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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3×12 “The Inside Man”

Jeez Louise. You’d think Marvel was gearing up for some sort of enormous project dealing with the issue of how best to approach and deal with powered people. Oh wait…

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to be the best prequel to Captain America: Civil War that the big wigs over on the movie side of things think they don’t need. And while certainly arguable that those who exclusively watch the films and hold their noses up to the television series will be able to understand the upcoming Cap installment regardless, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is once again building upon its introduction of the Inhumans in a way that will make it a stellar lead-in to Civil War. 

More importantly, S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to be its own individual entity that really doesn’t need to have any involvement with the movie universe anymore. (Though, in my opinion, it never really needed the films at all). So many naysayers in the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. demanded that it be integrated into the MCU and, while it certainly has, Season 3 has proved that the show is no longer dependent on whatever people thought the films provided it.

Spoilers ahead!

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The central focus of, “The Inside Man,” was on the Symposium on the Alien Contagion… a rather ominous name that (unsurprisingly) Daisy isn’t all that thrilled with. She’s even less thrilled to learn that she won’t be attending said symposium with Coulson and new ATCU head General Talbot and is even less than less thrilled to learn that former S.H.I.E.L.D. foe Carl Creel will be attending.

Apparently Absorbing Man is recently reformed and now working as the world’s most solid bodyguard for Talbot. Hmmm… that’s not suspicious AT ALL. (C’mon, the episode is called “The Inside Man,” you know something dodgy will come from this.)

Hunter and the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is entirely, and rightfully, suspicious of Creel but Coulson puts his Director foot down and says he’s coming along no matter how upset everyone is about it.

This of course was an absolutely terrible call because, as it turns out, the inside man working for Malick that this entire op revolved around finding was actually General Talbot himself. Malick has Talbot’s son in one of the ATCU’s gel pods, which is perfect blackmail material and allows for Coulson to be set up at the symposium… and accused of being Hydra’s director. Everything comes up sunshine and daisies for Malick (less so for Talbot who unfortunately realizes that just because he kept up his end of the bargain doesn’t mean Malick will and give back his son) who is one step closer to achieving this, “greater good,” that he and Hive both mention while destroying the lives of innocent people.

Did I mention that Hive is… eating? Destroying? Decomposing into tiny sand particles and surrounding? a bunch of innocent humans and then bathing in their melted flesh to regain his strength?

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Yeesh. Some people really will go to extremes to maintain that youthful glow. Might I suggest a normal spa treatment next time, Hive?

Anyways… Talbot double-crosses Coulson yadayadayada except… PSYCH!

It’s a double, double, cross and Talbot is totally aware of the fact that Malick is the absolute worst. Creel comes in and saves Coulson and Talbot before they get killed by the Hydra thugs, and the gang manages to escape the compound thanks to some kickass moves from Mockingbird and Mr. Mockingbird. Better yet? They manage to rescue Talbot’s son in the process.

BETTER, BETTER, YET BOBBI AND HUNTER SNEAK ONTO MALICK’S PRIVATE JET AND ARE HEADED FOR RUSSIA BABY!

Back at Playground, there are clear signs that a different civil war is brewing in the Marvel universe. It’s not just the world leaders who are struggling to come to terms with the emergence of Inhumans and how powered people should be perceived. A few of our trusty S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are making their own opinions known and tension is already brewing… seemingly between Daisy and everyone else.

Our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists Simmons and Fitz (it felt really weird putting Simmons’ name first but I mean… she’s the biologist and this is all about biology –>) discover that Creel’s blood could feasibly be used as some sort of, “antidote,” against teregenesis… thus potentially preventing any more from emerging in the future. Something that Daisy is NOT happy about. While Lincoln argues that people should have a choice, Daisy argues that their powers are a birthright that shouldn’t be eliminated by a vaccine because the world is afraid of them.

It all makes for some angsty drama that will no doubt escalate as the season continues.

While, “The Inside Man,” can’t really be considered a filler episode since it actually provided us with a substantial amount of information and character development, it seems to definitely have served as more of a lead-in to next week’s mission in Russia than a singular episode meant to provide thrills and chills.

(Though, Hive covered in what I assume was the melted flesh of his victims while surrounded by their bloody corpses was definitely chilling.)

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This episode reaffirmed the fact that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is really about a group of spies. Sure, some of said spies are superheroes, some are predominantly scientists, and some are just here because their ex-wife is… but they are spies nonetheless.

There was far less action than what viewers have grown accustomed to as the episode focused more on the espionage side of S.H.I.E.L.D. than the physical. A show like S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to have these slower paced episodes in order to provide the necessary build-up for the jaw-dropping ones that it’s become known for and, “The Inside Man,” was certainly an hour of television in the former category.

It was certainly a fine episode of television but I think the best part was the promo for next week’s installment of the series. That thirty-second mash-up was more exciting than the entirety of, “The Inside Man,” and I’m quite looking forward to seeing this, “Inhuman assassin,” that Daisy and Co. will face in Russia next Tuesday.

Episode Grade: B-

Episode Highs:

  • Talbot in a traditional long robe was endlessly amusing, as were the continued jokes about his awful haircut.
  • The May/Hunter dynamic was great this episode as May initially states, “We’re not friends,” before saying, “I don’t hate you quite as much,” when she lays eyes on the box of guns Lance brought on the mission against Coulson’s orders.
  • Oh my Thor, Bobbi Morse is so awesome. Rolling her eyes and saying, “I’m bored, cover me,” before diving into a gunfight and taking everyone out with her batons? Barbara, I’d very much like to be you. (*whispers* I’d like to be any of the S.H.I.E.L.D. ladies if we’re being honest. Or at least be friends with them. I’d even settle for serving as temporary therapist- those girls need a week of venting followed by a lifetime of R&R)

Episode Lows:

  • I’m all for some well-timed romance but the Lincoln/Daisy stuff seemed marginally out of place in the grand scheme of this episode. I’m sure it’ll be pertinent since they’re simultaneously coming together and shifting apart with their viewpoints but it was a B plot that didn’t seem entirely necessary this week.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Will I have to go another 4,722 hours before Fitz and Simmons appear in more than four minutes of an episode?
  • I was immensely pleased to see some of the non-powered characters get their due. (Not ALL of them mind you, see above and also no Mack at all). The marketing has been so heavily focused on the Secret Warriors that it was a bit of a relief to be reminded that even the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who don’t have powers are pivotal to the show and capable in their own right. I hope that S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to balance the episodes in terms of focus.
  • C’mon, did you really buy the fact that Coulson just, “had a feeling,” that Malick was working for someone or something else? Like… really Coulson? You just knew? You just randomly thought… hmm this very powerful and evil man who could plausibly take over the world on his own is definitely working for someone else. That’s a TV feeling if I’ve ever seen one.
  • I feel like we need to give Brett Dalton a lengthy round of applause. First he was S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Grant Ward. Then he was traitor Grant Ward. Then he was nomad Grant Ward. Then he was Hydra leader Grant Ward. Then he was killed as Grant Ward. Then he was Hive in Grant Ward. And now he’s being covered in some sort of honey-like substance that you know seeped into some hard-to-clean places. Kudos Mr. Dalton.

What did you think of the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Sound off with any thoughts and opinions on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen