As Talbot is addressing a meeting of the United Nations about the dangers posed by S.H.I.E.L.D. (the Battle of New York, The Avengers and the alien invasion are referenced), a group of Hydra mercenaries - disguised as S.H.I.E.L.D. - attack, using high-tech, victim-dissolving weaponry.
In an effort to clear S.H.I.E.L.D.'s name, as political moves are afoot for the establishment of a multinational anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. taskforce, Coulson finds himself horsetrading with Senator Christian Ward (Tim DeKay), brother of imprisoned ex-agent Grant Ward.
Meanwhile, Agents May, Morse and Hunter track the Hydra weaponry ('splinter bombs') to Japan, picking up some information about The Obelisk along the way.
Unfortunately for S.H.I.E.L.D. Hydra seems to be one-step ahead of them most of the way and May's team follow the trail of breadcrumbs to a safehouse in Belgium, only to find they've walked into the aftermath of a Hydra ambush and a half-dozen S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have already been killed.
Back in America, Coulson strikes a deal with the Senator to hand over Agent Ward to be tried as a traitor. But has Coulson made a deal with the Devil?
The elder Ward brother is an interesting character, as his allegiances and motivations are even more ambiguous than his loathsome sibling.
A Fractured House was heavy on strong character moments, such as the interplay between Bobbie Morse and her ex-husband Lance Hunter.
As well as keeping up the regular visits to new locations (to emphasise the global nature of the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs Hydra "war"), it's also nice to see Coulson's team growing organically, week-on-week, rather than just suddenly introducing a crop of new characters. This expands the pool of available agents for any particular mission, but avoids the risk of creating obvious 'red shirts' (the new face in the group that you know will be the first to bite the bullet).
Next Time (beware spoilers if you haven't seen this week's episode yet):