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Hail Hydra

Season One, Episode 21


Director(s) Vinton Hueck

Kevin Burke & Chris Wyatt

Summary  The Avengers are gathered together in the Mansion to watch Hawkeye attempt an especially difficult shot which Iron Man has set up.  Wasp is in agreement, as is Giant Man,and the Hulk only came to watch in case Hawkeye started a fight... Hawkeye is underwhelmed by the support of his team... and asks Captain America, who says "I've never seen you miss... I don't expect you to start now."  Watch Hawkeye's face... the smile is only there for a second.  The arrow flies... it looks good... and an EMP pulse fries the lights, the Mansion, and Iron Man's armor.

Iron Man confirms that it was an EMP - but not one, but three nearly simultaneous back-to-back ones.  The Hulk breaks a tunnel to the surface (they're in a hurry) while Iron Man complains they could have taken the emergency stairs.  They head for the door, Hawkeye throws it open... to reveal the Black Widow on their doorstep.

Most of the Avengers - especially Hulk and Wasp - are all in favor os squishing the spider.  Hawkeye calls them off, and gives her a chance to explain.

The Black Widow relates how she was sent by Nick Fury to infiltrate Hydra and discover and neutralize the weapon A.I.M. was making for them, and that she's not a traitor.  The EMP pulses are part of a war between Hydra and A.I.M., over MODOC's refusal to turn over the Cosmic Cube, which is almost complete.

Hydra has located the A.I.M. main base, and is conducting an all-out attack.  Unfortunately, the city is in the way.  While Hydra and A.I.M. dogfight above the skies of the city, the Avengers enter the fray.

Iron Man's armor is temporarily disabled when he scans the Cosmic Cube.  Cap instructs Iron Man and Wasp to pursue MODOC while his team takes on the Hydra forces.

Wasp and Iron Man run into SHIELD.  Maria Hill is now the Director of SHIELD, as Nick Fury as disappeared, and she's not inclined to give the Avengers the same leeway as Fury did to operate. 

 Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and the Black Widow deploy and take on the Hydra thugs, following the Black Widow's tracer signal on Von Strucker's ship.  Von Strucker has anticipated her betrayal, however, and decoyed the tracer away.  Oops.

A Hydra ship has launched missles at MODOC's vessel, so MODOC mind-controls the pilot of one of his own escort ships into the missle's path. 

The Hulk and Captain America are fighting Hydra on the ground, destroying octo-tanks.  Captain America reminds Hulk to keep an eye out for civilians.  Hulk accuses Captain America of teaming with him so Cap can protect civians from the him, and Captain America explains that Cap has only seen Hulk act heroicly, trying to do the right thing.  He is reminding Hulk to keep an eye out for the civilians to protect them from AIM and Hydra. "In my day, we had a name for people like you - Hero."

On board MODOC's ship, the Cosmic Cube has attained full power, but before MODOC can touch it, his ship is damaged by a Hydra missle and crashes.  Captain America heads for the crash site as AIM, Hydra, and SHIELD airships dogfight.

Maria Hill is still trying to detain Iron Man and Wasp.  Hill rejects their plea, and tells them they can join SHIELD here and now or become criminals.  Iron Man and Wasp fly off to fight AIM and Hydra, and Director Hill sends a squad of jet-packed SHIELD agents to takeIron Man and Wasp down.

MODOC's ship has crashed in an empty warehouse (that looks like that Hydra facility from prior episodes - but probably not), but before he can retrieve the Cosmic Cube, Von Strucker and Hydra arrive.  MODOC's mental bolts are no match for the Dreadnaught robots, which have no minds.  Von Strucker uis about to claim the Cosmic Cube.

Meanwhile, the Hulk is happily destroying octo-tanks.  Iron Man and Wasp are dodging SHIELD agents.  Hawkeye has loaded Ant-man on an arrow, and is arranging a special delivery for Baron Von Strucker, firing it - and Hank - across several blocks so that Ant Man
can prevent Von Strucker from taking the Cosmic Cube.  Von Strucker turns his Dreadnaught robots on Ant Man.

Meanwhile, Director Hill gives Wasp one more chance, as Thor and the Black Panther arrive.  Iron Man stops the Avengers from engaging the SHIELD agents.  Only an attack by Hydra prevents Hill's order to the Helicarrier to fire on the Avengers from being carried out. The Avengers attack the Hydra forces.

Giant Man is trashing the Dreadnaught robots, and Captain America arrives on the scene to prevent Von Strucker from getting the Cosmic Cube.  Von Strucker drains most of Captain America's strength with the Satan's Claw, leaving Captain America like an old man, and the two continue their fight. Hawkeye and the Hulk arrive, and engage the other Dreadnaughts.

Captain America will not surrender, even though, with his strength drained by Von Strucker, it appears the Hydra boss has the upper hand... until one of Hawkeye's arrows damages the Satan's Claw, and Cap's energy flows back into him.

Von Strucker makes one last lunge for the Cosmic Cube, with he and Captain America both touching it at the same time.  The Cosmic Cube's energy discharges into the universe, but apparently to no effect; AIM appears to have failed to make it work correctly.

The battle is over.  SHIELD agents are taking AIM, MODOC, Hydra, and Baron Von Strucker into custody.  Maria Hill tells Iron Man that she's going to Congress and the President to either get the Avengers working for SHIELD, or shut down for good.

Hawkeye enables the Black Widow's escape until she can prove her innocence, and turns down her plea for him to come with her.   He's an Avenger now.

The Avengers are in the mansion, and Hawkeye asks Captain America what he would have wished for, if the Cosmic Cube had worked.  Cap says that today the Avengers took down Hydra, without wishes, and that he wouldn't change a thing.

And yet, back in World War II, something is changing as the Cosmic Cube's energies travel the timestream.  Instead of dying in the explosion of the Red Skull's escape rocket, Bucky survives the blast, and is thrown into the water...
Commentary Kevin Burke and Chris Wyatt have been the writers on this plot thread all the way through the season, and they've done an excellent job of bringing it to this conclusion.  The storytelling is a masterful blend of recap exposition, character moments, humor, and more subplot development.  Likewise, Vinton Hueck has become one of my favorite episode directors with this thread.  Well done, all!

We see here the beginning of something which can grow to resemble the Marvel comic book event "Civil War", with the new Director of SHIELD determined to make the Avengers join SHIELD, shut them down, or put them in the super-prison with the villains.  Hopefully this incarnation of that theme will be executed better than the illogical, confused, boring mess that Marvel made of it.

The moment with Hawkeye and Captain America as Hawkeye prepares for his trick shot is very "Cap's Kooky Quartet" of that era of Avengers goodness (Avengers. v1 #16 to around the 40's).   Hawkeye repeatedly refered to Captain America as "Old Man" or "Methusaleh" or "Cap Van Winkle" or somesuch.  This is perhaps one of the best character moments of the season for me.

In other notes:

* The Black Widow isn't a traitor!

* Nick Fury has disappeared, so she has no way to prove it.

* Another nice leadership ability moment with Captain America and Hulk, exemplifying that the best way to earn trust and respect is to give it.

* Speaking of the while Civil War craptasticness, its nice to see Iron Man acting like a hero and not a SHIELD stooge.  Civil War pretty much ruined Tony Stark as a heroic character in the MU 616.

* Lukin has already been mentioned as a Russian crime boss, so I'd always suspected that we would get to see the Winter Soldier at some point!

* I am working with the assumption that Captain America didn't make a conscious wish, and that the Cosmic Cube took his greatest desire from his subconscious... does that mean that Baron Von Strucker got a subconscious wish as well?