With each week Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. keeps getting better. Tonight’s episode continued some of the great character-driven storytelling that the show has started doing this season. And as your regular recapper, Andrea Towers, mentioned two weeks ago, this show clearly knows which stories it needs to tell — that’s definitely the case tonight.
“Devils You Know” opens with Alisha — the Inhuman from the season 2 finale who could multiply herself — visiting an Inhuman couple she used to know. This couple has been living a pretty mundane life, but they started worrying about their safety after they saw the news reports about Lincoln. A few days ago, the couple received an email about getting the ol’ Inhuman family back together and thought Alisha sent it (she didn’t). Their conversation is interrupted because Lash, like a murderous Kool-Aid man, bursts in and kills them all.
Well, not everyone. As it turns out, Alisha sent one of her clones into the apartment and Alisha Prime is safely aboard a ship with Coulson. Once all hell breaks loose in the apartment, Coulson sends Daisy and Mack in, but by time they reach the apartment, Lash has fled the scene. The two of them chase after him, but instead of finding him, they run into the Rosalind, a bunch of ATCU agents, and Coulson.
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Yep, this is a team-up episode, between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the ATCU, and Daisy and Mack aren’t too happy about it. I get where Daisy and Mack are coming from, but I’m definitely happy with the team-up because Clark Gregg and Constance Zimmer have amazing chemistry and it’s fun to watch their characters bounce off each other. For example, when Coulson and Rosalind return to the apartment, Coulson asks about where the ATCU is taking the victims it captures, Rosalind responds, “That’s classified. Aw, it’s not fun when it’s you, right? Can’t believe I just said that to the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.” From the evidence in the apartment, Rosalind realizes that this couple didn’t just discover they were Inhumans and that Coulson kept this information from her. It seems as though this team-up has some trust issues they need to work through.
The samples collected at the scene are quickly processed and Team S.H.I.E.L.D. discovers that Lash is also an Inhuman. Daisy examines the email on the couple’s computer and finds out that it was used to track them. Coulson instructs her to share that evidence with ATCU, which she reluctantly agrees to do after making her objections known.
One of the best parts of this season is giving us new character pairings, and May and Hunter are a great example of this. When we catch up with them tonight, May’s rather frustrated with Hunter because he still doesn’t know what his first Hydra job will and doesn’t seem too worried that they might be luring him into a trap. What’s clear is that Hunter is letting his desire for revenge and his emotions cloud his judgment, which is leading him to act rather recklessly. If Hunter knew Ward was planning on using the weapons he gave Hydra, he might be a bit more concerned.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters, Simmons has a session with Andrew. It’s a great-looking scene, thanks mostly to the lightning, which helps drive home that Simmons definitely isn’t alright. Andrew tries to get her to open up but fails. If there’s one thing Andrew gleaned from this session, it’s that Simmons isn’t ready for field work, and he makes this very clear to Coulson, while also voicing his annoyance that he wasn’t notified before Coulson sent Alisha, an Inhuman he’s never evaluated, into the field. But this conversation will have to wait because May returns.
NEXT: May and Andrew speak for the first time in months
May brings Coulson up to speed on Hunter’s sloppy and reckless operation. But their conversation soon turns to the personal as Coulson presses her about what happened with Andrew. In a rare moment of vulnerability, May admits he left her because of her, not because of S.H.I.E.L.D. After her meeting with Coulson, she runs into Andrew, and he tries to apologize for how he left things (i.e., leaving her without a warning and not sending her a text or an email or anything to let her know what was wrong). But, May doesn’t want to hear it and says it’s okay because she did the same to him and now they’re even. It’s scenes like this one and the one with Hunter that reveal just how focused on character this show has become. The most interesting parts of this episode aren’t the big action moments, but the smaller emotional ones like what we see here.
The tension in the S.H.I.E.L.D. base isn’t limited to May and Andrew. There’s Fitz, who realizes that Simmons and Bobbi are keeping something from him when he accidentally discovers some of Simmons’ notes. Then there’s Daisy and Coulson, who continue to butt heads over working with the ATCU. After revealing what she found out about the mysterious email — she tracked the virus back an IT specialist for the Social Security Administration named Dwight Fry — she tells Coulson that she doesn’t trust the ATCU and insinuates that the only reason Coulson does is because he’s attracted to Rosalind. (She picked up on the chemistry, too!) But, Coulson deflects, as usual.
The two secret organizations head to Maryland and discover that Dwight is a self-hating Inhuman who can detect others like him and has been helping Lash track down his targets. Naturally, the ATCU takes Dwight into custody, but this time Coulson insists that Daisy and Mac be allowed to tag along to get a look at the ATCU’s facility. While en route, Lash intercepts the transport and kills Dwight. As he walks away from the wreckage, Daisy watches his shadow as he transforms from a monster back into a normal person. The question is no longer what is Lash, but who is he?
Meanwhile, Hunter is thrown into the boot of a car and taken to the staging location for his operation with Hydra. When he gets there, he immediately comes face to face with Ward and shooting breaks out, natch. Ward’s men have Hunter pinned down, but then the Calvary arrives to give Hunter the upper hand. Ward knows he doesn’t stand a chance now that May has showed up, so he plays his trump card. He gives May an ultimatum: Either she stands down and lets him escape or the men tailing Andrew will kill him. Hunter tries to convince her Ward’s lying (he isn’t), but she doesn’t listen and acquiesces. It’s a heartbreaking moment for the character who values the integrity of her work.
Acting with a disturbing level of abandon, Hunter ignores Ward’s threat and goes after him. Ward manages to escape, but not before Hunter puts a bullet in his arm. Unfortunately, things are a bit worse for Andrew. We cut to the convenience store where he’s surrounded by Ward’s men and are shown his cellphone, which May is calling, in a pool of blood next to some gasoline and an open flame. As Werner von Strucker leaves the store, it goes up in flames and we’re left wondering (praying) whether Andrew somehow made it out alive.
In this week’s stinger, Fitz confronts Simmons about her notes and reveals that he figured out that she’s trying to rebuild the portal. The directing does a great job of revealing the disconnect between these two characters. Simmons is in the foreground of the shot and in focus with her back to Fitz, who is out of focus, indicating that how Fitz feels isn’t really important and she’s only concerned with what she needs to do at the moment. The episode ends with Simmons telling Fitz that it’s time to hear what really happened to her while she was gone.