Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D “Watchdogs”

Simmons looks so effective! More please!

In which Damian and Hanna chat about the latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with all the spoilers

First, a brief recap: Mack’s vacation time with his brother is interrupted by a terrorist attack on an ATCU site by the newly ominous Watchdogs. Also: Mack can’t have nice things. Daisy threatens said Watchdogs and Fitz goes in and out of danger. May teams up the Simmons to start looking for Lash. Coulson takes Lincoln out for a mission that isn’t a test. He promises.

Hanna: Alright! We have Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : The story of Mack and his brother. So what did you think of it over all?

Damian: Pretty average. Average in a bad way.

Hanna: Sigh. Yeah. I think I probably liked it more because I like Mack. But it was pretty standard.

Damian: The last three episodes have not been great.

Hanna: They feel very disconnected. They did set up a big villain this episode? The Watchdogs. They seem like they might be our big bad for the end of the season?

Damian: It seemed like they might be, but then they established that they’re just being used by Hydra.

Hanna: That doesn’t mean we the Watchdogs won’t be a big bad this season, leaving Hydra to be Hydra. Since Hydra is never going away ever.

Damian: I still have faith they’ll make bold choices at the end of the season. They do really need to resolve the Ward situation. But he’s been absent the last two episodes.

Hanna: And they teased the younger Malick at the end of last episode. We didn’t get her or Ward. And now we have another bad guy.

Damian: Felix Blake. Who had his back broken by Deathlock.

Hanna: And now he’s returned to wreak vengeance upon S.H.I.E.L.D. So we have a dearth of villains, none of whom are taking center stage. We also have Mack and his brother.

Damian: Yup. Mack is on vacation.

Hanna: Briefly.

Damian: That’s the setup. Mack is on vacation visiting his brother — his brother has some problems — and there’s a terrorist attack by the Watchdogs.

Hanna: Which Mack simply must investigate with Daisy and Fitz. I like the idea of introducing Mack’s family but I don’t think it was done terribly well.

Damian: The brother was not very compelling.

Hanna: I thought his best sequence was with Daisy at the end.

Damian: Not a lot of brotherly chemistry

Hanna: He took the whole Mack’s a secret agent killing people with a cleaver pretty well. So that’s one plot line. Then we have Fitz getting a nitromene bomb stuck to his neck. I was surprised when they hit him with it, but after that it was pretty predictable. Then we have May and Simmons.

Damian: May continues to spout wisdom. May and Coulson continue to speak in platitudes or direct statements to everybody.

Hanna: I do like that Simmons is interested in learning to shoot.

Damian: I liked that she was embracing her guilt and complicity in the Lash situation. But they immediately undercut it with May telling her not to feel guilty and offering a kind of absolution.

Hanna: Her situation is one where she can’t take all the blame onto herself — it was the act of a madman. But–  

Damian: — But she did release that madman into the situation.

Hanna: Yup! She did let him out. And there is complicity in that. To say she had nothing to do with it is lying.

Damian: I would like to see her shouldering some of the guilt as her character continues to develop. So what do we think of the Watchdogs just in general? Since it’s the main thing introduced in this episode.

Hanna: I think they needed a slower burn. It was a throwaway line in one episode, from what I can remember. While I am okay with the idea of a ‘radicalized comment section’,  they didn’t ramp it up. The Watchdogs imploded something and then went back and said “this has been building up for awhile”. Classic ‘show don’t tell’. There also weren’t any characters in the Watchdogs to latch onto.

Damian: I want them to stop naming things so obviously. I mean, we had the ‘Rising Tide’ and now the ‘Watchdogs’. Really on the nose. The speed with which they were militarized is a very quick setup. It feels rushed.

Hanna: The stuff with Daisy threatening them is interesting.

Damian: But it doesn’t pay off. I wouldn’t say she ‘tortures’ anyone. But she intimidates and roughs someone up. It’s a borderline thing. There are ethical conversations to be had there — a la daredevil — but it all just works out for her. Fitz and Mack aren’t down with it. Even though Fitz helps, he’s not totally on board. If they set her up to be a bit more morally grey, that would be neat. There’s a colder edge that’s worked it’s way into her character and she’s talked in the past about being a little more hardline and aggressive. But this is the first time she’s taken the step of sort of ‘black ops-ing’ someone. We’ll see where it goes.

Hanna: Speaking of moral grey areas. Coulson?

Damian: I was interested in how that was going to play out. Coulson takes Lincoln on a training ‘get-to-know-you’ mission.  Lincoln’s a strangely uncompelling character. He goes between quiet and puppy-dog sweet to super aggressive. It’s so bipolar that he doesn’t seem like he has a consistent character. What do you think?

Hanna: I think they were trying to remind us that he’s a ‘semi-dangerous recovering alcoholic’ but at the same time, they want the audience to want him and Daisy to be together. I didn’t like the test that Coulson set up for him. His options are to shoot to kill — since this is a test in following orders — OR he can hesitate and then fire — which is apparently the right option — OR he can refuse.

Damian: I actually didn’t have a problem with the setup so much as the resolution. I think having the show keep a darker edge once in awhile helps us remember who and what these people are. I always go back to Hunter straight up murdering the three Hydra heads last season. I thought this was in the same vein, except that when he shoots Felix he turns out to be a hologram. If this was a ‘no right answer’ moment, it would have been better — a crucible to find out what his character is. It would have been much more interesting if Lincoln would go that far, and that he became the character that can kill without compunction.

Hanna: That sort of makes him the new Ward

Damian: I think that could be interesting. But they won’t because they don’t want to take him too dark.

Hanna: Cause then we don’t want him with Daisy.

Damian: Yeah. Overall I felt like the episode didn’t go far enough. It was a bunch of ‘half-measures.’ Even the fights weren’t that dramatic

Hanna: We did get shotgun ax.

Damian: I like shotgun ax.

Hanna: I think shotgun ax will be back.

Damian: I hope so.

Hanna: Okay. That’s all for now… see you next week!

Hanna and Damian will return next week to discuss the next episode of Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D.