Welcome back to another Agents of S.O.M.E.T.H.I.N.G., where Comics Alliance’s Special Agents Chris Haley and Ziah Grace debrief you on all the things to like and complain about in this week’s episode of Disney’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

This week it’s time to play at politics over the future of the Inhumans, with all the twists and treachery inherent therein! Also, the Absorbing Man is back, and Coulson has a new machine that makes gloves! “The Inside Man” was directed by John Terlesky and written by Craig Titley.

Chris: Well, Ziah, call me crazy, but I thought this was a pretty good episode! Faults and flaws and plenty to nitpick if we choose, but overall, I think I enjoyed this episode more than any previous episode we’ve watched. What’d you think?

Ziah: This was surprisingly really good (by AoS standards, obviously. Let’s not get too crazy)! Character interactions that weren’t focused on romance! Actual globe-use in the globe-trotting adventures! Actual twists regarding audience expectations! And most importantly, Lincoln got punched in the face. I’ve got my complaints --- as I always do and always will, nerds --- but overall, this was maybe the best AoS we’ve ever seen together.

Chris: Agreed. Two decent-to-good episodes in a row! It must be our birthdays!

 

 

Ziah: But let’s start with the improvements. I’ve complained about the show’s lack of place and adventures in other cities and countries, and this episode --- like the previous one --- actually has them go somewhere! Granted, I’m 90% sure it’s the same mansion you see everywhere and in Crank 2: High Voltage, but still! Taiwan or whatever.

Even more so, it’s sort of a heist, with technology that a super-secret spy organization might actually use and is pretty clever! I dug the 3D-printing skin-gloves, and this whole bit was pretty fun for me. What’d you think of the summit scenes, Chris?

Chris: I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s amazing how this show has taken a character I had a lot of fondness for (Coulson) and completely eroded that goodwill. And I haven’t even seen the other seasons! I know this doesn’t seem like I’m answering your question, but I’m getting there.

Coulson just seems like he is constantly being outsmarted and one-upped by the bad guys, or even the good guys pretending to be bad guys. As an example, that scene where he’s getting dragged away from the meeting by the security guards and is still yelling questions at Talbot like, “What’s he got on you?!”

 

 

 

That scene would be hilarious if it wasn’t so face-palm worthy. This guy is supposed to be the cool, calm, collected head of this super-spy organization and he’s yelling like a six-year-old that doesn’t want to go down for a nap. It just makes him look dumb, because obviously Malick has something to hold over him, but has anyone in history in that situation ever said, “Well, since you asked, he’s holding my son hostage. Anyway, back to the meeting. Please trust this new guy.” Obviously Malick’s got some kind of leverage over Talbot, but I imagine a halfway decent super-spy would think to himself, “Okay, something is clearly going on here, but I’ll come up with a way to get out of this and find out in a minute,” not start yelling dumb questions as he’s being dragged out of the room.

Ziah: Yeah, I could not agree more about Coulson’s inability to really seem like someone who deserves to be the director of SHIELD. His bodyguards when he meets Talbot are May (good choice) and Lincoln (the guy who’s screwed up at least two missions I can think of off the top of my head). That it works out, like all of his bad plans, doesn’t really bode well for his skills as a super-spy.

Plus, the only reason the summit meeting doesn’t end in total failure for his team is that Hunter ignores his explicit orders not to bring weapons, so, go Hunter for not listening to his boss, I guess? I’d love to really get a sense that Coulson is playing the game and playing it well, rather than being the beneficiary of the a roomful of writers looking out for him.

Chris: Yeah, that’s the thing. Talbot, Creel, and Hunter are the heroes here. That doesn’t seem right. I mean, it’s fine if you want to make them the stars of the show, but Coulson should be the one planning things out and tricking the bad guys into thinking they have the upper-hand only to reveal he was anticipating their plots to screw him over and being one step ahead. As it is now he feels more like if Michael Scott from The Office was accidentally mistaken for the head of a spy organization and just tried to fake it because it seemed cool. Seriously, imagine Michael Scott in that scene as he’s getting dragged away. It totally makes sense.

 

 

Ziah: Not only does it make sense, it is a delightful visual. Quick, commenters, fancast Agents of SHIELD with characters from The Office, go!

Chris: I will go further and say someone take the best suggestions and get to Photoshopping!

Ziah: The revelation that Creel’s blood could work as a vaccine for Inhumans, and his and Talbot’s fake betrayals are a pretty good way to inject some humor, some suspense, and some actual presence to the show. Adrian Pasdar is honestly a delight as Talbot, and Creel using his powers in cool ways (and May’s early combo attack in his first appearance of the episode) are one of the few times when I’ve actually enjoyed the fight cinematography. What’d you think of Arm(y) and Ham(it up)mer?

