|Writer(s):||Drew Z. Greenberg|
|Series:||Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.|
|Original airdate:||March 29, 2016|
|Previous Episode:||"Parting Shot"|
"Watchdogs" is the fourteenth episode of the third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
When a radical group called The Watchdogs emerges with plans to eliminate the Inhumans, Agent Mack and his brother become caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, Simmons discovers a powerful chemical compound that could alter the future for Inhumans.
Mack visits his brother Ruben at his childhood home in Illinois. Ruben, who has recently been laid off from his job, lets his brother know how upset he is that he routinely blows him off for his job, which he believes is at an insurance company. Mack's vacation is interrupted by an attack on an ATCU facility in Indiana by the Watchdogs, a terrorist group with grievances against Inhumans and other super-powered individuals. Their guns made the building implode on itself. Since he is in the area, Coulson orders Mack to meet Daisy and Fitz in Indiana to investigate the attack, again having to ignore his brother for his job. From the rubble, Fitz determines that the Watchdogs weapons' are powered by Nitramene, an volatile substance Howard Stark developed after World War II. Daisy updates Coulson on what they found while Fitz and Mack figure out what to do with the Nitramene and the rubble. Coulson suspects former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Felix Blake due to his previous interest in Nitramene. Blake has been missing since Deathlok paralyzed him, which Coulson believes might have motivated him to hate people with powers.
Daisy, Fitz and Mack decide what to do next from Zephyr One. Daisy went into the Watchdogs' online message board to find the locations of its users. She suggests they use that information to find local Watchdogs and get any details about their plans from them. Mack objects to Daisy's idea since it would violate people's civil liberties. Despite his objections, Mack leaves the rest of the team to be with his brother, who he finds already drunk. Ruben's life is falling apart - upside down on his mortgage, no job, health benefits ending, etc. - and he starts quoting rhetoric from the Watchdogs. Mack warns him to stay away from the Watchdogs, but is unable to provide another outlet for Ruben's anger. Meanwhile, Daisy and Fitz ambush someone sympathetic to the Watchdogs.
Coulson takes Lincoln to Atlanta to search one of Blake's old safe houses. Lincoln recently passed his S.H.I.E.L.D. evaluation, but the director isn't ready to trust him like he does his other agents until he can see him in the field. Coulson gets word from Daisy as he and Lincoln enter Blake's safe house. She, Mack and Fitz have surrounded one of the Watchdog's compounds at an old farm using information she got out of the man she interrogated, and using a D.W.A.R.F. have audio confirmation that Blake is inside and leading the terrorist group. Their stake-out is compromised when Ruben rides up to the barn to join the Watchdogs and Mack tries to stop him. The other Watchdogs leave the barn to investigate, and they fire on the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Daisy uses her powers to take some of them down, but the other Watchdogs mistakenly believe her shockwaves came from Mack. As the Watchdogs retreat, one of them fires at Fitz and a Nitramene bomb lands on his neck. Daisy gives him a substance that should neutralize the Nitramene in the bomb, but it only manages to slow down the reaction. Meanwhile, Coulson and Lincoln break into the safe house's basement to find Felix Blake standing in front of a computer. Blake accuses Coulson of being a traitor for allying himself with aliens rather than fighting them like S.H.I.E.L.D. was meant to do. Coulson cunningly asks Blake how he even knew about the ATCU facility, suspecting that the information was supplied by Hydra. Coulson orders Lincoln to kill Blake. He questions his order at first, and then sends a bolt of electricity flying at Blake's chest, revealing the Watchdogs' leader to be nothing but a hologram.
Mack leaves to deal with his brother while Daisy takes Fitz and a captured Watchdog onto Zephyr One in the containment unit. After they neutralize the Nitramene with liquid nitrogen, a comment from their prisoner lets them know the other Watchdogs don't know Daisy was the Inhuman. Just then, the Watchdogs break into Ruben's house to kill the "freak." Mack and his brother put their differences aside to deal with this threat, and Mack grabs the family shotgun. He also cuts out the house's power to make it harder for the Watchdogs to find them. He kills one of the terrorists and gives Ruben his assault rifle, but Ruben has no experience with a weapon like that. They're eventually cornered in the kitchen after they find the Watchdogs are keeping an eye on the back door. The Mackenzies prepare to make one last stand against the Watchdogs, with Mack attaching a meat cleaver to his shotgun to make the combined shotgun/axe weapon he always wanted to make. They fight off the rest of the Watchdogs, but Mack is seriously wounded in the shootout.
S.H.I.E.L.D. and a ambulance arrive at Ruben's house not long after the battle. Daisy assures Ruben that his brother will be perfectly fine and that Damage Control will take care of the mess the Watchdogs made of his house. She offers to give him a ride to the S.H.I.E.L.D. location where Mack will be treated, and suggests that S.H.I.E.L.D. might be interested in him now that he knows they exist.
Back at the Playground, Daisy informs Coulson that the Watchdog attack was a cover, for Hydra stole something from the ATCU facility hours before. Elsewhere, Giyera meets a wheelchair-bound Felix Blake. He promises Blake all the high-powered weaponry he needs to wage war against the Inhumans in exchange for the item he took from the ATCU base his Watchdogs destroyed, a nuclear weapon.
- Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
- Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May
- Brett Dalton as Hive
- Chloe Bennet as Daisy Johnson/Quake
- Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz
- Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
- Henry Simmons as Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie
- Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell
- Titus Welliver as Felix Blake
- Mark Dacascos as Giyera
- Gaius Charles as Ruben Mackenzie
- Trenton Rostedt as Dallas Wyatt
- Justin Morck as Watchdog Alpha
- Jonathan Camp as Watchdog Oscar
- D. Elliot Woods as Watchdog Victor
Continuity and References to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Felix Blake returns.
- The Watchdogs are introduced.
- Ruben Mackenzie is introduced.
- Giyera appears.
- Nitramene appears.
- The Avengers are mentioned.
- Chitauri are mentioned.
- Advanced Threat Containment Unit are mentioned.
- HYDRA are mentioned.
- Damage Control are mentioned.
- Stark Industries is mentioned.
- World War II, The Battle of New York and The Battle of Sokovia are mentioned.
- Bobbie Morse and Lance Hunter are mentioned.
- Deathlok is mentioned.
- Howard Stark is mentioned.
- Andrew Garner is mentioned.
- Will Daniels is mentioned.
- Carl Creel is mentioned.
- Ultron is mentioned.
- Glenn Talbot is mentioned.
- Gideon Malick is mentioned.
- Hell's Kitchen is mentioned.
- This episode features references to many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series.
- The weapon used by the Watchdogs, Nitramene, was developed by Howard Stark and first appeared in the first season of Agent Carter
- Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse are referenced many times during the episode, as well as the circumstances that made them leave S.H.I.E.L.D.. These characters are going to star in their own spin-off series, Most Wanted.
- Daisy Johnson explains that Damage Control will deal with the cleanup of the attack of the Watchdogs against Ruben Mackenzie's house. This group will be the focus of their own TV series, Damage Control.
- During the newscast that Alphonso Mackenzie watches, one of the headlines says: "GANG WAR RAGES IN HELL'S KITCHEN. AUTHORITIES SEARCHING FOR SOLUTION". This is a reference to a conflict between the Kitchen Irish, the Juárez Cartel and the Dogs of Hell featured in the second season of Daredevil.
- Daisy Johnson offered to "quake" the Nitramene off Fitz's neck, which is a reference to her codename from the comics, "Quake".