With the rise of the Inhumans, the ATCU, and the impending release of Marvel’s Civil War, the subject of what to do with powered individuals has been excellently addressed on Agents of SHIELD lately. Now that the wonders of how the bureaucratic world have been tended to, we see how the terrified of the world would: by terrorizing. In come the Watchdogs, a hate-speech spouting paramilitary group bent on making a statement toward the Inhuman threat. The disgust in their speeches and faceless appearance of their masks evoke images of the KKK, as a slightly exaggerated but at its core realistic approach to how the world would react.
At it’s core though, this was a Mack episode, and we’re all the better for it. Seeing the Agents of SHIELD on their down-time is a rare sight, and choosing to shine the spotlight on Mack after seeing his two closest friends depart him made for some fantastic internal conflict. As he said, “Man, I’m a mechanic. I hate this stuff.” The bond between brothers, having been strained from their respective secrets, offered Mack the chance to give in to his dissenting opinions and go against the code of SHIELD. Instead he pushed through out of dedication to the cause and his friends. I get Ruben’s frustration in finding out that his big brother was a super spy all along and that he was lied to, but come on. He was a super spy, man. He can’t be telling you everything. You’ve seen the movies man, come one.
As mentioned, the Watchdogs were a particularly generic ensemble villain, however this actually helped their effectiveness. The masks, and having them not seem like complete military professionals lended to the idea that it could be anybody under those masks. I half expected Ruben to be waiting for them in the barn later. That it was Blake, who appeared briefly in one of the Marvel One-Shots and in a previous episode of SHIELD, being revealed as the leader of the Watchdogs seemed to follow in the footsteps of every other high profile SHIELD agent from the movies. Sitwell was HYDRA, but Blake woke up from a coma in a world full of freaks and his company was disestablished. This provided some interesting motivation for him in a way, showing that he believes he’s more of a “company man” than Coulson, although terribly misguided of course.
The easily overshadowed but very important scene between May and Simmons mentioned the potential Inhuman cure once again, something that proved divisive between Daisy and Lincoln. The mixed perspectives on how to go about dealing with these threats on not only a worldwide level, but as for as the individual members of the team goes, seems to be building up toward a smaller scale Civil War within the Agents of SHIELD. With Mack having been initially distrustful toward their existence before developing a close bond with Daisy, and then beginning to see the dangers in the powers from berating her for using them in interrogation, it seems likely he will be the audience’s perspective in this conflict. The neutral stance, and therefore the deciding vote.
For my review of the previous episode of Agents of SHIELD, “Parting Shot,” click here.