuit of enhanced humans.
    • Gonzales and Jiaying. Both are ruthless warhawks who are determined to save their people. Gonzales even tries to invoke this by mentioning his own share of pains at the hand of HYDRA. Unfortunately for him, comparing a bad leg to being vivisected for being different does not sit well with her, so she kills him and shoots herself with his gun to start a war.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Lincoln wakes up from being in an induced sleep, he reacts this way when he spies the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.
    • Gordon had a similar reaction when hearing about the Kree stone from Raina.
  • Only Sane Woman: Raina of all people is the only one to see the danger that's about to come. But naturally, given her former reputation and her current behavior, it's just seen as a power play and no-one believes her.
  • Parental Substitute: Skye openly admits that Coulson has been "the closest thing I have to family".
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Gonzales agrees to let Coulson be director while he and the other "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. heads become an advisory council he reports to.
    • Gonzales, usually quite prickly towards powered individuals, gives Jiaying an important cultural item she would've given to Skye that S.H.I.E.L.D. recovered from Whitehall's base.
    • When Jiaying asks for Cal's honest opinion on S.H.I.E.L.D., he admits that he only knows a few of them, none of whom he likes. Coulson is his least favorite, but he does concede that Coulson cares about Daisy/Skye.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Raina had been upfront with her visions, rather than trying to benefit herself in the process, things probably would have not have gone so badly. The fact that she had openly expressed an interest in taking over in the previous episode makes her look worse.
  • Pretext for War: Jiaying notes that her people won't blindly follow her into war, so she creates a good reason for them to do it by making it seem like Gonzales tried to kill her.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jiaying gives one to Gonzales as he's dying from the terrigen crystal shattering:
    Jaiying: (angrily pounds her fist onto her desk) How dare you compare your scars to mine! You're nothing like me! Like us!
    • Raina is on the receiving end of a crushingly simple and effective one when Jaiying orders her put into custody. She notes that gifts or no gifts, the fact everyone who's worked with Raina distrusts her says all too much about her.
  • Red Herring: It seems like Gonzales is up to something with the secret item Weaver passes him and insisting on keeping Coulson from running the negotiations. In fact, it's just an heirloom that Jiaying lost, and he was sincere in his desire to keep the peace.
  • The Reveal:
    • The dangerous cargo on the Iliad is a Kree WMD meant to kill off the Inhumans. For whatever reason, they never got a chance to set it off.
    • This episode makes it clear that the other five Diviners are all in the possession of the Inhumans. One was melted down so they could mass-produce terrigen crystals.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mack quits, refusing to trust Coulson and unwilling to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. at all as long as he has a say.
  • Sentimental Sacrifice: Picking up from last week's sacrifice of the Bus, May looks longingly at an empty hangar and says she misses her plane. It's promptly lampshaded by Coulson, who points out that a lot of terrible things happened on that plane.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The first thing we see after the "previously-on" sequence is Sam Koenig's Star Wars bedsheets. The episode aired on May 5th, one day after Star Wars day (May the Fourth).
    • The Kree device is in room 47, a number frequently used throughout various shows, most notably Star Trek from the 4th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation onward.
  • Sour Supporter:
    • Weaver obviously isn't happy that Theta Protocol turned out to be the Helicarrier, having the gall to complain about it. Bobbi quickly shoots back about the lives Coulson helped save, and Coulson points out she and "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. are no better for keeping themselves secret and starting a coup.
    • May to Coulson, especially after Skye brings up Bahrain. You can tell she's only siding with Gonzales out of spite.
  • Taken for Granite: Gonzales, meet Diviner. Bye bye, Gonzales.
  • This Means War!: Jiaying says this after she makes it look like Gonzales tried to kill her.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • When Skye brings up Bahrain, May becomes even more abrasive than she was last week — it's an uncomfortable memory, and Skye knows something about it that May had never admitted to anyone other than her ex-husband.
    • Jiaying kills Gonzales in an attempt to justify a war with S.H.I.E.L.D., preceded by a Fantastic Racism and "You don't know pain" speech.
  • Tranquil Fury: During the conversation between Jiaiying and Gonzales, the latter's appeal to Jiaiying to cooperate with S.H.I.E.L.D. as they index the Inhumans, had her merely infuriated by the suggestion. However, up until she smashes one of the terrigen crystals to kill Gonzales, Jiaiying's demeanor is as cool as ever, even when she goes into a monologue over how Inhumans gain their powers, how they're different from humans, and humanity's treatment of people who are different has repeatedly been hostile throughout history.
  • Trojan Horse:
    • Ward says that he left Kara in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s care because she needed help he couldn't provide. This is partly true. They were able to confirm, at least, that Kara is no longer under the effects of Whitehall's brainwashing. But Kara was really left behind because she wants to get revenge on Bobbi for some past betrayal, and being able to impersonate anyone in the base makes kidnapping Bobbi a breeze.
    • Jiaying agrees to give Cal up to S.H.I.E.L.D. as a show of good faith, but she also gave him his serum so he'd be delivered with his Super Strength intact. Whether this was her intention or meant as a backup plan in case negotiations went south isn't yet clear.
  • War Hawk: Jiaying, surprisingly. She kills Gonzales, then shoots herself with his gun to start a war. The fact that she sent an empowered Cal to S.H.I.E.L.D. indicates it was always her plan.
  • We Can Rule Together: Coulson offers this to "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D., suggesting they merge the two with himself as director and them as his council, similar to how Fury ran S.H.I.E.L.D. They accept, though there's still tension.
  • Wham Line: Jiaying echoes Whitehall's "Discovery requires experimentation." When a non-HYDRA starts quoting Whitehall, especially someone Whitehall cut up and left for dead, it cannot lead to anything good.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: This episode explains where the Koenig brothers have been for the second half of season 2: They were coordinating the Theta Protocol while Coulson worked on more mainstream S.H.I.E.L.D. projects.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Skye gives it to May for trusting Gonzales over Coulson, especially since Gonzales sent men to try and kill her; May just gives some Character Shilling on Gonzales' behalf in response.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Kara asks Ward why they don't just kill Bobbi now. Ward says that proper revenge takes more than that, being familiar with it himself.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Jiaying kills Gonzales and shoots herself twice with his gun, then staggers outside and claims he tried to kill her, using it as an excuse to declare war on S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • You're Insane!: Gonzales' Famous Last Words:
    Gonzales: (to Jiaying) You're gonna get everyone killed, you crazy— (petrifies into stone)

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