Throughout Seasons 1 and 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we have learned more and more about Skye's background; specifically, how she was taken from her birthplace in a village in China by S.H.I.E.L.D. and put into American foster care. However, the actual attack on the village that led to her being taken has been described in no less than four seemingly-incompatible ways, which go as follows:

  1. In 1.12 Seeds, Coulson and May interrogate a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Richard Lumley, who was a part of the team that rescued Skye. According to him, a S.H.I.E.L.D. team in the Hunan province in China located Skye when she was a baby and called her in as an 0-8-4 (an object of unknown origin), saying that the village's population had died trying to protect her. Lumley was part of a back-end team, and they lost communication with the initial team after that first contact. Upon arrival, they found the initial team dead except for the senior agent, who had managed to escape with Skye but bled out under a bridge due to a gunshot wound in his neck. At this point, Lumley's team evacuated with Skye and took her to America.

  2. In 1.21 Ragtag, Raina tells Ward a story about that village in the Hunan province, but she states that the villagers were killed by "monsters" (who we now know to be Skye's parents, Calvin Zabo and Jiaying) who were looking for their child.

  3. In 2.06 A Fractured House, Ward agrees to give Skye information about her father, and swears that he isn't lying. Supposedly, his source for this information is Raina, but his story is completely different. According to him, the people who died in the Hunan province were not villagers, but were actually HYDRA agents who had located Jiaying and Skye. In this version of the story, the HYDRA agents killed Jiaying, but then Cal showed up and killed them, tearing down the entire village in the process. This version seems to match the flashbacks that we saw in 2.08 The Things We Bury, except that the HYDRA agents in those flashbacks didn't take Skye, but rather, took Jiaying to Austria to be vivisected (and then Cal discovered her corpse and presumably returned to the Chinese village in search of Skye). However, there is still a problem with this, because Ward says that Cal lost his wife and his child in the same day - but since there was a round trip from China to Austria in between the agents taking Jiaying, and Cal returning for Skye, the events had to have spanned more than a single day.

  4. In 2.10 What They Become, Cal himself states that one day, a group of HYDRA agents came to the village and took Jiaying. Cal claims that he attempted to fight them off, but failed, and so he left Skye with "people he trusted" and then proceeded to track the agents and Jiaying to Austria.

There are a number of issues here - in #1, the initial S.H.I.E.L.D. team (possibly Whitehall's HYDRA agents?) discovered the village already in ruins, which according to Raina in #2, Skye's parents were responsible for. But if this is the case, then how did they miss Skye? Or if, as in the case of #4, Cal left Skye with people he trusted, then why did he not just retrieve her from them after returning from Austria? Why massacre the village? It also seems as though Cal was responsible for killing the initial S.H.I.E.L.D./HYDRA team, which is what Lumley's back-end team saw the aftermath of. But wouldn't that suggest that Cal came to the village twice? Once to slaughter the villagers in search of Skye, and then once more to kill the HYDRA agents. However, if this is supposed to be the case, then why did Ward say that the people who died were not villagers, if villagers still perished?

Essentially, what I am asking is, is there some detail here that I have missed, or some other way of looking at it that I have not yet considered? Can these contradictory accounts fit together somehow?

  • 2
    Stories aren't always factual data...
    – user931
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 9:07
  • Out of universe, I'm not sure that the AoS writers were aware of the planned HYDRA storyline when first building Skye's backstory. Having to re-adjust after TWS left a few inconsistencies.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: It's ALL true... from a certain point of view.

It's likely that we don't have all of the facts yet, since the story arc is still ongoing. However, we can speculate based on what we've heard so far:

1) Cal & Jiaying were living in a village in China, one that knew about Jiaying's ability and therefore revered both her and her daughter (whose birth would be seen as a good omen).

2) HYDRA showed up and kidnapped Jiaying. Cal left the baby with the villagers. He then followed Whitehall to Austria, but arrived too late and found Jiaying in pieces.

3) A second HYDRA team began searching the village for the baby, but the villagers did their best to protect her. The initial SHIELD team showed up at around the same time, which resulted in a gunfight that SHIELD lost. The last SHIELD agent managed to escape the village with baby Daisy but died under the bridge.

4) Cal returned to the village and found HYDRA fighting with the villagers. He slaughtered the HYDRA team, but when he found out Daisy was gone, he also went postal and slaughtered the entire village as well. It's possible that he then hid the HYDRA victims, possibly to hide his own involvement, or perhaps another HYDRA team showed up and cleared the HYDRA bodies.

5) The second SHIELD team arrived, only to find carnage & no HYDRA agents - only villagers. They also located the dead agent from the first team under the bridge, and left with Daisy.

As for Cal saying he lost his wife and child in the same day, it would seem that way from his perspective. One day, they're a family minding their own business but then the day that Whitehall showed up was the last time Cal saw either his wife or his baby (until the events of the show).

Also, as we find out in S2E16 "Afterlife":

Cal is aware that Jiaying is alive. However, it's possible that their relationship was never the same again after the day Whitehall took her from the village. So, in effect, Cal really did "lose" his wife that day, even though she didn't stay dead.

  • The HYDRA agents were also SHIELD agents, so there's no need for so many separate teams.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 21:18
  • @OrangeDog - Possibly. Keep in mind that not all SHIELD agents/teams were HYDRA, and HYDRA did maintain separate agents/teams outside of SHIELD. Without more information, it's difficult to speculate. At least two of the agents were legitimately SHIELD - the one who died saving Skye/Daisy, and the one who told the story to Coulson.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 13:39
  • Certainly no internal SHIELD report of what happened can be trusted (including the one(s) given to Caulson) - it could have been falsified by HYDRA agents at any level.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 14:15
  • @OrangeDog - you're not wrong. Coulson got the story from an agent in person, though. He said he was part of the second team that went in, the ones that found baby Skye hidden with the female agent's dead body. And the guy was on the run from SHIELD, presumably because of the HYDRA elements within the organization that wanted the story buried.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 22:56
  • I wouldn't presume that. Equally he could have been spreading a false story for HYDRA.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 12:10

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