Things sound a bit fatalistic for the Agents of SHIELD when they get the episode title, “All Roads Lead…” As we saw last episode, Glenn Talbot has been conditioned while in Hydra’s custody, and that conditioning has been activated. He’s stalking through the corridors of the Lighthouse, muttering to himself, and ends up in the computer/control room. Whatever he’s up to gets interrupted by Mack wandering in, and they have a talk that takes place on several levels. Talbot ends up leaving, muttering a phrase that sets off alarm bells for everyone who hears it at this point.
Held prisoner by Ruby and Strucker, Fitz is repairing some of the things he and Simmons sabotaged. This particular gadget looks like Iron Man’s Arc Reactor to me. Ruby is both working off her frustrations and keeping Fitz in line with some target practice. She relents and lets Simmons help Fitz, making herself sound like she’s a fan of them in the process. Between that and the poster of Daisy she had, I really wonder how much Ruby knows about the Agents. Strucker comes in, bearing news of Anton Ivanov’s destruction, and Ruby threatens the Fitz/Simmons team to start working faster. Yo-Yo gets back to the ship and looks a lot the worse for wear, between the problems she’s having with her new arms and the fight with the mad robotic Russian.
Coulson tries to follow up on May’s emotional outburst from last episode, but she’s back on mission and walks away, leaving the bemused Director in her wake. Daisy briefs the team on where they need to go next, and Daisy and May decide Coulson isn’t coming with them. Deke acts kind of goofy during all this, not sure how to handle his feelings for Daisy. Coulson and Daisy joke about her leadership so far.
Hale gets assorted bad news including Ivanov’s death and Ruby striking out on her own. Things aren’t any better with Creel, who is still out of it from his brush with the gravitonium. He’s not likely to be able to help anyone in the near future, let alone give Hale any intel on what’s in store for Ruby.
Mack is working on his latest task, not at all sure about some of their goals being possible. Deke points out that he was born fifty years from now, so possible is a lot more flexible than it was. He also talks about how they show romantic interest in someone in his time, and Coulson and Mack set him up. Talbot goes on with his mission, which we finally see, and while it’s nasty, I’d probably send him for that too if I were in charge of Hydra.
I get how impressive the characters are at this point, but the attack plan makes no sense to me. They use the Zephyr to blow a hole in the Hydra base, and then Daisy and May go in alone. I get SHIELD isn’t the army it once was, but just the two of them? And May having refused a weapon? They end up facing what should be a fatal ambush, but Hale does something surprising, showing where her priorities are. She also makes a good case for Daisy and May listening to her.
Fitz and Simmons try some more subtle sabotage, and it really doesn’t go well. Yo-Yo has a run-in with another one of the damn mechs that Strucker has programmed to search and destroy. Talbot’s mission takes a dark turn as he meets up with some civilian personnel. Daisy and May give Coulson an update via video link, and both of them tell him he’s not making decisions at this point. Deke wonders if some of what they’re saying is even possible, and Mack tells him to assume the answer to that question is always yes at this point, which is a reversal of their earlier exchange.
Talbot continues to unravel, and his mission get uglier. I really do feel sorry for the man. The uneasy alliance of Daisy, May, and Hale arrive at the scientific base where everything is going badly. Hale actually compliments Daisy, and Daisy makes a suggestion I think is completely ridiculous. Hale seems to think so too. Fitz and Simmons are in the process of explaining something even they don’t know how to fix when it takes care of itself, somehow.
Coulson and Mack spend some time trying to decipher a clue as Deke walks past continuing the earlier joke. Coulson finally realizes something is amiss and they figure out Talbot’s not acting right. Ruby and Strucker share a kiss before she moves on to her big moment, which goes just about as badly as everyone but her thought it would. Ruby screams, Strucker tries to comfort her, and we see that Ruby has no idea how to handle her new power. This is about when Hale, Daisy, and May arrive, in time to see Ruby’s power spinning out of control.
Coulson and Mack find Talbot, who goes through a series of ups and downs as his programming clashes with everything else about him. Coulson tries his best to talk Talbot down, and Talbot does something extreme to try and find a way out. Hale is doing something similar with Ruby, who is screaming and steadily losing control of herself and her power. Most of the people evacuate from the area, but Yo-Yo goes charging in.
Coulson and Mack resolve things with Talbot the best way they can. It’s not pretty. Ruby lashes out at Daisy while Hale keeps trying to talk to her. There’s a lot of talking, and then Yo-Yo gets there and does something definitive. Daisy is mad at her, but I personally think Yo-Yo did the right thing. Hale manages to escape to some of her allies and strikes a deal that doesn’t sound good for SHIELD or the Earth in general.
What I liked: Fitz and Simmons were quietly courageous as they tried to screw with what Ruby was doing. I feel so bad for Talbot. The man has had a rotten run of luck on this show almost since he showed up. The sorta mutiny against Coulson makes sense to me. They’re going to protect him whether he wants it or not. I agree with Yo-Yo’s actions at the end of the episode.
What I didn’t: Daisy is getting idealistic to a ridiculous level, and that’s not something she can afford to be doing right now, especially if she’s not letting Coulson resume leadership. The whole Daisy and May charge in unarmed thing was just stupid, and only worked because Hale was being equally unprofessional.
The episode was uneven, but pretty good overall. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5. And I’m happy to report that the show will be back for a sixth season, although it will be shorter than the last several and likely the last.