Agents of SHIELD “The Inside Man”

I never thought I’d say this, but “Poor Talbot.” The running military bad guy on SHIELD this week was brought fully on board the team, and even forged a friendship with Coulson, but not before a head fake out where we thought he might be Hydra after all.

Talbot: “So it’s a sneaky little spy mission”
Coulson: “We’re SHIELD, that’s how we roll.”

Personally I am glad it turned out to be a fake out, for several reasons. The whole ATCU/SHIELD cover thing is already complicated enough. It works if it’s an excuse to bring Talbot, who has been a figure throughout the series back into the fold, this time on the side of good. Having it merely to introduce Talbot as a Hydra agent who is yet another bad-guy-who-is-really-Hydra would have been reductive to the character. (You know, *some* guys can be stiff necked assholes without actually being Hydra, guys. It’s true!) Plus it would have meant replacing Talbot with a different head of the ATCU, and that would have just been one head too many.

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Instead it turned out that Talbot was the inside man of the title, only because Malick had kidnapped his son. The opening scene, where it looked like Talbot’s wife was leaving him, was actually him sending her to safety. And in that old cliché come to life, by the end of the episode, Talbot and Coulson were handcuffed together in order to learn to work as a team.

Hunter: “Oh yeah, good old shake and bake.”

A second and potentially more rewarding addition that comes with Talbot is his current right hand man. Carl Creel, aka “The Absorbing Man” a semi-throwaway character from Season 2. One of the “Enhanced” people instead of a “Powered” person (to use the terminology of that season which has since been disregarded), he has the ability to become made of whatever he touches, which must making swimming not a fun activity. Having a not-actually-Inhuman as a not-quite-part of the team suggests an interesting dynamic going forward, as Daisy and Lincoln will now find themselves working with someone who is sort of their equal, but not. Meanwhile Creel’s blood will also be a source of division–as we learned tonight, though he’s not Inhuman, he has been able to withstand Terrigenesis due to the alterations to his genes, which could lead to a vaccine. (I have to admit, I like Daisy and Lincoln better when they’re arguing than i do when they’re making out. “I wasn’t hacking my way through life” indeed!)

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Meanwhile the contrived plot of a “Alien Infected Humans” summit with several heads of state serve to open up the plot on a global scale. (It was a surprisingly small amount of them, considering that most of these UN type summits require casts of thousands–I blame the Network TV budget.) We met a very anti-Alien leader from Australia. But it was the Russian, Anton Petrov, that Talbot had bad feelings about, who caught himself a ride home on Malick’s plane, and was all too pleased with the idea of making a “Sanctuary 2.0” for Inhumans, to both remove them from society, and so Malick could farm them for his new pet Ward.

Talbot: “It’s good to put faces to your unpronounceable names.”

Speaking of Ward, it seems like it’s about time to change his name to Hive permanently, no? And calling him Malick’s pet seems less and less accurate, as the moment the Hydra leader was off to Taiwan to take over the Symposium, Hive started calling the shots to the other Inhumans around him. It should be noted that his “making a believer” out of Giyera and now our new eyeball freezing Lucio seems to involve coating them with sandy bits of himself. But that’s only baseline Agents of SHIELD level creepy. Hive took things to a whole new level this week when he got his hands on five human specimens and….well, i couldn’t tell you what the hell he did, other than strip them down to the bone and stand up full healthy once more and covered with primordial type goo. I suddenly think I might see Malick’s ultimate end. The question is how long until Giyera and Lucio (the former looked genuinely shaken by the screams of the dying) make a run for it.

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But the real step towards end game that came this week was the decision to break Bobbi and Hunter off on their own in preparation for their own spin-off. It will be a few months before whatever happens to SHIELD that they split off for good takes place, but the show is already laying the ground work, with May telling Hunter (a bit out of the blue) that she knows he’s not really here for SHIELD, only for Bobbi. By the time all is said and done , and the two of them are in the cargo hold of the beast (Malick’s plane to Russia), it’s clear the show plans for them to run their own plot line separate from the rest of the team so that viewers will get used to the idea of them as their own item.

Hunter: “Bon appitito”
Bobbi: “I love you”
May: “I don’t hate you quite as much.”

And hey, if their heading back to Malick’s place that means it might be time for someone in SHIELD to be very confused to find Grant Ward looking more healthy and hale than he has since Season 1, especially since he supposed to be dead.

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