Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review 1.05 - 'The Girl in the Flower Dress'
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 10.24.2013
Coulson and the team have to track down a missing powered person. What does a mysterious person from Skye's past have to do with his disappearance? Was Skye herself involved in his abduction? Who is the girl in the flower dress? 411's Wyatt Beougher weighs in on the latest episode!
Can I be honest for a minute? I’m thoroughly relieved that I got caught up on my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reviews last week, because this week it’s going to be a lot easier to just pay attention to the show and not worry about making sure everything is posted on time (sure, I have my MMA Fact or Fiction column to get up, but I do most of that on Monday night). Hopefully, that shows in an improvement in the quality of my review. After two weeks of improvement, this show is certainly deserving of a reviewer who improves as well.
And just to give you guys a look “behind the curtain”, when I do these reviews, I watch the episode Tuesday night when it airs, jot down what I remember most from the show during each commercial break, and then I sit down again Wednesday evening and watch the show again, doing the more in-depth recap work and adding in the Weekly Whedonisms and whatnot. Then, I go back through and trim everything down, find the best place to work my notes from Tuesday night into what I write on Wednesday night, go and grab pictures from the ABC site, and post the whole thing. So with that in mind, let’s see how “The Girl in the Flower Dress” stacks up to the last two episodes...
Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The team has to track Coulson’s ex-protege, who stole $30 million dollars in diamonds. Turns out she was being manipulated by an unseen organization that forced her to complete missions by threatening to trigger a self-destruct mechanism in her cybernetic eye implant. Coulson found her handler, but his cybernetic eye implant was triggered, killing him before Coulson could get any answers.
Season 01, Episode 05: The Girl in the Flower Dress
The show opens in Hong Kong to a simple street magician. The reaction to his big finale is less-than-warm, but he does have another trick up his sleeve, as he sends a fireball hurling at his heckler. It disintegrates before it hits the man or his girlfriend, but the performer does seem to have made an admirer of the attractive young lady in the flower dress. Her name is Raina (Ruth Negga), and she’s extremely interested in Chan Ho Yin’s (Louis Ozawa Changchien) fire trick. They go back to his apartment for a drink, and he shows Raina his control of fire, which doesn’t hurt him in the least. Chan implies that a certain group of people won’t let him show his gift to the world, Raina convinces him to close his eyes, and when he opens them, he’s attacked and subdued by two men in fireproof suits.
On the bus, Ward gives Skye a lecture about the importance of her decisions...while they’re playing Battleship. Ward is clearly warming up to the idea of Skye joining the team, which Skye overplays before sinking his battleship. Meanwhile, May and Coulson are observing them, with Coulson getting in a nice “I told you so” about Skye fitting in with the team (wonder what that could mean?). May questions Coulson about his changing habits and then we get a brief bit of flirtation (who knew Coulson was such a ladies’ man?) between the two before they get an alarm. Apparently, Yin’s powers came from living too close to a decommissioned nuclear power plants, and informants turned him in to S.H.I.E.L.D., who keep an eye on him. We find out about “The Index”, a list of all the people that S.H.I.E.L.D. knows about who have powers or abilities. Chan’s caseworker says that he was taken by professionals and that the Rising Tide had gotten into their system, which causes everyone to turn and stare at Skye.
Skye explains that the Rising Tide is a huge network and that she couldn’t have been the one who hacked S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson doesn’t believe her, so she offers to trace the hack and prove it, and Ward vouches for her. Raina wakes Chan up, and he believes that he’s been taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. Raina quickly puts that to rest and offers to increase Chan’s gift. Raina plays into Chan’s ego, playing up the fact that he can be as well known as Captain America, giving him the name “Scorch”. Chan buys into it and we cut back to the Bus, where Simmons is fawning over Skye as she searches for the hacker. She finds him in Austin, Texas, and he’s extremely well-known for hacking into the Kremlin. Coulson leaves Chan’s caseworker and his team to work on finding Chan, while Coulson and his team track down the hacker, Miles Lydon (Austin Nichols). Skye turns up nothing at the cafe where the hacker but Ward gets a visual on him and is forced to chase him down.the suspect gets into a car and attempts a getaway, but Coulson is in hot pursuit until the guy sets off an algorithm that turns all the lights green at an intersection and Coulson is stuck in the resulting chaos.
Cut to the Lydon’s apartment, and Skye is already there. Skye alerted him that S.H.I.E.L.D. were onto him, but they argue about him leaking the information until they start with the carnal passions. Post-coitus, Skye checks on the SD card she pulled from her van allll the way back in episode one. Miles asks about her progress, and she says he’s slowed her down. He offers to help, but she says she can’t contact him or her cover will be blown. They agree that S.H.I.E.L.D. is off-limits. Skye, looking for her top, opens the door to the adjoining room, only to find…
AGENT MELINDA MAY! It just hit the fan!
