Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Round Table: Growing Pains

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On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Episode 14, a terrorist attack against the ATCU prompts the team to go out in search of the culprits. Once they learned it was the anti-alien group, who call themselves "The Watchdogs," Daisy's personal feelings got in the way of the mission, endangering everyone. Was she in the wrong?

Join TV Fanatics Caralynn Lippo, Kathleen Wiedel, Jim Garner, Robin Harry, and Jay Ruymann, as they discuss Mack and his brother, Daisy's reckless behavior, and more!

Agents of SHIELD Round Table S3 - depreciated -

Describe how one character has been dealing with Bobbi and Hunter’s departure from S.H.I.E.L.D.

Caralynn: Mack is definitely struggling the most. He's also starting to show disillusionment with the way S.H.I.E.L.D. is run, which I think is tied into the growing disillusionment that Hunter was showing right before he and Bobbi left. I think their absence is going to increase the growing rift between Mack and S.H.I.E.L.D.

Kathleen: If there was ever a character on this show in need of a vacation, it's Coulson. The man carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and no one can actually do that. The departure of Bobbi and Hunter hit him especially hard for a few reasons, beyond the obvious loss of two skilled operators who were also friends.

Coulson, as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., felt responsible for everything that went wrong which resulted in the disavowal, even though it was probably the best possible outcome at the time. And even though he has the covert support of the President and the ATCU, Coulson is short on resources (especially skilled and trusted field operatives), and this latest loss definitely struck close to home.

Contrast Coulson's recruitment of Hunter with his attitude towards Lincoln; both men were essentially vouched for by their love interests (Bobbi and Daisy, respectively), but they had very different reasons for sticking with S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson clearly does not consider Lincoln an acceptable replacement for Hunter.

Jim: It seems like Daisy is trying to fill Bobbi and Hunter's roles as well as her own. She's going to extremes and clearly had Mack a little disturbed with what she was willing to do. Granted it all came out ok in the end, but I think she needs to be very careful.

Robin: Let's see, who does that leave me with? Everyone else seems to be dealing with their own issues, and I think Fitz is either trying to just keep everyone happy or stay out of it all. He was obviously disturbed by some of what Daisy did, but he went along with it without a word.

Jay: I agree with everyone above. Their departure has taken a much more drastic turn that I originally anticipated, and it's not looking good for anyone, at this point. Mack's situation is prioritized, though, because he was closest to Bobbi and Hunter, and it's obviously changing him and his perspective on the agency. I wouldn't be surprised if he left, or died. 

Two friends I was closest to, they just got transferred. For good.

Mack

Was Daisy out of line, taking justice into her own hands and using her powers as her advantage?

Caralynn: Oh, absolutely. She's walking a fine line right now and doesn't seem to understand the nuance of the situation. By using her powers the way she is, she's effectively giving "ammo" to the folks that are already prejudiced against Inhumans, literally giving something tangible to fear Inhumans and hate them for. She's spiraling out of control.

Kathleen: Coulson needs to rein her in right quick before she goes completely off the reservation. I hold her responsible for Fitz nearly getting imploded, and her tactics for acquiring the intelligence to find the meeting were, while effective, definitely discomforting, especially given how she was campaigning against exactly this sort of thing when we first met her in the pilot episode!

Jim: As mentioned above, the loss of Bobbi and Hunter has her scrambling and spinning and in this case she is really walking a fine line. I hope she can wrangle it back in before someone gets imploded. She was lucky that Fitz knew what to do.

Robin: I don't think she's walking a fine line. I think the line is already in her rearview mirror, and she's getting further and further away from it. I think her anger at being persecuted as an Inhuman and her trying to fill Bobbi's place has clouded her judgment. What she did was wrong for all the reasons already mentioned, and she put her teammates in jeopardy. She needs to be reined in.

Jay: Robin, you are so right. Daisy is too far gone now, and something needs to drag her back to reality. To the right path as an agent. I suppose that's the point, she has to learn on her own that her powers are an advantage, but she can't recklessly go around scaring people with them. That's why the Watchdogs existed in the first place.

Mack and his brother, react to their relationship.

Caralynn: It was cute! I loved the way Ruben calls Mack "Alfie" and how Ruben told Daisy that he's Mack to his friends. Ruben was harboring a lot of resentment towards his brother for seemingly leaving him to look after their parents on his own, but it seemed to have been wrapped up at the end once Ruben discovered what his brother's real job was.

It was a bit abrupt (introducing Ruben, developing the tension between the two, and then resolving it all in one episode) but I do like Ruben. Hopefully we see him again.

Kathleen: It's nice to see that not everyone on the team is an unattached only child, though I agree with Caralynn that they probably should have at least mentioned the brother before now, rather than abruptly dropping him in. It was a little ham-fisted the way that Ruben reacted to the Watchdogs, almost bloodthirsty.

That said, it did feel almost like a callback to how future Deathlok Mike Peterson felt when he lost his own job way back in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 1!

