Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD S03E06 “Among Us Hide” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: E4, Sundays, 9pm
Writer: Drew Z Greenberg
Director: Dwight Little
Essential Plot Points:
- Andrew has (unfeasibly) survived the explosion in the drug store caused by Van Strucker Jr & co two episodes back. He’s taken to SHIELD HQ where they tend to his suspiciously non-life-threatening injuries.
- Coulson pulls Hunter off Ward-hunting duties because revenge is causing him to act rashly.
- May rejoins SHIELD – for now – so she can take over the Kill Ward mission because there are clearly no revenge issue there… er…
- May immediately recruits Bobbi into the Kill Ward mission because there are clearly no revenge issue there… um…
- Coulson and Price continue to get flirtier. She shows him her home then takes him to the ATCU unit to show him what they’re doing to Inhumans. She knows how to impress a man.
- Daisy thinks that Lash, in his human guise, must be working for the ACTU because of all the inside knowledge he appears to have. Price’s right-hand man, Banks appears to be the obvious candidate. She and Mack decide to follow him.
- Having been benched, Hunter is bored, so he practically forces himself into “Mission: Timidly Track Banks” and turns it into “Mission: Taser Banks In Broad Daylight”. A blood test reveals no Inhuman DNA but going through his pockets they find a link to a facility that’s clearly a front for the ATCU.
- They all go this facility and send in a stealth drone to snoop round. They see Coulson and Price having what looks like a friendly chat (they’re probably quipping – it’s the only way they know how to communicate).
- They watch as an unconscious Inhuman in a tank of goo is brought into the building and carted off by a big mechanical arm.
- Daisy is horrified. Mack thinks Coulson must have his reasons.
- In the facility, Price explains that the ACTU is putting Inhumans into coma until a cure can be found for their condition. She makes it sound all very humane and sympathetic but you really want Coulson to say, “And how many of them had a choice in the matter?” Oddly he doesn’t. He just quips a bit more.
- Van Strucker Jr, scared that Ward is going to kill him for not finishing off Andrew, turns to old school Hydra big wig Gideon Malick. Malick says he’ll deal with things, then behind Jr’s back he rings up Ward to tell him exactly where Ward’s men will be able to find Jr. He clearly wants to do business with Ward at some future point.
- May and Bobbi track Van Strucker Jr to Portugal (long story involving Caymen Islands bank accounts) where they find him being tortured by Ward’s men. They defeat Ward’s men in some style then May asks Jr about Ward’s whereabouts…
- Instead he babbles on about how he saw ANDREW CHANGE INTO LASH at the drug store.
After last week’s phenomenal format breaking episode, normal service has not been resumed. Well, it has in terms of getting back to the Inhumans/ACTU/Ward plotlines, sure, but not in terms of quality. Compared to first four episode of the season – decent enough but a bit listless and unfocussed – this is a cracking little instalment: tight, action-packed and funny with livelier characters and a a new villain. Plus it ends up with the major revelation that Andrew is Lash which leave your jaw in a floorwards trajectory.
Even if the episode hadn’t finished with that gamechanging exposé, it still would have been the show’s best “normal” episode so far this season by a long shot, and no, not just because there were seriously fewer scenes set in dull, brown hotel rooms/apartments (just the one!). The May/Bobbi partnership worked brilliantly. The pissed-off-Hunter-does-things-his-way plot was full of top comedy moments. Powers Boothe’s new Hydra boss was immediately chilling. The action was taut and the fights well choreographed. The cinematography was less muddy and more glossy than usual. Everything felt like it had taken up a small but significant step upwards. The irritating thing being this is how sharp and sassy you want the show to be all the time. This shouldn’t be the exception, this should be the norm.
A smart, well-structured script that serves all the characters well really helps. There’s less of a reliance on one-liners and quips (well, when Coulson’s not on screen, anyway), the humour instead coming from the way the characters interact. The subtitled sequences are a blast as much for May and Bobbi’s expressions as they are for the mistranslations while Daisy’s exasperation at Hunter going all Riggs-from-Lethal-Weapon is as amusing as the cocky Brit making a prat of himself.
