Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduces its first major arc as the scientists behind the pilot’s Centipede serum return for more exploding fun.
Let’s bitch it out…Please let this be that moment: the moment that the show turns the corner and barrels full steam ahead into greatness. There have been moments in the last few episodes that suggest good things are coming (better banter, more interesting cases, an acknowledgement of the murkiness of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s tactics), but the show has remained hit and miss.
‘Girl In The Flower Dress’ is still more of a work in progress than a success, but within it there’s a promise of tantalizing developments. Obviously I’m talking about the possibility of a Big Bad in the form of a shadowy organization that’s involved in a research conspiracy of Centipede serums and super soldiers seen initially in the pilot. There’s even a mention of Phase Two and Phase Three (hmm…do we need a clairvoyant to know that this will tie into the larger movie world of Marvel’s properties?). At this point things remain little more than a tease, though, so where this all goes is nothing more than speculation. All we know is that Centipede is one step closer to stabilizing the serum thanks to poor deluded superpowered Tseng (Louis Changchien), from whom they steal flame retardant properties to prevent soldiers from combusting. Where is this all heading? Apparently to a convict in prison, a clairvoyant and Ruth Negga’s villainous turn as Raina.
If I liked the episode more than I should have (since really, in reality this is nothing more than another case of the week), it’s because Raina is a refreshing change of pace. Thus far we’ve had one charismatic villain – Ian Quinn (David Conrad – but he’s more smarmy than anything. Raina is something of a femme fatale, a sinister figure who’s as likely to play on a weak man’s insecurities as she is to fatally close the elevator door on a colleague. Bonus points for achieving that level of darkness in a variety of cute floral dresses. I’m looking forward to seeing her again.
The elephant in the room is the other main sotryline, which dedicates a substantial amount of time to the revelation that Skye (Chloe Bennet) is working as a double agent for Rising Tide. I like Bennet; I think she’s the best in the cast to deliver the trademark quips we’ve come to know and love from the Whedon brand. Unfortunately nothing about this storyline engaged me, especially the fact that she’s an orphan who’s been looking for her parents through a redacted S.H.I.E.L.D. document. Oh lord…this old story? Ugh.
Aside from the agonizingly cliche news, Skye’s storyline is filled with all sorts of problematic bits and pieces. It’s clear that ex-boyfriend/old friend Miles (Austin Nichols) is only along for the ride to facilitate the reveal. More frustratingly, their conversation about morals and money is only there so that S.H.I.E.L.D. can see how far Skye has come since joining S.H.I.E.L.D. – she’s clearly evolved because look at how wrong this other guy is! Miles is only there to make Skye look good Even their sexy times feels like nothing more than an attempt to prolong the development of her inevitable relationship with Brett Dalton’s Agent Ward). All this also feels like a fabricated opportunity for Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) to once again analyze his leadership style and confirm that something is “off” with him. Wow – who knew that this one storyline could encapsulate a whole bunch of things that aren’t working on the show right now?!
So basically the Skye stuff doesn’t really work for me, but I will say this: I’m glad that it’s out in the open and dealt with because (hopefully) now we can move on.
- The weakest moment of the hour has to go to Fitz (Iain DeCaestecker) who naively wonders why Skye has betrayed them. “I thought she was our friend.” Blech…this is why Skye should have been the only inexperienced member of the team. Having three novices means we have to endure this kind of drivel
- He isn’t given much to do, but I kinda liked Agent Quan (Tzi Ma) of the Toyko branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. Since it’s clear that the show will venture to various parts of the globe regularly, it would be nice to build up a roster of recurring contacts. Regardless of whether that happens, Quan will not be among them since he’s killed by a fiery hole to the chest (which kinda/sorta seems like bad form considering how competent he seemed)
- I’m well and truly ready for more information on Melinda May. She’s gone from enigma to generic fighter lady in the span of just a few weeks. Perhaps less Skye and more everyone else on the team who isn’t Coulson?
- What do we think of the game play (last week we saw Ward playing poker with Fitz and this week he plays Battleship with Skye)? Is it a subtle form of character development (“I don’t like board games” he grumps) or is it too cutesy?
- Finally, your drinking game for this episode is “gift.” Best of luck
- Coulson (After Fitz cautiously asks if S.H.I.EL.D. uses body probes): “The methods vary”
- Coulson (when Melinda inquires if Chan’s file indicated he’s homicidal): “Just said he was kind of a tool”
How are you feeling about S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s potential move into more serialized, Big Bad territory? Are you glad that Skye’s allegiance to Rising Tide has been addressed? Do you want more from Melinda and the Wonder Twins? What is Centipede’s Phase Two and Phase Three about? Speculate away below
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC