In upstate New York, the stranger, or Carver, with all the tattoos that we saw in “A Fractured House” is invited up to a young art teacher’s apartment for a nightcap. He reveals the alien designs that adorn his chest. He assures the young woman that they have met before. The Carver pulls out a knife to help her remember. The woman, Janice Robbins, is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Actually, she was an agent. Skye shows Coulson crime scene photos of her body which has been carved disturbingly with the alien symbols.
Coulson and Skye search the apartment of Janice Robbins, aka Agent Rebecca Stevens. There are many images of the symbols. She has some pieces that are missing from Coulson’s design. Simmons performs an autopsy on the deceased agent. Both victim and the killer had/have GH-325 in their blood. It eventually turned them into psychopaths. Coulson believes the only way to get the answers they seek is to torture him to the point where the memories that were taken from him return.
After being placed in the memory machine, Coulson sees himself in the interrogation room at the Guest House. Agent Stevens is across from him. Others agents are there, too. They are all in decent shape at first. Then everything changes. They all go mad save one. It’s the Carver. He just wants to know when he can get out of there. Coulson argues to shut down the rejuvenation program and destroy the host. The only hope is to erase the memories of the patients. So that’s what they do.
A struggling Coulson is able to reveal the names of the patients. The killer is target those who went to that magical place of Tahiti. His name was Sebastian Derik. He was an assassin from the dark side of S.H.I.E.L.D. The only Tahiti patient he hasn’t killed yet is a man named Hank Thompson. Coulson tells Skye he wants to take care of him personally after trapping her in Ward’s cell.
Coulson holds Hank Thompson at gunpoint after a warning that his life is in danger. This is just before Sebastian Derik knocks him out from behind. Thompson is bound and gagged in his workshop. His wife and son are locked in a closet. Coulson is also tied up. Derik lets him know that pain gives him back his memories. It’s how he found all the others from the Tahiti project. He wants to know what the alien writings mean. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to find out.
Hank Thompson escapes from his bindings. Some deep-rooted training helps him assist Coulson in breaking free as well. Thompson rushes his family to safety while Coulson momentarily neutralizes Derik. A mighty struggle ensues. Skye and Mack arrive. They threaten to shoot Coulson, who has Derik trapped by the neck. He’s not trying to kill him. He’s trying to get him to look down at the massive toy train design Hank Thompson had constructed. From above, it looks like the alien writing. It looks like a city.
Coulson tells Hank Thompson that they could use a good, former super spy like him. That’s not going to happen. Thompson is happy being the family man he is now. He thanks Coulson for his second chance. As for Sebastian Derik, he’s been turned over to the proper authorities. He’s also found his peace. So has Coulson. The compulsion to carve is gone. He can feel it. Now all he has to do is figure out why the alien was so determined to get to that city.
Ward is spotted accessing one of his hot boxes where he has money and supplies hidden. Trip has no choices but to let him walk as he has a dead man’s switched wired to lots of C-4 if anyone tries to take him down. Ward heads to Atlanta where he hops a bus to Dallas. Then he hops on one to Boston after making posing passenger Bobbi Morse as an agent. No problem. Hunter is already camped in the back of the bus headed to Beantown.
A bartender at a Boston pub pours Ward a drink. He welcomes him back. Moments later, Bakshi arrives flanked by a couple of Hydra agents. Ward informs him that he wants to meet Whitehall. A short time later, May, Trip, Hunter and Bobbi infiltrate the pub. The bartender is dead, as are the two Hydra agents. May finds Bakshi tied up in a back room. He’s wearing Ward’s clothes. There’s a note on the piece of duct tape covering his mouth. It reads: For Coulson.
Coulson vows that they’ll find Ward eventually. In the meantime, they’ll take advantage of his gift of Bakshi. Coulson addresses his team to assure them that he’s not crazy. He’s been trying to solve a puzzle, just like Hydra. Coulson says their job is to find the mystery city before anyone else.
Ward shaves off his beard as well as a lot of his hair. He places a call to Skye knowing that she’d answer Bakshi’s phone. He promises to keep sending gifts from time to time. Skye wants him to tell her where he is. That’s not going to happen. Ward has some work to do. He packs up a duffle bag filled with supplies. He tosses a newspaper on top. Pictured on the front page is his senator brother. Ward zips up the bag over Senator Ward’s smug, smiling face.