‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap: “Watchdogs”

Mack finally gets some his own story and steps out from being a background character!  We get a new villain to root against!  Simmons realizes she needs to be able to take care of herself!  Skye goes full on Jack Bauer!  Another solid episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

In the wake of Bobbi and Hunter leaving the agency and taking the fall for last week’s debacle, this leaves Mack distraught over the loss of his buddies, especially Bobbi.  As said last week, we knew it was going to hit him hard.  To help cope with the loss of his teammates, he goes on leave and sees his brother (Gaius Charles of Friday Night Lights fame) at their childhood home for some brotherly bonding.  Already we get to learn more about his character in the first few minutes than the last 2 years of the show.  It’s clear they are somewhat estranged due to the fact that they have to schedule some time to hang out, which Mack is constantly bailing out on because of his S.H.I.E.L.D. responsibilities.  Another thing to point out that because Mack is in S.H.I.E.L.D., he has to lie to even his family.  Much like someone who works for the CIA, your family isn’t cleared to know who the real “you” is.  Mack’s brother Ruben thinks of his brother as an insurance salesman.  When you look at Mack, he doesn’t have the look of an “insurance salesman,” more like a professional sports player or something more physically demanding.  If I was his brother, I would be a little hesitant to believe him, and even more skeptical because of how “busy” he would be as one, insurance people aren’t that busy!

Their reunion is brief, due to a terrorist attack at a local ATC government building by our new bad guys, The Watchdogs.  They are a militia group that is fed up with all things superhero-related.  Many of their grievances stem from the events of Avengers, Captain America the Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Now that there is an Inhuman crisis across the world, they step up from being annoying protestors, to people who want to “take their country back.”  Just image if the Tea Party actually got emboldened and started whatever revolt they sometimes talk about.  They even look like the various militias that currently exist across the country.  The Watchdogs are even referenced to first being against illegal immigration (illegal aliens), and now angry against actual aliens.  The Watchdogs seem intriguing to Mack’s brother, who’s just the type of person who would join them.  He’s down on his luck, he’s unemployed, his mortgage is under water, and he needs someone to blame: why not people with powers?

Skye is unequivocally against everything The Watchdogs stand for.  And why wouldn’t she be?  She’s an Inhuman and public enemy number one in their eyes.  She decided to fight fire with fire.  She and Mack have an ethical debate in regards to a response to them.  She wants to get information on them and strike back, by any means necessary.  Mack has the more pragmatic approach and reminds her that they cannot stoop to The Watchdogs level.  It’s very similar to the War on Terror debate.  Essentially Mack said what makes them better that The Watchdogs is that they won’t stoop to their enemy’s level.  Ultimately she recruits Fitz to assist her as she goes searching for them.  You can see that Fitz isn’t completely on board either, but he supports his teammate.  She does display her quake powers to threaten one of the members of the Watchdogs to gleam their hideout so she can go against them,

Meanwhile, Coulson has decided to give Lincoln (who seemingly has failed his agent assessment) a chance as they go out to find the leader of The Watchdogs.  The leader turns out to be former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Blake (great character actor Titus Welliver) is the leader and is also supplying them with advanced Stark weaponry.  Blake gives his rationale referencing various superhero related events, including his back being broken by Deathlok in past Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes, so he now has nothing but hate for Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D.  Coulson instructs Lincoln to use his electricity powers to kill Black, but he is revealed to be a hologram as he suspected.  Lincoln passed Coulson’s test for loyalty and independence (being hesitant at first).  Elsewhere, Jemma is taking target practice.  She comes to the revelation that she is the weak link in the group.  She talks with Agent May saying that she’s responsible for many people’s suffering as a result of them saving her.  Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that she will be more hardened.  She also lets may know that there may be a cure for her ex-husband Andrew, who has turned into the homicidal Inhuman Lash, but she would rather kill her ex-husband, rather than have hope of a cure.

As Mack, Fitz, and Skye go towards the Watchdog compound, so does his brother, which opens the floodgates that his brother is not an insurance salesman, but a secret agent.  Needless to say, he takes this as an act of betrayal.  Skye uses her quake power, but from the Watchmen viewpoint, they thought Mack was the one who is an Inhuman.  As a result, they follow Mack and his Ruben back to their parents’ house and try to kill them.  This leads the brothers to put aside their differences and defend themselves.  This leads them to have an appreciation for each other afterward and Ruben even sets aside his prejudice against powered people.

Overall this was a very solid episode.  Mack got a much-needed push to front and center.  Many times the show focused on every other character except him.   It’s good that he finally not only got a chance to shine, but we have more backstory for his character.  We learn about his parents, as well as his brother Ruben.  Skye also references his importance when talking with his brother and expresses regret that she wasn’t able to help him during the siege, as he always has had her back.  That scene shows his importance overall for the team.

Coulson teaming up with Lincoln seemed a little odd.  They simply haven’t had much time with each other.  Lincoln’s gateway to being with S.H.I.E.L.D. simply has been Skye and it’s a little weird when he isn’t working directly with her.  It did seem like he gained Coulson’s respect, so perhaps we’ll see more of them together.

The Watchdogs seem like they will possibly be an interesting foe.  The Tea Party allegory and their xenophobia will probably rub some people in conservative circles the wrong way as well.  They seemed like they could be an interesting foe, as long as Titus Welliver remains their leader.  Besides him, they are a faceless army hiding behind masks, so they will need some members of the group to appear as more than simple henchmen for them to really be seen as a force to be reckoned with. Towards the end, it’s revealed that they are backed by Malick and HYDRA, so perhaps they will simply be the new army for HYDRA.  It’s probably going to lead to some in-fighting as well though because they are basically working for a group that’s actually lead by an Inhuman.  HYDRA has already given them a nuclear weapon, so the next few weeks looks like it will be action-packed and the stakes will be high!