Agents of SHIELD is often at its best when it focuses on a few key relationships. And last night’s episode was all about how those relationships make life vastly more complicated for people who work (and hunt monsters and fascists) together. It all led up to a conclusion I’m still hoping turns out to be a trick. Spoiler warning!

In “The Devil You Know,” Lance Hunter is infiltrating the new Hydra and getting close to Ward, but May fears he’s in over his head and asks Coulson for help. But instead of Hunter getting hurt, the unexpected casualty of Hunter’s reckless assault on Ward is May’s ex-husband Andrew, whom Ward has planted agents close to as an insurance policy. Andrew is killed, just when he and May were starting to talk again.

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And now we hate Ward twice as much—at least Hunter tagged him in the shoulder, even if he got away yet again.

And meanwhile, Daisy and Mack track down Lash, the Sonic-the-hedghog-looking killer Inhuman, with the mutant-hunting agency ATCU sort of helping and sort of hindering. They track a virus that was sent with an email to some Inhumans, and discover Dwight Frye, a rogue Social Security Administration worker who’s also an Inhuman himself. Dwight’s been helping Lash track down other Inhumans. But before they can get any info out of Dwight, Lash kills him—and then transforms into a human... probably someone we’ve met.

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(Also, as a result of this storyline, the ATCU head, Rosalind, is aware that there were Inhumans around before the recent outbreak.)

And in a major subplot, Fitz is so worried about Simmons that he’s cranky and obnoxious to poor Bobbi Morse (who’s already freaking out about Hunter.) And soon enough, Fitz gets a look at Simmons’ notes and realizes that Simmons is trying to reconstruct the portal that trapped her on that alien planet for months. Even though Simmons is clearly kind of a basket case (in spite of all her reassuring bromides to Dr. Andrew), she is determined to go back. And I guess next week, we’re finally going to find out why she doesn’t think her business on that other planet is concluded.

Relationships and other liabilities

So it seems pretty likely that May is going to blame Lance Hunter for the death of her ex-husband—even though Ward gave the order. Lance went in recklessly and then refused to stand down when Ward had a hostage. And this shows just how much of a liability relationships can be: Lance is being a cowboy because Ward critically injured and nearly killed Bobbi, and this leads to May losing her ex, whom she was just starting to communicate with again after he walked out on her during their attempt to reconnect and find out who they were to each other without SHIELD.

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And of course, Ward still blames the SHIELD gang for the death of Agent 33, the woman he loved, even though Ward himself actually shot her.

Fitz, meanwhile, will do anything to figure out what’s going on with Simmons—but this seems like it’s going to lead to him helping her rebuild the portal. Which could be kind of a bad idea.

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Speaking of relationships that could turn out to be a liability, this episode also gives us our first look at SHIELD working with the new not-so-covert agency ATCU. And it’s somewhat bumpy. SHIELD gives more intel to ATCU than Daisy feels comfortable with, and ATCU clearly has some other agenda that we don’t know about yet. Plus it seems pretty likely that whoever Lash is, he/she is connected to ATCU (since Lash knew where to find the armored truck where Dwight Frye was being held captive. And meanwhile, Daisy thinks that Coulson actually has a thing for Rosalind, his ruthless counterpart at ATCU.

And there’s also another new ally: Alisha, the Inhuman who can divide herself into multiple copies, joins up with the SHIELD team this week to try and help some fellow Inhumans (who end up being murdered by Lash.) And she winds up under observation at SHIELD HQ—so it seems likely that we haven’t seen the last of her.

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But for now, I’m still hoping that the apparent death of Andrew was just a trick, or else there’s going to be hell to pay.


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.

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