Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review 1.12 - 'Seeds'
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 01.15.2014
Coulson and May track down someone who may know about Skye's past while the rest of the team go to S.H.I.E.L.D Academy to investigate a series of strange freezing incidents! 411's Wyatt Beougher checks in with his review of "Seeds!"
Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The team managed to outwit Agent Hand in order to locate and rescue Coulson, capturing Raina in the process. Coulson discovered what had happened to him after he died, and Mike Peterson woke up badly burned and missing half of his leg, with an ocular implant like Akela Amador and the Centipede soldiers had.
Season 01, Episode 12: Seeds
Three college kids look to do some late-night swimming in an indoor pool, and another student gets up to leave as the water in the pool starts to instantly freeze. The girl gets out, but the boy’s leg gets stuck, prompting the boy who was leaving to grab a pool skimmer and break him free. One of the girls throws a S.H.I.E.L.D. hoodie over his shoulders, and they’re not college students, but students at the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy. On the Bus, Coulson is brooding by himself, while Fitz, Simmons, Ward, and Skye discuss the incident at the pool, which was caused by a chemical that Simmons created and delivered by a mechanism that Fitz designed. They’ve been called in to consult on the investigation and talk to the student body about potentiality. Ward and Skye are tagging along, and Ward, Fitz, and Simmons talk about how the the different S.H.I.E.L.D. academies (Communications, Operations, and SciTech) don’t really interact, and there’s a rivalry between Ward (Operations) and FitzSimmons (SciTech). May and Coulson won’t be joining the rest of the team, as they have “other matters” to take care of. Skye is worried about Coulson, but Ward tries to reassure her that Coulson will be fine.
At the Science and Technology Academy, Ward and Fitz trade insults about the differences between their respective academies before meeting Agent Weaver (Christine Adams), who runs the school. They’ve narrowed the suspects down to the top ten percent of their class. Weaver takes FitzSimmons to the lecture hall, and Ward takes Skye to see the Wall of Valor, which memorializes agents who lost their lives in the line of duty. (A little Captain America: The Winter Soldier foreshadowing, with Skye reading off Bucky Barnes’ name.) Skye wishes she could’ve been a part of it, saying she hacked into S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of coming in the right way, but Ward assures her that all she needs is a dedication to the greater good, which Coulson saw in her from day one. Back on the Bus, May tries to convince Coulson to stop obsessing over his file. Coulson relents, and May reveals that she has a lead on Agent Lumley (Boyd Kestner), the partner of the agent who dropped Skye off at the orphanage. He went off the grid after his partner was killed, and has eluded S.H.I.E.L.D. for twenty-three years.
Fitz and Simmons start on their speech, working in some humor, while Ward talks to the boy who got his leg frozen. He drops the name of the other boy at the pool, Donnie Gill, but says he doesn’t think it was him. Fitz and Simmons are just getting to the meat of their speech when Donnie stands up and starts freezing; moments later, he’s completely encased in ice. FitzSimmons break the ice on Donnie’s neck and deliver glucose to lower his body’s normal freezing temperature. Skye finds the device that caused it, smashes it at Fitz’ direction, and the ice immediately breaks. Cut to a car, where Ian Quinn (remember him from the Graviton episode?) is talking to someone on his cell, telling them that he doesn’t want to know why it didn’t work, but that it needs to be fixed before he arrives.
Skye interviews Donnie before Agent Weaver sends him back to his room. He apologizes to Fitz and Simmons, and they reveal to Ward and Skye that while pranks are the norm, this goes beyond that. Weaver fills them in on Donnie, who is the youngest student since Fitz and Simmons and who has a 190 IQ and was failing out of high school out of boredom when they found him. Weaver says they were going to graduate him early and move him to the Sandbox. Ward sends Weaver to continue interviews, then tells the rest of the team that the students are trained to keep secrets, so they’re going to have to do their own investigation. Coulson and May stake out a dress shop, because if Agent Lumley is going to make a run for it, he’ll more than likely have to go there to get papers.
