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The Two Words Guaranteed To Make Any Agents of SHIELD Episode a Billion Times More Awesome

“Shotgun Axe.”

Spoilers ahead...

In the clip above, we see Mack triumphing over a handful of xenophobic wack jobs, by creating his signature weapon out of a shotgun and a meat cleaver. The Shotgun Axe is indeed a mighty weapon from a more civilized era. In general, last night’s Agents of SHIELD was a fun outing and it was great to see more of Mack’s family life and stuff.


At the same time, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, the more the show tries to be about the public’s fear of Inhumans, and basically to be the X-Men without the actual X-Men, the less interesting it seems to be. On the other hand, Hydra seems to be advancing its plans for world domination, using these human-supremacist assholes (and former SHIELD Agent Blake) as a cover for getting some kind of super-weapon. Basically, I can’t wait until Coulson meets the new Grant Ward.

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So far this season we have been given hints about the Inhuman question, and the only real evidence of distrust has been confined to the ATCU established by the President. Publicly, the President is using the ATCU to protect ‘Murica from the alien threat; but for realsies, he knows it answers to SHIELD and that they have everything under control. Ish. How much oversight is there, though?

Last season (and some of this season) there was talk about tagging/tracking/recruiting/imprisoning/but otherwise keeping tabs on Inhumans, whether they liked it or not. Most characters have come around and backed off from the more extreme measures (I’M LOOKING AT YOU MAY). But this episode really kicked off the discussion, in the public and between the characters: Is it okay for a group of people protecting the public to sidestep civil liberties to complete their mission? Big Mack said it best: It’s not how they act; its how SHIELD responds.

When the Inhumans first came around, everyone wanted to know the truth, and even Coulson flirted with the idea of detaining Inhumans and extracting information, and terminating the more dangerous ones. Hell, the ATCU (under Malick) was holding Inhumans in suspended animation tanks. Daisy was a freshly minted Inhuman, and wanted nothing of it.

What a difference time makes.

Now, Daisy thinks the Watchdogs are a threat enough to go out and extract information from people who may not even be involved in an effort to track down the more dangerous elements. Big Mack doesn’t want SHIELD sidestepping people’s civil liberties because of who they may associate with; Daisy feels that they gave up those civil liberties when the Watchdogs blew up (in?) that ATCU facility.

Daisy noted that the Watchdogs started getting louder online in the comments section (REPRESEN- wait) after the Battle of New York, and got even more vocal and activist-y after Sokovia. Now with the Inhumans (and “actual aliens” like that radio program said) out in the open, they’ve graduated from Reddit and have started blowing shit up (in? How do you phrase what happened?)

From what we’ve seen from the movies and the teasers for Civil War so far, the Civil War story from the comics (identities) is not being used. Instead, the question is control: Can the Avengers act as an independent entity, or should they be controlled by some overriding governmental agency? Iron Man, following the events of every Marvel movie so far, has decided that maybe he (and the Avengers) shouldn’t be trusted with so much responsibility. Pass the buck, if you will. Captain America, on the other hand, feels that the Avengers are best suited to help if they remain independent. What happens if the governmental agency overseeing the Avengers doesn’t allow them to respond to a crisis in some country because of politics, or orders them to “take out” threats to that governmental agency? Aaaaand fight. They both have a point. In a way, Cap is team liberty and Iron Man is team security.

I don’t think the Agents of SHIELD Civil War tie-in will go exactly along that route, but it will track it closely. In Agents of SHIELD, it feels like the question is going to be more of how SHIELD (and the Secret Warriors) respond to outside threats. Right now, Daisy is team security and Big Mack is team liberty. But it won’t be a direct oversight versus independence issue, like Civil War. It’ll be more personal: Daisy wants to side step civil liberties of people who she perceives as a threat; Big Mack feels that the response is what matters, and that civil liberties are what keep us from becoming a gestapo.

It’s interesting seeing these two story lines develop in the movies and in the television show. It all comes to a head on May 5, and I can’t fucking wait.

1. There were a lot of overall MCU references this episode, and for good reason: The show is establishing it’s stake in the Civil War. Daisy referenced bothAvengers movies. The Watchdogs used Nitromene to implode the ATCU facility. My favorite part was during the news cast of the initial Watchdogs appearance, the logline at the bottom referenced a “gang war” raging in Hell’s Kitchen. I love it.

