Agents of SHIELD: Hale's Mysterious Masters Revealed?

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "The Devil Complex," the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just dropped the first major clue about General Hale's motivations. In "The Devil Complex," the latest episode, Hale had a heart-to-heart with Phil Coulson -- and then later with a mysterious man who has ties to Season 5's first story arc.

As Fitz, Daisy and Simmons struggled with Leopold back at the Lighthouse, Coulson, May and Piper managed to "capture" Hale on the Zephyr. There, Coulson had a chat with Hale. When he asked about her goal, she said simply, "Prevent our extinction."

"Saving humanity? That's usually my line," Coulson joked.

"I don't think you understand the forces at play here. My vantage point is much higher than yours," Hale shot back.

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Soon, Hale's plan came to light: she had staged her capture. Her driver outed himself as Absorbing Man, who had a bomb stapped to his chest. He threatened to blow the Zephyr out of the sky if Hale wasn't released, and May and Piper were forced to comply. However, Hale had one final demand: Coulson must go with her as their prisoner.

As Coulson weighed that, Hale's escape plane landed and out came Anton "The Superior" Ivanov, the man-turned-machine who helped Aida maintain the Framework in Season 4. Coulson and Ivanov had a brief exchange, wherein Ivanov echoed Hale's earlier sentiment about preventing extinction: "I will ensure this planet's survival for generations, but Hale is an important part of that." Of course, his goal became a little less noble down the line, when Hale revealed that she had his head in a jar and used that to control him.

Later, Hale checked in with her mysterious masters in a very unconventional way. She materialized into a dark room with strange blue symbols in the background. "Apologies for the delay," she announced.

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"Still empty-handed," scolded a man obscured by shadow. "You see how your lack of results could be construed as ineptitude"

"If you thought less of me, I wouldn't be here," Hale replied.

"You're here because the Confederacy allows it," he corrected her. "You want a seat at the table, you must prove you are deserving of it."

"I've secured what I believe to be the final piece. It's all within reach," she revealed, to which he said, "Always said prior to failure."

"No, I'd die before that happened," Hale insisted.

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"Well, before you do that, there's a tradition within the Confederacy. If one faces failure, you drink the odium," he explained, placing a very familiar vial in her hands. "Fight your last in a wave of savage glory. But if your resolve is as strong as you claim, you'll have no need of it. I hope fortune turns your way -- and, of course, hail Hydra."

If the vial looks familiar, that's because the Kree Kasius owned one in the 2091 storyline. Indeed, he used the odium himself to make a last stand against Coulson's team. On the odium -- which “burns through the body, all strength, no pain, a fearsome last stand, a brilliant flash of violent splendor” -- he went toe-to-toe with Mack and met his death at the end of Mack's shotgun-ax.

The fact that this vial has reappeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can be no coincidence -- and, indeed, it suggests that Hale is taking orders from the Kree. So, when she told Coulson her "vantage point is much higher than yours," she may have been speaking literally.

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In the credits for the episode, the mysterious man from the last scene (as played by Peter Mensah) is named Qovas, which doesn't exactly sound like it's human in origin. What's more, Kasius mentioned how his father -- who was never named -- had wanted Earth during the first arc of the season, which implied that the Kree were eying the planet before it was destroyed.

Hale's own past is also suspect. Of her own admittance, she worked with Hydra, which -- as we learned in Season 3 -- had connections to the ancient Inhuman cult that brought Hive to Earth. In "All the Comforts of Home," she set off the beacon that once drew two Kree warriors to Earth -- but no one showed up this time around. Additionally, she is an accomplished Air Force general; since Marvel Comics has plenty of precedence of pilots being abducted by aliens, like the Starjammers' Christopher Summers, Hale could have been up in a situation that allowed her to come in contact with the Kree.

Airing Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 stars Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Ian De Caestecker, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Elizabeth Henstridge.

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