Last week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the team was hanging out in Columbia, meeting new Inhumans both good and bad. Coulson was trying to track down Malick and end HYDRA forever. Grant-monster was getting more powerful. And both organizations were slowly building up their Inhuman resources for the inevitable war that is to come. This week, ‘The Inside Man’ has the two teams racing each other to gain access to even more Inhuman soldiers, though this time they do it in a (mostly) diplomatic fashion.
With Talbot as the new leader of the ATCU, it’s up to Coulson to play nice and make friends so that both teams can better focus on capturing, recruiting or deterring Inhumans throughout the world. Naturally, Talbot isn’t happy with the situation. He’s never really been a big fan of S.H.I.E.L.D. and nothing’s happened to change that opinion. But they have to work together in hopes of forming some diplomatic alliances.
There’s a meeting between the leaders of some of the world’s most powerful countries. The topic at hand is the presence of the new super-powered kids on the Earth. Coulson and Talbot need to make contact with these folks and figure out which might be hiding Inhumans as well as which of them might be working with Malick.
So off they go, though they’re not allowed to bring any Inhumans with them as back-up. Neither are they allowed to bring weapons. Luckily, Talbot has an unlikely ally working for him – Carl Creel, AKA Absorbing Man. His brain has been washed back to normal and he no longer works for HYDRA, so why not have him on your side? Most of S.H.I.E.L.D., however, doesn’t think highly of him, particularly Hunter.
The infiltration mission begins, but quickly goes to shit. Team S.H.I.E.L.D. is busy searching the rooms of the various delegates for clues as to which of them might be Malick’s lap dogs when Talbot turns his coat and announces to the delegation that Coulson is the leader of HYDRA and a traitor out to screw them all over. Malick even shows up to gloat a bit and shake some important hands.
But the truth is that Talbot’s being blackmailed. Malick has his son and is using him like a puppet to gain influence at the meeting. So S.H.I.E.L.D. has to figure out where his kid is and rescue lil’ Talbot while at the same time saving Coulson and Talbot from an untimely death. In the end, it’s Creel who saves the leadership of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the ATCU. The rest of the team does manage to find Talbot’s son at least. And, in the end, Bobbi and Hunter even hitch a ride on Malick’s private plane, heading off to gods-know-where in search of HYDRA HQ.
On the other side of the map, we find Grant-monster studying up on the life of his host body. He seems to like the old Grant and deems him worthy of being a meat suit. He uses his weird sand power to take over old Medusa-eyes and bring him into HYDRA’s loving embrace. And then, in order to heal his messed up body, he turns five random humans into goo.
Then there’s some other stuff involving Daisy and Lincoln that’s mostly boring. Fitz and Simmons do end up studying Creel’s blood to find out why he managed to survive touching the obelisk despite not being a proper Inhuman. And what they discover is that there’s something in his blood that stops the alien mutation. It looks like S.H.I.E.L.D. may have some sort of cure or, if used for more sinister ends, a type of Inhuman-specific poison.
This week really was more of a story development episode than anything else. It slowed down from last week, which saw a bit more action. It was nice to see the S.H.I.E.L.D. team doing some proper spy stuff, but the combination of this week and the last leaves me feeling like the show isn’t really accomplishing anything spectacular. Instead, it’s more of a wind up. We can likely expect bigger things from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the season progresses, but as far as creating some sort of punch for the mid-season return, the writers don’t seem to have given it much thought.
This could be a good thing in the long run, concentrating on the overall story as opposed to short bursts and peaks in order to keep the audience on the edges of their seats. Conversely, it could mean that S.H.I.E.L.D. is running out of steam. I’m leaning toward the former assessment given that the story thus far has been solidly structured. If they don’t pick up the pace a little, however, it may get tiring for many viewers to continue much further. While S.H.I.E.L.D. contains its fair share of drama, it’s not very good at making that drama the focus of the show. We’re here to see exceptional people do amazing things and fight ruthless villains. And, unfortunately, the last couple of episodes haven’t given us much in the way of tense conflict.
Still, the show is better than most of what you’ll find on television and, as long as it picks up again, this will be a small hiccup in what has become an exceptional series. Although I do wish they’d dump the Daisy loves Lincoln storyline. Lincoln is by far one of the most lifeless and uninteresting characters on the show and I just care less what happens to him, particularly regarding his love life.
I guess every show needs some sort of romance going on, even if it is utterly mediocre, right?
Next week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. presents ‘Parting Shot’. See team S.H.I.E.L.D. make their move against HYDRA HQ. Also see them run into a nasty Inhuman assassin who may just leave the team one member lighter when all things are said and done. Check out the trailer for that one below.