This episode puts Agents Coulson and May into the field. Their mission, should they choose to accept it (which they have, obviously): To acquire a religious painting that was the only surviving relic from a church fire in Miami. However, they’re not so much interested in the painting itself, but in the alien writing carved into the back. Yes, the same alien writing Garrett and Coulson have carved, and the writing seen on the obelisk.
In order to get the painting Coulson and May must act like snobby rich people to gain entry into the auction that is selling the painting in order to raise money to rebuild the church. The spy duo take their time and get the lay of the land, May pretending to laugh and dance and have a good time, which the rest of the team find bizarre. They thought when May was laughing she was in pain.
While putting their spy education to good use and dancing a complicated waltz (or something. I’m not a dancer.) Coulson tries to talk to May about a contingency plan in the event Coulson goes crazy like Garrett did. May avoids the issue pointing out a snag in their plan. Gen. Talbot enters the same auction.
Coulson tries to confront Talbot, asking for some breathing room, and Talbot acts strange. More cordial to Coulson, joking with him, answering and asking vague questions. With Talbot in the area, they make a play to steal the painting ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, back on the Bus, Skye, Fittz, Hunter, and Mac run comms for Coulson and May, while also bonding over stories of ex-relationships, Hunter being especially funny, referring to his failed marriage as “inter-species relationships never work out. I was a human and she was a demonic hell beast”. I thought this was funny. I can relate… ANYWAY!
With all the bonding going on, Fittz feels left out. Ghost Simmons tries to get him to socialize with the group, but Fittz is scared. Since he’s been broken, he’s had trouble talking and using words and is scared he won’t have something to say. Classic social anxiety. I understand you, Fittz. I get that way, too. It’s why I write a blog and talk on video. A way to get out of my bubble and be more sociable. But this isn’t about me. I’m not an Agent of SHIELD (though I wish I was).
After some cloak and dagger moves to get access, Coulson and May make their way to the basement storage where the painting is supposed to be. They’re about to reach their destination when they are stopped by a laser grid. Coulson readies himself to slide through secret agent style, while May just walks on, signaling the alarm because “they already know we’re here.”
Their attempt is in vain however, Talbot already has the painting, but offers to work together. Coulson says he needs an hour to talk to his team and then he’ll meet him at Talbot’s hotel. Coulson knows they’re being played, and May follows Talbot to investigate if the offer is genuine.
Once May reaches the hotel, she discovers that Talbot is working for Hydra (WHAT?!) she fights Talbot, and after delivering a blow to his face, discovers it’s not Gen. Talbot afterall, but Whitehall’s right hand man wearing a sciency-wiency mask that replicates Talbot’s face and speech. Distracted by this, May is taken down and a female Hydra agent replicates May’s face and goes to bring Coulson back to get answers.
Back at the bus, Fittz wanders around the his old lab, now dark and empty and used as storage, and relents to Ghost Simmons that he feels like the team doesn’t want or need him around. Fay (Fake May) interrupts his conversation with his subconscious and convinces Coulson and the rest of the team that the offer is genuine, and brings Coulson back with her, but only after sabotaging the bus’s systems.
On the way to the hotel, Coulson brings up the contingency plan for if he goes crazy again, and Fay acts vague about questions and answers. Then, in a touching moment of bonding between the two, she holds Coulson’s hand. Big mistake. Coulson is no suspicious. Once they make it inside the hotel Coulson asks Fay out to coffee, and then punches her in the face when she accepts. “May hates coffee.”
The real May breaks free from Mr. Hydra Agent, who then makes an escape with the painting. May meets up with Coulson and Fay, and they face off. Coulson, after commenting on how what he was seeing (May fighting Fay) was unbelievable he goes after Mr. Hydra Agent.
Back on the Bus, systems have gone haywire and Fittz does his best to explain that the Bus is about to explode. With the help of Hunter and his steady hands, Fittz stops the sabotage in the nick of time, saving the day.
Coulson and may take down their respective bad guys and make their escape with the painting before more Hydra agents show up.
As the team makes their way back to base, Fittz finally begins to try and socialize with the rest of the team, while Coulson and May finally talk about the if-Phil-goes-crazy plan. Apparently May had already made one. She shows him the bug out bag she put together and told him of a cabin in Australia. She refuses to kill Coulson should the worst happen, and she promises to get him out of there. Coulson is touched, but orders her to make the hard decision and kill him if and when she has to.
Away from SHIELD, Raina gets into her car after making plans to get to Miami, supposedly to investigate the burned church and other clues about the painting. She’s ambushed by Whitehall and other Hydra Agents, and put into a type of paralysis after Whitehall uses a device similar to the one we saw in Iron Man. He tells her to bring the Obelisk to him in 48 hours, or he will find her, and torture her for days. Apparently torture is a big thing with Hydra now that Whitehall is in charge.
It’s no secret I’ve always liked this show, but this episode in particular was a lot of fun. Seeing Coulson and May working together brings a sense of classic James Bond spy stuff that we rarely get to see. It also brings with it humor between two characters who have a strong bond between them. They’re like the Mal and Zoe of AoS.
However, this episode also kind of sort of teases a possible relationship between the two. Something romantic. Or it may just be a love shared between two partners. It’s definitely there, and it’s definitely strong.
Fittz and Ghost Simmons are also an interesting thing to see. Normally when we’ve seen characters in movies or shows, their subconscious is very persuasive about the injured person falling deeper into darkness and despair. With Fittz-GhostSimmons, it’s the exact opposite. Ghost Simmons is adamant about Fittz getting better. Socializing with the team. Asking for help. It shows the strength inside of Fittz that he just can’t see himself yet. A strength and desire in him to get better, that is so much stronger than his despair.