The latest episode of Agents of SHIELD thankfully went a bit beyond the power of the week or heist of the week story and provided a look into the darker side of the world of super powers within the Marvel Universe. There seems to be a little backlash that established Marvel characters have not been used in SHIELD, which is ridiculous since this show’s main purpose is to serve as a primer into the Marvel Universe on a human level. This is not the place for Asgard, Hulks, or Thanos, these are the everyday threats that are dangerous enough to require specialists but not big enough for the Avengers. This is a unique opportunity to flesh out the fabric of the Marvel Universe, to show the consequences of having superhumans exists and how these beings would be manipulated by the greed of others.
“The Girl in the Flower Dress” featured Scorch, a pretty mundane villain with pyrotechnic abilities. A villain named Scorch has appeared in Night Thrasher and Bishop (yes, newbies, Night Thrasher had a comic. He brooded and skateboarded….we’ll tell you about the ’90s sometime), but it doesn’t seem like TV’s Scorch is that dude. Instead, Scorch is a Chinese street magician who uses his powers to entertain the rubes on the streets of Hong Kong. When a mysterious girl in a flowered dress approaches him, Scorch is set on a tragic path of destruction.
Now, every genre show that has any sort of super-powered characters has to have the prerequisite power sets for villains, usually in the first season. Every show must have a battle with a fire dude, a lightning dude, an ice dude, and a mind reading dude. Thank goodness SHIELD got through the fire dude without making him the total focus of the episode. Instead, he was a pawn of the mysterious Centipede organization from the pilot and a way to drive a wedge between the Agents and Skye, creating some much needed inter-team drama and, even more thankfully, fleshing out Skye’s character.
The episode also served to introduce an ex-flame of Skye’s, a hacker who hides beyond his morality as a purveyor of free speech, but really serves his own interests by selling out Scorch to Centipede. He is an interesting reminder that there are those waiting to monetize the existence of powered beings. This was also the first episode where Coulson and company play with an ambiguous morality as they see fit to kill Scorch by injecting him with Extremis. This makes SHIELD seem a bit more frightening that they think they are justified in taking a life if they deem it necessary to protect others. Kind of makes those stockpiled SHIELD weapons in Avengers a bit more ominous, no?
As far as character stuff, the relationship between Coulson and Agent May continues to be a delight as fans can rely on the pair for at least two or three great one-liners per episode. The episode’s stinger dealt with the girl in the flowered dress meeting a mysterious man in prison, the two talked about toy soldiers and the Clairvoyant in a ludicrously ambiguous exchange that fans would need a power drill to penetrate to see how any of it pertains to the plot. C’mon Marvel, fans are waiting for something big in these sweepers, throw us a bone here! Other than that, this was a strong episode that successfully fleshed out more of the Marvel Universe and the place and dangers super-powered beings have within it.
Marvel Mentions: Captain America’s name evoked to seduce Scorch, Extremis, another mention at Coulson’s death at the hands of Loki, Coulson’s use of a door popper like in Iron Man