After the departure of Bobbi and Hunter, this week’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. was all about character growth for the remaining agents while continuing the threat of HYDRA and introducing a parallel foe for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans. Head here to read Doug’s review of the episode, and read on for the biggest moments from ”Watchdogs”.
Chekov’s Border Collie Statue
While Lincoln, Jemma, and May all got some focus this episode, the main character focus was on Mack. This was a welcome decision as he’s had very little development since his introduction last season. While he has excellent chemistry with Daisy and Fitz, it was great seeing him interact with his brother Ruben (Gaius Charles) as they attempted to reconcile their relationship. While seeing Mack’s brother join up with the Watchdogs would have provided some interesting tension, I did like how things ended with Ruben finally aware of all the work his brother does. And though Mack hates this kind of thing, he always comes through in a fight. Just as Chekov said a gun introduced in the first act must go off in the third (I’m paraphrasing here), so too has it become a TV trope for any unusual and remarked upon object introduced early in an episode to serve a purpose during the climax. In this case, Mack’s distaste for an old collie statue left over from when his parents lived in the house is reversed when he uses said tchotchke to knock out one of the intruders.
Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Ruben as the dynamic between him and Mack brings a welcome levity to the show, as does his always great interactions with Daisy and Fitz (as mentioned above), who served as the core trio this episode. I’d also love to see more of these personal stories where the characters cross paths with the people in their lives outside of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The more we get to know the family and friends of the agents, the more impact the fantastical elements of the story have.
Who Watches The Watchdogs?
The Watchdogs were teased two episodes back when Daisy and Lincoln discuss the value of an Inhuman vaccine and this episode we see that discussion furthered. While the reveal that HYDRA is fueling the group muddies the philosophical debate a bit (as does their violent and extremist rhetoric), it still brought up some Civil War-like arguments between the characters. Again, this was teased between Daisy and Lincoln, but we see it play out more here between Mack and Daisy (and silently with Fitz) and Mack and Ruben. It also divides Coulson and former SHIELD agent Blake.
Last we saw him, he’d been attacked by Deathlok and it seems the encounter left him a paraplegic. The episode, along with the subsequent reveal that the organization he was working for had been infiltrated by HYDRA, has left a sour taste in his mouth when it comes to covert government agencies and enhanced individuals. Boy is he gonna be upset when he learns his new colleague Giyera is one of those “freaks” he hates and that his bankrollers are none other than HYDRA. Blake and the Watchdogs will certainly be back by season’s end as they will likely represent the show’s own version of the civil war that will play out in cinemas. I like the addition of a less fantastical threat for SHIELD, especially one that has real-world ties and brings up lots of moral and idealogical complications. And though I mentioned the HYDRA connection might ultimately negate these issues, it does keep the plot threads streamlined which this show has been doing a great job of this season, so I can’t complain too much.
Aside from the Mack and Ruben story and the introduction of the Watchdogs, this episode featured a lot of little moments worth talking about.
Shotgun Axe: It’s amazing how quickly this has come to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. inside joke. Early this season, Mack commented that to take on Lash he might need a bigger gun or his axe (the one he used on Gordon and to sever Coulson’s hand) or some sort of shotgun-axe combination. It was a highlight of the episode as was referenced later on by Mack as well. Now, we finally got it (sort of). While a cleaver isn’t quite an axe, it was still great seeing Mack triumphantly duct-tape it too his shotgun and christen it while the audience cheered and Ruben looked rightfully confused.
Watchdogs: In the comics, the Watchdogs are a far-right terrorist group who usually square off against Captain America. While on the show they are attempting to counter the “threat” of powered individuals, in the comics they’re your typical male, Bible-thumping, gay-hating, extremist group. The show downplays their real-world correlations but still focuses on the idea of a bunch of misguided and violent xenophobes trying to destroy those they view as “unnatural.” And their secret HYDRA funding is pretty on point as well since in the comics they were secretly funded by the Red Skull for many years. While they may balk at the idea once they learn of it, the fact that they’re actually funded by former Nazi radicals isn’t too far off the mark from what they do anyway.
Damage Control: This episode marked our first mention of the organization Damage Control in the MCU. In the comics, it’s the group that cleans up after superhero battles, and it’s set to become a sitcom on ABC sometime in the near future. It’s unknown how long they’ve existed in this universe, but Daisy pretty casually mentions they’ll be coming for cleanup duty at the Mackenzie’s so chances are they’ve been around awhile.
Gangwar In Hell’s Kitchen: The timeline of Daredevil is a topic of confusion and therefore this Easter egg might not quite add up, but we still got a reference to the new season as the news report on the Watchdogs’ ATCU attack featured a mention of the gangwar in Hell’s Kitchen on the ticker at the bottom. Hopefully someday we’ll get a more explicit connection between the two series.
Nitromene: While I complained last week that the show introduced another Darkforce-powered villain without referencing the last one or it’s focus in Season 2 of Agent Carter, this week gave us a solid reference to Season 1 of the show in the form of Nitromene. In Agent Carter it was one of the things Howard Stark invented that was stolen and we saw it put to use on a Roxxon facility in the series. This week, Blake has altered the substance and weaponized it, giving it to the Watchdogs to use on the ATCU and Fitz.
So, what did you think? Let us know in the comments what your favorite moments were and what you’re hoping to see next week. You can check out the promo for episode 15 titled “Spacetime” here and for all things Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., follow along here. For more MCU related news and features, make sure to follow us on Twitter.