‘The Man Inside’
This week’s Agents of SHIELD revolves around a conference between world leaders on the issue of Inhumans with Coulson and Talbot forced to work together for the first time. SHIELD suspects one of the attendees of being a HYDRA informant with May, Bobbi and Hunter tasked with discovering who is the traitor. The premise allows for some great interaction between the two rivals, while also presenting more of the world’s position on Inhumans.
The episode does a good job at pushing many character conflicts to the foreground in a compelling way. The Coulson/Talbot pairing takes up much of the episode and makes for an interesting, if not slightly rushed story. The show isn’t afraid to have a bit of fun with Talbot, from presenting him in a gown, to the haphazard way he introduces himself to the rest of the conference. Clark Gregg and Adrian Pasdar bounce off each other effectively, building on the tension established between the two in previous seasons. The re-introduction of Crusher Creel is quite welcome, though like Hunter I’m a bit put off by his sudden switch to the good side. The fight between Creel and Lincoln early in the episode is quite a display, with Creel absorbing a car tire to be immune to Lincoln’s electricity. The revelation that Creel’s blood can create a vaccine to Terrigenesis – it can prevent someone being affected but is unable to cure someone already transformed – is sure to have big ramifications down the line. Unfortunately this week it just gives way to a slightly dull B-plot in which Lincoln and Daisy debate about the freedom of Inhumans to choose whether they undergo Terrigenesis.
The rest of the supporting cast are given a fair bit to do, attempting to figure out who amongst the conference attendees is working for HYDRA. Hunter gets an interesting arc where his reluctance to follow the mission parameters, by sneaking in guns, is actually what saves his friends in the end. However May might be right when she calls out Hunter as only being a part of SHIELD for Bobbi, which I’m sure will come to a head before too long.The new big bad, Hive, finally gets to show off some of his power this week, in a gruesome display. The imagery of Ward covered head to toe in goo while surrounded by the bloody bones of the people he has just drained the life-force out of is striking, and a little sickening. Hopefully next week he will actually leave his man-cave and begin to present himself as a credible threat.
Coulson and Talbot going from rivals to something resembling friends in one episode is a bit of a stretch and I hope their tension continues going forward. It would be a shame if all their conflict is just brushed under a rug after tonight’s instalment. The conference raises some intriguing questions about the Inhumans’ goals, presenting the idea of a sanctuary for Inhumans. One of the delegates compares it to an arm’s race over who can stockpile the most Inhumans, leaving the question of how will SHIELD confront a HYDRA built army.