Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Episode 3.04: “Devils You Know”

SHIELD faces their greatest challenge yet: playing well with others.

4-8

A simple recruiting mission goes awry, two secret organizations make for uneasy bedfellows, personal priorities conflict with professional duties, and a character I liked may have exploded. Yep. Just another day at SHIELD HQ.

We’ll start with our central story this week, as Coulson sends Alisha (the duplicator from last season) in to recruit a couple of former Afterlife residents. So, yeah, surprise! Alisha’s helping out SHIELD now! A fair amount has happened off-camera this season, a narrative decision that can be a little disorienting, but intentionally so, I think, as it keeps the audience as off-balance as the characters themselves, constantly having to readjust to new situations and paradigm shifts.

Speaking of readjusting, the recruiting trip goes south in a hurry when Lash (the Inhuman Formerly Nicknamed Sonic) shows up and blasts holes into everyone. Fortunately Alisha sent in a double, so she’s not dead, just in horrible pain and emotional shock.

Agents of SHIELD Devils You Know

Yes. This is what counts as “fortunately” on SHIELD these days.

Daisy and Mack storm the apartment and chase after him, but all they run into are the ATCU forces Coulson called in as backup. Our Inhuman Task Force are understandably hostile toward this new alliance, albeit for different reasons (Daisy thinks they’re mistreating their Inhuman prisoners, while Mack’s just worried they’re going to try to capture Daisy again), but Coulson’s focused on saving lives and vetoes their objections.

In between verbal sparring matches (srsly, you two, just make out already), Phil and Rosalind manage to share enough intel to find a lead: The murdered Inhumans all received an email containing a virus that tracked their location, making it easy for Lash to find them. Daisy uses her other set of superpowers to trace the virus back to Dwight Frye, an IT guy who works for the Social Security Administration. Daisy finds it mighty suspicious that the ATCU didn’t find him before she did, and doesn’t appreciate Coulson’s lack of suspicion, nor all the smoldering looks he and Ros have been sharing recently.

Agents of SHIELD Devils You Know

“And if you think I’m gonna be the one launching your Tumblr ship page, you’ve got another thing coming, mister.”

Setting their concerns aside, the two teams visit Frye the IT Guy, a recently changed Inhuman with the power to sense other Inhumans via migraines and rashes. Superpowers are just the best, you guys. Coulson busts out his Darth Vader hand and gets Frye to admit to working with Lash. Frye insists Lash isn’t a homicidal maniac, but “just a guy trying to do the right thing.” The ATCU takes him into custody, and after some hesitation, Coulson sends Daisy and Mack along to scope out the facilities and make sure everything’s up to secret prison standards.

But Lash finds them before they find the facility, trashing the van, injuring Mack (you MONSTER!), and giving Frye the Kali Ma treatment. He seems to intentionally leave Daisy alone before disappearing into the night—but not before transforming under a conveniently angled street light, allowing Daisy to see his silhouette turn from big-n-hairy to human-shaped. BUT THEN…!

Agents of SHIELD Devils You KnowAgents of SHIELD Devils You Know

On the HYDRA side, Ward is planning an attack on SHIELD using the weapons Hunter brought him {insert U.S. political commentary here}, and Hunter’s working his way up the ranks. It’s clear this is too personal for him, as he’s desperate to take out Ward “before Bobbi gets back in the field” and unconcerned about any “innocent lives” that might get lost along the way. May worries he’s barreling into a suicide mission, so she heads back to HQ, where she runs straight into…

AWK-WARD.

AWK-WARD.

In my favorite scene of the episode, Gregg and Wen get to share screen time again (it’s been too long!), and they’re predictably great together, slipping into their old rhythm of casual intimacy. Coulson and May have been agents for a long time and friends for almost as long, so it’s no surprise that one of the few times they let their professional masks fall is in front of each other. The shared vulnerability and strength is a sweet beat in an episode mostly fraught with aggression, and May’s quiet assurance that Coulson looks better without the tie anyway may have caused squeaky “aww” noises to fall out of a certain recapper’s mouth. Possibly. Maybe.

On the other hand, May and Andrew’s interaction never quite clicks, probably because the language is so vague that it’s hard to get a grip on exactly what happened between them, or why Andrew suddenly cut ties with May (a move that seems oddly out of character given what we’ve learned about him thus far). Maybe we’ll get more details once she comes back from her missiOH WAIT, NOPE, J/K, HYDRA BLEW HIM UP.

Dammit, SHIELD, stop killing all the affable black guys!

First Tripp, then Raina, now Andrew?! Dammit, SHIELD, stop killing off all the likable POC characters!

…Sorry, I jumped forward a little there. First, Hunter needs to infiltrate HYDRA and run straight into Ward and be all like “Revenge is a dish best served NOW, muthafugga!” He’s badly outnumbered, but he’s got a May around to save his ass and call in Coulson for help. The “oh shit” look on Ward’s face when he realizes May’s there is beyond pricelessbut our new HYDRA Director has got an insurance plan, and it involves putting Andrew right in Werner’s cross hairs.

Hunter, in a moment of all-too-human hypocrisy, tries to play the “big picture” card by reminding May of the people who will die if Ward gets away with the weapons, and May, in a moment of all-too-human hypocrisy, puts Andrew’s life before the lives of strangers. But Hunter’s having none of it, so he goes in guns blazing, which leads to the aforementioned explosion that almost certainly (but hey, comic books, so who knows!) kills Andrew. I wasn’t overly attached to Andrew, but I did like him, and I especially liked him with May, so I’ll be sad if he really is gone. But on the bright side, Hunter gets to join the list of SHIELD Members Who Have Shot Ward, so there’s that, at least.

Oh, also: Ward got shot again. Everyone finish your drinks!

Cheers - 30 Rock

In our shortest story of the episode, Simmons is still edgy and withdrawn, opening up ever-so-slightly to Biology Bestie Bobbi, but no one else. Anytime someone tries to get her to talk about what happened to her, you can see her whole body stiffen as she hurriedly deflects and changes the subject. She’s not in a good place, basically, and everyone is worried. Fitz’s own worry turns to near-panic when he finds out she’s been researching the monolith and trying to reopen the portal. After some gentle nudging from Rehab Buddy Bobbi and frantic pleas from Fitz, Simmons decides to open up to him, and she agrees to tell him everything.

Then SHIELD throws back its head and laughs and shouts “SEE YOU NEXT WEEK, SUCKAS!” as the final credits roll and the episode preview promises us a Desert Otherworld Flashback-o-Rama. I am so hype, you guys. So. Very. Hype.

This, That, and the Other

  • Kidding side, I don’t think Rosalind actually is Lash. The jump from Daisy’s line to Rosalind’s entrance feels more like misdirection, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the two are connected in some way. That woman’s secrets have secrets, after all.
  • I’m glad they went ahead and explicitly said May has been “on leave,” because Coulson’s previous “she went on vacation and never came back” statement made it sound like she was AWOL, which seemed very un-May-like. It also puts an interesting spin on that line, highlighting Coulson’s own feelings of abandonment and loneliness rather than any negligence on May’s part.
  • “It’s fine. We’re all professionals.” “Yeah, but we’re also friends.” This exchange describes this season’s Team SHIELD dynamics in a nutshell, with all the strengths and weaknesses those personal bonds entail.
  • Daisy has perfectly valid reasons for refusing to steer the Coulsalind ship, which is fine by me, ’cause this baby sails itself:

Agents of SHIELD Devils You Know

  • “Do you really have a laser finger?” “Sorry. It’s classified.”
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