A big office supply truck cruises down the highway. The driver, Mack, allows one of the two SUVs serving as his escort to pass in front of him. He’s shocked to see the vehicle go airborne before crashing to the ground. Mack desperately tries to regain control of the truck as he accesses a holographic map. The second SUV goes airborne. Then Mack’s truck ascends as well. It crashes down to the ground. Mack is unconscious as men in camouflage outfits entire the area with a heavy machinery vehicle to rip open the truck’s storage area. They aren’t look for office supplies. They are there for the asset hidden behind a locked S.H.I.E.L.D. door. They are there for Dr. Franklin Hall.
Agent Ward does his best to train Skye in some basic fighting and combat moves, but his student lacks focus. She’s not committed. Ward says every field agent has a defining moment, but he’s not willing to reveal his. Skye threatens to have Coulson give him some more of that truth serum he got injected with in “The Pilot.” She’s stunned when her supervising officer reveals they don’t have a truth serum. Later, Coulson briefs the team on the abduction of Canadian physicist, Dr. Franklin Hall. Fitz and Simmons are especially upset to hear this news. The good doctor was their chemical kinetics advisor back in the day.
Dr. Hall was one of a few select scientists S.H.I.E.L.D. has been protecting so their enemies don’t get their hands on them. Mack says the bad guys knew his route. This suggests they were working with someone inside S.H.I.E.L.D. Simmons determines that an erratically-spinning mini-gyroscope device is what caused the trucks to go airborne. Coulson and Ward find the man who sold the equipment to the folks who snatched Hall. He was paid in gold that was made in a mine owned by a wealthy businessman named Ian Quinn. He’s the one who kidnapped Hall and brought him to his compound in Malta. These two have a past together.
Quinn chose Malta because he is protected from anyone coming after him there, including S.H.I.E.L.D. He shows Hall a prototype of a machine that’s powered by gravitonium, an extremely rare, high atomic-numbered element that many thought didn’t even exist. The device can randomly change the rules of gravity around it. This is something Dr. Hall has studied for many years. Quinn wants him to help him control the gravity fields in the giant generator he developed.
Skye offers to crash the annual shareholders gathering that’s coming up at Quinn’s compound. She hacks her way into creating her own personal Evite. Ward isn’t sure this is a great idea based on her training. Coulson suggests he start acting more like a person than a training officer. This leads his admission as to having a brother who beat him up mercilessly. He had to learn to protect himself. That was his defining moment. It’s exactly what Skye wanted to know, but she apologizes for pushing.
Coulson knows Agent May doesn’t want to be part of the two-man extraction team going in to get Hall while Skye parties with Quinn. That’s why he’s personally going in with Ward. At the party, Skye meets Quinn, who is impressed with her Rising Tide work. The host offers her a job. Quinn makes a speech about how he is planning to control gravity to his shareholders. He later catches Skye snooping around his place. She writes down on a piece of paper that “S.H.I.E.L.D. is listening.” This gets her an invite into Quinn’s office where she ditches her communication device.
Skye details how she’s been hanging with S.H.I.E.L.D. lately. Quinn isn’t surprised. He says S.H.I.E.L.D. preys on people like her—people with no family. He wants to know what they want with him. Skye uses this conversation as an opportunity to help Fitz disable the compound’s exterior laser grid long enough for Coulson and Ward to enter the premises. The agents split up. Coulson finds Dr. Hall who, surprisingly, doesn’t want to leave. As it turns out, the good doctor was the mole. He wanted to get kidnapped so that he could bury the device Quinn was developing at the bottom of the ocean. That means killing everyone in the area, too.
The device will soon reach a critical acceleration rate. The forces of gravity are already being manipulated causing much instability. In Quinn’s office, Skye uses what little training she has to make an escape into the pool below. She’s eventually surrounded by Quinn’s men. Ward shows up just in time to take them all down. In the underground lab, Coulson manages wrestle his gun away from Hall as their surroundings become increasingly unstable. He can’t cut the power. Fitz and Simmons tell him he needs to find a catalyst—something to cut the device’s chemical reaction in the core. Coulson has no choice. BANG! BANG! BANG! He blasts a hole into a spot that causes Dr. Hall to drop through the gyroscope. The scientist has become the catalyst as he is consumed by the gravitonium until it finally sits at rest.
Coulson gets a visit from Melinda May. She wants to report for combat next time it comes up. She’s committed, as is Skye. She reveals to Ward how she never fit in with any of the foster parents she was shuffled to as a kid. There was one family in particular that she’d hoped to join, but it never happened. Ward assures her they won’t turn their back on her. That doesn’t matter. Skye has made her choice. She wants this life. She’s committed. In other news, Coulson orders that the gravitonium be stored deep in the recesses of an unmarked vault. Nobody is to have access. Once the vault doors close, something amazing happens. The gravitonium forms into a hand.