Back at the Academy, Ward breaks down his plan - he, Skye, and Simmons will go and mingle with the SciTech students, while Fitz goes and hangs out with Donnie to see if he knows anything. Skye and Simmons tease Ward about showing compassion and then Simmons takes them to the Boiler Room, which was a normal boiler room that the SciTech students have upgraded over the years into a fully functional nightclub. Fitz goes and hangs out with Donnie, and Fitz is impressed with Donnie’s ideas and inventions. May asks Coulson what his plan would be if he were to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. and go off the grid like Lumley did. She says she’d hide in the wheel well of a 747 from JFK to Singapore with a parachute and oxygen and drop off somewhere in the 3000 miles and 12 countries of land that the flight would cross. She theorizes that Coulson would head to Lima, but Coulson cuts her off and wants to know why May is talking (“because you’re not”) and why she’s active on the Skye investigation (Skye’s proven herself and she wants to get Coulson’s mind off of his file). Coulson is worried that if Fury changed his memories, he could’ve changed more, but May assures him that if she thought that had been done, she’d be the first one to say something. Coulson says he trusts her but he wants to root out all the secrets on the team, so she confesses to her relationship with Ward, but Coulson spots Lumley and they move in on him.
Lumley makes May and the chase is on. She trails him into an alley but he loses her around a corner. She stops to look for him and he swings down and kicks her. They fight, and he attempts to take some kind of suicide pill. May kicks it out of his grasp, and he nails her with a pallet before trying to run away. Coulson hedges him in with Lola, so Lumley starts climbing the fire escape, but Coulson hovers up in Lola and introduces himself. Lumley is relieved, and he immediately assumes they want to know about Skye. Back on the Bus, Lumley reveals everything he knows about Skye - she was an 0-8-4 in the Hunan Province of China. An entire Chinese village died trying to protect Skye, and so did the first agent who was sent in to extract her. After Lumley’s team rescued Skye, they started getting tortured and killed. Agent Avery set it up so that Skye was moved into foster care and then moved again every two months to keep her safe. Lumley doesn’t want to know anything about Skye, but he says that if she’s safe, it might all be worth it. Lumley wants to know if they’re taking him in - May immediately says yes, but Coulson says no, that they’ll get into the air and drop him somewhere en route because Coulson isn’t sure S.H.I.E.L.D. is the safest place for him. Lumley warns them to stop digging and stay away from the girl, because death follows her everywhere. Coulson and May exchange a look and May tells Coulson that, for Skye’s safety, he can never tell her what they’ve learned.
Back at the Boiler Room, Skye pretended to be a level 7 CS operative stationed at the Sandbox to get information from the bartender. One of the girls from the pool has been trying to get assigned to the Sandbox and Skye reveals she’s just lost the top spot. Fitz continues looking over Donnie’s designs, including a battery with a massive charge. Donnie reveals that he’s having trouble with cooling the batteries at full scale, so Fitz suggests using oxygen. Donnie says he’s having trouble with no one to talk to, and Fitz tells him to hang in there and asks if he wants to join the team at the Boiler Room. Donnie declines, wanting to work on his battery idea, and thanks Fitz. Ward shoots pool with Cassie, the girl from the pool, telling her that he’s looking for the brightest mind to join his team. He gets Cassie talking, trips her up in a lie, and then gets her to reveal that Donnie and Seth, the first boy who got caught in the pool, are actually friends and have been talking about getting Fitz to come to the school for weeks.
