Spoilers ahead for “The Inside Man,” the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
With the introduction of the Inhumans, along with some quality stories that dig into the Marvel-ness of the concept, ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been enjoying a renaissance as of late — and the latest episode was no exception.
What happened? Coulson and Talbot go undercover at an Inhuman-focused summit, though the plan goes haywire when it’s revealed that Talbot has been blackmailed into working for Hydra boss Malick (who is secretly working for Hive, who is inside the reanimated corpse of Ward). Oh, plus Daisy and Lincoln get a hilariously-perfect couple name thanks to Hunter (“Shake and Bake” FTW).
Highlights: The odd couple of Coulson and Talbot, Creel is back
Absorbing Man absorbs a new direction: Back when Crusher Creel (aka the Absorbing Man) first showed up on S.H.I.E.L.D., turning into all kinds of different metals, his power set made him one heck of an interesting anomaly. Now? He’s just another dude with super powers, which is a testament for just how much this show has changed over the past season.
But, after serving as an antagonist during his initial appearances, Creel showed up as part of Talbot’s team in a nice twist this week. Considering the fact that Hydra is starting to build up its own army of Inhumans, Creel could be an excellent addition to Coulson’s gang. Well, assuming Hunter can work out his (very warranted) issues with Creel.
Coulson and Talbot forever: Adrian Pasdar’s Gen. Talbot has always made for an interesting character, serving as a window into the military’s view of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s antics and all the insanity of the MCU. So, when it was revealed last week that Talbot will serve as the new head of the ATCU, you just knew we’d get some fun banter between him and Coulson. Well, we didn’t have to wait long.
The dynamic duo teams up for a semi-undercover mission to a governmental summit to discuss the Inhuman “threat.” Clark Gregg and Pasdar have great chemistry, and bringing Talbot back in a recurring role with the ATCU was a stroke of genius. He’s gruff, goofy and half-cocked — then he ends up keeping one card up his sleeve that saves the day. Plus, now that Coulson has freed his son from Malick’s goons, you’d have to think we can get back to full-on bromance.
Lowlights: Ward/Hive needs some direction, “Shake and Bake” is a bit uneven
Ward/Hive: The writers seems to be setting up Hive, the alien creature from Simmons’ blue planet, as the mysterious big bad of the season. They also found a way to keep Brett Dalton around, by having the creature climb into Ward’s freshly-killed corpse (via a chest-crushing from Coulson’s robo-hand). That’s all well and good, and Ward has certainly looked creepy with the pale make-up and chest scar, but he actually needs to do something.
The character has spent the past two episodes basically just stalking around in Malick’s basement, watching TV and reading books. He finally got to be more menacing this week, literally sucking the meat off the bones of five people to apparently restore Ward’s body to peak physical condition (because it’s hard to admire that six-pack with a crushed chest, I guess?), but he still needs to do something. Quit telling me how creepy he is, throwing dust around at people, and actually start to peel back some layers for his grand plan. Looking to the comic canon, Hive represents a fascinating baddie to bring to live action — and it’s about time to start doing some cool stuff with him.
“Shake and Bake”: the burgeoning relationship between Daisy and Lincoln has been brewing for a while now, and it seemed to take a major step forward this week. But, the (literal) power couple got into an argument over the potential creation of an Inhuman vaccine (developed from Creel’s blood). Lincoln was interested in learning more about it, while Daisy immediately dismissed the idea. Sure, situations like this have never really worked out that well for the X-Men, but with fish oil out there changing people without warning (causing chaos and costing lives), it’s not crazy to at least consider something that would give people the option not to change if they so choose.
It’s a nuanced conversation, and turning it into a catalyst for an argument between a couple just felt clunky.
Line of the night: “I don't hate you quite as much.” -May, talking to Hunter.
Up next: A freaky Inhuman assassin capable of moving through walls is attacking the team, while Bobbi and Hunter are going dark to secretly hitch a ride on Malick’s plane. Will they come face to face with undead Ward?