After the loss of Bobbi and Hunter, Mack’s time away from the team is interrupted when an anti-ATCU organization attacks.
Mack is visiting his brother. The two are relating about the hard times that both of them have faced with work. Mack’s brother, Ruben, has been laid off and Mack’s dealing with the emotions of losing Bobbi and Hunter. His family time is interrupted when an organization calling themselves the “Watchdogs” attacks an ATCU facility. Since Mack is the closest agent, Coulson calls him away from his family to investigate. The clues from the scene reveal the use of a substance called Nitromene, which was developed by Howard Stark after WWII (I believe this is a direct callback to the events of Agent Carter). The use of this specific substance points to the handy work of Felix Blake, a former SHIELD operative who had his spine broken by Deathlok.
At this point, the team goes down different routes trying to handle things. While they’re doing that, May and Simmons have time to have a little heart-to-heart. Simmons is upping her self-defense game because she feels guilty about the number people who have died or been put in danger trying to save her. May relates her own feelings of self-blame over what happened with Andrew and shows Simmons that she’s been dedicating time to hunting Andrew down. After seeing May’s work Simmons suggests that there’s a better way to look for Andrew. Simmons also offers the hope that the vaccine they’ve been working on could help Andrew but May tells her that she doesn’t want hope.
Coulson takes Lincoln with him to follow up a lead on Blake. Lincoln just came back from his evaluation, and it wasn’t positive, but Coulson wants to give Lincoln a chance to prove himself in the field. Coulson lays it out that Lincoln has a problem with control and following orders. He’s taking him on this mission in order to see for himself if Lincoln wants to be an agent and if he can be a good one. They reach one of Blake’s hideouts and they find him in the basement. After a back and forth about the ethics of what SHIELD has been doing with powered people, Coulson orders Lincoln to kill Blake. Lincoln dissents, but follows the order. It turns out that Coulson realized that the Blake they were talking to was a hologram. Given that Blakes words were agitating Lincoln, he wanted to give Lincoln the chance to follow a hard order. He also notices that Lincoln’s blast was enough to take Blake down, but not kill him. So, in short, Lincoln passed the test.
Daisy takes Fitz and goes after one of the members of the Watchdogs in a move that Mack condemns as a gestapo-ish violation of civil liberties with superpowers. They find one of the watchdogs and Daisy uses her powers to intimidate him while Fitz reluctantly holds him at gun point. They call Mack who’s been having an increasingly tough time dealing with his brother at home. He meets them at the watchdog’s hideout, but Ruben unwittingly follows Mack to the hideout and ends up seeing Daisy use her powers. They scramble with Daisy going after Blake and Mack going back to try to keep his brother quiet. While Daisy is looking for Blake, Fitz is hit in the neck with a blob of the Nitromene explosive. They capture one of the Watchdogs in order to find out how to neutralize the explosive. After that, they find out that the Watchdogs targeted Mack as the Inhuman and are coming after him.
It’s appropriate that Mack’s brother has been on the watchdog’s side after seeing them in the media. Now, he gets to see them at work up close as the Watchdogs descend on their family home. Coulson, Lincoln, Daisy and Fitz figure this out all at once and scramble to help Mack. However, Mack has to fend for himself and his brother for a while before they get there. On the upside, his brother now knows what Mack’s work really is and why it keeps him away so much. The downside is that Mack gets shot during the fight. He and his brother manage to fight off the Watchdogs and Mack is transported to a medical facility when help arrives, leaving Daisy to wrap things up with his brother. It also allows Daisy to learn that Mack’s brother calls him “Alphie”. Later, Daisy and Coulson realize that the entire Watchdog fiasco was just a distraction caused by Malick. Apparently, their real target was some kind of war head and Blake delivered it to HYDRA.
- “Thank you nerd-herd” – Daisy
I love that for all the crap Daisy has given other people for not understanding tech stuff, she calls Mack and Fitz nerds for knowing about Nitromene. I also have to say that I fully sympathize with Coulson about Daisy’s name change. I swear that I type “Skye” every time I write about her.
- Lincoln’s Test
Coulson pulled out his dad voice when he was laying things out to Lincoln. I think part of this had to do with Coulson still feeling the effects of losing two agents.
- Shotgun axe
Finally, at long last, Mack gets this fabled shotgun axe that he’s been dreaming of.
I feel like some of the conflicts in this episode just sprang up out of nowhere. Simmons pity and Daisy’s sudden desire to intimidate people felt like they were sudden shifts to the characters. Part of that probably had to do with the fact that the last few episodes were focused on Bobbi and Hunter. The one shift that did make sense is that some of the characters felt a little more severe. Both Mack, Daisy and Coulson had a bit of an edge to them that was probably caused, in part, by the recent loss of their fellow agents. I’m really just trying to infer that based on what I saw in the episode, because it really didn’t do a good job of explaining why we were seeing some of these behaviors.
Similarly, I don’t think they did a good job sticking with some of the issues raised in this episode. Clearly, the focus of the episode was Mack and his relationship with his brother. It continued the theme from the last episode of making sacrifices in order to work for SHIELD. However, the other parts of the story felt sacrificed for the sake of that story. Daisy’s story seemed like it had some real teeth and it didn’t really seem to go anywhere. Having her use her status as a SHIELD agent to intimidate people, even for a just cause, wasn’t really discussed after it happened. I mean, she made poor Fitz hold a gun to man’s head and he didn’t even bring it up again. Simmons also seemed to get over her issues of feeling helpless very quickly. As of now it feels like these issues aren’t going to be talked about again, which would be a real shame.