In East Los Angeles, a young boy, Ace, looks at a toy store filled with the "Heroes of New York." The boy's father, Mike Peterson, tries to get his attention and finally admits that he's having trouble getting work. As they talk, a nearby building explodes. People run for cover and Mike tells Ace to stay there while he runs to help. Mike goes into an alleyway and hears a woman, Debbie, screaming for help. After making no one is around to see him, Mike pounds his hands into the wall with superstrength and climbs up the wall. Going inside, he dodges the flames and finds Debbie. Seconds later, he jumps out of the window and lands safely on the street several floors before. People take pictures on their cameras and Mike quickly pulls down his hoodie and runs off. A woman looks closely at him for a moment before Mike gets the chance to run off.
In Paris, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Dumont calls in to Agent Grant Ward to inform him that the Rising Tide have pinned down the location of the package and posted it online. Grant, on a motorcycle, dismounts outside of a restaurant and goes inside, posing as a waiter. His fellow agents direct him to Vonchat, a man wearing a red tie, and Grant takes the man's glass and then captures the fingerprints on it using a scanner built into his tray. He takes the tray-scanner with him to a woman's apartment, breaks in, and scans the walls for a security lock. Grant then uses the stolen fingerprints to open a hidden compartment. He removes a small bag and turns to go, only to find a woman in a bathrobe standing behind him. Two armed men come in and attack Grant, while Dumont calls to warn his fellow agent that hostiles on their way. Meanwhile, the woman dresses and walks casually out. Grant takes out and goes to the roof, and a helicopter carries him away.
Later, Grant meets with his superior, Agent Maria Hill, who asks him what he thinks S.H.I.E.L.D. is. Grant explains that it's the first line of defense against the weird as hands over the item he stole from Vonchat, a Chitauri neural link. He wonders how Rising Tide became more than hackers and Maria explains that the world changed since the Chitauri invasion of New York. When Grant wonders why he was pulled out of Paris, Maria tells him that he'll have to talk to Coulson. Grant says that he knows Coulson is dead... and Coulson steps out of the shadows.
In Los Angeles, the woman follows Mike as he gets off the bus, looking for work.
Coulson and Maria take Grant up to their HQ and Coulson explains that they let the Avengers believe he was dead to motivate them. They bring up video on Mike, who they have footage of. Rising Tide has already hacked their information and is publicizing it, and Coulson figures that the organization is trying to lure them out. Grant wonders if they want him to eliminate Rising Tide, and Coulson explains that they want to use Riding Tide to get to Mike. The agent tells them that he is trained as an agent, not a welcoming committee, and Coulson admits that he's lacking in people skills. However, he figures that Grant is the person for the job.
Dr. Streiten comes in and informs them that he's checked Coulson's new team. "Fitz-Simmons" isn't cleared for combat and Grant is almost too fit. They dismiss Grant and Maria complains that the team is sketchy. Coulson says that they're cleared, and Streiten says that Coulson needs more rest. The head agent says that he doesn't need more rest and that he was bored recovering. As Coulson leaves, Straiten realizes that Coulson doesn't know what really happened and Maria says that he can never know.
Mike is having coffee at a diner and watches a newscast about the hooded hero. Skye sits down opposite him and tells him to act natural, warning that they don't know who is listening. She introduces herself and says that she knows that he's the hooded hero. Mike tries to deny it but Skye insists that it's cool. Once she gets control of herself, she warns Mike that he's in danger. Skye suggests that he come out of hiding and take advantage of the publicity. Mike is more interested in the danger and Skye warns that S.H.I.E.L.D. comes after super-powered types. They cleaned up the New York invasion and Skye figures that they're cleaning up people with powers. She offers to set him up with a new identity, saying that she's good with computers, but Mike isn't interested. He walks away and Skye follows him, insisting that she has an office... in her van. Mike walks away, unaware that Skye has stolen his driver's license and now knows his address.
Coulson visits with Agent Melinda May, who is working in an office. She knows what Coulson wants and refuses, but he says that he needs her and it isn't a combat op. Melinda figures that he doesn't need her, but Coulson assures her that they'll be running the op themselves and there's no red tape.
