Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Girl in the Flower Dress

"Aw crap. They gave him a name."

Now this is what I imagined a S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series would look like. The signal flare isn’t going up just yet, but it is now on pre-order. It certainly looks like last week’s upturn in quality was no fluke. Even though it was more or less Skye-centric, ‘Girl in the Flower Dress’ was the series’ strongest instalment to date. It helped that someone finally decided to hit the accelerator on the story arcs.

As well as advancing the Centipede storyline (I really hope that is just the nickname for this evil organisation’s R & D department), Skye’s duplicity was finally exposed to the rest of the team. All because she was stupid enough to not only contact the guy her co-workers were chasing, she actually stayed for a booty call. Seriously, Skye? Do you not understand that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spy agency? For that alone you should've been kicked off the Bus along with Miles. Dumbass moves aside, Skye did come across as a more sympathetic character this week. This search for her missing parents might be a little cliched, but it makes her a more appealing character than just having her be a smart-aleck hacker rebelling against the system.

So who were (or are) Skye’s parents? Terrorists? Enemy spies? Evil scientist? S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? That last one would be very Spider-Man (in the comics both his parents were spies who were killed while on assignment). Whoever they are I just hope it doesn’t turn out that Coulson is her father. I know there’s this whole “Bring your kid to work Day” vibe to their relationship, but making them actual father and daughter is not a twist I could ever endorse.

I liked how this episode was kind of like a darker version of the pilot. Chan was basically what Super-Gunn would've been like if he had some serious entitlement issues and no cute kid to look after. Like Super-Gunn (I only call him that because I am too lazy to look up what his character was actually called) Chan was an average Joe struggling to make ends meet. He wanted to be a great magician like his idol, Houdini. Problem is he sucks. And not in an entertainingly deliberate way like the great Tommy Cooper. So when Raina offered him the chance to be a superhero he took it. But for all the wrong reasons.

At no point during her entire sales pitch did Raina talk about Chan using his powers to help people. She talked about fame and lunch boxes because she knew that is what would appeal to Chan. He didn’t want to be a superhero so he could help people. He saw his powers as a means to achieve the fame and adulation he craved. He wanted all the celebrity that comes with being a superhero and none of the responsibility. Admittedly, Chan's descent into crazed super-powered villainy was rather abrupt. I can understand him going psycho killer on the people who tricked and experimented on him, but why did he have to kill poor Agent Kwan? I liked Agent Kwan.

If Chan was the evil Super-Gunn then Miles, who bared a distracting resemblance to Shane West, was the evil Skye. Okay, despite extreme smugness, he wasn't really a crazed super-villain, just morally flexible when it came to his bank balance. He preached the Rising Tide manifesto with gusto, but was happy to flush it down the toilet the second someone jangled a purse full of silver in front of him. Is this all the Rising Tide is? A loose association of super hackers with rebellious spirit and no clear vision? That’s a little disappointing, isn’t it? The way the series has been building them up I was expecting something more… organised. I'm starting to think that the leaders of this group are just a bunch of college stoners.

Intel and Assets

--Scorch? Seriously? I bet everyone in the lab was snickering behind Chan’s back when Raina suggested that.

--Ward and Skye playing battleship was adorable. Hopefully Ward's love of board games will become a regular thing.

--While we still don’t know much more about this evil organisation or why they are trying to create an army of super-powered soldiers, at least it now has a public face in Misfits’ lovely Ruth Negga.

--Unlike everyone else, Fitz and Simmons were simply confused that Skye could betray them like this. They thought she was their friend. I know these guys have spent way too much time in the lab, but could anyone who works for a major spy agency really be that naive?

--Looks like May is definitely curious about Coulson now.

May: “When someone breaks into my house I don’t usually invite them to stay.”

Skye: "Say it, Ward, say it."
Ward: "You sank my battleship."

May: "His file say anything about him being homicidal?"
Coulson: "Just said he was kind of a tool."
--I wanna read these S.H.I.E.L.D. files.

Coulson: "You've got two choices; take what's in this box or we put you in a slightly bigger one."

Ward: "Make it a double."
May: "Is there any other kind?"

Three out of four really awesome trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that I will treat you all to right now as an apology for this review being late:


Jess Lynde said...

Good review, Mark! But we are definitely out of sync on this show. I thought this was a step down from the last two episodes. It wasn't bad, it was just kind of flat. I liked them bringing the Centipede stuff from the pilot back into the mytharc (because I love a good overall season-arc), and it was good to expose Skye's secret, but I found most of this episode fairly unengaging. I was starting to get a little bored during most of the Scorch stuff. And Skye jumping into bed with her ex was mind-numbingly stupid (we are in sync on that point!).

