As General Talbot makes a speech disparaging S.H.I.E.L.D. to the U.N., a team of soldiers storms the room. Everyone panics. The leader of the charge unleashes a splinter bomb while declaring the message that “S.H.I.E.L.D. is done hiding.”
General Talbot is among those injured in the attack orchestrated by Marcus Scarlotti, an assassin who leads a group of mercenaries. The bodies of the victims disintegrate due to a weapon Simmons saw references to in Hydra’s lab. It was developed by demolitions expert Toshiro Mori, who has a lab in Okinawa. Coulson sends out a team which includes a bickering Hunter and Bobbi Morse. In Washington, a powerful senator wants to put S.H.I.E.L.D. in the ground for good. His name: Christian Ward. He’s former agent Grant Ward’s brother.
Senator Ward wants a multi-national task force targeting S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson knows such a proposal will be devastating if it comes to fruition. He tells Agent Walters of the Netherlands to go dark. He also orders Skye to keep the focus on Ward’s family as she drills him for info. That’s not easy to do. Coulson shuts down their chat when Skye slips off track.
Bobbi uses her Hydra cover to get Toshiro to leak intelligence. She has a prior relationship with the guy as evidenced by their kiss. Bobbi uses her charm to try to get her hands on some splinter bombs, but an incoming Hydra message blows her cover. Hunter guns down a guard before he can shoot Bobbi, who assures him she had everything under control. Bickering ensues.
Coulson pays Senator Ward a visit. He wants an opportunity to clear the air. He tells him he has his brother in his basement. He knows what happened at “The Well.” Christian assures Coulson that his baby brother is the truly evil one.
Skye pays another visit to Ward, who claims his brother is a master manipulator. It’s a case of “he said-he said.” The subject of Skye’s father arises again. Ward can take her to him. That’s not going to happen. Ward is being transferred into the custody of his brother. Coulson struck a deal.
Simmons asks Fitz for help repairing the hard drive they stole from Hydra’s lab. She’s trying to not treat him differently, but he is different. Fitz wants to know why she left. Simmons can’t answer that. In other news, the team learns that Scarlotti’s team is going after the one guy who has been trying to keep the peace—Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Julien Beckers. In the lab, Fitz, Simmons and Mack learn that the original designer of the splinter bombs was a Vincent Beckers—Julien’s grandfather.
Coulson realizes that they have been played. Beckers shows up at the Belgium safe house where Agent Walters resides. He orders Scarlotti to kill her. Hunter shows up a short time later to cause a distraction so the rest of his team can help him take down the bad guys. There are brutal battles all around. Bobbi and Hunter take down a slew of soldiers while May neutralizes Scarlotti. Unfortunately, many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are lost.
In random updates, Simmons lets Mack know that the reason she left is because she knows that she makes Fitz worse. General Talbot offers May condolences for the team members that were lost as he takes Scarlotti into custody. In Washington, Senator Christian Ward makes a speech telling the world that his younger brother was a member of Hydra. He does this as Grant Ward is being transferred into his custody. This is something that may never happen, as Ward breaks free from his constraints.
A Stranger enters a tattoo parlor at night. He’s been there before. The Stranger hands the tattoo artist a piece of paper. He says, “Tonight we finish it.” The Stranger takes off his shirt. His entire body is covered in alien writing. The Stranger guides the artist’s hand as he presses the needle toward the last bit of exposed flesh. The pain is severe. The Stranger doesn’t mind. Pain is what helps him remember.