Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 17 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, called "The Honeymoon." If you haven't had the chance to watch yet, feel free to check out some of our non-spoilery articles until you can tune in.
The status quo on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is kind of a gigantic mess for the good guys at the moment. As if General Hale, Ruby, the killer robots, and the looming threat of potential Kree invasion weren't enough, the agents are also fighting amongst themselves. The previous episode saw Yo-Yo and Fitzsimmons break out of the Lighthouse, believing themselves invincible, and locking Mack up behind them.
That decision proved problematic in "The Honeymoon" after Deke was shot during the rescue mission to pick up Coulson and General Talbot. Even May and Coulson were fighting. The good news at the Lighthouse seemed to be that Talbot was regaining his senses enough to want to reach out to his family and apologize, and Daisy decided to find a way to help him contact them without alerting Hale. Since this is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we're talking about, of course allowing Talbot to contact his wife didn't go according to plan, and Glenn Talbot has unexpectedly become the character that could ruin everything. Here's how.
Although he did reach his wife and they seemed to have a joyous over-the-phone reunion, it quickly became apparent that something was off with the good general. The scene switched from Talbot on the phone with Daisy in the background to show his wife, who was reading lines from a script with somebody standing behind her, forcing her to say this:
Glenn, the doctor said that you need to take a deep breath. Calm your mind. You know what is best. What is best is you comply. Remember, your compliance will be rewarded. Glenn, are you ready to comply?
Unfortunately, Talbot's clearly triggered response was that he was "happy to" comply. Longtime fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will remember that "comply" and "compliance" were trigger words used by Hydra to more or less activate people who had been brainwashed. The brainwashing took place with what became known as the Faustus method, and characters like Carl Creel and Agent 33 were affected earlier in the series. Now it seems that Talbot wasn't just being tortured for information during his time as Hale's prisoner. He was also evidently being reprogrammed with the Faustus method, which is both a tragedy for poor Talbot and really, really, really unfortunate for the good guys.
As far as they know, they have no reason to doubt or fear Talbot. When Coulson found him, he was barely coherent, and his main purpose in the story since seemed to be a combination of comic relief and reminder of what Hale could do to those in her clutches. The brainwashed Talbot could do a lot of damage to the good guys at the Lighthouse before they even begin to suspect that anything could be off about him. He doesn't need to be dropping bodies or shedding blood to cause a great deal of trouble. Talbot could very well be the variable that tips the balance in Hale's favor, and a lack of balance could be what results in the destruction of the world. From his position within the agents' midst, Talbot -- through no fault of his own -- could ruin absolutely everything.
We'll have to wait and see. That long-lost character could still be the key to saving everybody, and the rest of the season may be a waiting game to see which variables wreak the most havoc. You can catch new episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Be sure to take a gander at our breakdown of important superhero TV dates. If you're still in the market for shows to watch now and in the coming weeks, swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule and our summer TV premiere guide. S.H.I.E.L.D. has not yet had its fate decided, but plenty of other shows have, and you can find them on our rundown of 2017-2018 network TV renewals and cancellations.