Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Watchdogs

“Shotgun axe.”

This episode wasn’t perfect, but, it was pretty damn great.

A Mack-centric episode has been a long time coming. And who could complain about more focus on Mack? He’s funny and adorable and super gorgeous and absurdly tall. Plus, it makes total sense that the week after his besties take off, he’d need some me-time. Mack is home; home is Indiana. We got so much cute backstory here the first ten minutes of the episode had me in a constant state of Kermit flail. He has a brother. His brother’s name is Ruben. He once tried to sell his brother at a lemonade stand because he was annoying. Their parents own a small statue of a collie.

Then the Central Conflict™ of the episode: the Watchdogs, an extremist group of anti-Inhuman activists attacked an ATCU storage facility, conveniently located just down the road from Mack’s childhood home.

The Watchdogs were a mishmash of allusions to current real world political issues such as anti-immigrant sentiment, right wing extremism, and homegrown terrorism. Unlike any real world terrorist group (as far as we know…), the Watchdogs are being subsidized by HYDRA. How very HYDRA. They’re also alarmingly well organized. That organization makes them scarier, but it’s also going make them easier to take down. If every cell is reporting to Blake, then Blake has to know, at the very least, the leaders and locations of every cell. Convenient for end of season cleanup.

Daisy and Fitz join Mack in the investigation of the storage facility implosion, which was definitely a fun dynamic. Fitz and Mack have a close bond (you’ll remember it was Mack who really helped Fitz post-brain damage last season) and I’ve really missed seeing them together. Watching them spew technical jargon as Daisy struggled to understand anything they were saying was downright adorable. In fact, I really like the way the team was broken up all around. Lincoln and Coulson, Simmons and May; it’s fun when the show puts characters together in new ways instead of relying on the same dynamics episode after episode.

Simmons and May’s scenes provided us with a couple of plot coupons to be redeemed closer to the finale (more lethal Jemma! the search for Andrew/Lash! the vaccine!) while Coulson and Lincoln’s team were in charge of exposition, with an assist from a holographic Blake. Whether Coulson admits it or not, part of his reluctance to accept Lincoln on the team is due to his father/daughter relationship with Daisy. He can see that Lincoln is hiding stuff about his past and doesn’t want his surrogate daughter hurt. That and his legitimate issues with Lincoln’s difficulty following orders made for a tense relationship until it was all perfectly resolved by Lincoln following orders after expressing doubt about the orders.

So…Daisy. Daisy kind of headed down a darker, more Magneto-colored path this week. Having located a Watchdog, she was completely fine threatening him with her powers until he told them everything he knew. Mack’s reasonable objections to her plan were completely overruled. Daisy is scaring me, both this episode and last. Her stalwart dedication to her people is becoming more and more of an obsession. It’s taking over her whole personality. What would hacktivist Skye have to say about Daisy’s behavior this week? Nothing good. Yes, people change over time, but Daisy’s transformation has been so rapid and so complete, I’m wondering what the writers have in store for her.

My big substantive complaint about the episode was that the resolutions felt too neat. Ruben, who had ascribed to some Watchdog philosophy, meets Daisy and realizes that S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t so bad after all, Coulson accepts Lincoln as a member of the team, everyone group hugs and goes to Disneyland. Well, maybe not that last one.

And then the whole thing with Fitz was just so incredibly unnecessary. Obviously they weren’t going to kill Fitz. It felt like a waste of time. Of course Daisy was going to be able to save him in the nick of time using something simple. They could’ve come up with a better way to keep Daisy and Fitz from Mack and his brother. What if they just had to interrogate someone? Or were sweeping the place for clues? Either would have felt less predictable and hackneyed.

Intel and Assets

--Felix Blake is played by Titus Welliver aka that guy who Josie used to see at Trader Joe’s. I’m sorry, Josie, it’s the only thing I ever think about when he appears on my television screen.

--When the Watchdogs thought Mack was the Inhuman, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this moment from Avatar: The Last Airbender


--Mack finally realized his dream of having a shotgun axe.

Mack: “If it moves, shoot it. And try not to shoot yourself. Or me.”

Daisy: “Did you just call him Alfie?”

three and a half out of four paintball pellets of imploding orange goo
---
sunbunny

2 comments:

migmit said...

Daisy is frightening, and Chloe Bennet plays that perfectly. She is creepy, but in a subtle way. She's dangerous. Probably more than her father. Not sure about mother yet.

Titus Welliver is former State Attorney Glenn Childs. I know he is supposed to be a tough guy, but I can't shake off that image.

For some time I was certain they are going to trade something valuable for a cure for Fitz.

And... just five guys with assault rifles agains Mac? Did they all have a death wish?

Marianna said...

Maybe it was just me, but I hated this episode. Mostly because of Mack's brother. He was SO annoying! It was like Dawn all over again! He couldn't just sympathize with the Watchdog's point of view? He had to want to be one of them? The whole thing seemed really forced. Also (and this is a much smaller critique) Mack counted five Watchdogs in the house based on footsteps/voices/whatever. They took care of three of them, and the other two were outside standing guard. Why did he hear them in the house if they were outside?

Blake was a SHELD agent, apparently a good one, and he doesn't know that you can't take HYDRA at it's word? That's stupid. Even Talbot figured that out, and we all know he's not the brightest crayon in the box.

I did enjoy seeing Mack in his mechanic/engineer element in this episode. It's kind of strange that he's a fighter now and we barely see him do anything else.