The Watchdogs attack an A.T.C.U., Mack’s vacation is interrupted, and shotgun axe!
A new hate group known as the Watchdogs are spreading rhetoric against the government’s secrets and the alien threat, radicalizing citizens to pick up arms and take back their planet. Their first attack, moving them from the message boards to the news, is against an A.T.C.U. facility. The only S.H.I.E.L.D. agent nearby is Mack, who is taking a vacation to deal with the loss of his friend, Bobbi and Hunter, and spend some much needed time with his brother. This attack pulls him back into the field, and he meets Daisy and Fittz at the site of the attack. The Watchdogs are using advanced weaponry, a gel explosive called nitramene, a Howard Stark invention, that implodes everything around it when it detonates. The use of nitramene gives S.H.I.E.L.D. a clue as to who is behind the Watchdogs; a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent obsessed with modifying nitramene for agents to use in the field, Agent Felix Blake.
Since Blake’s injury fighting Deathstroke, his world has fallen around him, almost literally, with the outing of Hydra and the Avengers creating Ultron. Now recovered, he is the one behind the Watchdogs, giving them new direction in their hate of the state of the world and the alien “freaks.” While Daisy, Mack, and Fittz investigate the Watchdogs, Coulson, and Lincoln head to one of Blake’s safehouses to discover what they can about what he’s been doing of late, and his plans with the Watchdogs. Much to Lincoln’s dismay, Coulson is also using this as an opportunity to evaluate Lincoln in the field and decide if he’s S.H.I.E.L.D. agent material, or if he’s just sticking around for Daisy. To their surprise, they discover Blake at the first safe house they check, even though Daisy and Mack have confirmed Blake’s presence at a Watchdogs’ meeting across the country. Blake stalls for time until Coulson gives the kill order for Lincoln, who acts after only a brief hesitation, revealing Blake to be a hologram. Content with Lincoln’s action in the field, they comb through the information left behind and find Blake’s next target.
While Mack investigates the Watchdog’s meeting with Daisy and Fittz, things are less than solid with his brother, Ruben, who, after being laid off and struggling, is seeing the Watchdog’s point of view more and more, convinced that the system is rigged against him and the Watchdogs are the only ones who understand what he’s going through. Mack and Ruben argue, leaving things unresolved when Mack heads to investigate, and is followed by Ruben, blowing their cover. Mack goes to try and set things straight with Ruben while Daisy and Fittz deal with the Watchdogs, who are quick to scatter after a display of Inhuman abilities. After capturing and interrogating a Watchdog member about the nitramene and their goals, he reveals that the plan was to find a new target within S.H.I.E.L.D. and attack one of their “freaks,” but they think the freak they are after is Mack. Confronting Ruben back at their childhood home, Mack explains his work with S.H.I.E.L.D., and then fights off a Watchdogs kill squad with his long desired shotgun axe combo weapon. Blake and the Watchdogs escape for the time being, leaving behind only questions, such as what are their ultimate goals, and who is behind Blake and his intelligence into the A.T.C.U. and the new S.H.I.E.L.D.?
“Watchdogs” has plenty of connections to events throughout the greater M.C.U., such the nitramene from Agent Carter, and events from the Avengers films. But, much like the rest of the TV series in phase three, the theme of how the world is reacting to powered people like the Avengers and the Inhumans. People are angry at these new alien threats and question the honesty of the governments that are meant to be protecting them and their rights, which they feel are being infringed upon, first by illegal aliens, and now by actual aliens. We see much of this feeling through Ruben, and as we constantly cheer on S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, this fear and anger toward powered people and the destruction that seems to follow them is justified. People don’t know what to expect when going about their day, if while getting a cup of coffee, the building will be demolished by a grudge match between a superhero and archnemesis. Things are starting to reach the boiling point in the M.C.U. as we get closer to the events that will rock the foundations in Captain America: Civil War.