Alright, mid-season cliff-hangers resolved, let’s get the second half of “S1” going for real! “Seeds” see’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D going to the Marvel’s version of Hogwarts, which is interesting enough, but we also get to see some recurring villains who aren’t part of organisations with ridiculous names (hopefully). Thoughts:
-The “Previously on…” section featured a brief shot of “0-8-4”, where Coulson likens an 0-8-4 discovery to Skye, in so far as they are both unknown properties. Now that was some early foreshadowing.
-Anyway, teens in trouble! Any time an episode opens with school kids doing anything that involves cutting loose or having fun, disaster is about to strike, and so it does. Nice little mystery set up quickly, with the super smart kids, the ice and the clear loner with something to hide.
-I did find it kind of neat that the S.H.I.E.L.D academies have this rivalry with each other…and the fact that it might well be the kind of rivalry that exists just in the smart guy’s heads.
-The academy principal (or whatever) mentions “bad seeds”. We have an episode title! I absolutely loved Skye cutting Ward’s explanation for the term off. This show does too much explaining, and it’s like they were almost referencing that criticism.
-Loved the “Wall of Valour” too. It’s the exact kind of thing you should show within an agency like S.H.I.E.L.D, to emphasise its lengthy history and the sacrifices people have to make within the organisation. Part of Skye’s whole deal recently has been trying to live up to a potential future as an agent, and her seemingly genuine wonder at seeing the wall sold that really well.
-But then they had to go and ruin it, as Skye picks a random name off the wall to say out loud and it just so happens to be “Bucky Barnes”. Well of course. Not the agent who dropped her off at the orphanage, no, it has to be the guy who just so happens to have a part to play in the next Marvel Studios production in a few months. An unnecessary and clumsy reference to the wider universe that pulled me out of the episode big time.
-Ward tells Skye that it was her “dedication to the greater good” that caught Coulson’s eye when he brought her on to the plane. Remember, Skye lied her way on to the plane in order to gain access to S.H.I.E.L.D files for her own personal reasons, and later abused that position by helping a wanted fugitive escape justice (also for her own personal gain). Later she nearly ruined Simmons career for her own personal gain in “The Hub”. Yeah, she’s all about the “greater good”.
-So, while most of the team is off doing the mystery of the week, Coulson and May go after more info on Skye’s back-story. An interesting switcharoo, and gave the two something separate to do while Coulson was doing some soul searching. I liked it.
-Fitz and Simmons are such a pair that when a device Simmons built is involved in a murder attempt, they’re both brought in to investigate and they’re both asked to give a combined speech to the student body. What is up with this? Were they really so joined at the hip their entire academic lives that they are now asked to do thing of this nature together, as a matter of course? It seems so crazy to me.
-But that speech gets interrupted (thank God) by another murder attempt. Ice is the motif of the episode, and poor Donnie gets the full effect. Some decent CGI work (for the relative level) and a nice little action scene.
-And David Conrad is back as Ian Quinn, the billionaire douchebag from “The Asset”. After CENTIPEDE, that makes him the shows second recurring villain. He’s a little bland for my tastes, but he has a sort of suave greasiness to him that makes him effective enough.
-I actually had to pause the episode for a second when I saw the words “Mexico City, Mexico” flash up on the screen. After I stopped laughing at the sheer lack of necessity for the second “Mexico”, I thought back to “Girl in the Flower Dress” and how Hong Kong couldn’t be introduced without Chinese music playing.
-Oh hey, Coulson’s not in a suit! What’s that, second time? Looking good Gregg.
-And not at all inconspicuous on the stakeout. In the bright red vintage convertible.
-I wish I could have hated the fact that the S.H.I.E.L.D academy has a functioning nightclub underneath it, but damn it, I’m just not that cynical. I thought it was a neat choice that allowed some set variation.
-OK, so Fitz goes off to try and be Donnie’s best friend. Some inane technobabble marred some otherwise decent dialogue.
-Nice scene between Coulson and May in the car. The trauma that Coulson’s undergone was always going to lead into these kinds of moments, and I feel that the actors hit the right marks. Only May could talk to Coulson on this level.
-Very important line from Coulson when he says “I’m tired of secrets.” This is the guy who previously wanted others to “trust the system”. He’s chaffing under it now. Along with happens in the rest of the episode, that’s leading somewhere.
