I found this to be quite a difficult episode to choose a top 5. There was a lot going on with all of pur Agents of SHIELD. All of the moments seemed pretty important and great. How do you choose just 5 of them? Seeing an episode centered around Mack was great and long overdue. It was even better coming off of him losing Agents Bobbi and Hunter. Even with him as the center of this episode, it seems like all of our characters had their moments this episode. Here are my (arguably) top 5 moments from “Watchdogs.”
- Simmons and May
There was so much going on in this episode with all of the characters, I think Jemma’s vulnerable moment with May went largely unnoticed or unappreciated. It seemed a little bit abrupt, kind of coming out of nowhere, but it was an important moment. Jemma confesses just how much she blames herself for things that have happened to the team. She’s noticed just how much she and others have risked saving her; Will died saving her, Fitz has nearly killed himself more than once to save her, and she let the murder monster Lash loose to save herself, which cost many Inhumans their lives. Instead of wallowing in her guilt, she picks up a gun and starts training.
When she opens up to May about her guilt with Lash/Andrew, May reveals that she’s been searching for him. She wants him dead; “He’s left us no choice.” When Jemma explains to May that her and Fitz have been working on the vaccine, May tells her “Don’t give me hope, Jemma. I don’t want hope.”
Both of these women opening up to each other has allowed them to help. May can help to teach and train Jemma. Jemma can help to track Lash. It’s a win/win for them both and I loved their exchanges throughout the episode.
- Ruben Mackenzie
We just get introduced to Ruben, Mack’s brother, in this episode and he kind of gets put through the ringer. He can’t pay the mortgage. He got laid off from his job. He fights with his brother. He finds out his brother doesn’t work for an insurance company like he thought. He finds out that his brother is actually an Agent of SHIELD. He is attacked by Watchdogs. His brother protects him, but gets shot in the process. It’s quite the episode for our new character.
At the end of the episode, I really enjoyed the scene with Daisy and Ruben. As Mack has been shot, his little brother is concerned. Daisy does what she can to comfort him and to let him know that Mack will be fine, that the house will be fine, that everything will be alright. Ruben starts coming to terms with the truth about Mack and asks Daisy “He’s good at it? Saving people?” And without hesitation, Daisy assures him that “When I need someone to watch my back, he’s the person I want.”
The Watchdogs are an online hate group that has started taking action in a big way; they use modified Stark technology to implode a building. It wasn’t just any building either, it was an ATCU storage facility. The hate being spewed by this group is against the “freaks,” the “aliens,” the Inhumans. It’s throwing the blame on the super heroes, the people with powers for things like New York and Wachovia. It’s the beginning of a Civil War tie in; feeding the public’s hate and distrust for people with powers, sowing some distrust for the government and how they handle/interact with the people with powers.
We learn that the leader of the Watchdogs is a former SHIELD agent, Felix Blake. He seems hell-bent on destroying the Inhumans, with some knowledge and secrets from his time as a SHIELD agent. In the end, we see that he’s still in a wheelchair from his incident with Deathlok. He’s working for Malick and Hydra. He’s asking them for the big guns to “finally hunt down the freaks” (as he’s talking to one of those freaks; Mr. Giyera). He’s being used by Hydra. This isn’t going to work out well for him.
Of course, in the end we learn that the Watchdogs were driven from online hate speech to real world action by Malick and Hydra. Malick has been feeding them the hate and the intel to act on it, and he’s responsible for the ATCU building attack.
- Lincoln’s Assessment
Lincoln has been in training to be a SHIELD agent and he has finally done his assessment. There are some things on it that Coulson doesn’t particularly like, so he invites Lincoln on a mission with him to see it for himself. Lincoln’s assessment said that he’s there for Daisy, not for SHIELD. Coulson reminds him that you can’t just be at SHIELD, you have to be a part of SHIELD.
This mission is just another test for Lincoln, one that Coulson himself can witness. When confronting Blake in one of his safe houses, after a bunch of talking, Coulson tells Lincoln to kill Blake. Lincoln is hesitant and voices his concern, but Coulson says it’s an order, so Lincoln follows it. It turns out that this version of Blake was a hologram, which Coulson suspected. He was impressed with Lincoln in this test. He offered a dissenting opinion, but followed his orders.
It was nice to see Lincoln get a bit of character development outside of an Inhuman love interest for Daisy. This was a big step in Lincoln proving himself to Coulson, proving he can be an agent, a valuable part of the team. But is it what he really wants? Or is the assessment right? Is he only a part of SHIELD to be close to Daisy? Only time will tell.
- Daisy going rogue
Daisy has been tracking these Watchdogs for quite some time online, monitoring their hate speech and tactics. When they attack the ATCU building, she wants to take the information she’s gathered and track one of them down to interrogate them. She wants to find one of their bases and stop them. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get this information out of them. Mack does not agree with this plan and does not go with her. Fitz is a little hesitant about it, but goes along with her anyway.
Daisy finds one of them. She shatters the windows on his truck and threatens to hurt him. Fitz keeps him in the truck by holding a gun to him; but by the end of Daisy’s questioning, Fitz is a bit put-off by her questioning methods. The Watchdog ends up giving up the information Daisy is looking for.
When they find the Watchdog base, we get to see Sleepy again! That was a small but great moment. They can see the Watchdogs and they think that they hear Blake in the location. But when their cover is blown by Ruben showing up on a motorcycle, Mack goes after him and tells Daisy and Fitz to retreat, even Coulson tells her not to attack. Daisy doesn’t listen and tries to charge in there, using her powers against the Watchdogs. She wants to take down Blake while she has the chance. There’s too many of them to take on by herself and she almost gets Fitz killed in the process.
We’ve seen some of these moments from Daisy before, particularly when Inhuman lives are at stake or people are spreading hate about them. Is she going to be able to stay in control when it’s really necessary? Is this going to get her into some trouble she can’t get out of?
**One more thing….
This episode was jam-packed with references, from calls to the Avengers movie, to setting up for the upcoming Civil War movie tie in, from a small Daredevil reference on the news broadcast to a hint at a “Damage Control” spin-off, potentially. I think the Nitromene used by the Watchdogs (the old Stark tech) was a call to Agent Carter. There was probably so many more that I missed or just don’t know of.