Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 3, episode 14
WRITER: DREW S GREENBERG
DIRECTOR: JESSE BOCHCO
AIR DATE: March 29 2016
"Watchdogs" is another new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that brings in an obscure but effective organization from the comics as a potential threat against the covert ops team, while mixing up some of the character dynamics of the core of the cast and bringing back a familiar face. The episode also gives one of the reliable supporting players a chance to shine that the actor really hasn’t had too much of along the way since coming on board the series.
The episode focuses on Mack (Henry Simmons). With the recent departure of Hunter and Bobbie, who had taken on a disavowed status to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. safe, Mack’s been having a bit of a hard time adjusting to that, and is taking a bit of time off, visiting his brother Ruben (Gaius Charles). The time off is interrupted by an attack on an ATCU facility by the Watchdogs, an online hate group with a particular mad-on where Inhumans are concerned. Mack is obliged to investigate - despite the fact that his brother doesn’t know what he does for a living, and despite their different world views on more than one issue. Both brothers have their own secrets, one because his profession requires it, the other because he’s embarrassed by his own circumstances, and having the two at odds with each other in their own ways is a good character touch and gives more depth to Mack. The character has been one of those steady, supportive, calm and professional types from his introduction to the show, and giving the actor and character the spotlight this time out was a good touch - the way Mack is spoken of by one of his colleagues to his brother by episode’s end speaks volumes of the trust the agents have in each other.
A good part of the episode has characters interacting with others they’re usually not paired off with. Fitz and Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge) are almost always working together, and yet this time out Fitz is partnered up with Daisy (Chloe Bennet) while Simmons spends more time with May (Ming Na Wen). It’s an interesting dynamic in both cases, as we don’t really get to see that kind of one on one aspect for these characters that often.
It also applies to Coulson (Clark Gregg), who’s working closely this time out with Lincoln (Luke Mitchell). The Inhuman agent has had something of an issue in terms of taking orders or standing his powers down; I like that this time out Coulson has him alongside - and at first feels the need to lay down the ground rules with Lincoln. Coulson’s lecture is justified; it comes across as something Lincoln really needs to hear, and later on the character shows that the lesson’s been accepted.
The one remaining element is a character we haven’t seen in a good long while - Felix Blake (Titus Welliver), an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who when last seen, suffered at the hands of Deathlok. Welliver is one of those actors who’s been in pretty much everything down through the years, an actor who’ll never run out of parts, and it makes sense that the character would, given what he’s been through, end up creating a concept like the Watchdogs. The group itself has its origins in the comics, as a vigilante group that was a source of problems for Captain America, and they certainly fit into the Marvel cinematic universe well, particularly in their methodology, which has links going back to the Starks, yet another reminder that the cinematic universe is closely connected in so many ways.
Ruben and Mack