THE INSIDE MAN – 6.5/10.
Marvel’s Inhumans movie doesn’t come out until 2018, so it is very surprising that they have gone all in with the concept on their flagship TV show. AOS is now almost entirely focused on the Inhumans and their impact on the world. Whether it will stay that way for the next two years remains to be seen, but right now it forms the core of the show’s narrative. Of course there are several other threads as well; the re-emergence of Hydra under Gideon Malick, Coulson’s new partnership with General Glen Talbot, and the foul intentions of the world devouring force that is Hive. But all of these sub-plots ultimately tie back into the Inhuman saga. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really has come a long way from the happy-go-lucky spy caper that it once was.
This week’s episode actually took the form of a spy caper as Coulson’s team undertook a mission impossible with unusual bedfellows. The rise of the Inhumans has occurred on a global scale inspiring representatives from several countries to gather to discuss the ‘alien contagion’. After learning that one of the delegates is working for Malick, Coulson uses his new found alliance with Talbot to infiltrate the symposium under a false identity. Talbot isn’t exactly thrilled about having to report to Coulson and he makes it clear that he has no interest in being friends or colleagues. Talbot doesn’t trust S.H.I.E.L.D. which is why he has brought his own security; none other than the Absorbing Man, Carl ‘Crusher’ Creel.
Hunter doesn’t trust Creel, especially as he was responsible for the deaths of several of his friends. Talbot refuses to play ball unless Creel goes with him to the symposium and Coulson agrees to his terms much to the annoyance of Hunter. Aliens and weapons are banned from the symposium, so Daisy and Lincoln are forced to sit this one out while the rest of the team flies out to Beijing. Upon their arrival Coulson goes full Inspector Gadget, using a nifty new hand attachment to clone the palm prints of the assembled delegates so his team can break into their rooms and snoop around. Despite an earlier warning from May, Hunter goes off mission when he sees Creel acting suspiciously. He discovers an Inhuman being kept inside a gel matrix but is knocked unconscious by Creel.
The delegates all seem to have their own agendas, with the Russian and Australian representatives acting particularly suspiciously. While Coulson tries to educate the group on the nature of the Inhumans the Russian delegate, Anton Petrov, suggests the creation of a sanctuary state for Inhumans on Russian soil. Before the delegates can vote on this Talbot accuses Coulson of being a traitor, revealing himself to be Malick’s inside man just moments before Hydra’s leader walks into the room. Malick claims that Coulson is the new head of Hydra and has him taken away as a prisoner. It seems that the Inhuman that Hunter found was Talbot’s son, who was being held hostage by Malick. Malick refuses to release the boy and orders Talbot to be killed with Coulson.
Creel rescues Coulson and Talbot before Malick’s goons can kill them, Talbot was right to trust him and he only attacked Hunter to maintain his cover with Hydra. Hunter, May and Bobbi use his secret stash of weapons to eliminate Malick’s Hydra forces, rescuing Talbot’s son in the process. Malick is able to escape but during the fight Creel kills a Hydra agent who has Hunter in his sights, Hunter is sure to let him know that this doesn’t make them even. Talbot shows far more gratitude for the rescue of his son and is finally ready to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. But Malick has formed an alliance of his own with the Russian delegate, Petrov. They discuss the creation of the sanctuary state on Malick’s private jet, unaware that Hunter and Bobbi have stowed away in the belly of the plane.
Things were far less interesting back home as Daisy and Lincoln engaged in some flirtatious combat training. But their affection soon turns to aggression when Simmons reveals that her experiments with Creel’s blood has led to the discovery of a ‘cure’ for Terrigenesis, the process by which Inhumans are created. Whereas Daisy considers the change to be an Inhuman birth right, Lincoln believes that the old ways of controlled selection would stop the creation of evil Inhumans like Lash. They argue and then have some make-up sex. While the mystery surrounding the antibodies in Creel’s blood will no doubt have a huge impact moving forward, Daisy and Lincoln’s romance really did slow the momentum of the episode.
Hive proved to be the enigmatic highlight of the episode. Although his intentions are still unclear, we know that Hive isn’t killing the Inhumans as he is an Inhuman himself and can’t feed on his own kind. But he does need them for something, hence Malick’s eagerness to have the entire Inhuman population gathered in one place. Having already ‘converted’ Giyera, he uses the same power on Lucio, the Columbian Inhuman with the freeze vision. Lucio attempts to use his power on Hive, but Hive simply steps out from a frozen shadow of dust. That wasn’t the only demonstration of Hive’s power in this episode as he used the life force of a group of innocent humans to heal Ward’s decaying body, emerging from the bloody carnage in a layer of primordial goo.
Despite featuring an awful lot of action, this episode lacked the punch of the midseason premiere. Certain parts of the plot just felt too played out; for example Hunter’s unreliability or Daisy and Lincoln’s flirtations. The mission at the symposium felt rushed and far less impactful then it should have been and the rescue of Talbot’s son was all too easy. While it allowed Talbot and Coulson to bond, there was a missed opportunity for drama by spreading the rescue out over several episodes. The addition of Creel to the team is an interesting one, his powers make for some fun viewing although as of yet he doesn’t have much of a character to speak of. AOS has a lot of moving parts right now; hopefully it won’t collapse under the weight of it all.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Brett Dalton’s portrayal of Hive really is fantastic, he’s cold and measured. Although Hive has retained Ward’s memories he feels like a very separate entity.
- Pun of the night goes to Coulson for asking Talbot to pass him his prosthetic hand with this doozy of a line “Could you give me a hand?”
- It’s very telling that Hive refers to himself in the first-person plural since ‘converting’ Giyera and Luca. What exactly is his connection to other Inhumans and how does it power him?