Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD S03E04 “Devils You Know” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- SHIELD tries to recruit some original Inhumans (the ones from Afterlife not the newly converted ones) who are now living in secret but Lash gets to them first and kills them all
- Rosalind is ticked off that SHIELD didn’t tell the ATCU about these Inhumans. Coulson agrees they should co-operate. Daisy and Mack think he’s losing his marbles/being led by his libido.
- SHIELD works out there’s a connection between Lash and a computer virus sent to all his victims.
- They trace the guy who created the virus, an Inhuman called Dwight Frye who was clearly at the back of the queue when they handed out powers: he’s super-allergic to other Inhumans.
- Under interrogation he reveals little more than that Lash thinks what he’s doing is “necessary”.
- Coulson agrees that the ITCU can incarcerate Frye but while he’s in transit to their base, Lash turns up and kills him.
- Daisy sees Lash change into a normal man but it’s too dark an shadowy to see what he looks like.
- Hunter is recruited into Hydra but when he’s finally face-to-face with Ward he’s unarmed.
- Hunter makes a lunge for a gun and suddenly it’s all Blam! Blam! Blam!
- May joins the fight and this pleases Ward because he can put an evil plan into action.
- Ward tells Hunter and May to let him escape or he’ll have May’s hubbie Andrew killed. Hunter thinks he’s bluffing and carries on trying the kill Ward.
- A few States away, Von Strucker jnr (remember – he enrolled in Andrew’s class a couple of episodes ago) blows up the shop where Andrew’s been getting his groceries.
- May gives Hunter a look that could kill.
- Back at base, after lots of pussyfooting around, Simmons tells Fitz that she want to return to the alien planet and says she’ll tell him why.
While not the most action-packed episode, “Devils You Know” is a gripping instalment of Agents Of SHIELD made even better by delivering a good few shocks. The episode also benefits from some powerful dialogues – between May and Andrew, Fitz and Simmons, May and Hunter, Daisy and Coulson – that for once genuinely feel like characters in dramatic conflict and not just delivering plot exposition to each other.
The two big gut-punch events are both beautifully executed: the revelation that Lash could be someone we know, because he’s actually human in his down time; and Andrew’s murder by Von Stucker Jnr, under the command of Ward. The build-up to the latter especially is about as tense as this show has ever been. We know Ward isn’t joking but Hunter’s desire for revenge blinds him to the possibility that Ward may not be bluffing. The whole sequence – switching between the action on the Hydra base and Andrew in the grocery store slowly realising he’s in deep shit – is superbly directed and edited for maximum edginess. In fact, like last week, the Hunter/May storyline eclipses the A-plot in terms of quality.
Although this week it had a tougher battle. Kicking off with Lash ruthlessly murdering the League Of Nervous Superfriends, the main Inhumans strand this week is a pacier affair that seems to be moving forward at a crack at last. Admittedly there’s a downside: Coulson appears to be losing his senses and moral compass. He’s capitulating to the ITCU a little too quickly, leaving viewers as bemused as Daisy and Mack about his motives. Is he playing games? Does he really fancy Price? For once, Clark Gregg’s deadpan delivery works to the show’s advantage as it’s impossible to judge where this is going. On the downside we do have to put up with Coulson and Price’s slightly embarrassing flirting in the meantime.
Lash, though, is shaping up to be a hell of a villain, seemingly compelled to kill other Inhumans out of necessity. Sure, there’s going to be some spurious justification to all this, no doubt, but already, in a few brief appearances, he’s proving to be far more formidable and interesting than any of the human big bads we’ve had on the show so far. And kudos to the show for giving him such a monstrous appearance and not wimping out with a more “realistic” look (yeah, we’re still feeling short changed by Cal’s disappointing “Hyde” persona last season… brilliantly acted, but he looked like Odd Bod from Carry On Screaming).
It was also amusing to see Bobbi getting more and more pissed off at not being deemed fit enough to kick ass. She looked like she was going to strangle Coulson early in the episode for making her deal with busybody residents rather than hunt for Lash. Then, when Hunter finds himself in deep doo-doo Coulson doesn’t even bother letting her know. That guy needs a refresher course in people management.
Once again it falls to Fitz and Simmons to provide the sweetly sentimental elements of the episode. When Simmons finally comes clean to Fitz about wanting to return to the alien planet, you want to hug them both; Simmons because she’s clearly hurting to much to have to admit that after Fitz went to so much trouble to recuse her; Fitz because he doesn’t go into a strop but actually seems ready to hear her out.
Although a little slow in places, hampered by Price and Coulson’s peculiarly stiff relationship and afflicted with some of the murkiest, muddiest lighting in any scene inside an apartment block (does the lighting guy on Agents Of SHIELD suffer from chromophobia?) “Devils You Know” is one of the better episodes so far this year.
So next week: Simmons’s adventures in outer space. It could be one of the most extraordinary episodes the show has ever produced.
- Hunter’s revenge-lust driving him to make a very stupid decision.
- May’s face after Hunter’s made that decision.
- Seriously, though, the whole Ward/May/Hunter subplot was a compelling piece of telly…
- …Including, of course, the shock of Andrew’s death.
- Once again, Fitz and Simmons make a lot of impact in a very few scenes; whatever’s going on here it’s heartbreaking to watch them unable to communicate (and poor old Bobbi stuck in the middle with the look of a woman who’s just caught the bride shagging the best man in the toilets).
- Lash just became about ten times more interesting.
- “So what’s the job?’
“When’s it going down?”
“Any idea where?”
“You do realise the point of intelligence gathering is to gather intelligence?”
- The flirty banter between Coulson and Price is so clunky – especially all the not-so-subtle innuendo in the all that laser finger guff (we half expected Rosalind to ask if it had a vibrate setting).
- Too much gloomy, flat lighting, as usual.
- Although it’s great to have some meaty, lengthy character scenes as opposed to the usual preponderance of exposition tennis, a lot of them are clumped together in the middle third of the episodes which does make the pace sag a wee bit.
- Does all that business with Lash getting Frye to send Inhuman targets a computer virus make any kind of sense of all? It comes across as a mere plot device so that SHIELD can track down a Lash associate and interrogate him.
And The Random:
- Dwight Frye was the name of the actor who played the insect-eating Renfrew in the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. Dwight Frye was also the real name of a short-lived Marvel superhero called Bazooka, who was part of a team called Black Powers that appeared in the mid-’80s Marvel series DP7. He appears to have zero connection with the Dwight Frye in this episode, though.
- Wards cracks a (poor) joke about Hydra’s next job being “Level Seven” – Ward had Level Seven clearance when he was with SHIELD.
- This is the first episode to actually name Lash.
- This is the first episode to refer to Daisy as Agent Johnson.
- Kebo tells Hunter two names that were being considered for their base: Nemesis and Omega Point. Both of these were names of Hydra bases in the Marvel Comics Universe.
- Anybody else missing Cal?
- So Alisha’s back, which is good because she has a visually interesting uperpower. But she’s working for SHIELD now? It’s not an inconceivable development but it does come out of the blue, somewhat. We’d be happy to see her as part of the Secret Warriors, though.
- There’s this absolutely brilliant, “Has my life come to this?” expression from Bobbi as she implores Coulson with her eyes to rescue her from “fibbing to old ladies” duties.
- Crap effect of the week: no, not the explosion but the false shop sign that looks like it’s being held up by Blu-tack.
- It’s probably just us, but the shot of Lash’s shadow changing into human form was really similar to the shot of Calibos turning from man into monster in Clash Of The Titans (1981 – below).
Review by Dave Golder