"The Inside Man" is the twelfth episode of the third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Coulson and General Talbot are forced to team up and attend a worldwide symposium on Inhumans, where they suspect Malick has an inside man. As the S.H.I.E.L.D. team gets closer to the truth, an unexpected traitor is revealed.
At Gideon Malick's headquarters, the Inhuman Hive living inside Grant Ward's corpse relieves Ward's memories before thanking Malick for providing him with a strong, suitable host body. Malick presents him with Lucio, the Inhuman his men captured in Colombia. Hive asks to see his eyes, the source of his powers. Giyera removes Lucio's sunglasses, and he promptly paralyzes Giyera and the other HYDRA soldiers restraining him. Hive, however, is immune to his powers. Lucio, stunned, asks what he is, but Hive responds with "What are we." Hive then sheds flakes off Ward's skin and sends them flying towards Lucios like he did to Giyera before. Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. prepares for the Symposium on the Alien Contagion in Taiwan. They believe one of the people who will attend the symposium is an inside man working for Gideon Malick.
Coulson meets Glenn Talbot, the new head of the ATCU, at an airport after Talbot watches his wife leave him for putting his career ahead of his family. Lincoln watches Coulson and Talbot from a distance as they walk to Coulson's car, and Lincoln notices a suspicious person behind them. Agent May warns Coulson about the man following them as they walk into the garage. Coulson recognizes him as Carl Creel, and shoves General Talbot into his car as he, May and Lincoln take him on. Although Creel absorbed the rubber in a tire to protect him from Lincoln's electricity, Lincoln used his powers to pin Creel to the ground, and almost went overboard with his powers before the others were able to call him off. Talbot gets out of the car and reveals that Creel wasn't there to kill him, but is now his bodyguard.
The team take Talbot and Creel back with them to the Playground. Fitz and Simmons ask Creel how he was able to survive coming into contact with the Obelisk, but Creel isn't able to or really willing to give them an answer. Coulson agrees to allow Creel to accompany them to Taiwan per Talbot's insistence. Hunter, however, still has reservations about working with the man who killed Izzy Hartley. Daisy has her own problems with Coulson's plan, too, but Coulson reminds her she'll sit this mission out.
Since the people at the symposium will be screened for Inhuman DNA, Coulson thinks Creel just might be the secret weapon they'll need to have, especially since weapons won't be allowed either. Coulson, Talbot, and his team leave for Taiwan. Back at Malick's headquarters, Lucio loyally stands behind the Hive as Malick shares his concerns that the condition of Ward's body is not improving and suggests he could inhabit Giyera's body. Hive says Ward's body will work for now, and that he cannot inhabit another Inhuman's body since he cannot feed on his own kind.
In Taiwan, Coulson, disguised as a doctor working with the CDC, attends the symposium with Talbot while May, Hunter and Bobbi go through the attendees rooms. Talbot's ignorance of other cultures and general xenophobia consistently embarrasses both himself and Coulson, as the general narrows down the possibilities for Malick's inside man to everyone in attendance. The Russian representative at the symposium proposes that his country could create a "sanctuary state" for Inhumans to live in peace. Coulson points out to Talbot in secret that having so many Inhumans in one place is exactly what Gideon Malick would want. The attendees put the Russian proposal to a vote, but after it's approved Talbot interrupts the meeting and calls in the guards. He reveals that he knows one of them is a traitor, and tells the guards to take Coulson away.
The general reveals Coulson's true identity to the other attendees before Gideon Malick enters the room and calls him the director of HYDRA. Malick "reveals" all of the atrocities HYDRA's committed under Coulson, gaining him the support of the symposium's attendees. As he's being dragged away by Malick's men, Coulson demands Talbot tell him what Malick has on him that has him working with HYDRA. Back at the Playground, Simmons interrupts a heated training exercise between Daisy and Lincoln so Lincoln could see something interesting about Carl Creel's blood sample.
