‘Agents of SHIELD’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 3, Episode 3: ‘A Wanted (Inhu)man’
We’re back with another Agents of S.O.M.E.T.H.I.N.G., featuring your 2nd and 3rd favorite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. commentators as we find underground fighting, romance in the air, and a fugitive that isn’t looking for the one-armed man that shot his wife.
Episode three of season three, 'A Wanted (Inhu)man', was directed by Garry Brown and written by Monica Owusu-Breen.
Ziah: So, first off. I thought this episode was a pretty big improvement on the fast-talking issue we’ve complained about in the past two episodes. Especially in the scene in the hotel with Hunter and May, there’s a lot more time spent just letting moments breathe, which really does help the characters; I found myself enjoying the Hunter and May fight scenes more primarily because they had some nice character-building earlier in the episode.
The character relationships all felt a lot cleaner this episode, actually, with Simmons getting face time with Daisy and Fitz, May and Hunter hanging out, and Daisy and Mack having a quiet moment at the end. Considering we came in without two seasons of character development that was meant to (hopefully) make us like the characters, how do you feel about them all in this episode?
Chris: I agree completely. These things are easy to write about when we have good things to say, because one of us can just say something positive, and then the other agrees! I feel like I’m getting to know these characters a little better after only three episodes, but I will say that in reading your previous statements, I realized I know some of these characters by their faces way better than their names. I was like, “Wait, who is Hunter?” even though he was the character I enjoyed the most this episode.
Ziah: Chris, Hunter is the guy who is hunting evil Agent Ward, so here’s an easy mnemonic: Maybe they will catch the guy they are Hunt(er)ing.
I also really enjoyed the subtitle joke when two British characters get blasted in the pub, but honestly, it just kind of made me wish they’d left it on the entire episode. That scene was the clearest the accents were the entire episode. How’ve the accents been for you, Chris? Any better?
Chris: Yeah, I appreciated the joke, and I think I’ve just kinda made my peace with not understanding what they’re saying sometimes, whether it’s due to accents or fast talk or the nightmare combination of the two.
I think the mistake we’re making is thinking we have to pay super close attention to everything everyone says, because I’m starting to realize that any important plot points are going to get repeated or re-emphasized later in the episode to make sure they don’t lose anyone. It’s hard to try to not worry about paying attention to something really closely though when you know you’re going to be writing about it later and people are ready to pounce on anything you get wrong. The internet is fun that way.
Ziah: Isn’t it? Well, you’ve got a point. Point of a sharpened stick, like what Simmons used to fend off an alien beast, probably. See? We pay attention occasionally.
Chris: Simmons is the guy with the robot hand, right?
Ziah: No, no, that’s C-3PO.
Chris: Let’s see, what else happened this episode?
Ziah: Daisy makes out with Dr. Lincoln McDreamy, which was inevitable, but still disappointing. Add in ATCU leader Rosalind’s flirtation with Coulson, and May’s desire to bury the hatchet with her ex-husband, and almost every character on the show except for Mac has a romantic foil. Now, I might just be a bitter, unromantic jerk, but this seems a bit excessive. What do you think, Chris?
Chris: Phil and Rosalind being flirtatious didn’t bother me. Hunter and Bobbi’s little back and forth seems earned. Fitz and Simmons obviously have an emotional connection that I want to see paid off. But, man, the Daisy/Lincoln “emotions” scene was rough. Oof.
It’s not like I have a problem with romance or whatever you call it when humans share meaningful, pained looks on TV shows, but that scene was the absolute low point of this episode for me. With Lincoln specifically being my least favorite thing about this episode. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel like he belongs on this show. There’s just something about him, and I don’t know if it’s his look or his acting style or the way they’ve written him, but he just seems off. Also, for a guy trying to stay as low profile as possible, he is terrible at not drawing attention to himself! He could have at the very least put on a hat and some sunglasses!
Ziah: Yeah, I couldn’t tell if it was the writing or the acting that really bothers me about Lincoln, but let’s say it’s the acting. A great actor can save anything, and if Luke Mitchell was the lifeguard on duty, I would close the beach for the day.