That begs the question, though: How does the Netflix method of storytelling line up with the longer-form story telling on weekly television? At the beginning of Daredevil’s second season, there was a heat wave. By the end? It was Christmas time. Generally, the MCU gives us installments in chronological order. Ant Man came out in July, and took place roughly then. Civil War comes out in May, and will take place about 10 months later. When Daredevil or Jessica Jones or Iron Fist or Luke Cage gets dropped, it’s all at once, but the seasons don’t take place over the course of a week - it’s weeks. It’s a new element to the MCU equation.

So if it’s March now in the MCU, and starting to get hot in certain places, it makes sense that the “gang war” referenced in Hell’s Kitchen means that this episode of Agents of SHIELD took place somewhere during the first three episodes of Daredevil’s second season. The gang war is raging, but no one has caught the Punisher yet. Hell, it could even be before the second season, as the first episode began with a gang war already taking place.

2. The Nitromene was first shown to us in Agent Carter’s first season. You remember that building that imploded, right? Same thing. Initially I thought (and hoped beyond all hope) that it was the Yellowjacket formula Hydra stole from Pym Tech in Ant Man, but as soon as I saw that there was a massive, 100,000 ton ball of building left, my hopes were dashed (DON’T GIVE ME HOPE!) In Ant Man, when Pym Tech detonated, the entire building disappeared. I am sure glad Fitz didn’t get turned into a little smear of goop, though.

It was hilarious to see Fitz and Big Mack nerd out about the science behind it, and Daisy being caught in the crossfire.

3. If you notice, I keep referring to Mack as Big Mack. Well the reason being we met his little brother, Little Mack. I mean Ruben. I’m going with Little Mack, because I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him. Possibly in Damage Control? Because HOLY SHIT THEY REFERENCED DAMAGE CONTROL. DC might have beat Marvel to the punch by developing that “Office comedy” involving the insurance company that deals with damage caused by superheroes, but the one we all want to see is Damage Control. The guys who go out and clean up the mess.

Apparently Little Mack thinks Big Mack works insurance, and it was hilarious to see Big Mack try to explain his work problems in the context of an office job. New boss, friends got transferred, new people coming in every day, just not the same. He literally connected with like 95% of the people watching this show in that short little speech. WE KNOW THE FEELING, FELLOW OFFICE DRONE.

Speaking of Little Mack: He started out agreeing with the Watchdogs, and even went to one of their meetings, where he saw Big Mack put in some work. ADJUST THIS, GECKO. At the end he called Big Mack “Alfie” to Daisy’s face, and I hope that she calls him that for the rest of the season. Little Mack saw how Big Mack kept him safe, even if the killin’ was the part he didn’t like, and understands what SHIELD is about. Before, most of his information came from the Watchdogs. Not the most reliable source, seeing how it was being funded and fed information by Hydra.

4. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I had a SHIELDgasm when Big Mack made his MOTHERFUCKING SHOTGUN AXE! Well, it wasn’t really an axe, but it got the job done. Call it a prototype. I just KNEW he would get one this season, and it was about damn time. Big Mack is a mechanic, goddammit. I’m happy that he has his new toy. Maybe he and Fitz can make a sturdier version when he gets out of the infirmary.

5. It’s interesting that they brought back Agent Blake, who was first introduced in the Marvel One Shot Item 47. In Season one, Deathlok put him in critical condition, and we learned last night that he actually broke his back. Blake was Coulson’s partner, and he tried to use the fact that Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD to explain his distrust of Coulson, on top of the whole coming back from the dead thing, WHILE WORKING WITH HYDRA. Maybe he was in hypocritical condition, amiright? Hello? Anyone? Where are you going?

6. May, what’s going on? Simmons feels responsible for all those Hydra deaths, because to save herself, she unleashed Lash on the world. He’s out there, alone, collecting coins with no one to turn to. May recognized that Simmons blamed herself for Lash, because May blames herself for Lash (for not recognizing it in the first place) and tries to get Simmons to channel her guilt into something productive. may has been hunting Lash as if he were a spy on the run, but Simmons, the ever awesome scientist, realized that Lash was in control, not Andrew, and that he was following his basic instincts. They needed to hunt him, not track him.

May wants to kill Lash for herself, not for anyone else. May feels like she is responsible because she didn’t see what he was sooner, and wants to end it. May doesn’t want hope with any antidote or solution or sure created from Creel’s blood. I have a feeling that when they do find Lash, Simmons will help May channel her guilt. May won’t kill Lash, and Lash will sacrifice himself in an attempt to kill SquidWard, giving SHIELD an upper hand against Malick and his men. Simmons won’t give May hope; Andrew the HGHog will.

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