As expected, Gen. Talbot is less than thrilled about working with/for Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. as the acting head of the A.T.C.U. His first assignment is to accompany Coulson to a multinational meeting in the hopes of finding a path forward in dealing with the Inhumans. But things are already off to a shaky start when Talbot demands his new bodyguard accompany him, Carl “Crusher” Creel, the Absorbing Man. The other agents, especially Hunter, haven’t forgotten going against him over the Diviner, and his killing Hunter’s former mercenary team.
While Coulson, Talbot, Creel, and the rest of the team head for the conference, Daisy and Lincoln stay behind to avoid any complications from their “alien” status. While finding ways to relieve stress and spend their downtime, Simmons asks Lincoln’s help in comparing a sample of Creel’s blood sample to Daisy’s Inhuman sample. Creel is no Inhuman, and received his powers from an experiment, but he is also the only person to come into contact with a Terrigen Obelisk and survive. When studying his blood in comparison with Daisy’s, they discover something shocking. Because of Creel’s absorbing nature, his blood has the ability to protect against terrigenesis, opening the possibility to creating a vaccine and keeping any new Inhumans from cropping up. Daisy is immediately against this, seeing her own transformations as a gift to help her come to terms with who she is, while Lincoln thinks it’s a good idea, allowing a balance to be made between humans and Inhumans, selecting who is ready to undergo terrigenesis, much like how things went at Afterlife.
At the conference, Talbot and Coulson, going undercover as a C.D.C. specialist on Inhumans, meet the other delegates who they’ll be working with. Coulson suspects that with Malick’s interest in Inhumans, one of the delegates is working for Hydra to either steer the talks in Malick’s favor, or disrupt them altogether. While Talbot and Coulson meet, May, Bobbi, and Hunter, search the delegates rooms for any connection to Malick and Hydra, though finding nothing. During the meetings, it is Talbot who is revealed as the traitor, as Malick has captured his son and will trade him for Coulson. With Talbot betraying Coulson as the Director of Hydra to the fellow delegates, Malick steps in as the former World Councilman and all around do-gooder and brings the delegates to his side, while also further betraying Talbot and not relinquishing his son. While May and the team take out Malick’s Hydra agents, Creel steps in to rescue Coulson and Talbot and Talbot’s son. The ordeal has given Talbot a more positive impression of Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D., and is more willing to work together, but Coulson has bigger worries. Malick is supposed to be the last head of Hydra, but Coulson fears that there is someone bigger pulling Malick’s strings.
While some of “The Inside Man” further explores this new Inhuman who has possessed Ward’s dead body, the return of Creel not only brings about a way to stop the creation of new Inhumans, but also brings back the possibility of powered people who aren’t Inhuman. The story has been heavily dealing with the introduction of effects of Inhumans, but having Creel not only return but on the side of the good guys, is a reminder that there are other powered influences in this universe. It’s possible that with Talbot being the frontman for the A.T.C.U., and having Creel as his own powered agent, that the A.T.C.U. could have a greater presence in the conflict looming in the upcoming Civil War.