Jim: The best part was Daisy calling him "Mini Mack". I agree with the Caralynn and Kathleen, it was cute, but a little "convenient" on the timing of finding out "oh, you have siblings". But it's a comic book show, that is like second on the list for tropes in comics right behind making the hero and orphan.

Robin: I thought they had an interesting relationship. Ruben had the classic little brother admire-and-resent attitude towards his brother, and Mack had the responsible-yet-guilty thing going on. I'm really glad it ended with Ruben being proud of what his brother did; I would have hated if he actually had gone to join The Watchdogs.

Mack is probably the best whole person on that team, he's the conscience, and he deserves to have his family on his side.

Jay: Did we know Mack had a brother before this episode? I didn't really see the point of including him, other than to further separate Mack from the agency. It was gratifying to see another side to Mack, though, and I really enjoyed that his brother is also referred to as "Mack" by his friends. Seems like our Mack really misses his family.

What did you think of the Watchdogs?

Caralynn: Meh. Not the most interesting villains, especially since they just appeared to be an easily-manipulated hate group filled with ignorant hicks. I'm curious to see whether they end up having a major role in the upcoming clash with Malick and HYDRA.

Kathleen: The Watchdogs did come off as idiots, didn't they? Not only are they being blatantly manipulated by HYDRA (represented in the form of an Inhuman, no less!), they couldn't even get the identity of their Inhuman target right! You'd think that Felix Blake, an experienced veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, would have done better than this group of morons.

I actually feel really bad for Blake; this is a guy who desperately needed psychological counseling after his critical injuries in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 16, but S.H.I.E.L.D. collapsed in the very next episode, meaning he had to fend for himself. No wonder he's in such a state, taking all his bitterness, anger, frustration, and pain and misdirecting them at the "freaks" he incorrectly blames for his condition.

Jim: I couldn't agree more Kathleen. When the guy shouted "did you see what he did" I rolled my eyes and told my wife "they are going to attack Mack thinking he is the inhuman" and what do you know, 10 mins later there it was.

I remembered Felix from the Marvel short on the Avengers DVD, but until Kathleen mentioned his injuries above, I had totally forgotten who he was..You would think they would have reminded us during that "previously on SHIELD" intro.

Robin: You know, given the state of the world these days, it really bugs me when television shows portray dissident groups as single-minded low-intelligence buffoons.  I know, I know, this is TV, but in the real world, it's often so much more complicated than that. I think AoS missed a great opportunity to get into the ethics of what SHIELD does and the very human fear that results. That said, The Watchdogs really were idiots, and if that's the best distraction that Malick could get, I don't have much hope for his plan.

Jay: I didn't take away from it that they were idiots. The group definitely didn't express themselves in the correct way, but I do understand why they were involved. The fear of aliens, of other planets, of powers they don't understand, should be a very strong and prominent fear, especially as the situation with the Inhumans is so drastic.

We finally saw Jemma deal with her guilt over everything, as well as releasing Lash; what is next for “helpless, little Agent Simmons”?

Caralynn: My favorite part of this episode was the unexpected Jemma/May team-up. It made complete sense that Jemma would be feeling guilty, after Will's death, Fitz risking his life for her, and the Lash thing.

It also made perfect sense that May was the person to help Jemma confront these issues and to give Jemma the "channel your guilt" pep talk. I'm really looking forward to May and Jemma working together on the Andrew mission, and hopefully Jemma picking up a bit of May's combat skills in the meantime.

Kathleen: I can totally understand Jemma's guilt and frustration. And it's almost certainly a good idea for her to pick up some combat skills, if for no other reason than to not feel so helpless and defenseless. That said, in a real combat situation, she'd still be toast if put up against guys who spend their whole lives training for this sort of thing.

Not all of us are equipped – physically, mentally, or emotionally – to be like May or Daisy, and there's nothing wrong with that. May enlisting her help in the search for Lash is definitely a much better use of Jemma's time and talents than shooting up paper targets in the range.

Jim: I'm not sure what is next for her, but I can say it won't be meek or timid anymore. Clearly Jemma is growing into a stronger person and in time I suspect we will see more of her in the field. Ok, so maybe I did have a guess of what is next for her.. And, don't look at me that way Caralynn, everyone knows I tend to write a bit non sequitur. (hehe)

Robin: Well it's about darn time that Jemma started making an effort! While I'm not particularly itching to see Jemma in the field kicking ass and taking names, I would like to be able to see her defend herself and not always be the damsel in distress. I think also that her and May would be a good team; not only can May help Jemma be more sure of herself, Jemma can help May deal with her own feelings.

Jay: I'm sad that Bobbi and Hunter had to leave for Jemma to be able to finally express herself and her emotions over being stranded on Maveth. I'm excited to see her grow, cope with her guilt, and move on from it, hopefully while developing a unique friendship with May. I want more interactions with Jemma and Fitz with other people on the team.

Join us in the comments and let us know what your theories are! Do you agree with what Daisy did, or her methods? Don't forget to tune into Agents of SHIELD Season 3 Episode 15, "Spacetime"!

Jay Ruymann is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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