Coulson and the team are searching the apartment, Skye gives her backstory with Miles (they helped each other when they were both screwed up), Coulson lectures her, but she says Miles knows nothing. Coulson knew Skye couldn’t tell them everything, so he sent May to follow her. Ward does his stoic best to keep his betrayal from showing, while Fitz is much more candid about his (and yup, it’s pretty clear he’s been crushing on Skye). May interrogates Miles, who continues to claim ignorance of where the information went or who Chan even is. Coulson confiscates all of Miles’ stuff and takes Miles himself into custody, as does Ward with Skye when she attempts to tell her side of the story.
Raina and Chan are in a laboratory and she explains to Chan that the injection she wants to give him will augment his powers until the effects wear off. He takes the injection and displays greatly heightened flames. Chan’s megalomania starts to show. On the Bus, Lydon and Skye argue about ideology, with him name-dropping Edward Snowden. Ward urges Fitz and Simmons to keep digging up information about Lydon, and May confronts Coulson about Skye. Coulson says Skye is still hiding something, and Simmons bursts in with news that they’ve found evidence. Ward gives Lydon a chance to tell Skye whatever Fitz and Simmons found, but when he refuses, Ward tells her that he sold the information about Chan for one million dollars. Lydon reveals that Raina (who used the same line on Lydon that she used on Chan) was the one who contacted him and that her group looked harmless, that they did research on insects, specifically centipedes.
In the lab, Raina and the doctor from the first episode discuss Chan and how the platelets in his blood prevent the Extremis from combusting (this all has to take place sometime during the events of Iron Man 3, right?). Raina is tasked with draining all of Chan’s blood. Coulson briefs the team about their new intel on Centipede (which isn’t much), but they do use Lydon’s accounting information to get a potential location for where Chan is being held. Simmons (correctly) theorizes that Centipede wants Chan to stop Extremis from burning up their test subjects.Chan tries to escape from his restraints, but the doctor has taken enough blood that he’s lost the resistance to fire that kept him from burning up when he used his power. Chan tries to appeal to Raina, but she leaves him strapped down. Ward prepares to go into the field, but Coulson informs him that he and May will be doing the fieldwork because he wants to fix the mistake that he made in bringing Skye onto the team.
Skye and Miles argue about him selling out his principles, and he plays a sob story, trying to imply that she was all he was looking for, but Skye isn’t buying it. On the ground, Coulson coordinates with Chan’s caseworker about the operation. Coulson blows the door, May makes short work of the security team, and they try to free Chan, but a Centipede employee puts the facility on lockdown. Chan injects a massive dose of the serum and burns a hole through his caseworker as Coulson tries to call for a security override. Chan says the pain of burning himself alive using his powers is far less than the pain of being forced to not use them, and he completely rebuffs May’s appeals for non-violence (in Chinese). He commits to the path of destruction while on the Bus, Simmons stresses about not being able to break the lockdown of the facility. Skye says she can fix it, but she needs to be on-site. Both Ward and Lydon shoot that idea down until Skye flatters Ward and he agrees.
Chan keeps Coulson and May pinned down, and Coulson tries to take him down with the Night-Night pistol, but all of his rounds melt harmlessly in Scorch’s fire. Ward takes out the few guards May missed, as Raina and the doctor try to get Chan’s blood out of the facility. Skye unlocks the doors, but Chan is already gone. Coulson commits to taking Chan down and tells Fitz and Simmons to uncuff Miles so that he can help them. Chan finds Raina and the doctor and he flash-fries the doctor as Raina escapes in the elevator.Coulson distracts Chan long enough for May to inject him with a lethal dose of the Extremis serum. Lydon controls all the doors and ventilation shafts in the building to route Chan’s final blast up and out of the building. Outside, Ward tells Coulson that Skye managed to get a few files out of the mainframe that may help them get a lead on Centipede. Coulson is taking Chan’s death hard, but he tells Ward that they can save someone from themselves “if you get to them early enough” and they both look at Skye.
Coulson gives Lydon two choices - take what’s in the box or get put in a slightly bigger one. He gets a bracelet that will monitor everything that he does. Coulson drops him off in Hong Kong and informs him that he anonymously donated his ill-gotten funds to the family of the Chan’s deceased caseworker before calling Skye into his office. She tells Lydon she’ll stay with S.H.I.E.L.D. if they’ll let her and he says he hopes that she finds what she’s looking for. Ward and May share a drink, and Ward declines to join Skye for her meeting with Coulson. Skye attempts to talk to Coulson, but he tells her to stop lying. He tears into her, trying to find out what she’s withholding. He gives her one chance to reveal her secret or he’s done with her, so she confesses that the SD card is all of the information that she has about herself, the little that she knows about her parents. She reveals that she learned to be a hacker to try to find out more about herself, but she couldn’t find any information other than a document that was redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. She says she’s never going to stop looking, so Coulson says that maybe he can help and gives her a bracelet just like Lydon, which she puts on.
Raina is talking to a mysterious man who is in jail, and she tells him that they’ll be moving onto phase 2. She tells him that the S.H.I.E.L.D. unit has complicated their plans, and that they’d like him to contact the clairvoyant for any insight she can give them.