-Of course, there has to be some humorous asides, and in this case it’s May’s sudden admittance that she’s been having sex with Ward that gets cut off. I guess I can forgive.
-Nice fight scene between May and the runaway agent, some decent moves and spins. The show needs that kind of thing. Also good to see that May isn’t some invincible juggernaut.
-Lola’s barely been in the show since “Pilot”, but she’s flying again here. Guess that CGI budget had some room.
-So, we get down to the brass tacks of Skye’s back-story, and it’s a doozy. Powers? Lots of people dead? A shadowy organisation after her? The implication here is that she’s a mutant I think, but this continuity lacks the legal power to use that term (Thanks Fox!). Interesting stuff anyway.
-“Wherever she goes…death follows.” Little overly-dramatic there guy.
-Fitz, showing off a little under the weight of all the adulation, fixes Donnie’s power problem without a second thought. Bit of a Chekov’s Gun, but at least it showed us something about Fitz.
-So, the two students targeted are the ones actually behind it all. A bit of a shocking twist anyway. They wrote themselves out of the corner well enough.
-Except…the plot of the two guys makes little sense. They used a device Simmons made to fake a murder attempt in the expectation that it would lead to Fitz visiting the academy. OK, they’re joined at the hip apparently. Then, without directly asking him, they figured Fitz would just wonder on by and fix their power problem instantly. And that they would get away with all of it. Hmm.
-I did like the air cannon, and how it was introduced in the previous scene. (Yeah, I know it was another Chekov’s Gun…)
-So Ian Quinn is behind all of these machinations. His only scenes in this are inside a car and inside a plane, but they managed to capture some of his malevolence regardless.
-And decent stuff with Donnie and Seth on the ground, as they desperately try and find a way out of their dire situation.
-I liked the little montage of the storm building up and Coulson having his conversation with Skye. A nice sense of confluence was created.
-Simmon’s figures the two guys must be in the eye of the storm. Um, why? She knows that storms move right?
-Seth buys it, automatically giving “Seeds” some additional emotive weight. I half expected to see S.H.I.E.L.D giving him the Tahiti treatment at the end, but we were spared that, thankfully.
-Also very important, and right, that it was Coulson who gave the order to let him go. If anyone would know when the time is right to let somebody pass on, it’s him.
-Bear McCrery finally stepped it up here, with the first really decent bits of music since the show started.
-Liked that shot of the plane gliding over the top of the storm, and May’s dodgy descent into the eye. Still, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D really likes to remind us that the thing has VTOL capability lately.
-This episode was great for giving everyone a moment, or something important to do. Coulson has his dilemma over Skye. May has her fight with the runaway agent and later her piloting. Skye has her back-story to discover. Fitz and Simmons have their speech and Fitz has the stuff with the battery. Ward has his investigation. It’s good to find ways to get everybody involved.
-I can only assume Skye is getting a bit of a re-tool here, with such a larger emphasis on her agent status desire and now possibly superpowers of some sort.
-And some great stuff with Coulson as he narrates on how Skye’s perseverance is an inspiration to him. That being said, Clark Gregg’s go to tone for emoting is this low, whispery one, that he’s used a lot, most notably in “F.Z.Z.T”.
-Liked the Patton quote on the S.H.I.E.L.D Wall of Valour: “Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.” For all the gadgets that S.H.I.E.L.D comes up with, it’s the people that are the heart of it.
-Poor Donnie is a broken young man as Fitz leads him towards captivity. It’s a bit of a lazy analogy, but there is certainly something a bit Columbine about him in that penultimate scene.
-Because Donnie’s not done, as the more hardcore Marvel fans would have realised straight away from his name. Yup, Donald Gill, A.K.A “Blizzard”. Good to see the show continue to branch out and come up with more recurring bad guys from the canon, even if this final origin scene was all too similar to the last we saw of Franklin Hall in “The Asset”.
-And Quinn is in cahoots with this mysterious “clairvoyant”. The plot thickens. Rather nicely.
A decent episode. It had several elements that, for me, came close to ruining it, not least the nonsensical nature of the antagonists overall plan. But it still had a solid plot, acting and things for people to do. It also added to the universe being created and had some good action sequences. All in all, one of the better Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D offerings so far.
Hasn’t helped in the ratings though, they continue to fall, with “Seeds” being the second lowest episode yet. Hopefully that stabilisation is coming soon, because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has shown that it can be good television.
To read my thoughts on other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, click here to go to the index.
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