Grant arrives at the S.H.I.E.L.D. hanger where a giant black transport plane is standing by. He goes inside and finds agents Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz arguing over Leo's new weapon, a Night Night stun gun. Grant introduces himself and they explain that Fitz is engineering and Jemma is biochem. They break apart Grant's comm and implant a transmitter in his mouth. Coulson pulls up in an antique car, Lola, and drives it into plane's cargo bay. They go upstairs and Coulson explains that the mobile HQ is leftover after S.H.I.E.L.D. switched to the helicarrier. Melinda comes in and tells them they're departing in five, and that they have a hit on one of Rising Tide's routing points. Grant recognizes Melinda and wonders what Coulson is up to, but Coulson says that she's just the pilot.
Skye is making a webcast from her van, promising that the government can't hide the truth or stop the rising tide. Grant and Coulson find her, toss a bag over her head, and take her to the mobile HQ. Coulson apologizes for Grant, explaining that he's had history with the Rising Tide. Skye says that they're making a mistake, boasting that she was able to get a lead on Centipede, but Coulson says that they want to know the location of the hooded hero. The hacker realizes that they don't know about Centipede despite their advanced technology. Coulson explains that she used the same encryption as Rising Tide, and Skye figures that her plan worked and she's inside their secret headquarters. Coulson asks her what her team is going to find out when they check out the remains of the fire, and if Skye set it herself.
Melinda drives Fitz and Jemma to the building.
Coulson assures Skye that blowing up buildings isn't their style, and says that they want to contain Mike. However, he warns that other people will want more from Mike, and could proceed to dissection.
Mike is at home talking to a doctor. He assures him that the device on his arm is working fine, and wants to go public and get in front of the people after him. Mike hangs up and looks at a photo of himself and a woman.
Melinda, Fitz, and Jemma check out the building and find a lab in the basement. They wonder if the explosion was sabotage or if they meant to kill Mike. Meanwhile, Fitz sends out flying micro-drones to check the building.
Skye explains that she wasn't able to trace Centipede. She insists that she just wants to reveal the truth, but Grant isn't impressed. He figures that Skye is a groupie and Coulson leads him out and wonders if he's trying to blow the interrogation. Coulson is impressed that they don't know anything about Skye, and says that they need to know what she knows.
Jemma explains what the drones are doing while Fitz picks up something. Melinda checks it out and discovers that it's a surveillance camera. Fitz figures that it has a recorded memory and he can recover it, while Jemma finds the source of the explosion: an alien substance.
Coulson informs Skye that they will be giving her a potent truth drug... and then injects Grant. He starts talking about how attractive Skye is and Coulson tells her to ask Grant whatever she likes and walks out. Skye takes off her jacket and circles him, and then asks if he's killed anyone. Grant insists that he only killed bad people.
Mike meets with his boss, Gary, but Gary warns that he failed to meet quota when he was injured. When Gary says that he needs things moved, Mike shoves away a crate and then pushes Gary into a pile of pipes. Furious, Mike tells Gary that people aren't parts that can be replaced. When Gary insists that it's the company and he's not the bad guy, Mike says that he's the hero and Gary is the bad guy, and attacks his boss.
After Grant passes out from the drug, Coulson lets Skye out and shows her around the mobile HQ. She admits that she likes Coulson's style but isn't so sure about Grant. They catch a news broadcast about Mike's attack and Skye says that he just needs a break. Coulson says that she should give him one and asks what she has. Skye hands over the driver's license and they confirm that Mike was injured in a factory accident and his wife left him. They review the security footage but can't get a clear image. Skye says that she was running surveillance and can provide the audio, and Jemma and Fitz realize that they can reconstruct the digital from that. Coulson has Melinda take Skye back to her van to get the files.
At the hospital, Mike goes to see Debbie, the woman he rescued from the fire. He offers her flowers and once they're alone, the woman demands to know why he's there. Mike says that he didn't know where else to go and no one will listen to him. He volunteered because she said things would change, and the doctor says that they're first subject lost it and blew up the lab. She's furious that Mike exposed the program and warns that the people who gave the technology will not be happy. When she says that Mike needs to disappear, Mike says that she's right and he's not Mike Peterson anymore. He goes to the window and leaps out.
