Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 5 review: Girl In The Flower Dress

Review James Hunt 24 Oct 2013 - 07:06

Humour, character development, intrigue... James finds much to admire in this week's Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This review contains spoilers.

1.5 Girl in the Flower Dress

Well, we knew it had to happen sooner or later. An episode of SHIELD that was actually, mostly, quite good, especially if you squint a little bit.

First things first: some of the dialogue on this show is still awful. To illustrate, allow us to quote Fitz: "Why would Skye do this to us? I thought she was our friend. We've been through so much together and she didn't even tell us she has a guy." – A line that sounds nothing like anything an actual human would speak. It's hard to believe that the people running this show previously worked on the subtext-rich Spartacus. Perhaps they should try leaving out the definite articles and see whether that forces them to be a bit less direct with their language.

Secondly, while I loved the fact that they kind of, sort of, dredged up an actual Marvel character to use in this episode (albeit one so obscure and minor that they could basically reinvent him from the ground up without upsetting even the most hardcore nerds) it was a shame that he too bore almost no resemblance to an actual person with his rapid-acting megalomaniacal disorder. Maybe his bizarre behaviour will make more sense once we learn a little more about Raina, the titular Girl in the Flower Dress, and the influence she clearly holds over others, but at least the character's transformation into a super-villain got the first genuine laugh out of the series (Coulson's exasperated "Oh no, they gave him a name.") See! It can be done!

But now for the good stuff!

The villains. Skye's hacker love interest was great, and her divided loyalties finally felt natural and character-driven rather than an artificial plot contrivance. Similarly, the idea that she's got her own agenda unrelated to Rising Tide and SHIELD answers a crucial question: what does this character want? Now we know, and that finally makes her relatable. And it gives us a good mystery to speculate over: which Marvel characters will her parents be?! At the very least, I'm assuming they were SHIELD agents, so hey, she might have something in common with Spider-Man.

Similarly, Ward et al actually displayed personality this time around, rather than simply exhibiting their sole assigned character trait. Okay, they were all just a bit hurt by Skye's keeping secrets from them, but one emotion is better than none.

And we finally, finally, finally got some exploration of the idea that SHIELD might actually be as bad as the people they're trying to fight. Miles the hacker might've just been a money-hungry tool who hid behind his philosophy, but when SHIELD smashed up his stuff, cuffed him such that he couldn't go near a computer again and admitted using over-zealous surveillance techniques, it actually felt like the show might be at least open to a dialogue about whether governments crossing lines to protect people is justified, even if this episode's engagement with the topic wasn't so much a thesis as it was a draft title. Still, it's like someone finally realised their show doesn't have to be completely dumb to be entertaining.

Speaking of mysteries, which I was earlier before I digressed, Reina herself was the closest thing this series has yet had to an original, interesting idea. If everything they came up with was so offbeat and unfamiliar, it'd be easier to forgive their reliance on new characters. It's hard to say right now who and what she is, but there's clearly something going on. Robot? Powers? We don't know yet. But for the first time this series, I actually want to know more, so that's got to be a good thing.

On the flip side, the back-breaking contortions they went through in order to not talk directly about "the clairvoyant" in the final scene (or, for that matter, reveal who the prisoner is) were painful to watch. Still, it's another mystery that at least gets you wracking your brain. If they're not saying the person's name, it's because it's someone we know, so start coming up with your guesses now. Once you discount mutants there are almost no precognitives in the Marvel Universe, though, so maybe we should be looking at the more magical end of the spectrum.

Unfortunately there's no new episode next week, so we're going to have a lot of time to chew over this one, but let's take heart in knowing that the series has been improving with each instalment. The next one should once again be the best yet, and if they can improve on this week's then I might even be convinced that Agents of SHIELD could actually become the show we all want it to be.

Read James' review of the previous episode, Eye-Spy, here.

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"open to a dialogue about whether governments crossing lines to protect people is justified"

However, they will do far more harm than good if they decide to portray it as justified (obviously the MSM narrative already). Better to ignore the subject than to authorise it, and to do so in a way that might persuade the more gullible and immature fans of the show.

**Spoiler alert**I think the quick change to megalomaniac was justified. A guy gets a cool (in a manner of speaking) power, shield says turn it down (sorry), he gets more powerful just as they show up, and then it blows up, and then it blows up in their faces. And then he blows up in their faces. Remember the govt control? Shield is Shield is Oceania. Coulson is O'brien. Reina is Julia (thought Scorch). And Winston Smith, Scorch, he's the guy with the boot on his neck.

