Saturday, March 19, 2016

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 12: The Inside Man

This week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., an old frenemy appears and seemingly betrays Coulson, we get a possible hint of how the series will resolve the Inhuman crisis, and Hive Ward undergoes a metamorphosis to keep the makeup department from going over budget.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Gideon Malick meets with Hive Ward and tells him he's acquiring more Inhumans for his army. Malick's also concerned that Hive Ward's body appears to be deteriorating instead of improving. Hive says Ward's body is strong and will suit its purposes. Malick brings in Lucio, the Inhuman with the paralyzing vision we saw last week. Lucio zaps Malick's guards with his eyes, and turns his gaze to Hive Ward, but his power has no effect on him. Hive Ward releases a swarm of sandy-looking spores (or something) into Lucio's body.

Coulson meets Colonel Talbot, the new leader of the ATCU, at the airport. Talbot has an argument with his wife, presumably over his new job, and she angrily boards a plane and leaves. Neither Coulson nor Talbot is happy about the prospect of working together, but the two are scheduled to attend a symposium on the "Inhuman Problem" in Taiwan.

Meanwhile May is mentoring Lincoln, who's attempting to protect Coulson at the airport. Lincoln spots a suspicious figure tailing Coulson and Talbot, and recognizes him as Carl Creel, aka the Absorbing Man. Creel follows Coulson & Talbot to a parking garage. Lincoln warns Coulson, who throws Talbot into his armored S.H.I.E.L.D. SUV. Lincoln attacks Creel with his electrical powers. Creel grabs a nearby tire and absorbs its rubber properties, rendering Lincoln's powers useless, which I have to admit was pretty darned cool. May appears and hits Creel in the head with a tire iron, knocking him out. Talbot is furious, and says Creel was there as his personal bodyguard. Wah???

Creel's put into a containment cube at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. FitzSimmons question him about his powers, as he's the only person who ever touched an Inhuman Obelisk and survived. Creel doesn't know what to tell them. They study his DNA for clues. Hunter's furious that Creel's a guest, as he killed several members of his former team. Talbot says Creel was brainwashed by HYDRA, and insists he's now reformed, and wants to bring him along to the symposium. Daisy and Hunter object, but Coulson overrules them.

Coulson briefs the team on the symposium. There will be five delegates from various countries (which seems like a woefully small number) discussing the Inhuman threat. Coulson believes one of the delegates is secretly working for Malick. At the symposium, Coulson poses as Talbot's advisor, and they greet the other delegates. Talbot of course suspects all of them.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., FiztSimmons and Lincoln (who's a doctor, remember?) examine Creel's DNA. They determine that his blood can actually reverse the effects of terrigenesis, which could lead to a vaccine to prevent against Inhumanism. Daisy doesn't like the sound of that, saying being an Inhuman isn't a disease that should be wiped out.

At the symposium, the delegates meet. Anton Petrov of Russia, offers to set up an Inhuman sanctuary in his country, that sounds more like an internment camp. The other delegates worry about a potential Human/Inhuman war. Hunter, who's posing as a waiter at the symposium, sees Creel sneak off and thinks he's betraying the team. He abandons his post and follows Creel. He finds a truck with an ATCU containment unit in the back. Inside is an unconscious boy. Suddenly Hunter's knocked out by Creel.

The symposium members are about to vote when Talbot interrupts them and blows Coulson's cover. Malick then arrives and tells the delegates that Coulson is the head of HYDRA. He says Coulson was tricking them into rounding up the Inhumans into one place so he could wipe them out. He has security take Coulson away. Talbot tells Malick that he held up his end of the bargain, and wants his son back. Malick says too bad, and has Talbot arrested as well. Malick tells his men to kill Coulson and Talbot and then leaves, because like all villains he can't be bothered to stay and watch. The two are about to be killed when Creel appears and rescues them.

Meanwhile May and Mockingbird find Hunter and wake him. He says it was Talbot's son in the containment unit. May theorizes that Malick must have captured Talbot's son and is blackmailing him into betraying Coulson.  They storm the building and run into Coulson and Talbot. Coulson tells Hunter and Mockingbird to follow Malick. May appears with Talbot's rescued son.

