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MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: “The Inside Man”

There’s just no winning when it comes to Ward. Alive, the traitor was a murderous dick. Now dead, his body playing host to the villainous mega-Inhuman Hive (as we recently learned from producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen), as introduced in Marvel’s “Secret Warriors” comic storyline. Now, he’s become a hundred times more threatening, as depicted in this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Gaunt and decaying, he evolves into a kind of vampire, feeding off living humans, draining their life essence, and creating his own weird kind of amniotic fluid in the process of rebirth.

In less grotesque news… Following the President’s orders, Coulson seeks out Talbot (the returning Adrian Pasdar) and proposes a partnership between SHIELD and the new acting head of the A.T.C.U. Naturally, the former soldier is horrified at the thought, but reluctantly joins Coulson on a mission to Taiwan, where a diplomatic conference is held debating the Inhumans (billed, to Daisy’s chagrin, as a “Symposium on the Alien Contingent”), which the director believes HYDRA has infiltrated (the title’s “Inside Man”), and hopes to tie back to Malick.

Talbot has taken out insurance in the form of a bodyguard — Carl Creel (a.k.a. The Absorbing Man); whom Hunter still holds responsible for the murder of his friends, despite May’s assurance that he was acting under HYDRA’s control. The Cavalry points out that Hunter only calls himself an agent because he wants to be near Bobbi (thus laying a bit of groundwork for their move to S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s upcoming spinoff series, Marvel’s Most Wanted). Before we learn of Creel’s new alliance, we’re treated to a great little bit where May hits him with a wrench, turning his body to metal, and thus allowing Lincoln to take him down with his electrical powers.

It’s straightforward Mission: Impossible territory — by way of an ’80s buddy cop movie — for the rest of the episode, with Coulson, May, Bobbi, and Hunter going undercover, and discovering Malick has trapped Talbot into delivering him Coulson in exchange for his son, whom Malick took captive as soon as Talbot was installed as head of the A.T.C.U. S.H.I.E.L.D. usually works best when it goes the MI/Man from U.N.C.L.E. route, as opposed to G.I. Joe, if only due to its limited budget. The cloak and dagger is topped off with another great Mockingbird-and-May-centric action sequence that again proves there are few sounds on TV as sweet as the metal thud of Bobbi catching her batons.

In the end, Talbot pledges his allegiance to Coulson in gratitude for him saving his son, and the director again accepts him as an ally. One has to wonder, however, what Talbot will do if another member of his family is kidnapped. For a veteran officer, he’s more than a little spineless.

Back at HQ, Fitz and Simmons learn that Creel’s blood acts as a “vaccine” to Terrigenesis. Daisy’s again predictably horrified (“It’s a birthright, not a choice!”), yet Lincoln, who’s wrestled with his abilities for much longer and thus lacks her “natural zen” attitude, is open to the idea. They too end the episode on good terms, but it’s not hard to see how this development may be what ultimately drives a wedge between the two. And mark my words: as a Mutant Enemy show, S.H.I.E.L.D. will find a way to break up any happy couple. Bobbi and Hunter, for the time being at least, might be exempt since they need to anchor their own show, and since their relationship has never been a conventionally happy one.

Agents of SHIELD 2

Declassified Deliberations

— Hunter’s nickname for Daisy and Lincoln: “Shake and Bake.”

— It’s a shame Marvel’s Most Wanted will air on ABC, since Hunter so clearly wants to be on a Netflix series. He’s hilariously ready to cut off the delegates’ hands in order to get their handprint security access.

— If Marvel decides to do another spin-off, I suggest a Coulson-and-Talbot twenty-first century take on Simon and Simon.

— “Buon appetito.” “I love you.” “I don’t hate you quite as much.”

— Reportedly, Captain America: Civil War will ignore S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s recent political developments. That seems more and more like a huge waste, given the sheer size of the foundation the show has been laying down.

— “Call me Glenn…occasionally.”

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Image Credit: ABC

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