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Recap / Agents of S.H.IE.L.D. S2 E7 "The Writing on the Wall"

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Coulson's compulsion to carve the alien glyphs is getting worse, just as S.H.I.E.L.D. discovers a series of murders involving the same symbols. Meanwhile, May leads a team of agents to track down and bring in Ward after he escapes the transfer to his brother's custody.


  • Ancient Astronauts: The body of the alien is revealed to have been thousands of years old when discovered.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The safehouse where Ward meets Bakshi.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Hank Thompson catches a thrown knife in between his bare hands, before throwing it back, slicing clean through the rope holding Coulson.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Mack explains that they got the body of a murder victim simply by walking out of the morgue like they owned it.
  • Bookends: At the beginning of the episode, Coulson drops the needle on a vinyl record and starts carving the wall. At the end of the episode, Ward drops the needle on a vinyl record and starts preparing for the next stage of his plans.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Ward mentions Baron Von Strucker while talking to Bakshi.
    • Skye references the fact that T.A.H.I.T.I. was meant to revive a fallen Avenger, which Coulson discovered back in Season 1.
    • The machine Raina used on Coulson to reveal the secret of his resurrection is used again by him to uncover more memories.
  • Exact Words: Ward offers to get Bakshi a face-to-face meeting with Coulson. He does so by killing Bakshi's entourage and hogtying him so that May can take him back to the Playground as a prisoner.
  • Genetic Memory: Simmons theorizes that the last thing the alien was thinking of before it died was (as they later discover) the unknown city and that people injected with the material taken from the body have fragments of that memory in the form of the city's layout.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: This is revealed to be the source behind the GH serum insanity. Anyone exposed to it gains some of the alien's Genetic Memory, which comes in the form of a blueprint to an unknown city. However, their minds cannot properly process the image, causing them to compulsively scrawl a top-down representation of the city in a desperate attempt to decipher its meaning. Hank Thompson, unlike the other test subjects, was able to use welding skills to instinctively create the pattern in all three dimensions as intended, sparing him the insanity. Coulson and Sebastian, upon seeing his work, immediately understand and are cured of the compulsion. Also an inversion, as rather than going mad from the revelation they are saved from madness by the revelation.
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  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ward's mention of Baron Von Strucker suggests that he's higher-ranked than Whitehall.
  • Happily Married: Hank Thompson turns down the opportunity to be a superspy again because he's too happy with married life to leave it.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The blueprint is a 3D diorama of an unknown city, from a top down perspective, but looks like a complex train track at first glance.
  • I Choose to Stay: Coulson offers to give Agent Klein his old life back, but Cameron decides that he likes his new life as Hank Thompson, family man. But he does say that S.H.I.E.L.D. can call on him any time they need a welder.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In his memory-scan flashback, Coulson wonders aloud, "What have we done?" when observing the memory wipe process on one of the subjects.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Coulson gives the T.A.H.I.T.I. patient, Hank Thompson, his S.H.I.E.L.D. file that explains his background before his memory was rewritten. The file lists the name "Cameron Klein", a S.H.I.E.L.D. technician in the comics, whose grandfather (Stanley) was rescued by Captain America and the Howling Commandos.
    • Skye mentions a hacker named Micro, an ally of The Punisher.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Hank stops a knife that Sebastian throws at him by catching the blade in both hands. He looks surprised for a moment before throwing it at the rope holding up Coulson, freeing him. Apparently, that was a skill he learned back as Agent Klein of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Not So Different: As Fitz and Mack discuss memory-wiping, they talk about how all the old memories are still there and can potentially be re-accessed. As Fitz considers this, the look on his face suggests that he sees parallels with his own brain problems.
  • The Reveal: The alien carving is actually a top-down representation of an unknown city.


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