As I said before, I suspect our differing comics perspectives --- you're a fan, I'm not really into them --- heavily influences what we want from or enjoy about this show. So for anyone who's still on the fence and looking for the signal flare, maybe that's something to take into consideration! :)

Billie Doux said...

Mark, I thought it was better, too. The story worked better for me, and the Scorch stuff felt Whedon-like, and Raina was scary. I liked what you pointed out, that Raina never told Chan he was going to be hero.

The one issue I had was that Coulson felt betrayed by what Skye did, when it was blindingly obvious to the audience that she would end up doing something like this. I honestly thought she was undercover (pun intended). That said, I'm liking Skye a little more every week.

Loved the Battleship scene. I hope they keep doing the board games.

Anonymous said...

If they are going ahead with boardgames, they could at least use a decent one rather than Battleship.

Essen 2013 is on, guys. ANYTHING that is being exposed there right now will be miles better than Battleship.

Come on, even Settler of Catan!.

Josie Kafka said...

I await the flare, Mark! Thank you for the update. :-)

CrazyCris said...

Jess I didn't get the feeling that they (Skye and dude whose name I don't remember and can't be bothered to look up) were exes. It felt like their relationship had been put aside when Skye got "recruited" by SHIELD... So with that in mind it felt perfectly normal to me that she would stay with him, probably the first time they've seen each other in months!

I'm curious about this evil organisation. Can we have more about them please?

And I really want to see what May is going to do about Colson now that her curiousity has been peaked...

I'm not ready to send up a flare yet, or even have it on standby. But I have been worried that it might be heading in that direction. Hopefully things swing upwards...

Jess Lynde said...

@CrazyCris --- Whether or not Miles was her current boyfriend or her ex, I'm still gonna have to side with Mark on this one: "... she actually stayed for a booty call. Seriously, Skye? Do you not understand that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spy agency?"

It was just plain stupid for her to hang around for sex when she knew her current super-spy cohorts were actively looking for him. :)

drnanamom said...

I think one of the points about Skye is that she doesn't really understand the spy stuff and neither do Fitz and Simmons. While Fitz and Simmons are a nice counterpoint to May and Ward, I think Skye is going to move from one side to the other. I'm really enjoying this show and I liked this episode although I'm with you Mark, did Chan really have to kill Agent Kwan? I guess it was a way to justify them blowing Chan up. You aren't really a bad guy until you kill a good guy. I am hoping for a little more moral ambiguity but the straight forward spy/superhero stuff is also working for me.

drnanamom said...

PS. Mark - great review! I am not a Marvel comics fan but a comics fan or when I'm being snooty - graphic novels :). I'm not sure where that sits me on the appreciation scale.

sunbunny said...

I agree this was the best we've gotten so far. It felt Jossier. The Battleship thing is reminiscent of Gunn and Wes facing off over a game of Risk in Angel season 2, and I loved Coulson asking May if they were good after her exchange with Chan in Chinese.

The Fitz Simmons scene was really weird. It was just awkward and, like everyone else, I am left wondering if they can really be so naïve.

Elfie said...

For a spy agency, this special ops team is fairly naive and stupid. Even Coulson seems a little too 'nice', and it bugs me to end. Okay, I know these people are supposed to be the good guys, but does being good automatically mean being ridiculous? I was just starting like Fitz and Simmons because they're both so darn cute and then they had that awkward scene with them and I'm just like uh... Friends? Reaaalllyy? How can they be that dumb? And why is Ward suddenly so determined in Skye's abilities? He should have been the first one to say, "I told you so," unless of course, he's falling for her or something, which would be so cliche but this show does everything cliche ever, so I wouldn't put it past them. The only agent who really feels like an intelligent, S.H.E.I.L.D agent is May to be honest. I like May.

This for me, was actually a step down. The villain fell flat, his gloating lines screaming about his power and how nothing can stop him now are so been there, done that it was hard to keep my eyes from rolling. I just don't know anymore. My friend tells me to stick with this show, and I really want to bc Joss Whedon, but I'm not so sure right now. Also, Skye seems to be the only one getting any character development, and I thought Whedon shows were always the plot servicing the characters rather than the other way around, so I'm dissapointed I haven't grown fond of any of the characters as yet.