SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "All the Comforts of Home," the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have just set the stage for the Thunderbolts. In "All the Comforts of Home," the midseason premiere, General Hale revealed that she is putting together a team of superpowered and highly skilled individuals, including her own daughter Ruby. At the very end of the episode, she told Carl "Absorbing Man" Creel about her initiative and recruited him for the cause.
Since her introduction, General Hale has made it clear that isn't quite one of the "good" guys. In "Rewind," her debut episode, she executed her two subordinates for letting Fitz escape from her facility. Then, in "All the Comforts of Home," she sent Ruby -- her assassin daughter -- to kill Director Phil Coulson and the rest of his team. The end of the episode also revealed that, despite appearances, she keeps Ruby locked up in a heavily guarded military facility.
So, when Ruby asked if her mother was "a good guy," that was something of a loaded question. After Hale scolded her daughter for skipping class at the beginning of the episode, Ruby posed a major question: "Hey, Mom. Are you a good guy?" she asked. "Well, you're off to a strategy meeting, right? How to stop S.H.I.E.L.D.? But up until recently, everyone rooted for them and thought that they were the good guys, so are you sure that you're not a bad guy?"
"You're obsessed with Daisy Johnson. My orders are to capture her," Hale responded, not quite answering the question. "Ruby, this is my assignment, okay? And in the adult realm, we all have to to answer to someone. Even me. I do what I must --"
"To build a better world for the downtrodden citizens," Ruby finished for her, only for Hale to say, "For you, Ruby. I do this for you, okay? So try to remember that. When they resurface, I'll put an end to all this. This entire S.H.I.E.L.D. chapter will be over."
However, Hale may not have been too truthful about that. She told former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Piper the same thing: "Look, Hale knows you're not guilty. She's guaranteed your safety. She just wanted to bring you in. You don't have to run anymore," Piper explained after she betrayed Coulson and the team to Hale, which led Ruby to their location.
Needless to say, she was shocked when Ruby and her robot minions -- sent on General Hale's orders -- began to assault May, Yo-Yo and Mack. "No, it's do not engage. It's capture, not kill," Piper said, unable to believe her eyes. "No, Hale is an ally. Talbot's in a coma. She's general-in-command. I thought -- No, she's U.S. military. I just wanted to help."
When Ruby returned to base after her failed mission, she walked down a hallway with at least four other doors, with her bedroom down at the very end. Because of her failure, Hale chastised her. "Your work is sloppy and incomplete and you've been trained to do better, which is why you don't skip class," Hale scolded, revealing that she has trained Ruby in her deadly art. "You're my daughter, and a disappointment." She then left the room, only for a guard to lock and seal the heavily armored door behind her.
After she left her daughter, Hale went to find Absorbing Man. She found him while he was out for a run and pulled up beside him in a black vehicle with tinted windows. "Figured I'd see you again soon," he said when he realized who it was.
"Yes, well, I told you I'd find you once S.H.I.E.L.D. showed up again," Hale retorted.
"I told you. I'm not interested in being the government's hired gun. I'm done with that. Didn't do Talbot any good," Absorbing Man responded.
"Yes, well, I'm not interested in a hired gun," Hale said with a smile. "I'm putting together a team." That seemed to be enough to convince him, because he then got into the car with her and they drove away together.