When Coulson recruits an old ally to help decipher the secrets of the Monolith, they discover a long abandoned method of harnessing its power that may be their best chance at saving Simmons. Meanwhile, Grant Ward begins his systematic resurgence of Hydra.
'Purpose in the Machine' picks up with the gang intervening with Fitz breaking into the Monolith room and harassing the construct out of desperation for Simmons' return. Discovering the Monolith has left behind some kind of sand-like substance, Fitz realizes his "singularity made solid" theory may have been dead on, and analyzes the dust. The results show it was a substance not of this world and the team is galvanized to assist him. He mentions they need an expert in quantum mechanics and Einstein-Rosen bridge theory. True fans might note the first person that comes to mind for this task should be Dr. Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards, who is in fact the most brilliant expert in quantum mechanics in the Marvel universe. Disney unfortunately doesn't have the rights to the Fantastic Four, so for all intents and purposes, we need to pretend he doesn't exist.
Coulson, however, has a better idea and decides to pay their old Asgardian friend, Professor Randolph, a visit in his captivity. "Agreeing" to join, Randolph determines the scroll Fitz acquired translates more accurately to "death by punishment" and the hieroglyph can be found in a centuries old English castle. Uncovering a hidden laboratory in the bowels of the structure, they realize the machinery woven throughout was used for harnessing the Monolith itself. With no choice but to have it flown in for a test run, they manage to destroy the machine, forcing Daisy to keep it free flowing long enough to get an unmanned probe into the dimensional rift. Much to everyone's surprise, however, Fitz straps himself to a reel and cannonballs in without looking back. He finds himself on the surface of an alien world in the middle of a sandstorm. Screaming for Simmons in the maw of the roaring winds, he manages to spot her! As she moves closer, the team struggles to keep the portal open; Daisy's powers losing their grip. When it finally gives way, the Monolith is subject to rubble…with Fitzsimmons nestled safely within!
We finally get to see what became of Agent Melinda May after her departure last season. It turns out her elderly father (played by the great James Hong) had been in a car accident and she's been living with him, helping him recover. She seems to be happy, now that she's free of S.H.I.E.L.D., but that delusion fell apart after a visit from Hunter. He came in an effort to bring her back to the fold, but he leaves her with words that emanate with her, "You're never really out, if you're always looking over your shoulder." He's alluding to the fact that May isn't really staying with her father solely for his benefit. She figures Ward is out for blood. He is fully capable and more than ruthless enough to go after her loved ones and she suspects he may have been behind the crash. She's really just on a long stake out, waiting for him to move in on her or her father.
This season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be picking up steam pretty early on. Only the second episode in, and we already have a few direct references to the comics, which could indicate certain set-ups to finally merge back with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Daisy is completely refusing to be called Skye, having taken on the full persona of Quake, the Inhuman zealot, Lash, has been established as a new threat, and there was already a reference to Coulson recruiting for the Secret Warriors. Ever since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, S.H.I.E.L.D. as a whole has been trying to redeem themselves after their public image was tarnished thanks to the exploits of Hydra, while Team Coulson is slowly rebuilding itself and rediscovering the paths they need to walk in order to ensure the safety of the world and each other.