Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 12 review: Seeds

Review James Hunt 16 Jan 2014 - 08:22

Is Seeds the first credible step towards SHIELD making good on its early promise? James thinks so...

This review contains spoilers.

1.12 Seeds

So it turns out that when it tries, Agents of SHIELD is capable of a good episode. Let's look at the list of things that Seeds did right.

Number one. It tied up Skye's somewhat nebulous search for her parents in a reasonably satisfying way, gave her a reason to stay loyal to SHIELD rather than just Coulson, and hinted that there might actually be some deeper mystery about her which can't help but be more interesting than the question of who her parents might be. Tick for that.

Number two. It spent a little bit of money on effects. Weird phenomena were represented in ways that looked like they involved actual work and imagination, we got a plane-based action sequence that was actually shown from the exterior, and we got to see Coulson actually use his flying car rather than just talk about how his car can occasionally fly. Another tick for all that.

Number three. This week's episode had a whole bunch of things that actually felt appropriate for the tone of SHIELD: An evil weather machine. A flying car. Hidden labs. When I think about comic book-influenced espionage, that's the sort of stuff I want to see. Things with a bit of 70s, Bond-esque glamour, not computer hacking and business suits. So another tick there.

Indeed, this episode even had the holy grail: A few Marvel Cinematic Universe references that seemed almost, almost natural. Big tick.

Finally, and this is probably the most important bit: it had character material that really worked. Fitz and Simmons returning to the academy as rock stars was great, especially since they were both incredibly modest about it. The rivalry between different SHIELD "houses" was fun too, and could be a potential source of future drama. Coulson's reaction to last week's revelation was a far more interesting development than the revelation itself, nicely played by Clark Gregg.

It's not that the episode was without fault. Teens getting into trouble after breaking into a swimming pool at night is the kind of cliché that SHIELD writers seem unable to recognise and subvert, but on the other hand the idea of the weird loner being the villain was subverted when it turned out he wasn't actually much of a loner or a villain. At least, not to begin with.

I'm also not keen on seeing another pseudo-origin story, setting up a character with powers but only revealing that right at the end. It's completely unsatisfying as stories go, because it relegates everything you've just seen to a first act. If you want to bring a character back, don't telegraph it by saying "Aha! But this guy might return with superpowers!" That way, when they DO return, it might A) be a surprise and B) provide some suspense.

One thing it'd be nice for SHIELD to do in future is try and rein in the saccharine nonsense that permeates the series. I like Coulson the deadpan guy, not Coulson the over-earnest guy who credit's Skye's childlike optimism in the face of adversity with restoring his faith in humanity. Shakespeare it ain't. Emotional moments need to be earned by making the audience care, not telling them to.

The final good point about this episode is a debatable one, but it's something that's been lacking from the series thus far: the SHIELD of Seeds does actually seem like an organisation you'd want to work at. From the fun academy to the globe-trotting missions to the general desire to actually help people, whether that's a student who keeps freezing or an agent who's gone off the grid, these guys seem to be doing good in the world. A far cry from that episode where May essentially talked a man into suicide.

Anyway. There's no way of knowing whether this is the start of a generally quality upturn or a one-off, but either way at least it showed that there's still a chance for SHIELD to make good on its early promise. We're a long way off that actually happening, but this could be a credible first step towards it.

Read James' review of the previous episode, The Magical Place, here.

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A positive review for MAoS? I suspect James has been replaced with a Life Model Decoy!

I stopped watching this ages ago. There are just too many must-see series out there these days to justify spending my limited free time with SHIELD.

Hope to watch it today

A Bucky Barnes reference of the wall of valor!

I for one would like to see a close up of that wall, just to see who else is on there.

