Agents of SHIELD: 312 “The Inside Man” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
No matter how good a TV show is, if there’s 22+ episodes of it being released a year, there’s going to be some filler. That’s just the way this type of television works, and if you were expecting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to be any different, then you were inevitably always going to be disappointed. As with most things however, there’s good and there’s bad. If a show can keep the audience entertained for forty minutes, despite the fact everyone’s aware it’s a filler episode, then it’s clearly doing something right.
There is not a single doubt in my mind that Adrian Pasdar completely stole the show as General Talbot. I honestly believe that I could happily watch weekly one hour episodes which consisted purely of Talbot and Coulson challenging each other to different competitions and make snappy retorts at one another while they take part. It’s been known for a long time that Clark Gregg has bags of comedic timing, but this episode we discover that so does Pascar. While he’s not the most intelligent of character, he’s still able to come across as amusing without having to make himself look like a complete idiot. Sure, there’s a few times where he is an idiot, but by the end of the episode he’s still got some integrity.
This was another episode that relied heavily on a well written script with interesting and entertaining dialogue between characters. Fortunately, the screenwriters delivered, as conversations were quick and full of clever comebacks to one another. It was the trio of Melinda May, Hunter and Bobbi who took part in the majority of the action this week, covering for Coulson and Talbot while they go into a meeting.
Oh yeah, the main story of the episode is the fact that there’s a meeting about Inhumans and Coulson and Talbot are going in and hoping to figure out which person is working with Malick simply by just listening to them at a conference. Yup, the episode screams filler right from the start. Very little is revealed, very little changes, you could definitely skip this episode if you wanted to.
That doesn’t mean the episode isn’t good though. The return of Kreel, or as everyone calls him, Absorbing Man, is a nice little addition, even if Brian Patrick Wade isn’t the greatest actor of all time. I think my favourite thing about Absorbing Man is his powers. I just love the fact that it’s whatever material he’s touching, so he can be glass, rubber, wood, plastic, literally anything. That’s not me praising the show, I just think he’s a cool character to have around for that reason (I really hope he turns himself into grass or something stupid at one point).
There are also a number of surprising well written twists and turns this episode, even if they don’t hold as much weight as we’ve grown accustomed to. They were shocking enough to make the audience sit upright and there were a couple of moments where I briefly thought the episode was going to promote itself from filler status. It didn’t, and I was brought back down to Earth fairly swiftly, but they were fun little moments never the less.
Where this episode falters is in its exploration of Shake and Bake (Hunter, thanks for at least getting one positive out of the relationship between Lincoln and Dasiy). Look, maybe it’s totally personal preference, but I really don’t care about any of this romantic nonsense. I cared about Fitzsimmons, and I cared a bit about the love triangle on Agent Carter but my goodness, their scenes are easily the dullest moments of this episode. I don’t watch my superhero shows for the love stories, so if you really want me invested, you’re gonna have to try a lot harder. I know a lot of people have pointed a finger at Luke Mitchell, blaming him for the dullness of the scenes, but I honestly think I prefer the Bake of Shake and Bake to the Shake this episode (I prefer Lincoln to Daisy for all of you who don’t speak idiot). That’s not to say Chloe Bennet is terrible, but I simply didn’t enjoy her character one bit this episode. Whenever their scenes aren’t boring, they’re uncomfortable and unsettling to watch. I’ve got no problem with PG-13 sex scenes, but they’re creepy flirting made we literally write ‘Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww’ on my notes while I was watching.
But other than that, the episode is largely entertaining. We get some development with regard to the Hive situation, and that final shot of Ward covered in orange goo was an absolute thing of beauty. I quite like where they’re going with this, although I’m still confused as to what Hive’s ability actually is, and why he means so much to HYDRA. As of right now he doesn’t seem worth the effort, so if he doesn’t do something horrifically amazing anytime soon, I’m probably going to end up disappointed.
As a whole this episode is good enough. While the fact the main focus of the episode was a conference didn’t exactly fill me with excitement, the action that took place alongside the conference was pretty good, and I had fun this episode. It’s by no means Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s best work this season, but The Inside Man was interesting enough, and could certainly have been a lot worse.