SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Rise and Shine," the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just revealed how Ruby Hale came to be. In "Rise and Shine," the latest episode, a flashback showed that Ruby was bio-engineered to be the perfect candidate for a secret super soldier program. Worse, Hydra forced General Hale to be artificially inseminated with this "perfect human specimen" after a hair-raising scene between a young Hale and Season 3 villain Daniel Whitehall.
In a flashback that went 28 years into the past, Hale was revealed to be a student at an elite Hydra boarding school, which she attended with the late Jasper Sitwell and Baron von Strucker. At the school, she trained to go deep undercover as a Hydra agent. On this particular day, Whitehall visited the institution as "today's guest speaker" who "used alien DNA to actually reverse the body's aging process."
During his lecture, Whitehall unveiled Hydra's latest advancement in super solider technology. "Since World War II and the success of Steve Rogers, there have been many failed attempts to create a super soldier, but -- after some ungainly setbacks -- we're close, close to creating the most powerful man on Earth," he revealed. "Now, this is the particle infusion chamber, an apparatus that can force human cells to take on the properties of a raw material. Imagine: a man with the density of lead with the volatility of Cesium. The possibilities are endless!"
Whitehall, who was impressed by Hale's "forward thinking" during the class, later called her to see him so that he could give her a special assignment. "It seems you're one of the few females to make it to commencement," he said by way of praise. "Leadership expected nothing less. In fact, we're confident we see the future of Hydra in you. That's why I've selected you for my program."
Initially, Hale was thrilled at the prospect of working with Whitehall. "Sir, I'm honored. I've dreamed of working with you and I really think that the chamber can revolutionize --" she said, but Whitehall cut her off.
"No, no. Von Strucker will be working on the chamber. We're actually impressed by your strength. Your mettle. We think you'll be essential in engineering the perfect human specimen for the chamber," he explained.
"Sir, I'm not a biologist," she replied, confused.
"Correct, but you're the only candidate left with the other necessary qualifications," he clarified.
At this, a look of horrified realization settled on her face. "You want me to be --" she started, only for him to finish, "Artificially inseminated. It's quite exciting, yes? You should be honored! You will give birth to our new leader. As I said, we see the future of Hydra in you."
"What about my future?" Hale asked with a catch to her voice.
"As requested, you'll be placed deep undercover within the Air Force," he said. "Perhaps you'll even become an astronaut! However, once the seed as been perfected, we expect you'll serve the cause."
When Hale asked if she could be assigned elsewhere, Whitehall gave her a subtle threat in response: "You always have a choice whether or not to comply."
"Hail Hydra," she said, defeated.
"That's what I thought," he replied with a smug smile.
Later on, when Ruby was older, Hale confirmed that her daughter was a product of Whitehall's program. In a discussion with one of Ruby's teachers, she asked what the heads of Hydra had in mind for Ruby. When the teacher replied that it was still being decided, Hale demanded to know, "What's to decide? Whitehall designed her to lead." As such, Hale made it clear that Ruby is the "perfect human specimen" that Whitehall designed with Hydra scientists.
Given Hydra's involvement in the Nazi movement, the organization's interest in eugenics shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Before and during World War II, Nazi Germany implemented racially-based eugenics policies to create the Germanic "Übermenschen" master race, which led to atrocities like mass compulsory sterilization and the Holocaust. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., former S.S. officer Werner Reinhardt -- who later took the name Daniel Whitehall -- seems inspired by those same policies that shaped the Nazi party. Ruby, his creation, even boasts the blond-haired, blue-eyed "purity" of the Aryan race that the Nazis sought in WWII.
All of this is likely why Hale has such distaste for Hydra. After all, she scoffed at the idea of bringing Hydra back in "Principia," when Werner von Strucker announced that he wanted nothing to do with his father or the organization. She described Hydra as "such a boys’ club. So much testosterone." Now, it's clear why she thinks that.
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.