Definitely a good episode. I forgot that this week was the origin of Blizzard, so at the beginning I got a little annoyed that they once again teased powers then explained it with technology. Glad we're seeing some powers that aren't derived from Extremis.
They're definitely building up to Winter Soldier by showing that S.H.I.E.L.D. cannot be trusted. Hopefully they'll do a better tie-in episode than that Thor one. It was a good episode, but it wasn't really related to the film besides involving an Asgardian.

i'm still going to pass on this rubbish

well duh winter soldier comes out like in 6 months. need to get his name out earlier because who really knows the Winter Soldier when talking about the general public. hype. build up. crossbones and bucky are gonna attack shield then baron will bring HYDRA out

it was never meant to directly be linked to Thor Dark World lol. Bell even said that. he said it would explore the Thor mythos, expanding it a bit. also there were 2 eps releated to Asguards. plus you cant really do much with Asguard stuff because its out of the shows budget. no frost giant wouldn't work. JW said anything that is big Hulk like CGI wont work.

then why are you here? why are you seeking out AOS articles just to bitch about a show that you stopped watching months ago? I call people who do stuff like this trolls

Nice review. After I watched the episode I had a strange feeling, which I later diagnosed as enjoyment, paired with a niggling suspicion that the show might get better just when I was getting ready to reluctantly write it off. For the first time I can say that if the whole show was as good as ep 12 I wouldn't be completely satisfied, but I would keep watching the show.

I have this vibe that the reviewer dislikes AOS strongly. he says its a slow show but what does he say to other shows like Grimm, which took 2 seasons to pick up and great really good.

Here's a medal for you.
For bravely posting about a show you don't watch.
Well done sir, well done.

No, he has just been given another memory of the episode. ;-)

But seriously I like the series, people are really harsh about it. It can improve, but it isn't cr@p eighter.

Considering Crossbones is "part" of SHIELD in Winter Soldier, that's unlikely to happen. It looks like he's with the "bad" part of SHIELD however. I'd love to see some Crossbones in Agents of Shield, but the actor who plays him has already ruled that out.

My habit at the moment seems to be:

(1) watch latest episode of AoS;
(2) feel completely underwhelmed and a little bit irritated;
(3) promise myself that I'm not going to bother watching any future episodes:
(4) repeat.

I really don't understand why I keep watching. I think it's a triumph of hope over experience because it's getting to the stage where I'm not even seeing the potential for a good show in this mess any longer. I don't really care about any of the characters and certainly am not getting any sense of excitement from any of the story lines.

Previously, I might have just thought, "ah well, it's a comic book show and it's obviously just not for me", but, to my great surprise, I've been enjoying Arrow and am looking forward to seeing what the producers do with The Flash spin-off so it's clearly not the genre that's the issue.

I think the problem for me is all about the 'tone' of the show. The creators haven't got the tone right - it is too light and pedestrian - even chase scenes lack any feeling of urgency.

While I like watching Mathilda May in action I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to consider that sufficient reward for putting up with the rest of the show.

i cant believe the hate people are giving this series. TV has been so awful lately this and grimm are the only things i look forward to

Aww son, Did i upset you by slating your favourite show? Let me lick those salty tears away.

You don't watch the show, but decide to post on a review of the show? A review written perhaps by DoG's most biased reviewer no less. You didn't upset us, you befuddled us. What point does your comment serve? Some self-affirmation? A false sense of superiority over those who don't 'pass on this rubbish'?

Oh my gosh. Have you been spying on me? This is exactly what I do too.

Do you watch Person of Interest? I don't like the latest episodes as much as the first season but it's still way more engaging than AoS.

Well done you! The most pretentious reply i have ever read yet! Are YOU feeling superior yet?

What point does my comment serve? It is an affirmation that IMO this show sucks and should be cancelled and put out it's misery. nothing more, nothing less.

I think a lot of people were expecting a bit too much Avengers Assemble style stuff to happen in Agents, and because there's not a city blown up every week, they slate the show.