At the mobile HQ, Jemma analyzes the device she found and realizes that it's not an explosive. Skye sends the audio and Fitz decrypts the video. They watch as the first subject comes in with a case and demands to see Debbie. As he swings at the assistant, they see the centipede device on his arm. Jemma realizes that it contains a similar serum to what was used in the 1940s to create supersoldiers. Someone is mixing in various sources of superpowers to create superhumans.
At the van, Skye pockets a flash drive and prepares to leave. Mike arrives and easily knocks Melinda unconscious, and tells Skye that he's rescuing her. He needs Skye to help him and brings in his son, Ace. They get in the van and Mike tells Skye to drive.
At the lab, Coulson analyzes the blast and they realize that the first test subject blew up on his own thanks to Extremis technology implanted in his body. Jemma warns that Mike will blow up the same way, taking out everyone in a two-block radius. As Grant prepares a gun , Jemma warns that anger is accelerating the process, but Mike will blow up regardless. If Mike is dead, the metabolic process will stop. Coulson tells them to come up with an option that involves Ace keeping his father. When Jemma warns that they can't do it, Coulson angrily tells her that he doesn't want to hear it. Melinda calls in to tell them what happened.
Mike has Skye drive to Union Station, parks, and works on creating a fake ID for him and his son. When he wonders if she can do it, Skye says that she's done it before.
Jemma and Fitz work against the clock to come up with a way to shut down the Extremis implant. As they work, they pick up a security breach and realize that someone is ending them longitude and latitude. Coulson realizes that Skye is sending them an SOS and they track the location.
Mike tells Ace that they'll take a train and bring Skye with them to help them create a new life.
Grant and Coulson pull up to the station and Grant wonders why they're risking thousands of lives for one man. Coulson insists that Mike matters and calls over a bullhorn, telling Mike to surrender. Mike kicks out the door, grabs Skye and Ace, and runs into the station. As they pass several gangers, Skye kicks one of them and the rest come after Mike. He tosses them aside with ease.
Debbie pulls up with an armed killer, disguised as a police officer and sends him into the station.
Coulson manages to get Ace away while Grant tries to subdue Mike, warning that the implant will explode. Meanwhile, the assassin comes in and opens fire on Mike, who grabs Skye and runs out. Coulson realizes that there's a third party involved and figures that Mike will head for the tracks. He tells Grant to go after him but only take the shot if he has to. Grant echoes his command and walks off.
Mike drags Skye up to the balcony as the killer fires at him. The impact knocks Mike over the edge and he falls several stories into a news kiosk. As the killer prepares to eliminate Skye, Melinda arrives and takes him out with a few blows.
As Mike gets back up, Coulson walks over and puts his gun on the floor. Grant is ready to shoot him and Mike says that he knows how it will play out. As Skye and Melinda run up, Coulson says that the last guy who wore the Extremis tech exploded, but Mike insists that he's a good guy and that will make a difference. He says that they took everything from him and he's going to make an example of all the people that have been pushed down. As Mike starts to glow, he says that being a man doesn't matter. Coulson walks up to him and Mike says that he could be a hero. As he starts to surrender, Grant takes the shot, hitting Mike in the head. Fitz runs over and confirms that Mike is still alive because Grant used the Night Night gun.
Once Mike is stabilized, Coulson calls in and tells Maria that everything is secured.
Later, Skye and Coulson visits Ace where he's staying with his Aunt Mindy. Skye and Coulson meet with him and assure him that Ace's father will be coming back. As they drive off, Coulson admits that they haven't pinned down Centipede yet. He asks if Skye has considered his offer, and she admits that she's not a team player. Coulson says that they're hoping to do some good and Skye would be ground zero at the strangest things on Earth. Grant calls to tell Coulson that they have a report of an 0-8-4. Coulson revs up Lola and says that she's got ten minutes to decide before they get the airfield, and converts his car to flying mode.