This week on Agents of Hydra, we focused not on S.H.I.E.L.D. but more on the history of Hydra. What defines a Hydra agent? What makes them so loyal to their cause that they would die before betraying it? What goes on in the mind of a (to quote John Garrett) “true believer” like our lovable Kaminsky? (Also where is Kaminsky?) And…did Ward kill Buddy? By looking at General Hale’s past, we find answers to most of these questions, and with Hydra back, maybe we’ll see Kaminsky again (probably not though).
The first flashback “28 Years Ago” was rich with people and information. Hale was there, of course, but at school with her were Sitwell and Baron von Strucker. Even Whitehall showed up, though clearly after he had eviscerated Daisy’s mom. The most significant thing mined from this revelation is the Hydra School indoctrination of children. This school thrilled me as I remembered reading it in Nick Spencer’s run on Captain America: Steve Rogers volume 1 #7. The evil Captain America in that controversial run (also known as Stevil or HydraCap) was also raised in a Hydra School.
Whitehall: You always have a choice whether or not to comply
Hale is the top of her class. Whitehall praises her over Strucker for her forward thinking. Yet, upon graduating, her assignment isn’t working on the project for which Whitehall praised her. She is to be an incubator for the next leader of Hydra. As a mother, I feel that parenthood is the ultimate fulfillment in life, but there are people out there who never have any desire to have children. They can still be fulfilled without them. Hale’s other qualities are dismissed and, despite what Whitehall says, Hydra has ways of making people comply. I’m sure the writers intended the slap in the face female viewers felt when Whitehall told Hale that she was the only graduate that had the required anatomy to work on his project. It was eerie.
Garrett: If you’re gonna work within S.H.I.E.L.D. for Hydra, you can’t ever get attached to anyone or anything. You have to fight that weakness in you. […] Now take care of Buddy, and we’ll get out of here. That’s not a weakness, is it?
Can we talk about dogs? I want to talk about dogs. In season 1 episode 21 “Ragtag”, John Garrett tells a young Grant Ward to kill the dog he loves. Debates have followed on whether Ward set Buddy free … or killed him. This week we found out that this is a time-honored test of loyalty to Hydra—their graduation test. I always thought Garrett had come up with the idea (and maybe killed the dog himself). Jeff Loeb promised us that it’s all connected, and while he was talking about the movie and television sides of Marvel, it’s nice to see threads connected from season to season. This was a small moment to explain why Ward dumped Fitz-Simmons in the ocean. Four seasons later, we see that it’s a test of loyalty for all Hydra.
Plenty more happens in this episode. Pieces are moved around. Talbot wakes up. Hale tries to get S.H.I.E.L.D. to team up with Hydra. We learn more about the aliens Hale is working with/for/against. Her plan will destroy the planet. The meat of the story, however, is with young Hale growing up to become Hydra. For an episode told mostly in flashbacks, it was surprising enjoyable.
VERDICT: 4 out of 5
Compliance will be rewarded.
In addition to being a die-hard Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, running #AgentsOfSpoilers a weekly re-watch of classic episodes, Carolyn loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999). When not engrossed in the MCU, Carolyn can be found binging old school wrestling and living on Twitter. She subscribes to the philosophy “Music is life”.