At Last We Learn The Meaning Of Agents Of SHIELD's Mysterious Writing

Last night's Agents of SHIELD pushed Agent Coulson to the very edge of his sanity, and made us (and some of his subordinates) question whether he was finally going bonkers due to the Kree blood in his system. And then... we got a startling, clever solution to the "alien writing" riddle. Spoilers ahead...


The episode "The Writing on the Wall" sketched in a ton of details about the Tahiti program, which we learned about back during season one. In a nutshell, SHIELD experimented with injecting half a dozen dead or dying agents with the "GH" formula, derived from the Kree blood. And those people seemed fine at first, but then they started compulsively drawing or carving weird symbols everywhere, and acting krazy. So Coulson and his ruthless mad scientist friend decided to erase their memories... by slicing their heads open and poking their brains with robotic arms. (Which we already saw being done to Coulson last year.)

One of those six mindwiped ex-agents has gotten his memory back, by dancing the masochism tango. (He's the guy whom we saw two weeks ago, tattooed with the weird alien writing.) And now he's hunting down the other five ex-subjects, hoping to use pain to help them remember as well, so they can help him understand what the writing means.

Coulson goes a bit off the reservation, in his drive to save the last remaining target (Hank Thompson, who now runs a welding business) and also to get some answers about the alien diagrams that he's been compelled to draw. And then we learn the truth about the writing — and it's three-dimensional, not two dimensional, which is why nobody could understand it. Not only that, but it's not a map or a schematic, but a blueprint... for an alien city. The captive Kree had a powerful homing instinct to return there, which transformed into a need to sketch the patterns in the people injected with its blood.

Unfortunately, the secret about Coulson getting shot up with alien blood is out now, and a number of his people, especially Mack, are questioning his leadership. So in the end, Coulson has to go in front of his whole team and give a speech where he basically says, "Hey, I know you all think I'm crazy, and I almost thought so myself. But I'm not, and this is a puzzle that Hydra is also trying to solve."

The question is, where is the city that they now have a map/schematic for? Is it on some other planet, or hidden somewhere on Earth? If the SHIELD gang is actually going to be finding a whole Kree city, is that going to wind up tying in with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or some other "cosmic" movie coming up? (Just as long as we don't get another situation where the television plot can't advance until the movie comes out.)

In the "B" plot, our gang tries to hunt down the escaped Grant Ward — and has a surprisingly high success rate, except that he keeps using a dead man's switch to threaten to blow himself up if they go after him. Lance Hunter eventually follows him to an Irish bar where he's meeting with Bakshi, one of the top Hydra goons. (Apologies for thinking Hunter was leaving the team for a bit, after the previous episode. Clearly, he's still around for now.) And when the team finally goes in to apprehend Ward, they find that he's killed everyone except Bakshi, who's tied up as a "present" for Coulson. (Ward promised Bakshi a face-to-face with Coulson, but it's not going to happen the way Bakshi imagined.)


In the end, Ward shaves off his beard and trims his hair, turning himself into a proper yuppie so he can go off and kill his brother, the Senator. And he promises Skye that more "presents" will be coming soon.

But meanwhile, we haven't seen Skye's father in ages, and he's busy showing Hydra how to use the Diviner, that piece of apparently Kree tech that Hydra was chasing at the start of the season. As Skye says to Coulson, it's all connected somehow — but how? And why is it that Skye never felt the compulsion to sketch the weird symbols that the rest of the "Tahiti" patients felt? I guess maybe we'll find out more soon, since this is sweeps month...




Awesome episode. Answered a LOT of questions.

1. The writing is actually a 3 dimensional map of a city. HMM I WONDER WHAT CITY?

Sky was found in a village near the Himalayas. The Inhumans famously inhabit Attilan. Another guess? Maybe it's Lemuria? Lemuria was in the Pacific near China, conquered by the Deviants, and destroyed and sunk into the ocean thousands of years ago… Maybe Sky's father is a Deviant, and her mother an Inhuman? (Bonus: The ship Agent Sitwell was a hostage on in The Winter Soldier was "The Lemurian Star").

2. The Guest is "older than the pyramids." Does that mean he's been on Earth since then, or his age was somehow determined? Could he have been alive in Hydra custody? This can tie in to a Lemuria connection, in that the Guest was looking for Lemuria before he was killed. That could explain how everyone (save Skye) was so hell-bent on figuring out the symbols. Maybe the Guest's mission to locate the city (be it Lemuria or Attilan) was imprinted on his DNA, which was passed on to the TAHITI subjects, and expressed via carving. This also explains why the symbols had to be carved: It was a 3 dimensional city, not a 2 dimensional map.

3. WARD NAMEDROPPED STRUCKER. When he was in the Bar and ordered a Bullet to the Head, and Bakshi came in, Ward asked who he was working for since "Strucker was over seas." HOW DEEP DID GARRETT TAKE HIM? HE KNOWS EVERYTHING! Does this mean Strucker is in charge now that Director Pierce is out of the picture?

Also, this was a good way to confuse us on Ward. Sure he's bad, but he's trying to prove to Skye that he can be good. He promised to get Bakshi close enough to Coulson to put a bullet in Coulson's head, and delivered in a way Bakshi did NOT expect. Is Ward going to work for Whitehall, or is he going to try to redeem himself by working for SHIELD on the side – not taking orders, but delivering goodies here and there when it doesn't hurt his own goals? This is a Whedon production, so probably.

4. I THINK I KNOW HOW FITZ GETS FIXED. While Coulson was in the memory machine, Fitz commented that brains don't lose memories, they lose connections. Everyone has "back up files." The Machine helped Coulson remember information from before TAHITI, where his connections were re-written. Fitz has trouble making connections since his accident. Mack even asked all hopefully: "So you have backup files too?" PUT FITZ IN THE DAMN MACHINE.

5. Mockingbird got caught kind of easily, right? It was almost like they knew he would get on a different bus, and used her to push him towards Cowboy Hunter. Also, "You wore a cowboy hat!" was hilarious.

6. Did anyone else notice how Simmons acted around Fitz and Mack? YIKES.

7. Skye answering the phone "Hail Hydra!" all sarcastic was golden. Reminded me of when she kept calling Ward a Nazi. NAZI.

8. MICRO! Did anyone else catch that little nugget? When Skye was talking to Coulson about the symbols, she said she asked her hacker contact "Micro" and he was at a loss, too. Who is Micro? Well, Micro is a legendary hacker who helps Frank Castle. THE PUNISHER! I forgot there for a second that Marvel got the rights to Punisher back… This could get…bloody.

9. Bonus Fitz: Corpsy Diem? Seize the Dead? OH YOU.