In the last episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” we bid goodbye to Bobbi and Hunter until “Marvel’s Most Wanted” shows up next season. Now can what’s left of the team deal with the homegrown terrorist threat of the Watchdogs, who want to take back the planet from the alien Inhumans? Next thing you know, some billionaire will want to build a wall in space… Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Watchdogs.”
Mack at Home
We open on a quiet get together between Mack and his brother. Mack has taken time off work to help Ruben fix his motorcycle. This is an intriguing look at what makes Mack tick. As the most ‘normal,’ most level-headed, and most rational member of the team, it helps to see what he’s really about, and he’s about family.
If we’re missing Bobbi and Hunter, that’s okay because we now have more room to breathe and explore the characters who are left a bit more. Mack and Ruben trade troubles, subtly so we know Mack hasn’t shared exactly what his job is. Now the problem is – why do I get the feeling that Ruben is a Watchdog? Way too telegraphed, even if it didn’t pan out.
While watching television the brothers witness an attack on an A.C.T.U. headquarters in South Bend Indiana by a masked terror group called the Watchdogs. They used what looked like paintball projectiles to implode the building like happened to Roxxon on “Agent Carter.” Mack has to investigate and makes excuses.
At S.H.I.E.L.D. we get Avengers and Age of Ultron name drops. Some folks aren’t happy with the new metahuman presence these days as this early episode of “Jessica Jones” demonstrated. In the comics, they were a Red Skull-funded right wing hate militia, but here, it seems they’ve expanded that hate.
The Return of Felix Blake
Examination of the crime scene turns up nitromene, yeah, the stuff I thought it was that implodes stuff. It seems that someone has perfected it, a renegade S.H.I.E.L.D. agent we last saw in “End of the Beginning” when Deathlok broke his spine, Felix Blake. Yeah, he’s back (played by one of my favorite actors, Titus Welliver of “Bosch“) and apparently behind the Watchdogs.
Blake gets some great lines with Coulson, some of the best of the episode. My man plays a delicious villain. I can’t help but think that this guest-starring role by an up and coming actor at Amazon Prime might be a bit of stunt casting. It shouldn’t be though. Blake looks like he may be hanging around, with his national Watchdogs, allied with Hydra.
There’s a lot going on under the surface in between Mack’s troubles with his brother and the main Watchdogs story. Simmons is looking to do more, and May is helping her. Daisy is getting a bit rough and anti-civil liberties with her powers, just what the Watchdogs fear. And Coulson doesn’t trust Lincoln’s true motivations in joining S.H.I.E.L.D.
Some of it seems almost forced and squeezed into the episode to fill time and space. It feels like lip service, and sadly it feels forced. There’s some tension with Fitz getting hit by the implosion gel but it doesn’t last long. Lincoln gets Coulson’s approval. The prime thrust of the episode remains with Mack and his brother, and as a spotlight, that works.
Epilogue and Prologue
I liked the progression of Mack and Ruben’s relationship throughout the episode. It felt real, unlike the hints along the way like Ruben being aimless and laid off, and the team being down a couple agents. I would welcome Ruben on board myself, and can’t wait for Tremors to call Mack ‘Alfie.’
This is the second episode in a row that serves other masters. Last week was the backdoor pilot for “Marvel’s Most Wanted,” and this week seems to set up a world where Captain America: Civil War could happen. Yeah, the interconnected continuity is sweet, but I can’t wait for more straight up “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” adventures.
Next: Things get worse in “Spacetime!”