'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' S3E3: A Wanted (Inhu)Man

★ ★ ★ ½

While the rest of the cast gets to enjoy some very well-written scenes, allowing them to play around with the strengths and weaknesses of their characters, the Inhumans, who have been the focus of Agents from their introduction, are now the weakest part of the series.

With only a run-of-the-mill story of government and societal persecution running the Inhuman season 3 plot (along with some very bland writing for both characters), Daisy and Lincoln are having a hard time. You’d think that superpowers would make them far more interesting, but instead, Daisy is stuck having to be either a mature S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or someone struggling with her power — both of which are less entertaining than Chloe Bennet in real life. It’d be interesting to see Daisy as something other than a "natural" leader; someone less mature who's able to play around with her powers, and make mistakes that torment her. Does she even have a life or personality outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point? Heck, even Coulson does. Grant Ward is, by far, the best blend of an actor's real-life appeal and character personality. While not the most entertaining as a "boy scout" (Brett Dalton hates that label, by the way) he becomes absolutely fascinating to watch as a Sark-type villain who’s only out for himself.

SHIELD S3

Like Daisy, Lincoln isn’t able to adapt to the challenges he's faced this season. With a manhunt story that's too cliché to be as surprising as the rest of "A Wanted (Inhu)man"’s material, Luke Mitchell isn’t able to produce the kind of intensity needed to us believe his offensive defensiveness. Lincoln has the perfect opportunity to become one of the show’s more unpredictable characters, but Mitchell is just not there yet, and it resuspends your disbelief once you see how "quiet" he is about the whole thing. The most fascinating use of his powers is when he blows up the power lines to run away, and in smaller moments like opening a bus door with a blast of electricity. But once again, this almost desperate use of powers (something he is very much ashamed of) doesn't carry nearly as much weight as it could because Mitchell is too innocent to be so frustrated, which makes it seem less deliberate than it actually is.

Luke Mitchell, as a forever incorruptible romantic lead with a set of principles, worked extremely well last season. I have a theory that Lincoln is in fact Black Bolt, whose backstory had been changed to be more realistic than the original. (Sorry, Marvel fans. Just saying.) It’s a little too soon, at least for Mitchell, for Lincoln to have made such a strong switch i — and while Jiaying’s betrayal has obviously left some deep marks in Lincoln, it doesn't seem like him to turn his back on Daisy. Heck, Jiaying was Daisy’s mother and even she's moved on.

Just like how Lincoln’s turn to the "dark side" happened a little too quickly, his relationship with Daisy feels very forced. Even for two people whose heritage has tied them together (and even with Lincoln being the one to get Daisy to accept her newfound powers), Lincoln and Daisy's rescue kiss was jarring, and seemed like it was just a way to add drama before Lincoln was ripped away by the ATCU. Also, it doesn’t help that the only Inhumans worth watching at the moment are Lincoln and Daisy.

Agent May and Hunter had a great story together: one which showed off both of their fighting abilities, and was rimmed with a refreshing sense of humor. Specifically the scene where Hunter and Spud, a Hydra-ish agent, get so drunk that (because of their accents) they are given subtitles. It’s a scene where Nick Blood gets to show another facade of his character that’s different from the more serious Hunter we see around Mack and Bobbi. Agent May getting back into the action and taking on three bigger men was an interesting contrast to Hunter’s David and Goliath moment with Spud. But it, too, demonstrated a clear division between how they handle adversity. May does so in a very clean, very quick manner, and Hunter uses a casual but effective approach.

Last but not least, Simmons’ trauma from her experiences on the alien planet has given us a lot of insight into her character, allowing Henstridge the opportunity to explore being the weakest of the Fitz-Simmons pairing for once. It’s heartbreaking watching just how traumatic living her day-to-day life has become. She's now broken down to the point where even a glass of wine can make her burst into tears. While she appreciates the space and gestures made by the people around her, it’s almost intolerable for her to go outside of the safety of her room. Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge play off of each other so well and their chemistry is far more authentic than that of Daisy and Lincoln’s — especially when Fitz takes Simmons’ hand as he leads her out of the laboratory, a subtle sign of the connection they still share despite all of what she has been through.

While not the strongest episode, "A Wanted (Inhu)Man" gave Fitz-Simmons, May and Hunter, and even Coulson and Price very nice material to work with. Constance Zimmer does a fantastic job as Rosalind Price (someone very much like her UnREAL character) and gives the impression that she is actually a good person, despite her just following orders. The two clearly have a connection, so their manipulation of each other expertly plays off of that. Frustratingly, the Inhuman storyline may have hit a snag now that they’re entering a more standalone series of episodes rather than serialized ones. While they are an interesting element of Agents, they need a threat to fight — one that can be a non-human Big Bad to mix up things every now and then.

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