We last saw ex-Agent Grant Ward in the mid-season finale of Agents of SHIELD, being helped to his feet by Agent 33, who was in a state of panic following the death of Daniel Whitehall. Their reintroduction to the season is the driving force behind "Love in the Time of Hydra", which has the two of them attempting to fix the mask that is burnt onto Agent 33's face, leaving her resembling a disfigured and scarred Agent May.
Since the start of season 2, which saw Ward transformed into a creepy, Hannibal Lecter like prisoner in SHIELDs basement, Ward has been one of the more captivating characters on the show, and his reappearance in this episode does nothing to stop that from being true. His relationship with Agent 33 downright unhealthy and he seems crazier than ever, despite his protests to the contrary.
Additionally, Agent 33 seems to be coming into her own, developing a distinct and disturbed personality that fits right in with the shows current focus on self-identity. It'll be interesting to see where the show goes with this, but I'm hoping that Agent 33 will become if not necessarily a a major player, then at least an important piece of the chessboard in future episodes.
The revelation that Skye's powers were being focused inwards are explored further here, the result of which is her retirement from active duty until she can figure out how to better control them. The disagreements on how people are treating Skye now that she has powers are just under the surface again here, but despite the constant hints and allusions to the potential for a Civil War-esque storyline, this part of the plot simply isn't moving quick enough, and I'm struggling to see where it can go next.
While all this is going on, Hunter is being introduced to the heads of the organisation that refer to themselves as the real SHIELD after being overpowered by Mac a couple of episodes ago. This part of the episode seems as if it is mostly just a way to introduce this new faction of SHIELD, but it is still interesting seeing Hunter react to the situation and remain loyal to Coulson, despite the fact that he has never shown much dedication to SHIELD before now. Hunter is quickly becoming my favourite character on the show, and I'd love to see more of him - if the rumoured Agents of SHIELD spin-off show is actually made, I'd love to see Hunter either lead it or the new Agents of SHIELD.
I was more than a little worried that it would be difficult returning to Agents of SHIELD after Daredevil, but the two are different enough that it never feels as if they are stepping on each others toes, or even that they are comparable. Despite lower production quality, Agents of SHIELD is getting by on strong writing and an attachment to character that can only be obtained when a show has been running for a while, and if the rumours about an Agents of SHIELD spin-off end up being true, then it seems that fears around the uncertainty about the shows future may be unfounded - and quite rightly so.