In 1945, in his HYDRA Fortress, General Werner Reinhardt and a team of scientists documented the effects of the Obelisk on the Chinese people who found it. One particular young woman caused the artifact to glow with strange writing when she touched it. Before Reinhardt could discover what made this woman unique, an officer told him of the demise of the Red Skull and the coming of the Allied forces.
Reinhardt was captured and sent to the Rat for interrogation by Peggy Carter. He asked if he could make a deal, but she adamantly refused. To entice her, he told her what he knew of "blue angels" coming to Earth and that he could save humanity. Carter sentenced Reinhardt to a life sentence in the Strategic Scientific Reserve facility.
In 1989, S.H.I.E.L.D. undersecretary Alexander Pierce freed Reinhardt, officially saying that budget cuts were necessary. He had Agent Hauer take him to his old headquarters. HYDRA gathered the elders of the Chinese village for Reinhardt to inspect; he saw the young woman, looking unaged after so many years. Reinhardt performed experiments on the woman. Taking her bodily fluids and DNA, Reinhardt used them to get a transfusion that restored his youth. Agent Hauer was told to dispose of her remains. Those remains were found by Calvin Zabo, who swore vengeance.
In the present, Melinda May is in charge of the Playground as Phil Coulson takes Leo Fitz, Antoine Triplett and Skye to Hawaii. He gives each a particular mission, then has the Bus take them to Australia. At Laura Creek, there is a satellite relaying station that is easier to infiltrate than the Kaena Point Air Force Base in Oahu. The weird assignments Coulson gave earlier is to cause an EMP blackout at that base which would cause the one at Laura Creek to be used as back-up. Coulson wants their satellites hacked so he can find the city that matches the Words of Creation. However, while there, the team is ambushed by HYDRA and Triplett is fatally shot.
HYDRA is there because Zabo explained to Daniel Whitehall that the Diviner selected worthy people to go within a temple in a hidden city. Zabo sought that city, but Triplett's injury gives him an opportunity to meet Coulson personally. He is surprised that Coulson knows about the city, since Whitehall had to be told by him. The Diviner has something inside it explains Zabo. Coulson allows Zabo to escape in order to save Triplett.
When Zabo returns to Whitehall, he meets Ward.
In the Playground, May opens Vault B so that the others can research the past of Daniel Whitehall. They discover his past identity as Werner Reinhardt but not the secret of his youth. When this information is told to Sunil Bakshi during his interrogation by Bobbi Morse, he takes a cyanide pill to commit suicide, but he is saved.
Before Skye can be told that Coulson and Fitz met her father, the satellites find a match.
- Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
- Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May
- Brett Dalton as Grant Ward
- Chloe Bennet as Skye
- Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz
- Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
- Nick Blood as Lance Hunter
- Kyle MacLachlan as Calvin Zabo
- B.J. Britt as Agent Antoine Triplett
- Henry Simmons as Agent Alphonso Mackenzie
- Adrianne Palicki as Agent Bobbi Morse
- Simon Kassianides as Sunil Bakshi
- Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter
- Reed Diamond as Werner Reinhardt/Daniel Whitehall
- Tim DeKay as Senator Christian Ward
- Dichen Lachman as Jiaying
- Lou Ferrigno Jr. as Agent Hauer
- Al Coronel as Agent Rivera
- Ian Gregory as General Cole
- Shannon Mosley as Darren
- Eijiro Ozaki as HYDRA Prisoner
- Alexander Leeb as HYDRA Scientist
- Willem van der Vegt as HYDRA Fortress Officer
- HYDRA Warehouse
- Oahu, Hawaii
- Laura Creek, Australia
- Austria (flashback)
- HYDRA Fortress (flashback)
- Rat (flashback)
- Kree City (mentioned)
- London, England (mentioned)
- Afterlife (mentioned)
- Arnsberg, Germany (mentioned)
- Search for the Kree City
- Assassination of Christian Ward
- Attack on HYDRA Research Facility Number 4 (mentioned)
- Words of Creation
- Inertial Confinement Laser Barrier
- Bobbi Morse's Battle Staves
- Cyanide Pills
- Bulletproof Vest
- S.H.I.E.L.D. ID Cards
- Tesseract (mentioned)
- Coulson's Team (mentioned)
- United States Air Force
- WHiH World News
- Strategic Scientific Reserve (flashback)
- Howling Commandos (mentioned)
- Allies of World War II (mentioned)
- Geek Squad (mentioned)
- Operation Paperclip
- Red Skull
- Nick Fury
- Anna Ward
- Grant Ward's Mother
- Grant Ward's Father
- Thomas Ward
- Audrey Nathan
- Alexander Pierce
- Wolfgang Brenner
- James Bond
- Project MKUltra
- O Captain! My Captain!
- Bobbi Morse compares Sunil Bakshi to a "classic Bond villain". Simon Kassianides, the actor portraying Sunil Bakshi, portrayed the villain Yusef Kabira in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
- This was the only episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with the TV-14 rating instead of the normal TV-PG.
- On Werner Reinhardt's Strategic Scientific Reserve booking photograph, it identifies the SSR as part of the US Department of the Army. This is an anachronism for 1945, as that branch of government was known as the Department of War until 1947.