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The last three seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have seen the world struggle with what's been considered to be an "alien epidemic." The mineral Terrigen has been introduced into the world's water supply, and people who possess the Inhuman gene are seeing their powers spontaneously emerge.
But how did the Inhuman gene become so widespread? It's always seemed more than a little odd, especially given that the Inhumans have tended to live in isolated societies. Curiously, the fourth episode of Inhumans has just given us an intriguing hint...
Attilan's Punishment System
Surprisingly, the answer seems to lie in Attilan's punishment system. The latest episode, "Make Way for... Medusa," revealed that Attilan doesn't have the death penalty. The city's most severe punishment is to banish those who attempt to destabilize Inhuman society. But where have they been banishing these Inhumans to? The only possibility is Earth.
It's only a small detail, but it ties together some important plot threads. The prevalence of Kree writing has strongly suggested that the city of Attilan was established by the Kree. It's always seemed as though the Inhumans had founded the city shortly after the Kree left the Earth, but up until now, we'd simply assumed some Inhumans stayed behind. Now we have another possibility; that over the course of millennia, banished Inhumans have been cast back to Earth, and some have incorporated themselves into human society.
There's precedent for Inhumans to use banishment as the ultimate form of punishment. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 revealed that the first Inhuman, Hive, had himself been banished to the planet Maveth using a Kree monolith. Intriguingly, the same series revealed that Hydra was founded as a sort of cult dedicated to Hive, sending potential hosts to Maveth in order to sustain his life.
The cult had operated for millennia, literally since prehistoric times. Is it possible that it was originally an Inhuman cult? By this reading, #Hydra was founded by Hive loyalists who sought to keep their master alive. When the cult was discovered on Attilan, they were banished to Earth, where they inspired a dark and dangerous secret society.
An Explanation For Afterlife
A similar theory explains the Inhuman colony of Afterlife, introduced in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2. This remote colony of Inhumans seemed to possess far too much knowledge of Inhuman history, which should really have been distorted over the course of millennia. The history of Afterlife is shrouded in mystery. We know that it was founded after the Second World War by the Inhuman Jiaying, mother of Quake.
It's possible that Jiaying was herself banished from Attilan. That would explain the depth of her knowledge and the fact she established a colony that seems to be a shadow of the one we're now seeing in Attilan. Meanwhile, "Make Way for... Medusa" established that the Inhumans of Attilan are more powerful than those of Earth, whose Inhuman genes have essentially been diluted over the passage of time. Jiaying certainly seemed to number among the most powerful Inhumans we've ever seen, and her daughter too has proved to be tremendously powerful.
Now, let's be clear, this is all inference. What's more, it's seriously unlikely it will ever be officially confirmed. That said, it's a sound explanation that fits with everything we've seen so far. It explains Hydra's secret origins from #AgentsOfSHIELD Season 3, and the mysterious depth of knowledge possessed by Jiaying in Season 2. Inhumans may have been a controversial show, but it's just added some real depth to the wider #MCU.