After an episode where the show switched focus to Bobbi and Hunter’s POV for their farewell to the series, it only makes sense that this week they did the same for Mack, who is the most effected by losing the team he came in with. No, Mack’s not leaving the series, (thank heavens.) But for the first time since his arrival, we got a good look into his home life, his family, and met his little brother.
Mack: It’s not about how they act. It’s about how we respond.
Unfortunately, unlike last week, where the show had an endgame for the two characters driving the action, there wasn’t a lot for them to do with Mack’s family. Moreover, by choosing to craft an episode around Mack’s busman’s holiday this week, the show once again put off the major plot points that are supposed to be the point of the season: Hive, Hydra and Malick. Malick was tied in at the end as having basically staged the entire incident, but especially after the introduction of his daughter in last week’s stinger, having him basically drop off the show altogether this week was a little weird.
Speaking of the staged incident, plot points that were revealed this week: Felix Blake has returned from Season 1. Unsurprisingly, he’s joined up with Hydra, to work as the point person to take the group known as “The Watchdogs” out of the comments sections and the reddit subbasements and turn them into a radicalized terrorist cell. So this is why Daisy name dropped the group two weeks ago! Their first target–an “ATCU” compound, which they implode in spectacular fashion in the middle of the six o’clock news. That said compound turns out to have been run by Malick, and he is the one supplying Blake and the implosives (that’s a word, right?) to the Watchdogs does not detract from the solid opening.
Fitz: The residue from the bombs it’s got nitromene in it
Daisy: I don’t know what that it but your tone of voice makes it sound bad.
With no real major connection to the show’s interior workings, the plot therefore focused outward, to the larger world that Civil War will be taking place against. The script openly referenced New York, Sokovia and the Avengers. But along with trying to paint the Civil War backdrop and give SHIELD a place to stand within it, the show hamfistedly tied the rise of Trumpism, even though no one ever directly references the 2016 campaign. But the “first it was illegal aliens, now its actual aliens” as well as “take our country back” lines spewed out of a right-wing talk radio show were unmistakable. I appreciate when my sci-fi tries to tie in current events as a way to discuss them once removed. But Civil War already has enough political threads intertwined, including whether using ones powers with an “end justify the means” behavior is really the best idea.
That was Daisy’s job this week, moving from her “saving the world” to “saving the world by any means possible.” Mack is right to walk away from it. the problem of course, is the show doesn’t actually want to paint dark shades of grey with Daisy. (It refused to do so when she was Skye the Hacker either.) So though we see her threatening a stooge or two with her ability to shake it up, all of her transgressions are minor. It would have been better, not to mention more emotionally challenging to the audience,. for her to really show her powers to these Watchdogs and their wannabes. Especially if the show then had the stones to show that all she’s doing is proving to them how right their cause must be. Having her then bond with Mack’s brother, who was one step from joining the Watchdogs himself (before they decided the powered person must be a big scary black dude and not a little white girl and came after them) only served to show how “open-minded” she is.
May: “Don’t give me hope Gemma. I don’t want hope.”
Meanwhile, in other side plot developments you might have thought the show forgot about, May and Simmons, left home together in the lab, partner up on May’s search for Lash. Marnifer thinks we might have a Lash vs Hive showdown on the horizon, and that’s not a bad thought–though it would probably mean Lash will lose. But that showdown is only possible if Simmons doesn’t try her idea of a catch and release program, using Lash as the human guinea pig in her vaccination trials. Still I really like Simmons and May as a team. They don’t pair these actresses together often enough.
The other oddball couple of the evening was Coulson and Lincoln, heading to Blake’s “safe house” while the team tries to locate his Watchdog group. That Blake is in both places is a red herring–it’s supposed to let the audience know that Lincoln is in a test situation before he does, because clearly the real Blake is up where Mack and company are. But no–turns out both Blakes are holograms–the real one is in a wheelchair in Malick’s headquarters. I will say that Luke Mitchell’s portrayal of Lincoln was much better this week–I think Chloe Bennet’s woodenness does him no favors–he’s better when he has better actors to play off of, like Clark Gregg.
Fitz: It means sooner or later this bomb is going to go off, and I’ll implode. That’s going to be messy.
Next week, the reveal of Ward as Hive is finally here, along with an Inhuman who can “show people their future” or perhaps just a terrifying glimpse of things that could be, like the Scarlet Witch did to Tony in Ultron. Either way, its past time to see Hive in full action, and Coulson’s response to discovering just what horrors his rash act on the Blue Planet has wrought.