TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 12 "The Inside Man"
EPISODE 12: "The Inside Man"
SYNOPSIS: Coulson and General Talbot are forced to team up and attend a worldwide symposium on Inhumans, where they suspect Malick has an inside man. As the S.H.I.E.L.D. team gets closer to the truth, an unexpected traitor is revealed.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
Does anyone else find it a little bit odd that the Inhumans are such a massive component of the small screen Marvel Cinematic Universe and yet we have not heard a word about them on the big screen or either Netflix series? With all of these characters existing within a single universe, it seems to diminish the stakes on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a bit, especially with the new villain Grant Ward/Hive seeming like a Thanos level bad guy. Still, this episode does a good job of driving home just how dangerous of a villain Hive may be and provides Brett Dalton with some of the best acting opportunities since before he turned bad guy in the first season.
The episode primarily revolves around a symposium on Inhumans where Coulson and the begrudging General Talbot have to team up to find Gideon Malick's inside man. Coming along with Talbot is Carl Creel. The Absorbing Man was last seen as a villain and Hunter still has not forgiven him for murdering his friends last season, but Talbot is insistant the man has reformed his ways. Fitz and Simmons are intrigued by Creel since he is not an Inhuman and he managed to survive the Terrigen obelisk, so they take a blood sample before the team heads to the symposium. Using some cool gadgets, the team manages to sneak into each attendee's room to figure out of they are working for Malick or not. Turns out, the real answer was right under their noses.
That's right, General Talbot is the titular inside man. Malick arrives and outs Coulson as the head of HYDRA to scare the other attendees into voting for putting all Inhumans into a sanctuary state within Russian borders. Using Talbot's son, Malick forced the general into turning on Coulson. But, Malick then decides not to follow through on his deal and orders his men to kill Coulson and Talbot. Malick also reveals he is gathering Inhumans to form an army before heading back home with the Russian dignitary on board with the sanctuary idea. Creel manages to save Coulson and Talbot while May comes through with saving Talbot's son. Bobbi and Hunter manage to sneak aboard Malick's plane and head back to wherever he is going and likely to a confrontation with the presumed dead Grant Ward.
The opening scene of the episode gave us a quick flashback to Ward's death on Maveth at the hand of Coulson which was followed by the eel-like Hive taking over the corpse. That handprint still remains on the chest of the skeletal Hive who tells Malick that Ward is a good host and will serve until their plan is complete. What that plan entails is still a mystery but likely has to do with that spacecraft seen in the mid-season premiere. Hive is not regenerating as planned and demands that Lucio and Giyera bring him five healthy humans. He then sends the dust cloud from his skin and absorbs their power, healing himself to full strength while reducing those humans to bones and a puddle of bloody goo. Hive is one hell of a power and I wonder how he will develop from here.
The other big subplot this hour involves Creel's blood, which Fitz and Simmons find not only repels Terrigenesis but also cures it. Using Creel's blood, an antidote could be made which draws a line between Lincoln and Daisy. Daisy, who has embraced her powers since becoming Inhuman, feels that a cure would mean the end of their species as we know it. Lincoln uses Lash as an example that not everyone who can become an Inhuman should. They spar, verbally and physically, over what it means to be Inhuman but in the end reconcile with a safe for network television sex scene (that means above the cleavage nudity only. Yawn). It is an interesting premise to discuss Inhumans but also begs the question of just how much they will be explored and if that will leave anything left for the already announced INHUMANS movie.
On the whole, this hour does a nice job of building more mystery around Ward/Hive and definitely drives home that he is one scary nemesis. But, I never quite bought the Talbot twist as the general has always been very black and white since he debuted on the series, so to have him turn on his country so easily feels like cheap writing. Still, I like dynamic between Coulson and Talbot and hope we see them for more of the season. The existence of a cure for Inhumans also represents a massive plot element not only for this series but also the big screen Marvel universe. What these events will mean for the MCU are still unclear, but I am hoping we start getting some concrete connections in the coming weeks.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Comic book terrorist group The Watchdogs gets a passing reference from Daisy.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Parting Shot" airs March 22nd - Bobbi and Hunter become ensnared in an assassination plot after tracking Malick to Russia. As S.H.I.E.L.D. races to save the lives on the line, the team is changed forever.