REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., S01E05 — ‘The Girl in the Flower Dress’
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
S01E05 — ‘The Girl in the Flower Dress’
Written by: Brent Fletcher Directed by: Jesse Bochco Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge Guest starring: Ruth Negga, Louis Ozawa Changchien
Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. continues to tinker away at its formula, resulting this week in a darker and more interesting direction for the show. Last week’s episode (‘Eye Spy’) was a big leap forward from a fun but fairly weak beginning. This week is a step closer to what many fans want from S.H.I.E.L.D. — it’s packed with Marvel references, supernatural developments, and hints of villainy-to-come. Stan Lee gets an executive producer co-credit this week, adding even more geeky luster. We even get to see a character from the pilot spectacularly incinerated. Wow.
This week’s story brings us to Hong Kong, where a broke street performer (Louis Ozawa Changchien) named Chan Ho Yin is getting a tepid response to his cheap magic tricks … until he turns on the heat, so to speak. He can harness fire at will, and his sudden fireball scatters the crowd, but attracts the attention of a mysterious woman in a flower dress. She wants to see more, and Chan is happy to oblige. But pretty women who aren’t S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are gonna be bad news on this show, and before Chan knows what hit him, he’s being hauled away by two of her goons in fire-proof suits.
S.H.I.E.L.D. moves in to find Chan and we discover that they’re actively tracking people with super-powers across the globe (Skye: “Wait, WHAT?!”). Mostly S.H.I.E.L.D. protects them but sometimes they make the tough calls to destroy them when necessary. The gravitonium/Graviton in episode 3 was cool, but super powers …. yes. Supernatural characters will open up a huge range of narrative possibilities that can only do good things for the show.
Skye is again at the center of the group’s dilemma this week, when she is linked to Rising Tide hacker Miles, who has hacked into S.H.I.E.L.D’s data and sold it to a shadowy group. After Agent May catches Sky in flagrante delicto with Miles it’s all handcuffs and glares for the rest of the episode. Skye not only knows Miles, she knows him … and her loyalties to S.H.I.E.L.D. are called into question again as Coulson and his Agents try to understand if she could be a double or triple agent.
That group that abducted Chan turns out to be Centipede, bringing them back from the pilot in a nice twist that establishes them as a major villain for S.H.I.E.L.D. this season.
Ruth Negga (World War Z) is Raina, the eponymous woman in the dress working for Centipede, and she plays Chan like a fiddle. She appeals to his vanity to gain his compliance. “We’d like to do tests …” she says to him. “I can increase [your powers]. Stay and you can be remembered, the world over.” She even suggests a super-name: Scorch.
Of course, Chan/Scorch is expendable; Centipede wants to harvest his blood to provide the final ingredient for their highly unstable serum to create super-soldiers. In a very effective sequence, Scorch’s fire powers turn on him and begin to burn him badly. He incinerates the Centipede doctor Debbie in a surprisingly graphic visual, then Coulson and May make the tough call when he refuses to come in peacefully.
The Coulson/Skye team will be a central theme for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The writers have wisely given them much-needed conflict this week, which is important to build a believable relationship between the two. Coulson feels burned by Skye, and for her part, she feels guilty for keeping secrets. Those secrets, by the way, end the episode, as it’s revealed that her motivation for joining the group is to search for her utterly mysterious parents. The only document she has on them was redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.
And, no, we do not find out this week if Agent Coulson is a life model decoy, so there’s that.
If you’re into the Marvel comics universe, you may enjoy The Nerdist’s list of Marvel villains who they think would make good bad guys on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Rating: 6 out of 10
How did you like this week’s episode? Let us know in the Comments section below.