A real half and half episode overall, with one plot being generally well put together if a little confusing in its ending, and the other being largely worthless. Not the stand-out episode I was hoping for. Thoughts:
-It’s a good thing they included that Asian music with the establishing shot of Hong Kong or I might have been very confused as to where we were.
-I thought they would have done more with the general theme of magic and magicians that was show cased at the start but they never really did, unless you want to stretch it to Skye’s activities being an illusion.
-The teaser was a little odd to me, but then again I didn’t like that whole half of the plot at all.
-I liked the initial Skye/Ward scene where they were just playing Battleship while Coulson looked on. It spoke to the creation of a greater team ethic that he was after, and set up the resulting “betrayal” by Skye in a decent fashion.
-Remember when I said last week that I thought Coulson and Melinda had a thing at one point? I am informed that I am just about the last person to come to that conclusion. More hints of it here, in an openly flirty manner.
-We went one whole episode without Judgy Skye making an appearance, but she’s back with a bang in this one. In an episode confused about the morality of hacking, Skye walks a fine course of looking down on everything that S.H.I.E.L.D does, at least initially.
-The titular girl in the flower dress, Ruth Negga, does OK, but she’s little more than this vaguely creepy character who doesn’t raise her voice at any point. I presume she’s meant for greater things.
-Obvious similarities between this and “The Asset”, with the birth of a supervillain and a general idea that people can be tempted to do stupid things by being asked to achieve their “potential”.
-Louis Ozawa Changchien is really bad as “Scorch”, a low grade Marvel villain, stumbling over the English and acting as melodramatically as possible. Only Coulson’s “They gave him a name” line saved that whole plot arc from being irredeemable.
-And man was Raina able to return him to the side of evil remarkably quickly. A total lack of believable set-up was done for that character, and his slide towards the bad side of the scale just seemed dumb as a result.
-You get the feeling that we’re going to be guessing at what Skye’s game is for a while. Is she actually looking for her parents? Is she actually doing some infiltration for the Rising Tide? How many bluffs and double bluffs will we have to endure before arcs end?
-I was fairly amused that S.H.I.E.L.D, that bastion of technological innovation, couldn’t keep track of the hacker guy after a fairly lame chase sequence. What, you couldn’t put anything in the sky to keep an eye on him?
-Oh, a sex scene. That was unexpected. It was a decent swerve I’ll admit.
-But then Skye gets made again. In almost the exact same manner as she was in the pilot, just without the painfully stupid “What up?” line. It added an interesting new dynamic for the show, but lead to some unresolved issues by the conclusion.
-Could not understand why Fitz and Simmons were sympathetic towards Skye given what they knew at the time. You get this weird feeling like they were only hired into S.H.I.E.L.D a week before Skye, since they don’t seem to care that much about people damaging the entity.
-That testing scene, chock full of cliché.
-And I really needed Scorch to explain his reasoning to me again, and then to just go off on a pointless villain monologue, all delivered in as weak a manner as possible.
-I’ll admit I was little fazed by the namedropping of Peyton Manning and Edward Snowden. I think I always had it in my head that the show was in a completely alternative universe – check out that alternate WW2 for example, with HYDRA and a distinct lack of segregated US forces – so I found it a little odd that they would include real personalities like that. Does this mean Obama is President? That S.H.I.E.L.D has to compete with the NSA?
-Coulson has trouble trusting his gut. He should, because his gut is constantly wrong.
-The swerve with the hacker guy actually being on the take was a bit much for me, considering the way that this show has approached the issue if “hacktivists”. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D doesn’t seem to want to take one side or the other, and keeps switching between complimentary and critical in their portrayal of such things. Some might call that trying to emphasise a grey course. I call it fence sitting to avoid controversy.
-Please don’t tell me that we will be sticking with “Centipede” to describe S.H.I.E.L.D’s nemesis organisation. Come on, can’t we just call it A.I.M or New-HYDRA or something? Please?
-I suppose I did like how consecutive scenes near the end made it clear that “Centipede” (sigh) were one step ahead of S.H.I.E.L.D , with Coulson’s team shown figuring out things one scene later than their rival.
-Hey, an actually decent reference to the movies with Coulson’s door exploder thing. Small, relevant to the plot, a little bit of levity? Perfect.
-Scorch thinks there is no difference between S.H.I.E.L.D and Centipede? Right, right. What a great character.
-Fairly limited combat scene let down by some poor CGI, but this isn’t the show for that kind of thing.
-Because most of that budget was spent on the horror show that was that Centipede scientist getting burned to death, then disintegrated. I was genuinely shocked that it was shown so graphically, and for the bigging up of a character who died in the same scene (or maybe he didn’t, who knows).
-Coulson gets the best line of the show, in response to Ward’s “You can’t save everyone from themselves sir.” “You can if you get to them early enough”, with a pointed look at Skye. This was episode where Coulson kept the paternal aura he had from “Eye Spy”, only more disapproving, and this exchange tied into that.
-Dumping hacker guy in Hong Kong was an inane, stupid thing to do. He has no money, no ID, no access to electronic devices. Coulson just stranded an American citizen in a foreign country with no ability to leave or even prove who he is. And he had every right to put him in a cell! I’d call that “cruel and unusual”.
-So, despite actively working against the team and admitting that she’s not on “The Bus” for the reasons she said she was, Skye gets to stay. What? That’s not how these things are supposed to work. Skye should be in a cell, or dumped in Hong Kong like her hacker buddy/lover. Having set up the situation with Skye’s activities being discovered, “The Girl In The Flower Dress” then utterly wimps out on the realistic consequences. You can’t have it both ways guys.
-Ugh, Clark Gregg was just awful in that closing scene with Chloe Bennet. So, so wooden.
-OK, so Skye has a newly revealed motivation, and she’s on S.H.I.E.L.D’s version of probation. I guess they can go interesting places with that. Still think the whole set-up is poor though.
-Now there’s the kind of final scene that should round off an episode, over the comedic nonsense of “0-8-4” and “Eye Spy”. Some foreshadowing, set-up, new villains to ponder on and things to entice a viewer back (because this show, haemorrhaging viewers by all accounts, really needs that).
Still big problems with this it, though it remains just about watchable. A two week break now before what looks like, from the teasers, a more intense episode featuring a serial killer. I’d also expect the soon to be released Thor: The Dark World to contain some sort of involvement from Coulson or the team, or at least some form of shout out to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D as a promotional exercise, so watch out for that.
To read my thoughts on other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, click here to go to the index.