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Upon Talbot’s hospitalization, authority in the search for S.H.I.EL.D. seems to have gone over to General Hale, an unpolished military officer in much the same vein as General Talbot.

She seems rough around the edges, overall, but not more than that. Until two of her agents flub the search for Fitz, and she shoots them in the head in an interrogation room.

This seemed, tonally, very bizarre. It also wasn’t clear what the motivation was. They weren’t the only people to have interacted with Fitz, nor to have failed to capture him. She, herself, seemingly signed off on letting Fitz work for them. Obviously, this isn’t accepted military procedure in the real world, but even the agents didn’t seem to be expecting anything like it. She didn’t even interrogate them to find what they knew or whether they were being truthful, seemingly, though she did that for Fitz. Even if for some reason an execution were desired, why would a general do it personally? And finally, she didn’t summarily shoot Fitz when she had him in custody, even though he was far more obviously her enemy than her own agents.

And all this was even weirder because it looked like the agents were kind of being set up as characters. They even took the time to show them being killed—so why?

It was very strange. It made me wonder whether there was something more here: was she being set up as a villain? Was it meant to imply that she had some hidden agenda? In short, is there any meaning to the general’s actions besides the obvious?

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    It's difficult to answer this question before the season ends and we (presumably) find out who the general really is and what she's up to. – V2Blast Mar 16 '18 at 22:29
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    @V2Blast If you're correct, then this would fall under our Future Works close reason and you can flag it for closure as "primarily opinion-based" (a close flag will send it into the review queue for the community to vote on, as opposed to a custom mod flag which calls for an executive decision by a moderator). – Rand al'Thor Mar 16 '18 at 22:44
  • @Randal'Thor: Sounds good! I wasn't sure how flagging worked in that regard. – V2Blast Mar 16 '18 at 22:48
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    @Randal'Thor As of the most recent two episodes (especially the most recent one, S05E15 "Rise and Shine"), I think this question should now be answerable. – V2Blast Apr 2 '18 at 6:53
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    @Randal’Thor - Especially given that the last episode fully explained Hale’s motivations and background, this should be reopened. – Adamant Apr 2 '18 at 7:21
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There was.

Hale’s actions forshadowed her as a future antagonist. They were a consequence of her personality and true allegiances.

  1. Hale was being set up as a villain.

    She is one of the primary antagonists of the second half of the season. She seems to be working with the Kree Empire, or an organization that the Kree belong to. Her casual violence was probably intended to forshadow this.

  2. She’s not at all acting within the military.

    Hale is an ex-member of Hydra, trying to complete a project that she had been working on since her youth. While she might be using the resources of the Air Force, she is not working within their hierarchy, and is certainly not following their rules.

  3. The agents were a threat to her project.

    By all appearances, those agents had no idea about the true nature of Hale’s investigations. But if they revealed what they’d seen to people outside Hale’s command, they could arouse some suspicion, and possibly jeopardize her plans. Although it wasn’t stated, I suspect this was an even greater threat once they’d seen some of the Seer’s paintings, which might have contained information about Hale’s aims. If Hale figured out anything about what the paintings meant after seeing them, she’d have considered this quite serious.

  4. She’s previously shown a tendancy to kill people she considers superfluous.

    In flashback, we see that she killed a member of Hydra, an organization that she belonged to, in order to strike out on her own (or possibly because he was yelling at her daughter, or possibly for no particular reason). By the time she captures Coulson, she seems to have transitioned mainly to androids, along with a few trusted individuals (or people she has leverage over). There’s no room here for dupes who might possibly reveal sensitive information.

I’m still not sure why they set up the characters that way (I suspect it was as an X-Files reference or something).

However, the reasons for Hale’s actions are clear.

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