Chris: Mostly unrelated, but on the subject of real names, did you know the guy who plays “Lance Hunter” is really named Nick Blood? His real name is even cooler than his made up, comic show name. No matter what Wikipedia says, I’m pretty sure this guy was probably already a spy or something in real life and just stumbled into this weird TV gig.
Ziah: That is rad as hell. Nick Blood also sounds like an awesome monster hunter in the Marvel Universe, so maybe he can pull double duty as that.
Chris: Knock on wood. This episode really made me realize that the most unrealistic thing on this show set in a world of robo-suits and space vikings and size-changing pants was how much everyone talks on the phone. I haven’t seen someone use a phone as a phone in real life in like two years.
Ziah: Man, I didn’t even realize that until you pointed that out. Granted, we’re both #Millenials and can’t get through our dinner without texting, but yeah, no one talks on the phone in 44 days as much as the characters do in 44 minutes.
Chris: They’ve got all this high-tech biz and you’re gonna tell me they still just use iPhones? Apple is the real Hydra.
Ziah: The main issue that I’m still having with the show, especially after this episode fixed some of my character-related problems, is the plotting. Lincoln is saved by his AA sponsor, right? It was a nice detail for it to specifically be his AA sponsor rather than just a homie, but then he betrays him in a way that’s so completely rote I was 100% sure it wasn’t going to happen until it did.
Lincoln’s subsequent accidental murder of him, and the way Daisy tries to convince him that it wasn’t his fault, felt really cliche, and not in a fun way. Also, I’m done with people turning on the television and it’s the news. You know what? Maybe he should have been watching Antiques Roadshow or Steven Universe before he went to pick up Lincoln instead of cable news. Maybe he wouldn’t have died then, that’s all I’m saying.
Chris: Yeah, no TVs in the Marvel Universe are ever on anything other than “Crucial To The Plot Network” and everyone’s favorite show, “If You Aren’t Watching This The Writers Would Have To Work Harder”. That show is on 24/7.
I wanted Lincoln to sit down really upset that this guy who’s just told him that he believes him implicitly with no details needed and will do whatever he needs to help him out had gotten scared into turning on him. And then, he’d start to get emotional and tear up and try to explain things to this guy that is obviously a good enough dude to deserve an explanation. And then that guy would understand and apologize, and Lincoln would apologize for getting him wrapped up in it, and then they’d hug and the guy would help him get away from the pseudo-bad guys. You could have even had him still end up calling Daisy for help to get him and the guy out of trouble.
But I guess that would have taken an extra couple of minutes, so let’s just have him try to barge out and use his powers to give the guy a heart attack so he can feel all maudlin about it. Why should anyone act like a real person?!
Ziah: Also, one more note and then we should move on just so we don’t talk about this for another 1000 words, but did Lincoln really need to zap out his baseball bat? Lincoln seems like a pretty fit dude, and I think he would have been fine without zapping the (metal) baseball bat out of his friend’s hands, but oh well.
But back to the issues of cliches, even Hunter’s entrance exam into HYDRA, while fun, wasn’t really surprising in any way. There are nice details in both the scenes we’ve mentioned --- Lincoln using lightning to try and resuscitate his friend in the former, Hunter having to cheat with brass knuckles in the latter. What did you think?
Chris: I enjoyed both Hunter and May’s fight scenes, but I was surprised by how brutal Hunter’s was. I can’t believe they showed that much blood supposedly from a bare-knuckle fight on prime-time, comic book show on ABC. I wished May’s fight against the scumbags had been a little more brutal and less... I don’t know... choreographed looking? I didn’t just want her to beat them up, I really wanted her to hurt those dudes.
Ziah: That’s fair, but I think that was done on purpose to contrast with Hunter’s fight. He mentioned early that he’s good at fighting, but better at taking a punch, while May’s always been spoken of in hushed tones. Her ability to basically do a quintuple spin backflip kick was fine with me, especially while Hunter was getting a knuckle sandwich with some chips and a dill pickle on the side.
