Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD S03E03 “A Wanted (Inhu)Man” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: E4, Sundays, 9pm
Writer: Monica Owusu-Breen
Director: Garry A Brown
Essential Plot Points:
- The ATCU is after Lincoln. He narrowly escapes capture.
- As a result, the ATCU calls in help from other relevant government departments (FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, the Energy Information Administration probably… well, he does vandalise a pylon at one point) and even alert the media that there’s a dangerous alien at large. Suddenly Lincoln’s face is everywhere. He’s a wanted man.
- Daisy convinces Coulson they must rescue Lincoln. Lincoln proves difficult the rescue, though, as he doesn’t trust SHIELD either.
- Coulson meets with Rosalind Price to barter a compromise. His plans are scuppered when she reveals that the ATCU knows about Daisy’s powers.
- Lincoln seeks help from an old friend, who is initially happy to help until he sees Lincoln on the news and believes he’s harbouring a dangerous illegal alien. He secretly calls the ATCU.
- When Lincoln finds out he tries to leave but his mate threatens him with a baseball bat forcing Lincoln to reveal his powers. The other guy dies of a heart attack.
- Scared, Lincoln finally calls Daisy to ask for help.
- But when she goes to rescue him, the ATCU boot boys arrive and take him away instead. Coulson has sold Lincoln out to save Daisy.
- Simmons is still fragile after her alien planet experience but won’t open up about it despite Fitz’s attempts to comfort her.
- She tells Bobbi that she has to return to the planet.
- Hunter uses a bare knuckle fight as a back door to get accepted into Hydra.
Lincoln becomes he centre of a manhunt when the ATCU suddenly makes him enemy number one. Then it becomes a race to see who can reach him first – Team Coulson or Team Price? All of which sounds for more exciting than what we actually get: some running about, a few fireworks, a couple of angry phone calls and some bloke we’ve never met before betraying Lincoln and having a heart attack.. Never ever trust a character who’s clearly only been introduced as a plot device; of he ain’t go no background, he ain’t got no scruples
Luckily there are a few luckilies in this episode. However those “luckilies” are also an “ironically”. Because the biggest problem with the main plot is that it really needed more time to make an impact. But the best parts of the episode mostly come in the other plotlines. So, for the Lincoln plot to work better, we’d have had to sacrifice who knows how many amusing Hunter/May moments (May’s expressions of mild disgust throughout are wonderful) or some of the lovely, tenders character material happening with Fitz and Simmons (those two have come so far since they were mere irritating distractions in season one).
Maybe the sacrifice should have been made, though, because the manhunt is largely a dispiritingly humdrum affair. Possibly the director realised this and that’s why he inserted the “gratuitous shirtless shot” (see below) in the hope that a naked male chest might make up for the lack of spectacle elsewhere. Okay there’s the bit on the bus where some army guy recognises Lincolnbut it’s hardly a Hitchcockian paranoia thriller. We keep getting told how terrible things are for Lincoln but it rarely feels that way. There’s threat, sure, but little tension or sense or peril. Once again, SHIELD has a plot that it needs to get from A to B and it does so with efficiency and economy but very little flare.
Except… well, just when it feel like SHIELD-by-numbers it goes and pulls the rug from under your feet a delivers a blinder. Coulson sides with Price and hands Lincoln over to her boys. He claims it was to save Daisy. It seems just as likely he was trying to get into Rosalind’s
pants… sorry, car. Whatever. There’s definitely some frisson going on there. They even seem to admire their mutual bad jokes.
This unexpected betrayal gives the episode the kick it needs and also sends the season’s arc plot off in an interesting new direction. As does Simmons’s sudden announcement that she has to return to the alien planet. What the hell happened to the girl out there?
Meanwhile, the May and Hunter double act is such fun to watch it makes you wonder if ABC’s bosses have made a mistake greenlighting a Hunter and Bobbi spin-off – Most Wanted. We’d rather see a whole series of Marvel’s Most Mismatched. May’s exasperation that her cockney drinking mates are unintelligible enough already without the addition of beer is one the season’s highlights so far.
So while “A Wanted (Inhu)man” fails the grade on one crucial level, there’s a lot here to suggest that season three is moving in the right direction.
- The twist when you realise that Coulson has sold out Lincoln.
- The twist when Simmons says she must go back to the alien planet.
- Simmons sobbing on Fitz’s shoulder in the restaurant.
- The subtitles for Hunter and Spud’s drunken cockney conversation.
- May’s short but brutal fight scene.
- Hunter’s realisation that the bare knuckle fight may not be the doddle he thought it was going to be.
- Coulson’s car envy when he sees Rosalind Price’s motor.
- Lots of pretty effects when Lincoln uses his powers (electricity bolts are clearly an off-the-peg CG effect but they’re put to good use here).
- May: “You lied to her” Hunter: “Barely. Besides, she knows I’m lying to her. It’s not even really a lie. Works for us. For now.” A lovely, revealing character beat.
- Hunter betting on why Andrew and May split… and losing.
- May’s “I’m-pretending-to-smile-but-really-I-want-to-kick-you-in-the-balls” expression is a joy to behold.
- It never feels like Lincoln is truly at the centre of a nationwide manhunt, or that the revelation of his existence has sent the United States into a frenzy of paranoia.
- Daisy’s reaction to Lincoln being betrayed seems suspiciously low key. We thought she’s have a tantrum registering 11 on the Richter scale.
- The whole section with Lincoln’s old mate feels incredibly artificial, and the heart attack feels like something out of a sitcom rather than tragic; we haven’t known the guy long enough to care.
- Hunter’s ’90s Madchester fashion choice.
- The really unconvincing, self-conscious cockney banter (the subtitles saved the scene, though).
- Daisy and Lincoln kissing – nothing wrong with it in theory, it just came across as a bit corny at that point.
- Rosalind’s series of hand-related jokes was downright cringeworthy. Presumably it was supposed to humanise her character but it just made her look stupid.
And The Random:
- Mack is playing Halo 5 Guardians at the end of the episode. Considering the game has no split-screen, offline multiplayer mode there was little point him handing a controller to Daisy.
- There’s a lovely transition between two different scenes in the Playground at one point that doesn’t cut from one to the next but instead simply tracks from the corridor to the lab through the door. Whether or not it was the director’s intention, the effect of this is to reinforce that different sets of characters – despite working so closely together – at that moment have two entirely different priorities foremost in the minds.
- Although never specified in the script this map shows that Lincoln was in Indianapolis when Daisy called him at the start of the episode.
- Gratuitous shirtless shot of the week. He could have just rolled his sleeve up.
Review by Dave Golder