UnSHIELDed: Bonds Deepen, Betrayal Looms on "Agents of SHIELD"

Director Coulson has been having a rough go of it and, in "A Wanted (Inhu)man," it isn't getting any easier. As he was forced to make a tough decision with Rosalind Price breathing down his neck, the rest of his team grouped off in twos, and where last episode built community, this week focused in on individual relationships. As new bonds were forged and old ones dissolved, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." continued to tread wearily down the path to "Captain America: Civil War."

"Agents of SHIELD" Recap: A Series of Spy Showdowns

At Price's behest, the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (A.T.C.U.) made a bold move by releasing Lincoln's photo to the press and labeling him "an alien threat." While an Inhuman boom is unavoidable, the move is unnecessarily preemptive; in handling it this way, Price has negatively affected public perception towards the new Inhumans. Before the Nuhumans can even begin an assemblage of a community, they are outsiders -- and, further, they are "threats." While many of these NuHumans may pose some risk to the world as they adjust to their new abilities, the word "threat" is connotatively negative, as if there's some inherent ill intent. Inhumans, even those as well trained in their powers as Lincoln, are dangerous in and of the fact they exist. If there wasn't already a rising public opinion against super powered individuals following the Hulk's rampage in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," this will instill one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This situation triggers a power play between Coulson and Price, who spar for the second time this season. Where he got the upper hand on her the first time (pun intended), he feels the sting of her capabilities here when she produces a picture of Daisy, forcing him to make a desperate move in order to maintain some control and protect his agent, resulting in a new, tentative partnership between the two organizations. However, as much chemistry the two may have with each other, Price is clearly not to be trusted. Though she says Lincoln won't be harvested for parts at A.T.C.U., her men are authorized to use lethal force in taking him in. When the Lincoln swap falls through, Price orders Daisy to be taken -- dead or alive. Price isn't afraid to go great lengths to prove herself and her organization, and that makes her a dangerous ally.

The episode also establishes a stronger bond between Daisy and Mack. Mack may distrust anything alien, but he's developing a real fondness for Daisy, going so far as to threaten the head A.T.C.U. agent when he tries to arrest her. Further, Mack keeps Daisy's feelings for Lincoln from Coulson. While this sends the pair in a good direction, "Civil War" is almost certain to throw them off course. If the movie follows the comic series, Daisy will likely be anti-registration, where Mack will likely be pro; as their bond strengthens, so does the poignancy in their potential fallout. However, Daisy may eventually be able to sway him to her side. Until then, the two make a strong odd couple.

Likewise, Bobbi and Fitz, as well as Hunter and May, got to spend some quality time with one another, whether it was through shared experience due to trauma, or kicking the crap out of some Hydra thug. As with Daisy and Mack, these characters rarely got to spend time together last season outside of a few friendly barbs, so it's great to see the show taking the time to flesh out their relationships. Where last episode focused so much on teamwork, this episode showed the team as individuals who have distinct viewpoints, room to change and established relationships with their teammates.

While several budding relationships took precedence in the episode, we also saw the dissolution of several older ones. Take, for instance, Hunter and Spud. The two were buddies back in Europe; they obviously go back a long way, or so their drunken conversation would have you believe. Yet, in Hydra's fight club, Spud turned on Hunter quickly, with the intent to kill. Likewise, Lincoln turns to his sponsor John while he's on the run. At first, John is sweet as pie, but as soon as he finds out about Lincoln's alien genetics, he turns him over to the A.T.C.U. The episode was built to emphasize how quickly personal prejudices can destroy longstanding friendships, hinting at what's to come once "Civil War" swings into high gear.

Considering the teaser for next week's episode, the show has already fallen into a kind of rhythm, alternating "Civil War" and Inhuman storylines. While the first episode established the paranoia surrounding non-human events, the second episode took a break to follow Simmons and the monolith's extraterrestrial properties; this third episode expanded that paranoia with A.T.C.U.'s increasingly aggressive strategies, while the fourth episode teaser revolves around Lash and a new Inhuman character. Hopefully, as the season continues, we'll see more unity between the two; the writers have certainly sown the seeds for that possibility.

This Week's New Bulletins...

  • Boston Red Socks? You wound the Bostonian in me, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
  • Apparently Boston is also home to Fight Club: Hydra Edition.
  • We still don't know the name of Price's car.
  • I wonder if we'll see more of Lincoln's personal life as he stays on the run -- like a family, perhaps?
  • Will the Secret Warriors end up being a joint project between S.H.I.E.L.D. and A.T.C.U.?
  • Simmons wants to go back? Say whaaat. I can't imagine what waits for her on the other side. An impending invasion, maybe?

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