Simmons calls Fitz to warn him that the attacks were staged to lure them to the Academy, and Fitz realizes that Donnie was trying to use the batteries to power something, so he races back up to Donnie’s room in time to see him working on a large-scale version of the ice generator. When Fitz threatens to turn the machine in to Agent Weaver, Seth blasts him with a pressurized air gun, knocking him out and allowing Donnie and Seth to escape with the machine. Back on the Bus, Coulson debriefs the team about what they’ve learned, and Fitz realizes that they’ve had a backer because some of the parts are rare and they wouldn’t be able to find on their own. As the team tries to trace their backer, Seth is on a phone call, talking about a deal, and it proves to be Quinn on the other end. Skye reveals that Seth’s dad is a lawyer for Quinn and that he’s going to buy the technology. Skye wants to talk to Coulson alone for a minute as the rest of the team looks to fill Weaver and Ward in on what they’ve learned. Quinn tells Seth to use the machine right there at S.H.I.E.L.D., promising to get them out if it works, but as soon as he’s off the plane, he has his pilot turn it around. Seth convinces Donnie (against his better judgment) to turn the machine on, and it sends up a burst, but then nothing happens.
Skye is afraid that she’s done something wrong, but Coulson tells her that Quinn isn’t the only one who manipulates people, that S.H.I.E.L.D. actually teaches it in their academies. Skye is confused, so Coulson reveals that he’s been keeping something from her and that he realized that he has no right to do so. He tells her everything that he knows about her past after warning her that she might not like it. Skye starts crying as Ward fills her in on the details, while Fitz and Simmons detect a massive weather anomaly. Donnie and Seth realize what they’ve done as increasingly larger hail balls start to rain down. The hail stops and Seth thinks that it’s over, but Donnie says they’ve created a super storm and that they’re in the eye of it. Donnie tries to reverse the effect, and Seth argues, but Donnie says all the money in the world won’t be worth it if they’re dead. On the Bus, they try to coordinate with Ward, who says he can get to Donnie before nearly walking out into gale-force winds. Coulson wants to know if anyone knows how to get to Donnie, and Fitz says he has a way. Cut to May flying directly over the eye of the storm and then trying to drop into it.
As Donnie and Seth work to reverse the machine, a lightning bolt strikes it, blasting Seth out of the bed of the pickup. Donnie goes to check on him, but he’s badly hurt. The Bus lands and Donnie pleads for the team to help Seth. Simmons tries CPR and an AED, but Seth dies. Donnie breaks down over Seth’s corpse as May guides the Bus out of the storm. Fitz tries to console Donnie, but he angrily leaves, to be transported to the Sandbox for observation. May wants to know if Coulson heard her when she said she and Ward were sleeping together, and Coulson says he did and that he trusts her. May says that if it becomes a problem, she’ll end it, and then asks if Coulson told Skye, and he says that he did. May thought it destroyed her, but Coulson said that while it shattered her world, she said that her story wasn’t over, that it was just starting. She spent her whole life thinking no one wanted her and that she didn’t belong, but that it was actually S.H.I.E.L.D. looking after her and keeping her safe. As Coulson tells May this, Skye visits the Wall of Valor to see Avery’s plaque. Coulson tells May that what he told Skye could’ve destroyed her faith in humanity, but her reaction to it actually restored a piece of his. As Coulson talks about how people respond to adversity, Donnie runs his finger along the window of the SUV that he’s in, leaving a trail of ice behind. As Quinn monitors Donnie and Seth’s storm, Coulson calls him from Seth’s cell phone. Quinn, thinking it’s Donnie, voices his pleasure with their machine, but Coulson instead warns him that he knows all about Quinn’s work and that if Quinn crosses into a country that S.H.I.E.L.D. works with, they will shoot him out of the sky. Quinn responds by telling Coulson that the Clairvoyant told him to tell Coulson “hello”.
“‘Bad seed’ isn’t a S.H.I.E.L.D. term, Ward, it’s just a term.”
“That is a wonderful idea.” “Ward has them from time to time.”
“What? It’s strategic.” “It’s adorable.” “The Tin Man has a heart.”
“Do you have one of these in operations?” “No.” “Did not think so.”
“I can get there.” “I can’t get there.”
Theory of the Week
So Skye is an 0-8-4, and her family is unknown even to S.H.I.E.L.D., and we’ve got the origin of another potential supervillain (Blizzard) with ties to the Thunderbolts. I’m beginning to think the Thunderbolts are going to feature on this show at some point in the future, although I think a lot of that will be contingent on whether or not it’s renewed for a second season.
