A metric TON happened in Agents of Shield this week. It’s clear that the writers are aligning their characters towards the finale (and Captain America: Civil War) but, in doing so, are also taking the time to show us exciting and new combinations of characters in story lines, and this led to an episode that felt dynamic and fresh. Because of this, a lot of elements felt more successful than they might have in a previous installment. Let’s break it down:
First up – The Watchdogs. Turns out, Malick has been feeding intel to a riled-up team of militant mercs seeking to take out inhuman “freaks”. Their use of Nitramine (a chemical used to cause implosions) made them a truly viable threat, particularly as it latched itself onto Fitz’s neck. While we didn’t get a ton of action or a massive battle scene here (until the end), their presence also gave a lot of weight to Daisy’s actions. This was the beginning of something new with Daisy, as she began to turn to more aggressive means of getting the job done, threatening not one but two guys with her powers to get information.
It was interesting watching the dynamic between Daisy and Fitz here, particularly as Daisy began to push the limits of what was acceptable within the mission. Fitz, the quiet but good-hearted agent that he is, is heartbreaking to watch as he holds a man at gunpoint through a truck window. It’s obvious that this will be at the forefront of the rest of the season: Inhuman rights, and how the powers of those Inhumans fit into the world on a deeper level. If Shield can continue to explore this topic in meaningful and thoughtful ways, it could take the show to new heights in terms of relevance, especially in the lead-up to Civil War.
Next – Mack and Ruben (Gaius Charles), Mack’s brother. Ruben was a solid presence on the show this week, acting as a foil of sorts to a shaken-up Mack following the exit of Hunter and Bobbi. Ruben wanting to join the Watchdogs and was a nice touch, and we got to see Mack struggle with family vs. what he had to do. This, of course, culminated in a final battle sequence in their dark family home, which was extra violent for the show. Most of the time, the show’s action is reliant on powers or spy-tastic pistol shots. Here, we got Mac blasting watchdogs in the face with a shotgun and cutting a guy with a butcher knife. The sequence did receive some levity in the form of Mac finally building his shotgun-axe (referenced in episode one of this season).
Lincoln and Coulson had, arguably, the most interesting dynamic of the episode. Lincoln was absent last week as he was receiving his Shield agent assessment. However, it turns out that Coulson didn’t like what he saw in it, and decided to take Lincoln out and test him himself. Coulson takes Lincoln to a safehouse in search of Blake, the ex-Shield agent now running the Watchdogs. The highlight of the episode was Coulson snapping at Lincoln on the jet, putting him in his place. Lincoln, as a character, has always been a cool, yet annoying one. His attitude grates and he feels disjunct in his actions. This exchange, then, is a great one, giving Clark Gregg some excellent moments while also giving Lincoln some much needed direction and discipline.
Coulson’s interaction with Blake was interesting as well. One thing that Shield typically gets right is the depth of their universe. Blake wasn’t just a bad guy with an evil plan, but rather someone trying to do good when his world and beliefs turned out to be corrupt under his nose. The scene grew long after a while, however, so it was rewarding to have Lincoln blast him in the chest (hologram or otherwise). Coulson’s final approval of Lincoln hopefully sets us up for a more engaging and decisive Lincoln in the future.
I want to give a quick shout-out to Elizabeth Henstridge, who consistently brings outstanding work to the table as Simmons, who we find this week struggling with the reality of all that has happened this season and blaming herself for the deaths of many. May’s guidance was another nice dynamic between two characters who haven’t spent much on-screen time together. Lash joining in the final battle of the season would be a very interesting addition, so hopefully their search for him goes well!
A few things that didn’t quite land this week: There was a lot to cover, and somethings that could’ve been more fleshed out were sacrificed for the sake of getting it all in, such as allowing Daisy more time to realistically turn more aggressive or giving Coulson and Lincoln more time to actually develop a character change. Ruben also didn’t quite give us a stellar performance this week, although his presence as a character for Mack was enough to move the story along.
Overall, this was a solid week for Agents of Shield as the cannons align towards Civil War and the end of the season. Shield has a lot of potentially fantastic balls in the air, but hopefully all of them land exactly where they should. Either way, stick with BagoGames and we’ll find out together!
Marvel’s Agents of Shield airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC.