Sunday, February 16, 2014

View Log: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "The Girl in the Flower Dress"

Can I just say before we begin I don't know anything about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Any references to that in this episode, if there were any, went over my head. Sorry.

Coulson says during this episode that he has "a little extra energy to burn." Could this be magical energy? Or his robot batteries? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, COULSON! Wait, Coulson doesn't know. TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, RON GLASS! For extra theory fuel: the kid that Captain America saved in the 40's was named Phil. And Coulson's a huge fan of Cap. Super Soldier Serum immortality? Let the wild theories continue!

S.H.I.E.L.D. has been revealed to have a list of metahumans, with the firebender from this episode as "low risk." If a firebender's "low risk," then I can't wait to see the team go against a high risk! Anyway, expect this list to be important later. Because I bet it will be.

So, now I'm wondering how many other metahumans there are in the world, now that we've established this firebender. Wait, does the firebender mean that there are Mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? It's not shown that he had any definitive origin, he just manifested powers after being near a nuclear plant (even though no one else did), which is similar to several mutant origins. So, hey. Mutants. Are they subtly setting the stage for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2?

The firebender gets the name "Scorch," which is a nice touch. The name has been used by several minor villains, and this is what I've been waiting for! Supervillains! Not just bad guys, and shadowy organizations, but villains with powers! ...except that we never see Scorch in much action. He gets experimented upon to use his fireproof platelets to stabilize the as-of-yet-self-combustible Extremis super powers. So... That's bad. The instability was the only obstacle in the way of widespread use for terrorism, as seen in Iron Man 3. The Extremis enhancement of Scorch's powers reminds me of MGH from the comics, Mutant Growth Hormone, which enhances super powers. Nice touch.

The episode has themes of changing one's nature, with Skye becoming a hero, and Scorch becoming a villain. Skye has a weird chip that she keeps in her bra. Apparently, she's been hacking it. At the end of the episode, it's revealed to be her motivation for joining the Rising Tide: it's a compilation of her attempts to find her parents, who S.H.I.E.L.D. rendered into un-people. All she wants is info on her parents. What's she going to find, Coulson?

We see in this episode that Ward now implicitly trusts Skye, even though the audience knows that Skye is keeping her connections to the Rising Tide, the villains of the episode. By the way, Agent Ward's Battleship strategy is very similar to the grid I use when I play, which rarely loses, thanks to statistics, probability, etc. And yet, Skye beat him. I take this to mean that Skye "gets" Ward now, and vice versa, in a deeper way than either of them may realize.

Changing the subject abruptly, Melinda May is awesome, btw. She and the other characters are diverging from their generic "Agent" modes, except for her. She's been embracing it instead, and doing awesome things with her deadpan delivery.

Centipede is back, and hiring the Rising Tide. Finally, these plots are merging.

The titular girl spoke to a man in jail at the end. Who is he? What is his "problem?" Who's the "clairvoyant" that she wants him to talk to? Why does she want an evil army of Extremis soldiers? I swear, we'd better see a team up of villains.  An anti-Avengers. Scorch (maybe he survived blowing up somehow?), Graviton, others, that would be amazing to see on TV. Heck, I'd pay to see that in a spin-off film!

This episode was... okay. Not bad, not great; just an hour of my time that I won't treasure, but one that I don't regret. The effects are good, for TV. The battle with Scorch was frickin' awesome sauce. It makes me wish for Graviton to emerge from the Gravitonium ASAP to wreak some havoc.

The plot with Scorch was easily one of the better things about the series, but the episode suffered with Skye's hacktivist pal annoying me, so I laughed when they left him in Hong Kong with a bracelet that won't let him use technology. I don't care about the hacktivism stuff. I really don't. When I tune in to a show about the Marvel Universe, I don't want to watch whiny first-worlders complain that "information should be free." I'm a college student, I hear that crap every day.

Ratings are slipping for AoS. Whedon, mystery will only get you so far. We need action. We need answers. You can't dangle the carrot forever, the horse will die. And yes, we got the answer to Skye's mystery chip this episode, but that question was also raised this episode, so it's not long-term mystery satisfaction, which we need a little bit of.

At the very least, it can be said that Whedon gets superheroes. After all, he's been involved with them since at least the first X-Men film, even though they only kept a few of the lines he added, they did keep this legendary exchange:

Wolverine: "Hey, it's me."
Cyclops: "Prove it."
Wolverine: "You're a dick."
Cyclops: "...okay."

But it seems to me that Whedon is having a few problems with S.H.I.E.L.D.
I get that S.H.I.E.L.D. is working to prevent super villains from happening, but this episode shows how cool it would be to see them fight more villains, as opposed to the show just being a more high-tech version of NCIS. Think about it: Scorch vs. May, Graviton vs. Coulson, Living Laser vs. Ward, Arcade vs. Fitz/Simmons. How cool would that be? At the very least, it would feel like this show takes place in the Marvel Universe.

Once again, this show needs to be going all the way with its ideas, and it's not at the moment. We’ll see if the show will truly realize the potential it showed in this episode next time.
See you then!

(Originally posted on 10/24/13)

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