“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Season 2 returned after a one-week hiatus and delivered an answer that fans have been waiting nearly six months for — they finally told us what the writing of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) means. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Season 2 episode 7, aptly titled "Writing On The Wall," revealed just what Coulson has been looking for -- plus it revealed the true loyalties of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton).
The episode started with the man with Coulson’s writing tattooed on him, Sebastian (Brian Van Holt). He was with Janice (Monique Gabriela Curnen), an artist who felt like she had met him before. “We have met before and I traveled a long way to be with you,” he said.
She recognized his tattoos of the alien language, but he pulled a knife out before she could say more.
Coulson and Skye (Chloe Bennet) went to the woman’s home after she was killed. Janice’s body was found with the alien writing carved into her dead body. Coulson recognized her as a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. They found paintings of the alien language in her apartment.
According to S.H.I.E.L.D. files, Janice was actually S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Rebecca Stevens and she died of cancer five years ago. Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) autopsy revealed that Rebecca had GH.325 in her blood, and residue from her fingernails showed that her killer had GH.325 too. It’s the same alien drug that brought Coulson back after “The Avengers” and saved Skye's life in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Season 1.
Coulson couldn’t remember Rebecca. He knew she was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but he couldn’t remember anything else. His memory had been altered as part of Project T.A.H.I.T.I. after he had GH.325 in his blood, but Coulson revealed to the team that he had S.H.I.E.L.D.’s memory machine. He could get his memories back, but it would feel like torture -- he needed to remember, though.
The team monitored him as he went into the memory machine. He was in serious pain as he revealed his memories. Coulson spoke to six patients who had GH.325 in their blood, and Rebecca was one of them. He saw them all writing in the alien language. They were going insane. They just kept writing.
“They’re getting worse everyday. We’re losing them. We need to shut down the program,” Coulson said.
A doctor thought erasing their memories and giving them new lives would make the writing stop. It was supposed to save them all, provided they never remembered anything.
Coulson specifically remembered that Sebastian begged not to have his memory erased. Coulson remembered he was an assassin for S.H.I.E.L.D., and he was carving the alien language into his own body. He had to be the killer.
May was following Ward, so she couldn’t watch Coulson. She ordered Skye to keep Coulson under observation after he went through the memory machine. He seemed to be okay with it -- until he pushed her into the cell and locked her in there.
Coulson could remember Hank (Joel Gretsch), another agent with an erased memory. He said he wanted to protect him, and showed him the writing. Hank claimed he couldn’t help, but then Coulson pulled a gun on him.
“I need to know what this means! You have pieces that I need!” Coulson yelled.
“Look I told you both, you got the wrong guy,” Hank said.
Sebastian was already there, and he knocked out Coulson. He tied them both up in Hank’s barn, where Hank had built his son an elaborate multi-level train set. Sebastian ignored the train set. He wanted answers from Coulson and Hank.
“The lunatics are running the asylum,” Sebastian told Coulson as he held a knife to his face. Pain made the killer remember everything S.H.I.E.L.D. erased. He needed to know what the alien writing meant just as much as Coulson did.
Coulson saw Hank’s train setup, and he realized the alien writing wasn’t supposed to be two-dimensional. Hank escaped before Coulson could explain. He cut Coulson loose before he ran away. Coulson fought Sebastian until Skye and Mack (Henry Simmons) came in. Mack threatened to shoot because he didn’t believe Coulson was in his right mind after going through the memory machine and locking up Skye. But Sebastian stopped fighting. They were in the loft and could see Hank’s train set from above.
“It’s not so much a map as a blueprint,” Coulson said. “It’s a city.”
The compulsion to carve was gone, but they still didn’t know exactly why they were drawing a city.
Coulson told his team that he wasn’t crazy. They didn’t need to worry about him, but they needed to worry about Hydra. They were one step ahead now that they had Hank’s contribution, but Hydra was still on their tails. He showed the group the blueprint.
“Our job: Find it before anyone else,” Coulson explained.
They’re looking for an alien city … but how exactly do a bunch of humans find an alien city?
Luckily, Hydra is facing another set back. Ward may be on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t loyal to Coulson.
Ward ditched Triplett (B.J. Britt) and Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) while he was on the run, but Hunter (Nick Blood) followed him to a bar. He saw Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) walk in right after Ward.
Ward wanted a meeting with Whitehall (Reed Diamond), but Bakshi explained that he was a busy man. “Will his schedule open up if I can get you face to face with Coulson? Close enough to put a bullet in his head?” Ward asked.
Hunter brought in back up and they stormed the bar. They found Bakshi in the back. He was beaten and his mouth was taped shut. “For Coulson” was written on the duct tape.
Ward was on the loose again, but he finally shaved off his prison beard and gave himself a buzz cut. He called Bakshi’s phone and Skye answered.
“I’ll be sending a few other gifts your way now and then,” Ward said. Skye said they didn’t want any of his “gifts,” but Ward seemed determined.
“I’ll be seeing you soon, I promise,” he said.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Season 2 airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on ABC. What city are they looking for? Share your theories in the comments section below!