I think this episode is the perfect example of the path that this show needs to continue down. Not only was there a nice little espionage plot set up by a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. trainees to illustrate just how secretive and duplicitous the organization can be, which played perfect counter to Coulson newfound need for complete honesty among the team. Plus, this was arguably the first episode where Fitz and Simmons were completely in their element, and it was nice to see their more confident sides. Plus, with the reintroduction of Ian Quinn, the revelation that he is in league with the Clairvoyant, and his subsequent role in the origin of Blizzard, we got a nice little reminder that this show isn’t The X-Files or Warehouse 13 and that it does in fact have sixty or so years of a well-developed universe to draw from.
On top of that, the connection between Coulson and Skye deepens, and every single character on the team continues to exhibit, if not growth, then at least more depth than they were given in the early episodes. Whether it’s May’s concern for Coulson, Ward’s compassion for Donnie, or Skye restoring some of Coulson’s faith in humanity, there is a marked improvement in the interpersonal dynamics of the team, and it feels more like something that’s developed organically. I was initially very hard on the showrunners because, based on their past experience with television shows, I expected more from them, and it turns out that I just needed to be patient. Are Coulson and the team at the level of Buffy’s Scooby Gang? Not even close, but, looking back, even the Scooby Gang needed time to become the Scooby Gang.
With the next episode seeming to promise a death, something that’s not entirely foreign to Whedonites, I find myself anxious to see where the show is going to go from here. There are so many dangling plot threads right now (Mike Peterson, the depth and breadth of Centipede’s influences and connections), the futures of Franklin Hall and Donnie Gill...I want to see how it all ties together, and for the first time, I actually feel confident that it is all going to tie together at some point in the future. The past few episodes have really pulled things from the seemingly disjointed early episodes together, from Mike getting pulled back into Centipede against his will, the fact that Skye’s first official mission with the team was to investigate an 0-8-4 when she herself is one, Quinn’s likely involvement with Centipede as their financial backer - I fully believe that this show is working from a bigger picture instead of a bunch of smaller ones, and finally I’m starting to think that the whole is going to be far better than the sum of its parts.
I’ll admit to going into this show with very high expectations and until the past two weeks, I was fairly certain that I was going to be disappointed (beyond just my initial and minor disappointment with a few of the early episodes), but now the Whedons and Maurissa Tancharoen have earned my trust, at least through the end of the season. My only complaint right now is directed at ABC - after a three week break, the show gets two new episodes and then takes another three-week break? Am I missing something here? Is ABC really concerned with something that’s airing on another network over the next three weeks and that’s why we’re getting reruns? If so, it seems pretty silly, since the show is going to come back two days before the Winter Olympics kicks off. Will they do another two weeks of reruns while the Olympics are on? If so, I’m afraid they’re going to kill any momentum that this show is gaining with casual viewers (let’s face it - if you’re reading this, you’re like me, and you’re committed to this show at least through the end of the first season). When the show took a three-week hiatus in December, I thought it was fairly standard procedure - The Walking Dead has done it since Season 2, ABC’s Once Upon a Time did it this season (and maybe others, I caught up on the first two seasons last February, after it would’ve already returned from it’s winter break), and “The Bridge” was the perfect mid-season finale to set up the spring run; however, I honestly wish they would’ve just waited until February to bring the show back, rather than this start and stop nonsense. /rant
The 411: This show continues to develop, and if it’s not must-watch TV yet, it’s finally giving the indications that it could become just that. This episode tied up the mystery of Skye’s past (for now), along with revealing the origin of Blizzard, a character who’s been both a villain and a hero in the Marvel Universe. Ian Quinn returned and revealed his connection with Centipede, and Skye’s ability to make the best of a bad situation helped Coulson to move past his lingering doubts over his death and resurrection. While somewhat light on action, this episode more than made up for it with storyline and character development.