Seriously, this scene brings a tear to my eye every time I watch it. A tear of pure, beautiful joy. This event made absolutely everything totally worthwhile, all by itself. But luckily, "What They Become" was also full of huge reveals and surprises. Spoilers ahead...
Skye has completely redeemed herself
We learn Skye's true name and a lot of her backstory in this episode — but the main thing we learn about Skye, for my money, is that if Ward turns his back on her and she has access to a gun, she will fucking shoot him. This was the greatest moment, and I now love Skye forever and ever.
Fans have been speculating for months that Skye would turn out to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of Daisy Johnson, the superpowered comics character who becomes a SHIELD agent. (And almost becomes an Avenger.) And now, I'd consider it basically confirmed.
Skye's name is Daisy, and her father is named Cal (which makes him most likely Calvin Zabo, aka Mr. Hyde, Daisy's father.) We learn a bit more about her background — her father worked in a clinic in China, when he married Skye's mom who had the gift of not aging. Then Whitehall's people took Skye's mom and vivisected her, while Skye was hidden away.
And both Cal and Raina believe that it's Skye's destiny, as one of those "gifted" people who fit the Kree's criteria, to go down into the ancient alien city and receive her gift. At the end of the episode, both Skye and Raina do just that — they get sprayed with what appear to be the Terrigen Mists, which activate people's superpowers. Skye and Raina are enclosed in cocoons, and emerge with some new abilities. Skye seems to glow, while we glimpse what look like spines growing out of Raina's skin.
Cal, for his part, is obsessed with killing Whitehall as revenge for the death of Cal's wife. And despite his apparent brilliance, Cal is pretty inept at his revenge, first attempting to take out Whitehall with a scalpel and later not noticing he's been implanted with a bug-zapper. At last, Coulson shoots Whitehall before Whitehall can shoot Cal, and the Cal beats the crap out of Coulson for denying him his revenge.
Skye (I'm still going to call her that for now) tells her father that she's giving him one chance to walk away, or she'll shoot him. So he goes, but says that she'll need his help after she has her transformation — because nobody else will understand. So that should be interesting, I guess.
And at the end of the episode, we glimpse what looks like a secret society of people who have been transformed by the same mists that changed Skye and Raina. At least, we see one of them, who has his own Diviner, and he appears to be talking to another one on the phone. He realizes that there's at least one newcomer, and says he's on it.
So... are these the Inhumans? Every detail seems to fit, including the mists, the Kree, the ancient city and the powers. I doubt we'll meet a teleporting dog any time soon, because they'll save that for the movie. But they're definitely introducing the Inhumans on this show, which is pretty neat.
Hydra went down too easy
I mentioned in my preview post the other day that I had a few problems with this episode — and the main one is that Hydra soldiers are suddenly "paper people," as Drax would put it. This season of Agents of SHIELD got a lot of energy out of the notion that Hydra massive outguns SHIELD, and our heroes are fighting a losing war against a massively superior enemy that has huge facilities.
And now, all of a sudden, Hydra seems to be pretty incompetent. They're holding a building, with a massive advantage in terms of numbers as well as some key tactical advantages, and they just go down like ninepins. Worse yet, Whitehall (who seemed like an awesomely creepy villain who deserved to torment our guys for months and hatch some huge master plan) is apparently dead, and was wrong about what the Diviner would do when placed in the ancient Kree city.
This feels awfully cheap, and cheapens SHIELD's comeback from its nadir at the end of last season. I get that they wanted to hustle Skye into her big moment of transformation and pay off all the stuff they'd been building up about her, but there had to be a way to do that without turning Hydra into such an easy foe to defeat.
At the same time, we did at least witness some great badassery in the fight against Hydra — including May's "fancy" flying at the start of the episode, Lance quipping and shooting people, and so on.
And we get to see one big result of Whitehall's death — Agent 33, who was brainwashed to be loyal to Whitehall, not Hydra, is free. Just the way Ward was free, after Garrett went nuts and then died. So Agent 33 and the injured Ward team up to go sort out their complicated ex-Hydra feelings, which is a coupling that I'm straight-up excited to watch.
Oh, and Coulson drops a hint before the big fight, telling Eric Koenig that he and his "brother" should go back to the base and be ready to activate the "Theta" protocol if the mission goes totally sideways. Also, at the end of the episode, we're reminded that Whitehall may be down, but Hydra is still out there.
What happened to Tripp and Mack?
There's a lot of talk about Mack in the episode, and whether he's still alive — and various theories are advanced, like he's a "zombie ant" in the service of the Kree city or something. Nobody's quite given up on him, although they keep saying that "it's not Mack," and they may just have to mercy-kill him.
In the end, though, after Mack serves as tourguide to Raina and then attacks Coulson, he seems to be knocked down by the same surge of power that transforms Skye — and in the final glimpse, it's hard to tell, but Mack may actually be normal again.
In which case, Mack will hopefully explain at some point what his deal with Bobbi Morse is. When Bobbi thinks he's gone for good, she goes to Mack's garage and finds a thumb drive, which she tries to hide from her ex-husband Lance. This is presumably something to do with her "deal" with Mack, that Lance isn't part of. Lance says he wants to trust Bobbi, but just hopes the thumb drive isn't something to do with the two of them.
In any case, this show seems to be determined to get rid of at least one of its two African-American men, and actor B.J. Britt is a busy guy. So Tripp rushes back into the deadly tunnels to defuse the bombs that he, Fitz and Simmons placed. (Side note: You need a hazmat suit to go into those tunnels... until you don't.) He nearly gets blown up, but survives long enough to rush in and try to save Skye, only to disintegrate (apparently) under the Terrigen Mist.
Of course, there are still lots of rumors/reports that B.J. Britt was on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, so I still hope he was just teleported or has been duplicated, Koenig-style.
All in all, this episode gave us a lot to chew on while we wait for this show to return. In particular, the Inhumans. And eyeless guy, who's coming after Skye. Plus whatever Hydra's next move is, and whatever Bobbi Morse and Mack were up to. And what is Skye going to turn into?