This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. furthers some of the most interesting philosophical themes facing the MCU right now: the relationship between Governments and superpowered beings. Unfortunately, the execution in The Inside Man isn’t quite as interesting as the ideas, and despite treading on almost identical ground as May’s Captain America: Civil War, the show seems to go out of its way to keep the “Inhuman problem” secret enough that the movies won’t have to acknowledge it.
In the first season of the show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn’t seem to decide whether Coulson’s team was S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most active response unit or if it was a black-ops team designed to deal with threats while keeping Coulson’s resurrection a secret. Now, it appears to be having the same issue with the Inhumans. It wants to make them a serious enough threat to have “internet hate groups patrolling the internet” and multiple governments attending a symposium, but then turns around and claims that the symposium is “small and secret”. It wants President Ellis to address the nation about an ongoing alien contagion, but it wants any action taken in regards to the Inhumans to be secret and behind closed doors. In other words, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is saying “The Inhumans are a huge deal…but not huge enough that you’ll hear about it in the movies.”
I don’t think the television and film side of the MCU need to be sewn together at the hip. In fact, constantly referencing each other could make the universe feel small and inauthentic. However, I sincerely hope there’s at least a throwaway line in Civil War mentioning the powered people other than The Avengers. Otherwise, it will make Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. feel even more like the awkward stepchild of the MCU. But I digress. The symposium itself was a storyline that dragged a little, with several great moments (aka any scene with Bobbi), but a plot that overall felt strung together and haphazard.
The reintroduction of Carl Creel this episode was one of the things teased before the season returned, and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to. However, he’s a perfect example of this episode having better ideas than execution: his return, his serving as a bodyguard for Talbot, his blood acting as a possible vaccine for pre-transformation Inhumans, and the (I think) four separate times his allegiances were questioned all seem great on paper, but Brian Patrick Wade‘s Absorbing Man isn’t nearly as intimidating or compelling when he actually, you know, talks. It definitely seems like we haven’t seen the last of Creel, so hopefully his character gets fleshed out a little more moving forward.
One aspect of this episode that does manage to get everything right is Hive. Very early on, Hive calls Grant Ward “a perfect host,” and Brett Dalton is the perfect Hive. He’s creepy, alien, and powerful even in his weakened state. We’ve seen Ward go through many different transformations: bland S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Hydra traitor, crazy Hydra leader, and now alien lord. Hive may be the last version of Ward we get to see, but it’s almost certainly the best.
3 Shake and Bakes out of 5. Hunter’s nickname for Daisy and Lincoln is the best thing I’ve ever heard.
- Adrian Pasdar absolutely kills it this episode, cranking out great lines almost every time he opens his smug mouth.
- “I wouldn’t put on a dress for just anyone.”
- “It’s nice to put a series of faces to all your unpronounceable names.”
- “Call me Glenn…occasionally.”
- Winner of “Most obvious exposition line” this week goes to Fitz: “His absorbing powers don’t seem to impressive now with all the Inhumans around.”