Welcome back to my weekly coverage of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! You can catch up on previous reviews here.
This was a very interesting episode for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As I said in my review of last week’s episode, the departure of Bobbi and Hunter was going to open up time to be given to other core members of this cast. It sure didn’t take long for the show to re-appropriate that time as this week focused largely on Mack and his family. The introduction of Mack’s brother allowed for some big character moments, and the episode benefited from them greatly.
Mack has always been the most undecided of the group when it comes to the fight that S.H.I.E.L.D. is in. That isn’t to say his commitment to the team is questionable, but more showing that it has been a hard transition for him in changing his opinions of working with the Inhumans. To use an X-Files comparison, Mack was the skeptic Scully to the rest of the team of believing Mulders. This episode gave Mack the chance to confidently define what it is that he is fighting for and why it is that he’s sticking with S.H.I.E.L.D. Simply put, he took the chance. Being next to his brother is what allowed that to happen when Ruben Mackenzie starting showing his opinions as aligning with those of a new group called the Watchdogs. This group is very anti-Inhuman, and anti ATCU as a news report showed them attacking an ATCU warehouse. They know the Inhumans are out there and they want them to be brought in regardless of where an Inhuman stands on the good or bad scale. Essentially, they are a hate group spreading propaganda and fear. Judging by the reaction from Mack’s brother, the Watchdogs’ plan is working.
When it was revealed to Ruben that Mack is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and not working in insurance, Mack had to confront his brother and tell him the complete truth. For Mack, he’s working for S.H.I.E.L.D. still for the purpose of one goal: saving people. It’s no longer about who people are, alien or otherwise, it is strictly about protecting the people that deserve protecting. When the two brothers get attacked in their old family home in Illinois, Ruben asks Mack about fighting people and sometimes having to kill them, and all Mack says is “I’m a mechanic, I hate this stuff.” After the bad guys have been dispatched and Mack is getting medical attention for getting shot in the arm, we can see briefly as Ruben talks with Daisy that he is more proud of Mack now.
Moving to other members of the team, we see Simmons fighting with some guilt she’s been feeling since she allowed Lash out of his cage in the midseason finale. Agent May approaches her to tell her that it isn’t her fault, that it’s all Lash and also to get her help to try and find him now that he is free. I’m glad that the show is starting to bring Lash back into the fold. I’m not sure yet when we’ll see him on screen again but I have a suspicion he will be heavily involved with the last few episodes of this season. We got the tease from Simmons that she is working on a cure from Carl Creel’s blood that could reverse the effects of the terrigen crystals, but I am really hoping they don’t go down that road for Lash. Yes, I’ll admit, it would be cute to see May and her husband reunited again and all happily ever after, but Lash is such a cool antagonist that right now it feels like a kind of deus-ex machina cop out. I think it would be a more powerful emotional story to show that it is too late for Lash.
On the Coulson front we saw him drag Lincoln on a mission alone to search for the supposed leader of the Watchdogs, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Felix Blake, played by the returning Titus Welliver. Coulson wants to see for himself whether Lincoln is deserving of becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Even though this is a small B plotline, focusing on Lincoln is another benefit to Bobbi and Hunter leaving. Having another Inhuman come to the S.H.I.E.L.D. front line I think will add some extra fun to the show. In this episode though, Coulson was being a hardass towards Lincoln. It was cool to see Phil take such charge. It shows off his leadership more clearly than when he is working in the field. The two go off to check out some of Blake’s former S.H.I.E.L.D. safe houses and find him holed up in one in Atlanta. Coulson tries to figure out why Blake is leading the Watchdogs, and it becomes evident quickly that Blake has had a crisis of faith ever since the old S.H.I.E.L.D. was revealed to be Hydra. Now Blake is starting to spread his anger towards the Inhumans. Coulson decides to test Lincoln’s resolve when he asks Lincoln to kill Blake. Lincoln obeys the order to reveal Blake as a hologram. This was a small moment between the two characters but it worked fairly well. I hope this goes a long way in demonstrating Lincoln’s commitment to S.H.I.E.L.D.
We didn’t get to see Gideon Malick this week, but it turns out the Watchdog attack on the ATCU storage facility was a cover to extract a missile for Malick’s operation. I’m not sure where a large, possibly nuclear missile fits into the larger scheme for Malick, but Blake doing work for the Hydra leader is curious enough in its own right. We can only wait and see what this means going forward.
Episode Rating: 8.5/10