Then there are a couple of really sweet little scene with Fitz, first with Hunter, then with Simmons, with the quivery-chinned scientist straying true to his promise and try to help reunite Simmons with Daniels again (much to Hunter’s bemusement). It’s good to see that he’s researching Daniels behind Simmons’s back, though, as that shows he’s still a human being and hurting; he might know that helping Simmons is the right thing, but he’d love to find some dirt on Daniels. Or at least suss out the competition.
Only the Price/Coulson scenes fail to convince. It’s difficult to know where their respective game-playing ends and the real emotions begin. Price’s story of losing a husband to cancer is so trite and convenient you half hope she is just playing Coulson; y0u also hope he suspects that too and is only playing along for his own reason. If it’s all supposed to real it comes across as a really hokey cliché. Whatever the case, it’s really hard to care about them when they continually communicate in such a weird, stilted manner.
Other than that, it’s a terrific piece of TV action drama. Let’s hope the quality is maintained for the rest of the season.
- Stroppy, bored Hunter is hilarious throughout. His go-it-alone solution to the Banks problem (and Daisy and Mack’s reaction to it) was the comedy highlight of the episode but we also loved his unique was of acquiring a blood sample (punch the guy in the head) and his relationship advice to Fitz (“He’s the competition… If your girlfriend’s ex wants to visit from Phoenix, you do not buy him a plane ticket”).
- May’s idea of a job interview.
- In fact all three fight scenes involving May and Bobbi are great, especially the final one and the way Bobbi finishes off the guy in the swimming pool.
- The revelation that Andrew is Lash is a gobsmacker and the transformation sequence is bloody impressive too.
“You can tell a lot about a woman from her books… Okay, I didn’t know actually know that there were this many biographies of Margaret Thatcher.” Coulson’s best line in ages!
- Although their dialogue was slightly less one-liner-ping-pong this week, Price and Coulson still don’t feel like they’re naturally ever going to be attracted to each other. Unless they aren’t and the embarrassing flirting from both sides is one big charade.
- After the big reveal about Andrew, the final stinger scene felt a little bit of a soft end to the episode. Nothing wrong with it, but it kinda blunted one hell of a cliffhanger.
- Having just failed to have Ward bumped off by sending one agent with a grudge after him, Coulson immediately picks another to finish the job.
And The Random:
- The episode title is a reference to 1965’s Fantastic Four #45, which featured a story called “Among Us Hide… The Inhumans” that introduced many of Marvel’s most famous Inhuman characters such as Black Bolt, Crystal, Lock Jaw (the giant teleporting dog), Karnak and Triton.
- Coulson says that the ACTU facility reminds him of a horror film. We guess he’s referring to the Michael Crichton written-and-directed Coma (1978) but it’s possible he could be referring to the underrated Daybreakers (2009)
- Powers Boothe, who plays Gideon Malick in this episode, previously played a member of the World Security Council in Avengers Assemble (2012). It’s not clear yet if he’s supposed to be the same character here, but it’s not impossible he could have been a Hydra mole in the Avengers film. You might also recognise him from such films as The Emerald Forest (1985), Tombstone (1993) and Sin City (2005) as well as TV shows like Deadwood (in which he played Cy Tolliver) and 24 (vice president Noah Daniels).
- This was the 50th episode of Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD not that they do anything in particular to celebrate the fact.
- FILE UNDER “STRETCHING THINGS A BIT”: When Bobbi says that the guy at the Caymen Islands Bank used to work for the First Fiduciary National Bank, we couldn’t help but think of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in Mary Poppins. We blame it on the fact that Daisy and co were chasing Mr Banks; it must have Derren Browned us into a Disney frame of mind.
- We also liked the way that the banking guy’s tie become an integral part of his fight with May after Bobbi had earlier (deliberately) mistranslated one of May’s Mandarin lines, telling the guy, “Ms Wong likes your tie.”
Review by Dave Golder