After another middling episode, Melinda was a major shift in the right direction for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
At first, it appeared as though the episode had two main, separate, plot threads - Skye's training with the Inhumans and finally discovering the identity of her mother, and a flashback to seven years ago and the S.H.I.E.L.D. operation in Bahrain that led to Melinda May earning her nickname of 'The Cavalry'.
The flashback revolved around an effort by Coulson to make contact with Eva Belyakov (Winter Ave Zoli), a Russian with superstrength spotted in Bahrain. The meet goes sour when some local gangsters show up and a hostage situation ensues.
There's a predictable twist here, but major kudos to scriptwriter Daniel J. Doyle (and Ming-Na Wen for her performance) for really selling us on the fallout from the tragic turn of events and how it impacted May's home life and her decision to take a desk job with S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the present day, May is starting to see why the 'real' S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to reign Coulson in, as she is told about a top secret project he has been pouring resources into, called the 'Theta Protocol'.
This appears to concern the recruitment of enhanced individuals (and includes the recruitment of Deathlok).
As the plotline about Skye and her parents develops, we learn how it also ties into the Bahrain incident and why Jiaying is keen to keep their relationship a secret from the others at the Inhuman refuge.
As is often the case with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., the episode was a slow-build but the raw emotional power of May's situation was one of the strongest and tightly scripted of any beats in the show to date.
Thankfully, after this major downer, the episode wrapped with a coda involving Fitz that brought us right back into the pulpy world of spy-fi and left us, as ever, wanting more.
Announced today: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been renewed for a third season, and Agent Carter (which we still haven't seen in the UK) has been given a second season. However, plans for a possible S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off appear to have been dropped.