“It’s important for every SO to evaluate their students’ thought processes...and I like board games.”
“How are they monitored? Tapped phones, satellite surveillance, body probes in dark, unpleasant places?” “Body probes? Now that’s ridiculous. We don’t do that...do we?”
“That picture of Putin shirtless on horseback? That was his hack.”
“At least tell me how it is, the belly of the beast.” “Surprisingly unbeastly.”
“Sorry. You almost got scorched.”
“When someone breaks into my house, I usually don’t invite them to stay. But that’s just me.”
“You gave him a name?” “Everybody wants to be remembered.”
“You’re a hacker, Skye, not SEAL Team Six.” “No, but he is.”
“Did his file say anything about him being homocidal?” *shrugs* “It said he was kind of a tool.”
“Little Chan Ho Yin might’ve believed you, but not Scorch!” “Who?” “Oh, crap, they gave him a name.”
“Wouldn’t be the first one to blow up on you. (Pause) I’m beginning to think you’re bad luck.”
“You’re not who you used to be.” “You’re not who I thought you were.”
Theory of the Week
This is a new section that I’m going to try to do regularly, but it’s largely going to rely on the rest of the internet. I’m going to highlight my favorite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.-related theory each week, either because it’s so off-the-wall, or because I genuinely think that there’s a good chance that it could happen. If you’ve got a theory you’d like to highlight, post it in the comments, and I’ll include it in next week’s review. This week’s theory is:
Coulson is actually a life-model decoy (nothing new there - I’ve actually talked about this theory in one of my other reviews), but he’s going to act progressively weirder and weirder until he turns into Ultron at the beginning of The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.
Obviously, this is one of the weirder ones, as we know James Spader is going to portray the titular villain in the sequel, but I don’t want to discount it completely because there’s always the possibility that Ultron will infect him and he’ll become the Vision instead. What do you think?
This wasn’t the best episode to date. I’d actually put it on the level of the pilot, as it had a lot of the same issues - guest stars turning in performances that aren’t on par with the regulars (Changchien was too over-the-top for my tastes), CGI that’s not up to snuff with what we’re accustomed to from Marvel (though, to be fair, fire is one of the harder effects to get right, and the effects in this episode were still far, far better than the ones in the pilot), and the characters (with the exception of Coulson and May) taking a pretty sizable step backwards into their initial cliche forms.
Ward actually devolved throughout the show from a guy who’s finally starting to open up and show real emotion to his normal emotionless self (though if they show that that’s a function of his feelings of betrayal, I’ll forgive them), Fitz is the socially awkward smart guy who ignores his attractive co-worker/best friend in favor of the hot hacker girl, and Simmons, well, she actually defended Skye, so at least they didn’t turn her into Fitz’ “jealous best friend who wants more than friendship”, though I’m not yet convinced that they won’t. On the bright side, Coulson and May continue to jockey for the “best character” spot, between May’s deadpan, stone-cold badassedness and Coulson’s continuing descent into being a softie.These two, more than any other characters on the show, actually feel three-dimensional, and they pretty much save this episode from being outright bad. I’m not sure what to make of Skye, as they’re trying to give her depth and move her beyond the cliche of sassy hacker girl, but everything they add to the character is just another cliche layered on top of the original one. Hopefully something happens out of left field and changes up everything we think we know about the character.
With a story like this, I think the show could benefit from a little bit of the decompression of the comic storytelling style that’s currently popular(yup, the same one that I decried in my review of the pilot episode) - rather than turning these A stories into one-shots, make an episode like this a two-parter. Things just moved along too quickly to really feel the emotional impact Skye’s betrayal had on the team, and Chan went from street performer to supervillain in what felt like five minutes’ worth of story time. Both of those stories need more time to breathe and grow organically, and I think if this episode had ended with the team locating Chan (which would’ve taken a little more than some accounting records from Lydon and thus given them more time to deal with their feelings about Skye and Lydon), then picked up next week with the rescue attempt and eventual “boss confrontation”, it would’ve been two really good episodes instead of one okay one. On the bright side, we got more information (and a new mystery) about Centipede, and Disney/Marvel/ABC didn’t really shy from showing Skye in her lingerie. If they continue to show Choe Bennet in form-fitting dresses and/or her underwear, they’re bound to keep some of the fans who aren’t enthralled with the storylines (and before you blow up the comments, just remember that their target audience is comic book fans, so that statement isn’t a stretch by any means).
The 411: After taking two steps forward in the form of “The Asset” and “Eye Spy”, this show takes the proverbial one step back with “The Girl in the Flower Dress”. The bright spots on the show continue to be May and Coulson, but this episode was weighed down by trying to force too many stories into too short a time, and without a chance to develop properly, the main story of the kidnapping and the side story of Skye’s betrayal both fell a little flat. Fortunately, the show hasn’t sunk back to the depths of “0-8-4” with this episode, so I’m cautiously optimistic that they can turn things around next week.