Chris: Oh yeah, I mean, I totally get what they were going for in showing the differences between the two of them and showing why they call her “The Cavalry” (that’s her nickname, right?), I just wanted those guys to really get taught a lesson, but again, I guess this is a TV show that airs during the “family hour” and it doesn’t do to show our heroes dishing out excessive force as that isn’t terribly heroic.
Ziah: I mean… Chris, Hunter killed that dude, but I see your point.
Chris: But it was an accident. You know he didn’t mean to do it and that’s the reason it gets a pass. You can see that moment of regret in his eyes as he realizes the body he’s staring at is no longer alive.
Ziah: Speaking of! The theme of this episode seemed to be “murdering your friends and then feeling bad about it”. Lincoln killed his “only friend in the world”, which, guy, you’re pretty handsome, how did you only have one friend? And then Hunter killed his friend in a bare-knuckle brawl, which I was a bit confused by. Why were they paired up with one another? The friend seemed mad about something, but I couldn’t parse his accent in that scene. Both scenes seem to be setting up possible heel turns for the characters, but only Dr. Lincoln McDreamy cosplayed as Arrow in one scene, so it’s a tossup.
Chris: I think hanging out with Hunter reminded the friend that Hunter wasn’t actually the best friend, and he was still sore about the hard time Hunter gave him when his girlfriend had left him, and then bringing it back up in the pub. I mean, that’s how I read it.
Speaking of that scene in the pub, could May be any worse at undercover? I’d say this episode’s theme was also, “No One Knows How To Be Subtle About Anything.” She may be awesome at kicking ass, but she is not good at knowing how to act like a normal person.
Ziah: I will never understand why spy work in these shows tends to lean towards showing how awkward the characters are in their roles. Like, I promise you, I am not going to forget that May’s a hero if she pretends to be a baddie for a few scenes. These are supposed to be professional spies doing a job that they are extraordinarily good at, you’d really think they’d cut the actors loose to demonstrate their range.
Chris: It is befuddling how bad at their jobs they seem sometimes.
Ziah: Speaking of demonstrating depth, Simmons is now Daredevil, huh? That’s pretty fun. Or at least, she has the sensitivity to light and sound that ol’ Hornhead has without the ninja training. Her dealing with PTSD is a nice touch, but I didn’t really get any personality from her this episode, which seems strange considering she’s been gone for the first two. Was that just me, or did she come off a bit like a plot device for other characters to react to?
Chris: Yeah, I definitely want to see Fitz and Simmons’ relationship explored and to watch it blossom in all it’s nerdy splendor, but I think you’re right about this episode just treating her like something for the others to talk about or react to. I’m sure it’ll get better though. Look at this optimism! And people say all we do is complain.
Ziah: Chris, you are a bastion of optimism and hope in a cynical world filled with people like me and the comments section that just want to bring you down. As such, I’ll say that I don’t care one whit about going back to the green-screened alien planet, or an entire episode focusing on Lash, the Sonic the Hedgehog Inhuman that’s making a comeback next week.
In an effort to measure up to your enthusiasm, which is more contagious than yawning, I will say I liked that Daisy didn’t hold a grudge against Mac for not trying to stop Coulson. She knew that he was doing what he had to, and they’re still friends! That was cute.
Chris: Yeah, they’re a good buddy cop pair.
Alrighty, bud. Any final thoughts?
Chris: Hunter was this episode’s MVP for me, even if his plan is really dumb.
Ziah: Yeah, ah… commenters, chime in. Has Ward met Hunter? Because him hanging out with May alone would seem to ruin his plan, but if he’s also a known quantity, the plan is even worse.
Chris: Also, I’d like to go on record right now as saying all of this work to establish the Inhumans is going to be a hilarious waste of time if their movie does end up getting cancelled as the rumor mill would have us believe.
Ziah: My official position on that rumor is that I like Karnak, and the rest of those guys are fine.
Chris: Alright, gang, join us next week when we see if Lash is able to find the other Inhumans and collect all the gold rings without running into any spikes!