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Freedom. Equality. Individual rights. These principles make mankind a plague on this planet. Think of a forest. It dries up and catches fire with the first spark. Now, mankind would fight that fire, believing every individual plant perfect in its own individual way. But it's the fire that's perfect. Essential. Now more magnificent plant species, like the giant sequoia, their seeds need the heat of that fire to crack open and be born. To literally rise from the ashes. And they will live for a thousand years. You don't need to keep burning. Rise... be born.
~ Whitehall to Agent 33 while brainwashing her with the Faustus Method.
Discovery requires experimentation.
~ Whitehall's sadistic motto.
Dr. Daniel Whitehall, born as Werner Reinhardt, is a major antagonist in the TV series, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He was the main antagonist of the first half of Season 2 and a posthumous antagonist in the second half as well as Seasons 3 and 5.
He was one of the leaders of HYDRA, who intended to find a mysterious object known as the Obelisk and use its potential capabilities for HYDRA's intentions of controlling the world and committing mass genocide. He is best remembered as the one who dissected Daisy Johnson's mother and Calvin Zabo's wife, Jiaying, which gained him longevity and drove her into insanity.
Born as Werner Reinhardt, he was a Nazi scientist and HYDRA general working for the Red Skull. After coming across the mysterious Obelisk, he became obsessed with learning its true potential and using it to enforce HYDRA's goals, even using countless people as lab rats to test its power. After the Skull's death, he was imprisoned in a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison for life in 1945. Decades later in 1989, he was freed and then dissected Skye's mother Jiaying, who was the only person who survived the Obelisk and didn't age. Afterwards, he gained her powers and changed his identity, becoming one of HYDRA's most prominent leaders.
After the HYDRA uprising in 2014, Whitehall along with his loyal right-hand man Sunil Bakshi went on a mission to retrieve the Obelisk and continue his studies on it, which put him in conflict with a S.H.I.E.L.D. faction led by the agency's new director, Phil Coulson. During this time, he eventually became allies with double agent Grant Ward and Calvin Zabo, who was secretly Jiaying's vengeful husband and Skye's father wanting revenge for destroying his family. During a final battle over the ancient Kree city, he was finally killed by Coulson before he could learn of the existence and power of the Inhumans.
Even after his well-deserved death, Whitehall's actions still had an impact on S.H.I.E.L.D. afterwards. After Skye met her mother Jiaying, who was still alive, she would learn how she was more the monster than her father and would try to wipe out humanity and install the Inhumans as the dominant species. Three years later, Whitehall's Destroyer of Worlds Project led to the teams conflict with General Hale and her daughter Ruby, whom he created, and would result in Glenn Talbot become a villain that nearly destroyed the Earth.
Daniel Whitehall was completely amoral and capable of committing any crime that could help his or HYDRA's goals which were, in his mind, to answer the keys to death itself. Confident and arrogant in his capacities, he took seemingly all situations presented to him with calm indifference if not sadistic humor. He had no problems with killing dozens of people in horrifically cruel ways to test the Obelisk's power with no remorse. He did not care about any of his lower henchmen, because he had hundreds of them ready at his disposal.
Whitehall constantly calculated and sought a person's motive before applying an action. When confronted by Calvin Zabo in his office, he stopped Sunil Bakshi from acting to learn why Zabo was there, despite witnessing Zabo kill two of his operatives moments earlier. Before he acted on Grant Ward's disobedience for not attacking the Bus, Whitehall met with him and asked his reasons. Whitehall was dedicated to understanding and discovery. As a scientist, he was observant as well as fascinated by new situations and will experiment endlessly to find solutions to his questions. He developed a mantra of discovery requiring experimentation in order to justify his amoral experiments.
Whitehall is also psychopathic, and downright callous, able to commit horrible and sadistic crimes and actions without remorse. He has no empathy for his victims and even seems to enjoy torturing them. He also believes deeply in HYDRA’s Nazi ideology, specifically their misogynistic viewpoint as he discarded Hale to be artificially inseminated to continue their Destroyer of Worlds Project rather than a S.H.I.E.L.D. sleeper agent despite her skills and ideas being superior to her male colleagues.
Oh, there's no reason left to fear the Red Skull. He's dead. However, his vision is not. The work HYDRA has done will live on.
~ Whitehall expressing how Red Skull's vision for HYDRA will live on, even after his death.
Bakshi: Creel has escaped and did indeed make off with the Obelisk. He should contact us shortly. I would have him come in, but I'm being overly discreet with this operation. I know how long you have searching for this, Dr. Whitehall. Whitehall: You have no idea.
~ Whitehall being debriefed by Bakshi of Creel's progress for the Obelisk.
Raina, I'm not like most people with whom you interact. I'm not easily confused. I've been around too long to lose sight of what's mine. I generally don't do my own dirty work anymore. We should all aspire to do only that which we enjoy. Don't you agree? But in your case, I will make an exception. Forty-eight hours seems fair, doesn't it? To bring it back to me? I once operated on a woman, on and off, for a full week. The struggle really is keeping the patient awake. The pain at certain levels has the tendency to cause us to black out. That can be... incredibly frustrating. But I'm confidant that I can do better now. I can find you wherever you are. Bring me the Obelisk. Forty-eight hours. The clock starts... now.
~ Whitehall threatening Raina's life while demanding that she gives him the Obelisk.
As a person who has spent a considerable portion of his life incarcerated, I know how rare second chances are. If you're given one, you take it. The opportunity may be fleeting so it must be recognised and seized. Sometimes the solution takes days, or weeks, or years. But no matter the sacrifice one must be willing to endure the trauma of shaking off all that you were, to become something new, something better. Everyone deserves a second chance, but few are willing to do what it takes to earn one.
~ Whitehall as he monologues to Grant Ward about earning second chances, while also loosely explaining how he gained his power.
I killed your wife and before I kill you, I want you to watch what I do to your daughter.
~ Whitehall explaining to Calvin Zabo about how he intends to "experiment" on Skye while he watches.
He is the series' incarnation of the Kraken, a legendary HYDRA agent from the Marvel Comics universe.
Daniel Whitehall's death marks the second time Phil Coulson has killed a main antagonist in the series, following John Garrett, and preceeded by Grant Ward and Aida.
Though he dies halfway through the season, he can still be considered the main antagonist and Big Bad of the season because his sadistic dissection of Jiaying, traumatically turned her into a villain and there is nothing else that could have happened to her that would have caused her to do the things she did. It is reasonable to say that he is more deserving of the blame than her for her attempts to start a war against S.H.I.E.L.D. and mankind.
Whitehall could be considered the Bigger Bad of Season 5, as even though he was dead, he was the creator of the Destroyer of Worlds Project and engineered the creation of Ruby Hale, all of which also caused Glenn Talbot to become the villain Graviton.