‘THE INSIDE MAN’ PLOT SUMMARY:
Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) accompanies the newly appointed head of the ATCU, General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) to an international summit on Inhumans in Taiwan. Intel says that one of the countries’ representatives is in league with Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) and it’s up to S.H.I.E.L.D. find out who it is.
The Secret Warriors are discount X-Men. I think most people would agree. While I assume they’re reasonably different in the comics, since Marvel Studios won’t be getting the rights to the X-Men from 20th Century Fox anytime soon, they’re the best substitute. And this episode makes their status as such abundantly clear. Not only does it have the obvious parallel between Inhumans (who are feared and misunderstood) and Mutants, it also borrows a major plot point from X-Men: The Last Stand. That plot point is that there might be a so-called cure; even the argument between Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) was in that movie. We shouldn’t necessarily criticize Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for this. In fact, the way the show introduces the “cure” is pretty clever. Still, comparisons must be drawn.
Despite a cure sounding like a big deal, the summit is the main focus. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has done storylines like this in the past (early Season 2 comes to mind), but this is probably the best iteration. It has a James Bond-y, spy-ish feeling to it that’s enjoyable. The storyline also benefits from a few good twists and a decent back and forth between Coulson and Talbot. I’m not crazy about Talbot, in general, and beyond being an uninteresting character in the past, I’ve mistaken him for Thunderbolt Ross (who evidently was once his father-in-law in the comics). But in this case, he’s utilized pretty well and given more depth.
But the most engaging part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the second week in a row is Hive (Brett Dalton). Dalton’s performance should get rid of anyone’s reservations about the actor portraying another character. And that’s what he is. Though he apparently retained Ward’s memories, his personality is his own. Grant Ward is dead, and as we’re told, Hive can only inhabit the bodies of the deceased. It’s implied that he will move onto another host at some point, given the poor condition of Ward’s corpse, but hopefully we’ll have a few more episodes with Dalton. He was intriguing as Ward and he continues to fascinate as Hive.
Hive creates a situation similar to the one in Season 2 of Agent Carter. Without giving too much away, since some readers might not have watched it, Zero Matter was the driving force of that season and, over the course of it, more and more mysteries were tied to the substance. However, by season’s end, not much was answered when it came to Zero Matter. Like Zero Matter, Hive possesses abilities that, so far, cannot be explained. Not only can he possess the dead, now it looks like he might be able to control other people, as well as overpower other Inhumans. But as I said when reviewing Agent Carter, there is value in leaving some questions unanswered. The key is knowing which to answer and which to not. In the case of Hive, we don’t need a detailed description of how his powers work. We need to know what his powers are, what he wants, and his connection to HYDRA. We already have some ideas of the first and third, and the second will come in time.
While the phrase “in time” shows that we’re still in the set-up phase in the seasonal arc, a more entertaining story makes this episode an improvement over last week’s. I suspect next week’s will improve upon things even more.
RATING: 7 OUT OF 10 (GOOD)
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky