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TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 14 "Watchdogs"

03.30.2016

EPISODE 14: "Watchdogs"

SYNOPSIS: When a radical group called The Watchdogs emerges with plans to eliminate the Inhumans, Agent Mack and his brother become caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, Simmons discovers a powerful chemical compound that could alter the future for Inhumans.

REVIEW: With the departure of Bobbi and Hunter last week, we are down to only a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. members who joined after the original crew of Coulson's team. Between Mack and Lincoln, this episode primarily focuses on the mechanic of the crew and gives us some back story on the big man of the team. We also get a look at another threat to the Inhumans in the form of the terrorist group known as the Watchdogs. We also get the return of a familiar face from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in an episode that feels a lot like a filler hour at a time in the season when we should really be focusing on the resurging threat of HYDRA.

The main storyline of this episode revolves around Mack who is visiting his brother Ruben at their parents' home in Naperville, Illinois. The younger Mack, who calls his brother Alfie, is unemployed and looking to spend some time with his older sibling and think about better times. The brothers ponder a road trip on their motorcycles when their time is interrupted by a news report showing the Watchdogs destroying an ATCU warehouse using nitromene, an old Howard Stark technology that allows for things to be imploded. Mack has to join the investigation which divides the team. Daisy wants to use her skills to pressure some Watchdog sympathizers while Mack feels those tactics are too militant for S.H.I.E.L.D. to employ.

Long story short, Daisy pressures a Watchdog and she brings Fitz along when Mack refuses. Mack shows up and things go bad. The Watchdogs believe that Mack is an Inhuman while Fitz gets the nitromene shot on his neck, requiring Daisy to difuse it before he implodes. Mack's brother runs into him and learns he is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent which puts both of their lives at risk. We also see Coulson take Lincoln on a mission to explore the safehouses of the Watchdogs' leader, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Felix Blake. Blake appears to be up and walking again after having his spine destroyed by Deathlok in season one. May and Simmons also bond over the search for Lash, something Simmons blames herself for after she left him loose earlier this season. So, basically a lot of narrative housekeeping is going on to get everyone on the same page for the final quarter of the season.

While Coulson questions Lincoln's dedication to S.H.I.E.L.D. since he is there because of Daisy, they find Blake in the basement of a safe house and Coulson gives the order to have his former colleague killed. Lincoln hesitates but obeys the order. His energy burst reveals that Blake is a hologram but Coulson now trusts that Lincoln can be a good agent who follows commands. Mack and his brother have to hold off an onslaught of Watchdogs at their childhood home. Ruben is confused as he has never needed to shoot anyone but comes to his brother's aid when he gets clipped in the arm. Mack makes a makeshift butcher's cleaver taped to a shotgun in one of the coolest weapons I have seen on TV in a while. In the end, everyone is safe.

With everyone's subplots wrapping up nicely, this episode offers several tidbits that could drive the rest of this season. Daisy calls out that Ruben is a good driver which may offer him a shot at a role on the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, but that could be too many new characters again. Lincoln's role on the team seems to be getting more concrete as the episodes progress, but Daisy's approach to taking down intolerant humans may create a rift between her and Coulson's idealogy. I am expecting the return of Lash sometime soon thanks to May and Simmons' progress looking for him this week, but that may be saved for the finale. The stinger also shows us Blake is actually confined to a wheelchair and delivers stolen goods from the ATCU facility to Giyera. Coulson and Daisy learn the Watchdogs are being funded by HYDRA and Malick and the contents of the van appear to be a nuclear warhead.

I don't know about the rest of you, but Mack is a very uninteresting character to me. I appreciate his role on the team and I like his devil's advocate approach to a lot of the discussions on the show, but this episode felt like a waste of an hour when the focus could have been put more on the Watchdogs themselves or even give Ruben a more significant presence in the story. Ultimately, this hour seemed to be a clearinghouse for developments that didn't fit into any other episodes this season. Next week seems to finally reveal to S.H.I.E.L.D. that Ward is back, sort of, and introduce the world to Hive, and that should finally get us back on track after a couple of weak episodes in a row.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Felix Blake has appeared in several MCU one shots. Howard Stark's nitromene was a key item on Agent Carter. The Avengers and the creation of Ultron are referenced. The gang warfare in Hell's Kitchen from Daredevil's second season is mentioned.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Spacetime" airs April 5th - When Daisy gets a horrifying glimpse of the future, S.H.I.E.L.D.races to prove that fate is not fixed.

Source: JoBlo.com

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