Simmons shows him that Creel's blood can not only old off Terrigenesis but also break it down, possibly their key to a "cure" for Terrigenesis. Daisy is shocked that Lincoln would even consider that idea. Lincoln, however, points out that some Inhumans, like Dr. Garner, were better off without their powers, and that Terrigenesis does technically act as a disease. Daisy storms off in frustration before they can come to some kind of agreement. Elsewhere, Hive asks Giyera bring him five healthy, living humans. Lucio objects that he would sacrifice innocents, but the Inhuman assures him they're serving the greater good before asking both him and Giyera to leave. The Inhuman then sheds even more off of Ward's body and sends them towards his victims.
Hunter sees that Carl Creel has left his post. By the time he gets outside to follow him he's lost all sign of Creel. He thinks he might be hiding in a nearby truck, but when he looks inside he finds Talbot's son in one of the ATCU's gel containers. Creel sneaks up behind him and knocks him out. When he comes to, security agents are holding him at gunpoint, but he's able to take them down with May and Bobbi's help. Bobbi recognizes their guns as a Hydra make, revealing the symposium's security to be HYDRA soldiers. Meanwhile, Malick's men drag Coulson to the location's basement to kill him. Talbot demands that Malick give him back his son, but Malick has his men throw him in a holding cell with Coulson so they can be taken away and presumably sacrificed to Hydra's Inhuman leader Hive.
While in holding, Talbot tells Coulson that Malick kidnapped his son the moment the president announced he would be the new head of the ATCU, and Carla blames him for their son's plight. Carl Creel barges into the basement and frees Talbot and Coulson. Both Creel and the duo of Bobbi and Hunter fight through Malick's guards separately. Creel saves Hunter from a Hydra soldier that gets the drop on him, only for Hunter to remind him they still aren't even.
With HYDRA taken care of, agent May drives back to the location of the symposium with the truck holding Talbot's son. Back at the playground Daisy goes to his room to apologize for how hot-headed she was with him earlier. He then says he's envious of her emotional control over her powers as he has very little. Since they've resolved their differences, they pick up where they left off before Simmons interrupted them.
Coulson leaves Talbot alone with his son, having gained the general's trust during their time in Taiwan. Coulson confides in May that he has a suspicion that Gideon Malick, who is supposed to be one of the last heads of Hydra, is answering to someone. Back at Malick's base, Hive, covered in slime and surrounded by the remains of his victims, stands up in the fully-rejuvenated body of Grant Ward. Bobbi and Hunter, meanwhile, stowaway in the cargo of the Russian representative's plane as he flies back to his country with Malick.
- Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
- Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May
- Brett Dalton as Hive
- Chloe Bennet as Daisy Johnson/Quake
- Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz
- Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
- Nick Blood as Lance Hunter
- Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse
- Henry Simmons as Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie
- Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell
- Powers Boothe as Gideon Malick
- Mark Dacascos as Giyera
- Adrian Pasdar as Glenn Talbot
- Raquel Gardner as Carla Talbot
- Brian Patrick Wade as Carl Creel
- Ravil Isyanov as Anton Petrov
- Melissa Bickerton as Ellen King
- Bayo Akinfemi as Nathi Zuma
- Alexandra Chun as Xiao Chen
- Tohoru Masamune as Haruto Yakimura
- Gabriel Salvador as Lucio
Continuity and References to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Glenn Talbot returns.
- Carla Talbot returns.
- Giyera appears.
- Carl Creel returns.
- Gideon Malick appears.
- Lucio appears.
- Andrew Garner is mentioned.
- Coulson killing Ward on Maveth is shown.
- Maveth is mentioned.
- World Security Council are mentioned.
- Matthew Ellis is mentioned.
- Grant Ward is mentioned.
- Jiaying is mentioned.
- Isabelle Hartley is mentioned.
- Idaho is mentioned.
- The Watchdogs are mentioned.
- Eden Fesi is mentioned as an Inhuman, in the comics, he is a mutant.