Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Season 3 Episode 4
“Devils You Know”
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD escalates two of the major stories as Lash strikes again and Hunter gets to confront Ward.
This episode shows both the strongest and weakest aspects of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD with Hunter’s revenge mission against Ward being the perfect example of that. His story gets to a point that is dramatically very interesting and sets up some great dynamics in the days ahead but the build-up to it leaves a lot to be desired.
On paper it all sounds great. Hunter infiltrating H.Y.D.R.A. to get close to Ward and then kill him when he does makes sense for him as a character, works within the framework of the spy versus spy dynamic the show has developed on multiple occasions and it promises some excellent action when the two characters finally face off. In practice the episode spends so little time on Hunter as it is so busy cutting back and forth between the other characters that instinctively I felt that he was just ticking along waiting for a more substantial development in a later episode.
I was really surprised that Hunter confronting Ward happened so soon and how unsatisfying it was when it happened. I was really interested to see more of Hunter struggle to prove himself within H.Y.D.R.A. and slowly gain their trust so that they would involve him in more high profile things. There was plenty of scope for his morality to be tested as he does more questionable things in pursuit of his objective. Taking the story to the point of confrontation so early robs it of all that potential.
Having said that, the confrontation was excellent as the skill level of both Hunter and Ward was plainly shown. They are evenly matched and equally driven. Ward is consistent in his lateral thinking as he has his trump card ready to be played when he reveals that he can give the order for his agents to kill Andrew if they don’t stand down. Hunter makes the surprising choice to go for the bigger picture and sacrifice Andrew to stop Ward and prevent him from causing countless deaths with the weapons that he has thanks to Hunter. To see one of the heroes make such a tough choice like that with no hesitation really does raise the overall stakes of the show. It tells the audience that Hunter isn’t simply all talk and when it comes down to it he will make the tough call so that the mission turns out the best for the most people. It’s something I would like to see more of and shows just why Coulson wants him around.
Of course, Hunter fails to kill Ward and Andrew is -apparently- killed. This should set up an interesting conflict between May and Hunter who don’t always see eye to eye at the best of times. I look forward to seeing how resentful May gets and how her pain will play out. She now has more of a reason to want to kill Ward.
I’m struggling to believe that Andrew is actually dead as the staging of the scene was a little suspicious. We see blood, legs and a ringing phone before an explosion but his face isn’t seen so that suggests to me that all is not what it seems. Maybe he is an Inhuman now and his power will protect him in some way. It would also explain why he is so passionate about making sure that Coulson does nothing wrong by them though that could equally just be his good nature. Andrew and Coulson’s conflicting points of view is being handled really well. We’ll see how dead he is next week I guess.
Dramatically it would be more interesting for the show if he was dead as it was provide lots of potential for internal conflict within the team and cuts off a massive piece of support for Coulson who relies on his advice to evaluate the Inhumans as well as protect them but on the flip side of that Andrew is too good a character to simply lose.
Ward’s style of leadership in H.Y.D.R.A. is something that I do really enjoy and want to see a lot more of. He is doing everything he can to turn the organisation into an anti S.H.I.E.L.D. and the gradual development of his ideas feels very natural. They’re not in the position where they are a credible threat quite yet but it is bubbling along in the background nicely.
Coulson’s partnership with Rosalind is proving to be really problematic. The give and take nature of it is coming across really well and I like the persistent flirting between her and Coulson. Daisy’s reaction as she picks up on the vibe makes a lot of sense as well and there’s a further sense that Daisy and Mack are losing faith in Coulson’s leadership ability with Rosalind around. It’s clear that they don’t agree with what he’s doing and how he’s going about it. The fact that Coulson doesn’t seem completely convinced that what he’s doing is right adds further weight to this story.
So far Lash is a really cool villain. He looks great and his power level is appropriately threatening. For now his part in all of this is coasting by on the mystery element to it. There’s definitely a lot to discover about him as his motivation remains unclear. He’s killing Inhumans for reasons that seem complex but might not be depending on where they go with it. One Inhuman describes it as being merciful where Lash himself says that he is necessary. Necessary for what I wonder. His ability to appear as a human adds more tension to this story as he could literally be anyone at this point. I wonder if there will be conflict between his human side and the monstrous side in a sort of Bruce Banner style or if it’s simply cosmetic. I am excited to find out.
Fitz and Simmons have gone from being the most annoying characters to the most interesting for now. Fitz has really matured and has a very strong presence on the show. He’s doing everything he can to support Simmons who is quietly falling apart but eventually recognises that he has to push her into telling him the truth. Next week we should learn why she is compelled to return to the Negative Zone -it still hasn’t been ruled out- so I’m glad that this won’t be dragged out. We’ve been left wondering for just the right amount of time so now it’s a good time for answers.
One thing that is definitely being dragged out for too long is Bobbi’s rehab. She is being kept out of combat because she isn’t ready for it yet. It’s such a waste of Adrienne Palicki’s ability to be a convincing action hero and leaving a compelling character sitting in the background doing a role she definitely doesn’t belong in. I hope they find an Inhuman with healing powers soon and speed up her recovery as it’s taking far too long.
A solid if disappointing episode that moves too quickly in developing one of the more interesting stories of the season.
Ward and Hunters confrontation feels far too soon and by having them battle now the show is robbed of any potentially interesting plot developments showing Hunter gaining trust and rising through the ranks. There was a lot of scope for his morality to be tested as he is forced to do bad things to accomplish his goal.
The gunfight itself was well done with bother characters playing to their strengths. Hunter was determined and Ward was prepared with Andrew set up to be killed at his command. Hunter’s choice to sacrifice Andrew to take down Ward and prevent the certain death of a lot of people was a tough call and enhanced his character considerably. He is definitely not all talk and can make the tough decisions when the occasion calls for it. The fallout of this especially where May is concerned has yet to be seen but if done right then should prove dramatically interesting.
I personally doubt that Andrew is dead as the scene depicting his apparent death by showing legs, blood and a ringing phone seemed more than a little suspicious. We’ll see next week but if he is dead then it robs the show of a great character who offers open opposition with Coulson as well as having different interesting dynamics with most of the characters.
Coulson and Rosalind’s partnership is proving to be problematic for the rest of the team. The give and take nature of the partnership is put across really well and the attraction between Coulson and Rosalind is obvious enough for Daisy to notice it. She’s picking up on the vibe and wondering if Coluson has been compromised by it. I like that her and Mack are questioning his leadership skills and that Coulson seems unsure about what he’s doing as well.
Lash is a cool villain so far entirely coasting on his mystery which is enough for now. His motivation to kill Inhumans appears complex but until it is revealed it’s really hard to say. The fact that he can appear as human dials up his threat level as he can appear at random. In general he looks great and his power level builds up an appropriate threat for the team.
Fitz and Simmons are easily the most interesting characters in the show at the moment. Fitz has matured into his role on the team and is offering support to Simmons. He recognises when he needs to push her and it seems that we will get answers to what happened to her next week. This feels like about the right time to get those answers instead of dragging it out to the point it becomes annoying.
Bobbi’s rehab plot really needs to end and have her back in action because that is where the character is best suited. This is an example of a story that is being dragged out relentlessly.