Chris: That’s quite a reach there, buddy, but I appreciate and applaud the thought you put into it. Adrian Pasdar is absolutely wonderful. It’s also amazing how much that moustache (and I guess playing a military guy) makes him look like Jesse “The Body” Ventura. You know, except with hair. Where have I seen that before? I was also really impressed with how well they managed to pull off The Absorbing Man on a show that has occasionally had… less than stellar special effects. See how positive we’re being this week!

 

 

I wonder if they’ll use Creel to get rid of the AoS version of The Inhumans before the movie version. Or if that movie will even still happen.

Ziah: Who knows and who cares, honestly. Okay, enough with the positivity. Time for the dings in this newly-painted lemon of a car. Lincoln. God, do I hate Lincoln. Commenters last week asked us why we hate Lincoln so much, so I went over it this episode, paying attention to every single line he had, and noting them:

  1. He is snotty to actual legendary SHIELD agent May, who has graciously offered to teach him how to be less incompetent
  2. He immediately tries to kill an incapacitated guy who barely did anything to anyone (commenters, don’t say he was a murderer. Lincoln didn’t know that. All he knew was that Creel was a threatening guy).
  3. He complains that his literal secret agent girlfriend wants to spar with him to get him ready to spend time with her out in the field.
  4. Espouses some hippy dippy nonsense about “balance” and “the universe” before changing his mind and reminding Daisy (and the viewing audience) about Lash. Lincoln, no one wants to remember Lash.
  5. Tells Daisy he’s scared of losing control. Man, I am so friggin’ sick of dudes saying they’re losing control, only for their lady friends to soothe that worry with sex. Ladies, if a dude’s saying that, he’s probably gonna lose control! And is terrible! Lincoln is terrible.

Did I miss any, Chris? Or was that all the terrible Lincoln we got for this episode?

 

 

Chris: In searching for only the darkness, you have lost sight of the light. You have forgotten the best part of this or any other episode. The part where Daisy punches Lincoln in the face!

She’s getting to live out our dreams!

Ziah: Also, it looks like I was right. Once again, the burden of cynical correctness falls on my shoulders. Joey, first canonically gay man in the MCU, was written off the show, at least until sweeps. No mention is made of him, and based on our disagreement about what Daisy meant in her conversation with Lincoln last episode, it’s likely that he won’t be much of a glorified guest star. Yay diversity!

Chris: I think he could be back sooner than that, but I’ll get more into that idea a little later.

 

 

Ziah: I just realized we’ve forgotten to talk about Ward and his creepy villain gathering. I don’t have much to say about this beyond it being nice that we’re spending time with villains and their henchman so when they fight the heroes, we’ll care. See how nice that sort of set-up can be, Agents of SHIELD?

Chris: Yeah, gives you a little bit of a feeling like you know what’s happening. That’s not such a bad feeling. You know what is a bad feeling though? The queasy feeling I get in my stomach when I have to look at Ward’s gross, McRib chest special effect. We get it. We’ve seen it plenty. The guy wanted a pair of sweats, did he really not have any interest in a shirt? A hoodie? A pancho? Anything?

I’ll say again though, I think Brett Dalton is doing a great job of playing a pretty much completely different character convincingly. Plus he had to get naked and covered in slime for this show, and I appreciate anyone being willing to do that for a goofy show like this.

Ziah: Speaking of things not changing, Hunter and Bobbi continue to be a delight. His inability to understand why May doesn’t consider them besties and his mistrust of weaponless-summits and Creel were a high point in the episode. Unfortunately, he and Bobbi are the bright spots of AoS, and what are we left with when the bright spots go out? Nothing but darkness.

Chris: I've been giving that some thought, and I think there's actually a scenario where their leaving could benefit this show. One of the things I think we've rightfully slighted this show for on numerous occasions is a lack of focus. Part of the blame for that has to fall on the fact that this show has a lot of characters and subplots it wants to keep juggling. In trying to do a service to all of this show's growing cast and stories it ends up doing them all a disservice by splitting the time and focus each one is allowed.

 

 

If Hunter and Bobbi are allowed to go do their own thing (which it certainly seems like this episode was the launching pad for), Agents of SHIELD loses them, but hopefully gains some room to improve on the characters and stories that are still around.

Of course, knowing this show, they'll probably just see it as an opportunity to introduce even more characters, so who knows. Or, you know, maybe the two extra rooms will be what let’s them add Yo-Yo and The Meltinator to the cast full-time. Or maybe it’ll be Talbot and Creel. Sky’s the limit.

Ziah: No, no, Skye’s already on the show, dude, I hope she’s not the limit.