That being said, however, the show has yet to break out. You can't even call the episodes average as none of them seem to really step up above the others to give you a reference point for what a good episode of this show should be. But I'm sticking with it, new shows like this one need time to grow, for the writers and actors to find their voices properly. The trouble is, there's this culture of "It's not getting 60 billion viewers every episode, it's therefore getting cancelled" in TV, but given the juggernaut that is propping the series up (The Marvel cinematic universe) I think has given the show more of a life line than if this was just a completely original show with no ties to anything else.

And if that doesn't swing you, remember how bad the first seasons of TNG were? Hell, they did clip show for Christ sake :)

I've watched every episode of Stargate and its kin. The movie and the first few seasons were way below AoS in quality on most metrics, yet it went for 10 seasons + if you count Atlantis, SGU and direct-to-dvd movies.

But I don't care if AoS gets better or not. It serves its purpose - gives me some nice backstory and fleshes out the world that Avengers, Iron Man, Cap., Thor and Hulk live in. It's also a nice way for the producers to get a feel for other Marvel IP and whether we'd be into it.

Also, AoS can do one thing that would be almost impossible to inject into the current MCU through the Avengers & solo movies... bring Spider-Man into it. It would feel very forced right now... but I can imagine a Nick Fury + Coulson + Spiderman movie that could very credibly work in the Shield world they're building.

Okay, my curiosity is peaked here. I'm not trying to insult you or start a fight, I'm just genuinely curious: if you don't like the show, why the hell are you posting here? What's the purpose? I mean, you're not making any friends, but that's not really the point of a comment section I guess. But you're not creating a great discussion either. If you don't like the show, why did you come here? Why would you seek it out to spend your time on something you don't even like? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE?! I'm confused! People do it all the time, but WHY? I want to get into the mind of an internet troll (the name kind of applies here). And don't say you just made the one comment and left, because you came back to reply to all these other people. No clever quips, no 'scathing' replies. Just give a guy an honest answer cause I can't figure it out. Think of it as investigative comment section journalism.

internet troll? very good lol Anyway to answer your questions: I started watching this show with high hopes it would be good. Gave it six episodes before i was out. DOG appears on my facebook timeline. I still read the reviews but nothing i have read has temped me to come back to it. However this got a not bad review but nothing in the premise of this story made me go "christ i really need to watch that!" that lead to the post. Hardly trolling now is it? just a personal opinion. I'm pretty sure i'm still allowed to post my opinion, right? Even if i don't watch the show but still read the reviews, right? But it seems some folk on here don't like people posting their views and seen to think i give a f*** that my opinion upset them (they can say my view didn't upset them, but it did as they attacked me because of my view.) And as for coming back... every time someone replies to my post i get an email. Hope that explains it for you.

Weekly marvel? Where did I already sign up?

i actually really liked this episode. it actually felt like it belonged. it felt like shield. which is weird because we don't actually know what its supposed to feel like because it hasn't found its footing yet... but maybe this is it.

Okay, well then, that makes sense! I realized half way through reading that I do the same thing on a show I gave up, 'cause well I invested my time dammit and need to know what happens next even if the show is crappity crap. And I was wrong about the internet troll thing - your responses to others looked kind of angry and so I was imagining other instances where people go on full rage wars just rile others, but your original post is actually pretty tame and off hand so I was wrong. I guess what I don't get is why, in general, people go and 'troll' and all that (I now feel incredibly lame for using that word *sigh*). I mean, sure, right to freedom of speech but what's the point of commenting if you have some vile hatred for the show and say so just to fight others about it? I mean, good, they hate the show, by why go out of their way to piss people off? Seems like a waste of time. Hate it in peace and let others go dance in it's glorious TV rays. Join a hate group, hate it together, but I never got picking fights on the internet. People are always touchy about these kinds of things and it ALWAYS turns into "you're stupid, no you're stupid, stupid stupid stupid!" but with more colourful language. Anyways! Thanks for answering my question. Unfortunately I lied about the investigative journalist thing so, you know, don't expect an award winning article in some distinguished magazine. But hey, I'm less curious, so I'm happy!

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