A moral and political theme comes crashing into tonight’s episode with hate groups, and the emotional driving force that leads to the decision to embrace them.
There has been an attack on an ATCU facility, and the group claiming responsibility calls themselves Watchdogs. A terrorist organization acting out of fear and hatred of Inhumans. A familiar face in Felix Blake returns as the man behind the Watchdogs, steeping with hate for powered people after Deathlok had previously caved his chest in. It mirrors a lot of what’s happening in the real world, particularly on the political front these days, but that struggle is displayed on the heroic side as well, as the team has a tug-of-war with their own emotions.
Explaining that when someone begins to feel disenfranchised they may turn to anger to feel empowered, but there are other ways.
The Team Struggles With Where To Draw The Line
You see it in Daisy and Mack, who have a bit of a stand-off on where the line is. Daisy has started to take on an “any means necessary” mentality, somewhat emulating her mother’s point of view on protecting the Inhuman people. She’s taking it personally, and one can’t really blame her as her people are being targeted. On the other side of the argument, Mack is worried that a heavy hand would trample the civil liberties of the people they are attempting to find. The conversation where this all happens, for me, had strong vibes of Steve Rogers and Nick Fury discussing spying and first strike capabilities of the helicarriers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
But they aren’t the only ones wading through these waters. Coulson brings Lincoln along as he attempts to infiltrate Blake’s in order find more information tying him to Watchdogs, almost as a test to see if Lincoln can control that same anger which Daisy feels. Jemma and May discuss the weight that guilt can play on aggression, and not letting things like agents dying while they are on rescue missions “happen again.”
I love the pairings this episode gave us when the group was divided up. It’s great to see Fitz and Simmons play off each other, because I mean it’s Fitz-Simmons and they’re the best, but seeing characters that aren’t usually isolated with one another get screen time really shakes things up.
Family Is A Sacrifice When You Join Up With SHIELD
The other driving aspect was the family life agents sacrifice in order to perform their sworn duty. Mack is taking some time off. He’s enjoying some quality family time with his brother (played by Adrianne Palicki’s Friday Night Lights co-star Gauis Charles) Ruben and being the mechanic that he is, rebuilding a motorcycle. As soon as he’s called back to “the office,” things start to come to the surface. Ruben shows his fear and disillusionment with the government as he’s falling behind on payments on the house, and is starting to sympathize with the Watchdogs.
In a moment of apology, Ruben finds Mack out in the field with Fitz and Daisy. Pulling up on a noisy motorcycle brings attention to the group and they’re soon found out.
This is the only moment that kind of lost me in the episode. Not that Ruben would try to find his brother to extend an olive branch, but how we would track him down at this random barn. I basically shrugged it off as a bit of filler exposition in order to get he and Mack back to their family home where the Watchdogs planned to attack them. Really, a minimal lapse in an otherwise very interesting episode.
Some of the best moments in the episode did come from the house attack, so in the long run it all worked out. After Ruben sees Mack take a couple of members of the terrorist group out, Mack explains that he’s just a mechanic, and “hates this stuff.” You see it in him, he swore an oath to protect. Inhumans, normal civilians, his family. This is why, at times, he must do what it takes. Plus, then he gets to put those mechanical skills to work again by making a shotgun-ax.
Easter Eggs, Civil War, and Sokovia Connections
There were some mentions of Sokovia, Ultron and the Chitauri that were cool connecting pieces as we rev up closer to Civil War, and the action sequences we solid, but it was the character development that really struck me in this episode.
The emotion that Henry Simmons puts in here is a wonderful follow-up to the goodbye he gives Bobbi and Hunter in “Parting Shots.” That’s why I really enjoy this series, it’s not the intrigue, adventure and action…all of which are fun, I come back every week to learn more about these characters and Watchdogs brought that to the forefront.
- Tags: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.