‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: ‘The Inside Man’ Is Crazy Good TV
Recap and review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 3 Episode 12 – The Inside Man:
Normally, I’m a fan of the more straightforward episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the plots centering on superpowered weirdos, and the hunt for justice. But “The Inside Man” is as compelling as any episode I’ve seen, even while it remains mostly minimalist in its narrative. This is about the S.H.I.E.L.D. team working together with the ATCU to make a difference, and that’s more or less why it works as well as it does.
Of course, working with ATCU is kind of a misnomer, since this episode features Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) betraying Coulson (Clark Gregg) because Malick (Powers Boothe) has his son. Yet it makes for a pretty compelling story overall, because it’s not predicated on anyone within the S.H.I.E.L.D. team being the mole. I’ve always found this group compelling largely based on how they work together. It’s simply not as interesting if these are people who can’t find any sort of way to get along. Naturally, the story for the episode focuses on that sort of dissension, since the team doesn’t exactly trust Talbot’s bodyguard, Creel. But this is one of the more compelling issues of the episode, as Creel is a figure caught in the middle of two conflicts. He can either oppose the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, in service of keeping Talbot’s son safe from Hydra, or he can work with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to find a way to rescue Talbot’s son. Strangely, the narrative ends up finding a middle ground, presenting Creel as a potential bad guy, but revealing him to be a hero towards the end, working against the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, but for the greater good of rescuing Talbot’s son. Inevitably, the team saves the day, with May (Ming-Na Wen) managing to secure Talbot’s unconscious son. However, much of the excitement comes from how touch-and-go the situation is.
Although May is able to take Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) along with her to show him the ropes, it seems like part of a longer process. Daisy (Chloe Bennet) helps him along by…well, by sleeping with him. But it’s the consummation of a relationship that’s one of the more effective connections on the show. By the same token, Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood) are escalating their respective situation by sneaking onto Malick’s plane, meaning they’re likely going to land at his headquarters within the week. I know Bobbi and Hunter are headed for their own spinoff series, but I can’t help but still view them as one of the highlights of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., largely because of how their characters are written. They’re daring like few members of the team really are, and their connection is among the more relatable of the series, since they have a very understandable love-hate relationship. More than any other duo outside of Coulson and May, Bobbi and Hunter feel lived-in, like their history extends beyond what we can ever truly know about them. It’s a credit to both Palicki and Blood that the pairing is as effective as it is. If nothing else, I’m genuinely concerned for Bobbi and Hunter in the weeks to come.
As for Hive (Brett Dalton), he still seems like a distant menace. I praised his imminent arrival onto the scene last week, but I realize now that it’s going to be a bit of a longer game. And that’s absolutely okay. I like the notion of Hive as a villain who will come to prominence farther down the line. These episodes seem far more focused on allowing him to build strength. While Coulson and his team are rescuing Talbot’s son and uniting S.H.I.E.L.D. with the ATCU, he’ll be claiming the souls of five otherwise innocent people, as a means of gaining strength. It isn’t simply enough for him to feed on a physical level. Hive must feed on a spiritual and metaphysical level. It goes to show just how considerable he is as a threat, and I love Dalton’s otherworldly portrayal of the character. Hive is weird, and it’s part-and-parcel of what makes him so damn threatening. He just doesn’t seem to care about anything.
“The Inside Man” is crazy good TV, due in large part to how exciting it is. Granted, a lot of that is predicated on the S.H.I.E.L.D. team coming together in suspicion against the ATCU, but I love how the respective teams unite towards the end. I’m also really digging the Hive character, and the threat he represents. I think Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on a major roll so far, and I’m amped to see where the story is headed.
But what did you think of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Episode 12, “The Inside Man”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., read our recap and review of last week’s outstanding midseason premiere!