After Agents of SHIELD said goodbye to one of its best characters last week, ‘Watchdogs’ serves to remind viewers of oft-forgotten Mac. A terrorist group calling themselves The Watchdogs makes a strike against an ATCU building, declaring a war on “freaks”. Mac’s brother Ruben believes in The Watchdogs’ methods, raising risks that he may join up with the bad guys.
The Mac family drama is not the most exciting aspect of the episode, mostly due to the fact that Mac’s brother is not an established character. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the show was willing to give any real time to the idea of Ruben joining the dark side. As it stands it’s a very weak plot, which is too neatly resolved by episode’s end; he has issues with the ATCU and “freaks” and then seemingly just gets over them because Mac is part of SHIELD.
The Watchdogs themselves at first seem like an interesting new threat, a group formed out of the collapse of SHIELD but separate from what we’ve seen before. An interesting issue is raised over how far SHIELD should go to stop them, with Daisy all for interrogating someone they suspect of being a Watchdog. This feels slightly out of character for someone who first appeared on this show as a hacker but it does allow Mac to reestablish his moral stance – before doing absolutely nothing about it.The subplot this week is quite light, with Coulson raising concerns over Lincoln’s ability to be an agent. He raises some very good points: he doesn’t follow orders or respect authority and he’s never exactly been trained. It is only brought up in a handful of scenes and conveniently resolved after Lincoln follows an order from Coulson, regardless of the fact he doesn’t take a kill shot as ordered.
The end of the episode takes any of the excitement out of The Watchdogs, turning them into another appendage of HYDRA. What could have been a new threat is brought into line with SHIELD arch-nemesis who are beginning to overstay their welcome. It would be nice at this point if there was something that happened on the show that they weren’t behind. I’m still hoping Hive comes into his own as a threat and doesn’t just remain as a HYDRA lacky, potentially moving the show away from them at least for a while.