Marvel’s Black Widow: Bad Blood Episode 11, “The Carrot and the Stick”

In this episode, Romanoff and Barnes visit Holt’s facility and find what may very well turn out to be a villain’s lair. But what is Holt doing up there?

Let’s discuss Bad Blood.

Note: Spoilers follow for this episode.


Art by Jamie McKelvie


Quick recap:

Natasha rides out the second wave of her sickness with some help from Barnes, and I swear I only swooned a little bit. Afterward, they consider their options (and their opinions of Holt himself) and, before visiting his facility to presumably get their answers, Natasha bites a particular bullet and alerts S.H.I.E.LD. to the fact that Viscose has resurfaced, though she leaves Holt out of it for now. And upon arriving at the facility, nothing looks reassuring when it comes to their chances of fighting their way out if need be. I’m sure that’s all fine…

She had always thought herself the spider at the center of a web.

Now she was the fly.

I am sure this is not fine.

That’s not even a throwaway line, either. From Natasha’s helplessness in the face of whatever sickness was raging in her at the start of this episode (and don’t think those fever dreams didn’t break my heart), to the fact that its ending leaves her and Barnes seemingly thoroughly in Holt’s clutches, nothing about this episode is reassuring me that they’ll be fine. Nothing. And I DO NOT LIKE IT.

What I appreciate, though, is the way this theme ties into that of the larger story arc: Natasha Romanoff, on the very edge of being at someone else’s mercy again. It unnerves me because I can’t be sure what Natasha will do or how she’ll do it – will she play this smart or will her gut instincts to fight, to go feral and destroy what’s in her path, get the better of her? This particular theme/possibility is even more worrying given how tangled up in it the Winter Soldier is. And don’t get me started on how much of a liability their feelings for each other might turn out to be, in this particular scenario.

Moving on…

Holt was a man of science, true, but so was Dr. Jekyll.


I don’t trust Holt. I don’t particularly like him either; despite his “grandpa” appearance and his friendly manners – or, heck, on account of them – there is something deeply unsettling about this man. And after this episode, after That Quote … I’m starting to wonder if whatever Holt’s goal is, whatever he’s working toward, involves his own health in some way. Or that of someone very close to him. A personal reason for being so driven to do … whatever the hell it is he’s doing, would explain some things. And not to mention it’s fairly typical in terms of the billionaire-scientist-megalomaniac character trope, historically speaking.

I mean. I doubt very much that I really want Holt to be driven by some sense of personal desperation, because desperate people do not usually make good judgement calls. But it would make a certain amount of sense…

And what is he keeping down in that lab, “on schedule”, that Viscose is overseeing and their “guests” don’t need to see??

If it’s a wife or a daughter on ice, I am going to scream.

Or is it clones? MAYBE IT’S CLONES.

OK. Now that I’ve reached the Ridiculous Speculation Stage of writing this review, I’m going to put a pin in my thoughts and get back to reading.





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