How would Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rebound from last week’s lackluster episode?   Quite well, thank you very much, with one of the better episodes of the third season and certainly, it’s darkest.  The team is on the trail of a new Inhuman named Charles Hinton, a homeless man who has the ability to cause those he touches to have horrific glimpses of the future.

As the team attempts to bring the man in they are attacked by Hydra forces that are also after him.  Hinton is picked up by a Hydra vehicle and flown away but not before he touches Daisy, giving her visions of his death.  Fitz and Simmons try to explain why the future cannot be changed and that a rescue attempt will fail.  Using Daisy’s visions as a precognitive guide, May practices a scenario over and over in which she infiltrates the building where Hinton is being held in order to save him and alter the future.

Plans are changed when Andrew Garner surrenders, stating that his next transformation into Lash will be permanent.  Instead, Daisy goes on the rescue mission with Lincoln and Coulson.  Malick and Hive/Ward are also at the building, owned by the tech company responsible for building Coulson’s cybernetic hand.  Hive stages a “hostile” takeover (to say the least) of the company.  He has Malick put on an exoskeleton suit so he can feel true power and he uses it to kill the CEO of the company.

This climaxes in a rooftop battle between Daisy and Malick with Malick getting the upper hand until Hinton touches him, utterly terrifying Malick although we do not find out what he saw in his vision.  Daisy is given a final vision before Hinton dies...of the spaceship we saw in an earlier episode, hurtling towards Earth with blood floating inside and a person wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. insignia.

This was a powerful and emotional episode on many fronts.  Hinton is as tragic a figure as we have seen in the series.  His powers are such a curse that he left his wife and baby daughter and lived on the streets in order to avoid human contact.  And then there is Andrew Garner, another Inhuman whose powers can be considered a curse.  Knowing that he would finally lose himself to the bestial Lash, Garner surrenders so S.H.I.E.L.D. can keep him locked up.  With tears of helplessness, May watches Andrew’s final transformation in an emotionally taxing scene.

We also got our first real look at a fully or near fully powered Hive.  Still inhabiting Ward’s body, he is dressed somewhat similar to Neo in the Matrix films wearing an all-black, flowing overcoat and oozing evil from every pore.  I have to believe that Malick’s vision saw the destruction that Hive can unleash and likely his own terrible fate.  It becomes clear rather quickly that Hive is giving the orders and Malick isn’t happy about this change of authority.  Coulson also isn’t happy as he and the rest of the group see Ward for the first time since Coulson killed him on the alien planet. 
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stepped out of its box as an action/espionage series and delivered an emotionally charged punch to the face.  It also changed the dynamics of Hydra as clearly Hive is now calling the shots and Giyera, Malick’s security chief has thrown his loyalties behind the powerful alien.

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