Warning: This post contains spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Proceed with caution, agents. If you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “Uprising”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. offers up yet another topical episode this week, with the return of the Latina Inhuman Yo-Yo and the Watchdogs. Team Whedon, of course, has never shied away from taking a political stance, especially during an election year (as can be seen in Joss Whedon’s recent Save the Day video, featuring a number of the MCU’s key players). So it’s no surprise to see the white supremacy group rearing its ugly head again, this time financed by a mysterious backer who’s hellbent on terminating as many Inhumans as possible. In the wake of the signing of the Sokovia Accords, it turns out that such demagogues and terrorists are feeling more empowered than ever.
I’ve long held mixed feelings about the use of Inhumans as the minority surrogate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just because it’s a role that’s not only been filled by mutants since Marvel’s inception, it’s the main reason for the X-Men’s very existence. But with Xavier’s merry band of muties still the screen property of Fox, we’ve no choice but to accept the castoff children of the Kree in their stead. There’s nothing I hate more than not having choices, especially as a result of corporate ownership, so a big part of me has long resented this substitution. But the use of Inhumans in season 3 works a little better than it has in previous years. Largely because it appears it won’t be the sole driving force of this season, but a mere part of a puzzle that includes Ghost Rider, AI Aida, and a more dynamic Phil Coulson than we’ve ever seen before.
Clark Gregg has rarely been as likable — or clearly having as much fun — as he is when Phil is sent out in the field to kick ass alongside the mighty Mack and the brainy Fitz. In fact, the three of them make such a damn good team that they’ve almost made me forget about my beloved Bobbi and Hunter. And this episode’s fist-pump moment is a tracking shot of them in battle against the Watchdogs in Miami. I’ll be damned if the camerawork doesn’t suit them as well as it did Daisy last season. Now all we need is the show’s best director Kevin Tancharoen to step behind the camera once more and take our new Warriors Three to the next level.
Elsewhere, Jason O’Mara continues to impress as the agency’s new Director. The show pulls the rug out from under us this week by belaying our fears that Jeffrey Pace has been secreting working against S.H.I.E.L.D.; as he immediately reveals to Coulson and co. that he had his people bring May to Radcliffe in order to save her life. That the ethically ambiguous scientist and Simmons would free her of the “ghosts” haunting her these past few weeks was never in doubt. But the means by which they do so — jump-starting her heart with Aida’s own — might allow for some further development on the part of the robot. Since there’s just no way in hell that even an artificial woman in a Mutant Enemy show is going to take kindly to being shut down after she’s used to do a man’s bidding.
More ambiguity is introduced in the character of Parminder Nagra’s Senator Rota Nadeer. She initially expresses outrage at the actions of what’s at first thought to be a group of Inhuman extremists, than she’s shown to be in league with the Watchdogs, and then it’s revealed that she’s harboring a cocooned Inhuman in her own home. My Magic 8 Ball says that the side of the equation on which she’ll finally fall remains to be seen.
Back in East LA, there’s a decided lack of ambiguity — when Daisy gets to know Robbie’s brother Gabe a little bit better, to her regret and ours. Lorenzo James Henrie is no more charismatic here than he was in Fear the Walking Dead, and his character is every bit as unsympathetic as his misguided rebel was on that show, wheelchair or no. In “Uprising”, he uses his knowledge of Daisy’s Inhuman identity and history to banish her from Robbie’s life, even as she respectfully withholds telling him about his brother’s true nature. Honestly, I hope this brat gets killed off as quickly as Henrie’s character on his last series.
— I haven’t mentioned it before, but I love the new hellfire-engulfed S.H.I.E.L.D. logo this season. The show wears darkness well.
— “Calm down before you go all Carrot Top again.”
— We learn here that Robbie wants to lose his powers just as much as Daisy embraces hers. One of several reasons I’m shipping these two.
— “You know what’s a good light source? A guy with a flaming head.”
— Elena’s friend is just way too quick to ditch her upon learning she’s an Inhuman. I know bigotry is a huge thing in this episode, but c’mon — her best friend just saved her life!
— “Ready when you are, slide rule.”
— Simmons is so adorably formal after completely losing her shit when she snatches her friend from the jaws of death: “Welcome back, Agent May.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Featured Image: Marvel/Disney/ABC
Images: Marvel, Disney, ABC