Arrow > Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

Marvel > DC

Quite idiotic comparing the two shows. Like comparing The Avengers to The Dark Knight.

anyone notice that Coulson did the same hunched-over-arms-crossed pose after planting the entry charge on the door in this episode as he did in Iron Man 2? I think I only noticed that because they were the only times I have ever seen that reaction. And he said "I love these things", referring to the type of charge used both times.

In defense of Scorch's "I wanna be a bad guy" reaction, he could have been affected by the drug they gave him. We have seen previous Extremis recipients become psychologically effected, possibly due to hormone imbalance or whatever brain chemical makes you want to hit people for cutting in front of your car while driving. Oh and he was named Scorch. If she had called him "Warm and Fuzzy" he might have been a bit nicer, but Scorch is a villain's name if ever I heard one.

"Warm and Fuzzy". Sounds like a good name for a duo to me. One has the ability to raise the ambient temperature by 5 degrees, the other can curl people's hair.

You mean "The Avengers"<>""Dark Knight"

"Oh no, they gave him a name." That is line of the series so far!

A close second for me, just for the delight and self-satisfaction he clearly had in coining his own catchphrase, would be:
"You've just ben scorched!"

We don't even know what's going on concerning parents when it comes to Andrew Garfield's Spider Man so I think it's too early to be saying Skye is like Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker. I think her parents were killed by a villain who slipped through S.H.I.E.L.D's fingers, maybe Coulson himself is somehow responsible - he did warn her her she mite not like what she finds...just saying.

To be fair, I wasn't talking about Andrew Garfield's version of the character. It's canonical that Richard and Mary Parker were SHIELD agents in the Marvel universe, dumb though that sounds.

Seriously, I cannot tell you how much I want this show to be good (which is why I am still watching it) but really bad dialogue, one dimensional characters and poor plot points is making this a hard slog. I have resorted to the fast forward button to avoid the more cringe worthy moments. Reading the comments I have hard time recognising the same show some of you are watching unless everyone else has given up and stopped commenting

Can't agree on Skye's boyfriend being "great", to be honest - I thought he was a godawful cliche, with his tiresome tin-eared hacktivist manifesto dialogue. It seemed like they deliberately made him a douchebag so that his freedom of information / anti-corporation perspective was automatically discredited. Similar to when they introduce human rights lawyers and the like in 24, to give an illusion of covering both sides of the ethical debate - these characters always tend to be hugely unlikeable and two-dimensional, so it becomes a choice between taking big brother's not-exactly-morally-justifiable side and taking the side of a horrific whinging cardboard cut-out. Not much of a choice! For me, at any rate, it meant that the whole "is S.H.I.E.L.D actually bad" debate was a non-starter. Hopefully they'll introduce a bit more nuance as the series progresses, if that's going to be a major theme.

All that being said (and I seem to have said more than I intended to!) this episode was a massive improvement over the previous four, so I'm optimistic that it will eventually fulfill its potential. There's a lot there. Just need to keep faith...

Am I the only one who thinks Skye is May and Dead-Coulson's daughter?

I don't know a ton about the comics and marvel, but I'm gonna throw this theory out there because I haven't seen it posted anywhere else. Shoot me down if you know something I don't. I just know that Ant Man is coming out in a couple of years. He is married to Wasp Woman. Ant Man is super smart. He makes a serum that alters his size. Any chance Agents Fitz and Simmons end up together and being Ant Man and Wasp Woman?

This show is awful.

Not really. One is a Marvel contemporary Superheroes show, one is a DC one. What you prefer them to have done, compare Arrow with Downton Abbey?

Yes. I'm pretty sure you're alone in that one.

Nice 1984 allegory, although I must say I don't think that Shield has the level of depth to draw comparisons to literature like that. And while I do like the fact that this time Shield weren't able to save the superpowered guy (I was so gutted when they used that cop-out tranq gun in the pilot) I think Scorch ought to have had more depth. As it is, he's just pissed that he's got this cool ability and he can't use it so he starts murdering people. His development isn't gradual, it's sudden and not very interesting.

It would have been nicer to see a character who doesn't WANT his superpower, because he can't control it and it's ruining his life. Maybe he accidentally killed a member of his family with the fire power or something? And then Raina comes to him and offers him a way of controlling and amplifying the power, tells him she can make use of his talents. He's got his back against the wall because he accidentally killed someone and he's got no choice but to take her offer.

No sir

I'll... Agree.

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