Hive Ward tells Giyera to provide him with five healthy humans. He does so, and Lucio paralyzes them with his powers. The two exit Hive Ward's room, and hear bloodcurdling screams. When Giyera enters, he sees five smoldering skeletons on the floor, and Hive Ward now looks perfectly normal. That'll save on the makeup budget!

Cut to Malick's plane, where he pours a drink for Anton Petrove. It seems he's going to open an Inhuman sanctuary after all. In the hold of the plane, Mockingbird and Hunter are stowed away.

Thoughts:
• When Lincoln spots General Talbot in the airport, he says, "No one would intentionally cut their hair like that." That's very close to what I said last week.

By the way, Talbot looked absolutely ridiculous in his long changshan "dress," which of course was the point.

• I loved the fight between Lincoln and Creel. Especially when Creel grabbed a tire and became rubber in order to withstand Lincoln's electrical blasts. Very creative use of superpowers there.

• The series' TV budget really showed at the Inhuman symposium in Taiwan. Are we really supposed to believe that a measly seven representatives get to decide how the entire world handles the Inhuman threat? Shouldn't this symposium be a huge event, and look more like a U.N. meeting?

• When Simmons is running tests on Creel's blood, she asks Lincoln for his input, which puzzled me. I honestly forgot he's supposed to be a doctor. I think the writers forgot as well until this episode.

• When FitzSimmons and Lincoln discover a potential Inhuman vaccine, Daisy reacts negatively. She says becoming an Inhuman is "a birthright, not a choice!"

If you've ever been lying on the couch watching TV and suddenly thought, "Say, I wonder where Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. stands on this whole abortion issue," then this is your lucky day.

Also, the idea of a vaccine that can prevent or eliminate superpowers is very, very similar to Fox's X-Men: The Last Stand. What am I saying, it's a carbon copy of that film's plot.

I have a bad feeling this vaccine business is going to end up being a cheap and lazy way to wrap up the Inhuman storyline once the series is done with it— and most likely in just one episode. I hope that's not the case, but I'm betting that's what'll happen, probably in the season finale. 

• Malick has Coulson and Talbot thrown into a cell, and orders his HYDRA agents to kill them. In an effort to stall for time, Coulson says to the agents, "You gentlemen interested in changing jobs? Good guys are hiring. You don't get to kill people in cold blood, but we got a really good retirement plan."

Oh, Coulson. How soon you forget. Way back in the Season 1 episode T.A.H.I.T.I., Coulson learns he was brought back to life at a facility called the Guest House. He and his team travel there for answers. They burst in and open fire on the Guest House's hapless security guards, murdering them in cold blood simply for doing their jobs.

Not that Coulson and Co. shot these men dead, when S.H.I.E.L.D. is in possession of Icers, non-lethal weapons that knock out victims instead of killing them. 

I guess Coulson and again, the writers forgot about that little incident. 

• Malick kidnaps Talbot's young son to blackmail him into betraying Coulson at the Inhuman symposium.

First of all I'm glad that Talbot didn't really switch sides and join up with HYDRA. He's a fun character, and he and Coulson are great together, so I'd hate to lose that. 

Secondly, is Talbot's son an Inhuman? Or did Malick just put him in an anti-Inhuman gel cube to incapacitate him while he blackmailed Talbot? I'm thinking the latter, since no one ever mentions "Inhuman" and "Talbot Jr." in the same sentence. It would be interesting though if his son did turn out to be one.

• This week the Inhuman who can paralyze people with his eyes (who I nicknamed Zapper last week) finally gets a name Lucio.

• So what exactly is Hive Ward doing with his spores, or whatever they are? I assumed whenever he infected someone with his spores, they became part of him. That's certainly what seemed to happen with Lucio. But he "spored" Giyera as well, and he still seems to be acting of his own free will. So do the spores control others or not? And if not, then what's the point of spraying them all over the place?

• Speaking of Giyera, he looked really uncomfortable when he heard the screams of Hive Ward's victims. I have a feeling he might defect and come over to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s side, or at the least try to leave Malick's service.

• I was disappointed to see Hive Ward resume his normal appearance at the end of the episode. He looked much creepier in his emaciated alien form. 

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