Agents of SHIELD: The Inside Man Review

Tensions run high as the team confronts the Absorbing Man.

This Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. review contains spoilers.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3, Episode 12

I really didn’t like the way this week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins but I certainly like where it lands. We open this week with Phil Coulson entering into a partnership with Glenn Talbot. At first, the whole thing seems weak sauce. The show has featured Talbot a few times as comic relief, but for this week’s opening to work, the viewer really has to buy into the tension between Talbot and Coulson. Unfortunately, Talbot hasn’t been featured all that much to truly establish that tension. So we have some banter, some verbal ping pong all predicated on the fact that there is history between the two high level military operatives. But there really isn’t and the series, at first, has not earned the imagined tension between the two.

That being said, there was legit tension soon enough particularly when Crusher Creel the Absorbing Man shows up. I said it last year; Creel has been the most faithful comic to screen adaptation of any Marvel character on ABC TV. This week, we get a different kind of Creel. It seems that the Absorbing Man has reformed and joined up with Talbot. Of course, last season Creel killed Agent Hunter’s team so Hunter is not very happy to have Creel along for the ride. So there we have some real tension because of the very real bad blood between Hunter and Creel. This allows for the plot to play out despite the forced Talbot stuff.

And you know what, as the episode goes along, the Talbot business begins to feel natural. Coulson, Talbot, Morse, Hunter, and May travel to Taiwan to attend a symposium on the Inhumans. One of the delegates at the meeting is a HYDRA operative and our team must discover who it is. And we are off as Coulson and Talbot try to weed out the culprit while the rest of the agents go all secret agenty to find the HYDRA spy.

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It turns out Talbot is the spy as Gideon Malick is using Talbot’s Inhuman son as leverage. Talbot betrays Coulson and we now have legit tension! We get some big action with the agents taking on Malick’s men, the highlight of which is the suddenly face turned Absorbing Man kicking some serious ass. I can’t tell you why because it goes against the entire history of the character, but I really dig the good guy Creel. Creel even saves Hunter’s life bringing the character full circle. The agents help Talbot get his son back but not before Malick woes the delegates at the symposium, making some alliances that are sure to be dangerous for the Inhumans.

Speaking of Inhumans, we get a really, really recycled X-Men plot this week as Fitz and Simmons discover a cure Terrigenesis. Yes, this was indeed the plot of X-Men 3 and while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pulls it off better (but really, we’re talking X-Men 3 here, that’s not that impressive), the whole thing still feels old hat. Daisy and Lincoln argue over the morality of the cure and really, go read any X-Men comic from like 1998-2002 and you’ll get the gist of it. The only neat part was that Creel’s blood was used as the cure so this makes Creel pretty vital to the plot. Did I mention I like Creel?

It sounds like I dislike this episode, I know, but I really don’t. I like the idea of a symposium to discuss the “Inhuman problem,” I like the bad blood between Hunter and Creel, and I ended up liking the Talbot/ Coulson dynamic once the plot let the whole thing breathe. Plus, as always, the action was awesome and really, when is a fighting mad Melinda May not cool?

We also get the continuing evolution of Ward as the creepy alien heavy. The episode really isn’t afraid to get gross with Ward as we get to see Ward feed of some human prey. We still don’t get any explanation to Ward’s new powers, where the thing inside Ward came from, or what it really wants but the creepy quotient was certainly front and center. There’s not just enough there to judge. I think Ward is now made up of evil skin cells or something and for some reason he ends the episode covered in maple syrup, but as a big bad the new Ward is more an ambiguous mystery than a threat.

So let’s call it a win this week as we have Creel, Creel, and more Creel, a focus on Talbot that makes the general a full character instead of just a punch line, and some really cool actions scenes. All that totally makes up for some recycled X-Men plot lines.

Marvel Moments

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I think the Inhuman villain in thrall to Malick is supposed to be the Gorgon. Gorgon made his debut in first appearance in Wolverine (vol. 3) #20 (2004) and was created by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. Then again, as a Wolverine villain, I’m pretty sure Fox would have their rights to this badass. The comic book Gorgon could indeed turn people to stone but he was a Japanese mob boss and not a Hispanic Inhuman, so I’m just going to let this one sit here as a maybe.

We have a mention of a hate group known as the Watchdogs this week. The comic book Watchdogs were a white supremacist, anti-mutant hate group that would totally support Donald Trump. Oh, I’m kidding (no, I’m not). The Watchdogs’ most infamous hour came when they killed the parents of then Captain America and current US Agent John Walker. Come to think of it, US Agent would fit right into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., wouldn’t he?

We’re about a month and a half away; shouldn’t we be getting some buzz about the coming Civil War on Marvel TV? Synergy Marvel, synergy!

And yes, I’m going to watch the bejeezus out of Daredevil this weekend. Enjoy guys and we’ll see you with more Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goodness next Tuesday!


3.5 out of 5