SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “The Honeymoon,” the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have an unwitting traitor in their midst. In “The Honeymoon,” S.H.I.E.L.D. ally Brigadier General Glenn Talbot was revealed to be brainwashed by Hydra, in much the same way as the Winter Solider and Season 2’s Agent 33.
Daisy “Quake” Johnson unintentionally delivered Talbot right into Hydra’s hands by creating a means for him to contact his family. She developed the device for him after seeing how distraught he was when she told him it was too dangerous. “So it took some doing, but this phone was set to bounce through a dozen foreign relays,” she explained. “We only have one shot and even then just a few minutes, but you can call them without Hale tracing us.”
Unfortunately for Talbot, his wife Carla picked up. “Oh, Glenn. I was so worried! Once the Air Force took you, I got a few progress reports, but then you never called,” she said. “I thought I’d never see you again.”
“Honey, I’m sorry. I only have a few minutes. I just want you to tell George that his dad’s okay and his father loves him very much and I’m getting better,” he assured her. “I’m getting stronger and I’m not yelling — as much.”
However, that’s when things took a dark turn. The camera panned out to reveal that Candice Lee, General Hale’s assistant, was in the room with Carla. “Glenn, the doctor said that you should take a deep breath. Calm your mind. You know what is best. What is best is you comply. Remember, your compliance will be rewarded. Glenn, are you ready to comply?” Carla asked, to which he replied, “I’m happy to.”
If that phrase sounds familiar, that’s because it was used frequently in earlier seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Called the Faustus, likely after the Agent Carter villain of the same name, the phrase is part of Hydra’s established method of psychological coercion. Recurring villain Sunil Bakshi used the Faustus on Carl “Absorbing Man” Creel and later on Agent 33, who became a full-fledged member of Hydra after she was subjected to the technique. The method also appeared last season in the Framework, where it was used on children who showed signs of rebelling against Hydra.
Hydra, of course, has a long history of psychological warfare. They used a similar method to turn Captain America‘s Bucky Barnes into the Winter Solider, a dangerous assassin who underwent decades of mental conditioning so that he would kill on command. Agent Carter also introduced Doctor Johann Fennhoff, aka Doctor Faustus, who used hypnotism to achieve his nefarious goals; Fennhoff ultimately ended up in the same cell as Arnim Zola, which implied that the two worked together on the Winter Solider program.
Unfortunately, Talbot appears to be the latest victim of the Faustus method. Between the damage caused by the gunshot wound to his head and the length of time he spent in the Hydra facility, Hale had plenty of time to condition him to be a sleeper agent. This can only be more bad news for Phil Coulson and his team.
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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