Synopsis for 3×12: Coulson and Gen. Talbot suspect Malick of having an inside man at the worldwide symposium on Inhumans; the team discovers a traitor.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Oh, Agents of SHIELD, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

This week General Talbot returns, and not only does he bring his absurdly goofy level of humor along with him but he also brings back Carl Creel. Oh, and he also brings a healthy dose of American military stereotypes that make them all seem offensive, racist, and condescending. Thanks your service, now let’s insult you with this caricature that turns one of your highest ranking officers into a belittling patsy.

Sorry, do I sound a little bitter? After last week’s disappointing return, I was pretty sure the only place we could go from here is up, but man, was I wrong. This week’s episode features Coulson repeatedly reminding us SHIELD is the good guys — even when they have showed repeatedly that they really only do what they think is right without much oversight and literally outside of the law. It’s also brought us crazy killer Hive still being kind of boring in his prison, though that shouldn’t be a shock given his lack of interaction with anyone. Oh, and we found a cure for the Inhuman problem!

I want to make it clear that I don’t have an actual issue with SHIELD being portrayed as protagonists. They can believe that what they’re doing is right, but the writers should make it clear to the audience that just because what they’re doing might seem cool doesn’t mean it’s actually good. This is a black ops organization that doesn’t really answer to anyone, who just gained a large ally in the ATCU, and has international reach that’s powerful enough to extract persons of interest from foreign countries without much of a fight.

In the normal world, none of that can be characterized as good or moral. The thing is, the show keeps force feeding the idea of “SHIELD is the good guys” to us that it might actually believe that it’s true. It’s not. As much as Coulson might say “we don’t kill people in cold blood” many of the members of their team have done it, labeling it as for the greater good while masking personal vendettas and intent doesn’t make it heroic.

Everyone here has killed for revenge in the name of SHIELD. [ABC]
Everyone here has killed for revenge in the name of SHIELD. [ABC]
There’s a reason why superheroes don’t kill people and don’t use guns. There’s a reason why murder has a price. And if they want to be spies, and if they want to be people who do wet work, they can. But they can not label that as being good.

Coulson’s meeting with the symposium was essentially a front for the show to try and figure out the “inside man” that Malick had his claws in, but the meeting itself showed a lot of viable arguments that people have against Inhumans. It mimics the age old argument in the Marvel comics about mutants, although far less nuanced. People have a right to be scared. None of the governments have come out with official statements about them, the Inhumans are not gathered under a banner or a leader, for godssake the symposium didn’t even have one spokesperson who was actually Inhuman who could speak for them.

Should we bring someone to represent the group we're talking about? Nah. [ABC]
Should we bring someone to represent the group we’re talking about? Nah. [ABC]
Sure, Coulson is there, but he doesn’t actually know does he? Whatever Afterlife turned out to be, it was a place with order and rules and balance. Those things aren’t bad when you’re dealing with potentially volatile people going through a genetic transformation that alters their very DNA. Coulson only has second hand knowledge of Inhuman culture. At this point, I would stand for Daisy or even Lincoln to somehow rally the people together. In order to fight for your rights, you have to show a united front.

But, that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. Some researching reveals to the team back home that Creel’s blood acts as some sort of antigen or vaccine against terrigenesis. It’s used as a catalyst to start a debate between the two unconvincing lovebirds, that doesn’t really go anywhere. They argue, they don’t come to a conclusion, they have sex. It’s not exactly a formula for a successful relationship.

Honestly, these two have more chemistry than Daisy and Lincoln. [ABC]
Honestly, these two have more chemistry than Daisy and Lincoln. [ABC]
However the option remains. A “cure” to the change is a huge possibility. It’s pretty clear that we’re going to get some sort of cure or resolve to the Inhumans problem by the end of the season, especially when they’re banking so hard on Hive as a villain. Hive is pretty creepy, though he doesn’t really explain why he decides to remain in Grant Ward’s body. Even as the perfect soldier with perfect discipline and perfect everything, he was in a dying body. I’m not saying I don’t love seeing Brett Dalton around, but the logic is a little faulty.

Maybe it’s to show us how much more creepy/crazy Hive can be, or maybe it’s to keep Dalton around, or a combination of the two, but once Malick leaves Hive gets to work sacrificing five innocent people to bring Ward’s body back to peak condition. We were also given a look at his abilities, which seem akin to mind control, although he doesn’t actually seem to mean the Inhumans any harm. I’m sure that’ll change when the plot needs it to.

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