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‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: “Girl in the Flower Dress”

Marvel Agents of SHIELD Review Girl in the Flower Dress
ABC

Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ assembles its fifth episode “Girl in the Flower Dress,” as Coulson and the team track a pyrokinetic who falls into the hands of the mysterious “Centipede,” and Skye’s loyalty to the team comes into question.

Last week’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ episode “Eye Spy” saw the agents pursuing a rogue agent from Coulson’s past who began committing seemingly impossible robberies, before a sinister twist forced them all to work together, so how does ABC’s ‘Avengers‘-adjacent series keep us marveling at its inaugural season?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s fifth episode, “Girl in the Flower Dress!”

In Hong Kong, a young street magician named Chan Ho Yin fails to impress a crowd with his tricks, eventually wowing them with an ability to make fireballs from his hand. A young woman in a flower dress named Raina takes note of his abilities, accompanying him back to his apartment to learn where he obtained the power, to no avail. Raina asks the man to close his eyes for a moment, and when opens them guards in fire-retardant suits are there ready to take him into custody.

Aboard the bus, Skye and Ward engage in a game of Battleship to test her thinking process, to which Ward surprisingly compliments her on her aptitude for S.H.I.E.L.D. training thus far. Coulson observes Skye to be fitting in well, before news of Chan Ho Yin’s disappearance comes in. Coulson identifies him as one of several people with powers being monitored, before remote investigation of the man’s apartment reveals him to have been taken by professionals. Kwan, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent on site, credits the Rising Tide with leaking Chan’s whereabouts, for which they suspect Skye.

Skye insists the leak couldn’t have come from her, volunteering to track its source herself. Meanwhile, Chan awakens in a strange room to find Raina waiting for him, and offering to help nurture and develop his gifts with further testing. Raina suggests that he might call himself “Scorch” to become as famous as Captain America, slowly warming Chan to the idea.

Tracing the hacker Miles Lydo to Austin, Texas, Ward accidentally spooks him by getting too close, forcing Coulson to pursue Miles in his car, until the fleeing hacker activates a traffic scramble that stops Coulson in his tracks. Miles returns to his apartment to find Skye already waiting for him, and the former acquaintances sexily celebrate their reunion. Afterward, Skye scrambles to find her top, sheepishly denying what she can tell Miles about her time in the “belly of the beast,” before Melinda May appears and hands Skye her top.

Skye’s loyalty busted, the team sets up in Miles’ apartment and interrogates him for information, even as Skye insists she had been attempting to learn what Miles knew herself. Meanwhile in a Hong Kong laboratory, Raina provides Chan with a familiar-looking serum that greatly increases his ability to control the flamethrowing, exciting him. Back on the bus, Coulson sulks that he hadn’t seen through Skye’s infiltration of the team, as Simmons informs him of a breakthrough.

In captivity with Skye, Miles admits to accepting payment from a girl in a flower dress in exchange for hacking the S.H.I.E.L.D. feed to Chan’s location, not knowing it would do any harm. Asked why he believed the woman’s motives to be innocent, Miles explains he looked into the woman’s corporation to find they worked on “centipedes.”  Meanwhile, Raina meets with the mysterious redhead who had dosed Mike Peterson, updating her that Chan’s blood platelets help prevent the Extremis serum from combusting, and the woman orders Raina to harvest them.

While Miles protests to Skye that he had grown tired of working with the Rising Tide for unpaid ideals, Coulson, May, and Agent Kwan track down the Centipede operating headquarters in Hong Kong, and infiltrate the controlled building from the roof. Once inside the testing room with Chan, May takes out the guards while Raina issues a building-wide lockdown. Rather than express his gratitude for the rescue however, Chan doses himself with further Centipede serum, killing Kwan and attacking the agents for attempting to ever control his powers.

Ward frees Skye and takes her to the Centipede headquarters to help override the lockdown, while Fitz, Simmons and Miles work remotely, and Coulson and May fight off an increasingly scorched Chan. Chan flees through the building and chases down Raina and the redhead, as Raina leaves the woman behind for Chan to disintegrate in his rage. Coulson manages to distract Chan long enough for May to get behind him, further dosing him with the serum and triggering the Extremis combustion. Coulson and May manage to get to safety outside the building, as Miles remotely reprograms the building’s vents to channel the explosion off the roof.

Back on the bus, Coulson fits Miles with a bracelet that prevents him from using computers in the future, stranding him in Hong Kong for good measure. Upstairs, Coulson demands Skye stop lying to the team and use this one opportunity to come clean about her secrets, to which Skye produces a private flashcard with every known detail of a search for her parents. Seeing that Skye’s parents were detailed in a heavily-redacted S.H.I.E.L.D. report, Coulson agrees to help her track them down, fitting her with one of the bracelets in the process.

At an unknown prison location, Raina meets with a mysterious man behind glass, and updates him that they might soon have stable Extremis soldiers, allowing them to proceed to “stage two.” Noting the S.H.I.E.L.D. team’s interference, Raina tasks the man to make contact with “the clairvoyant” for insight on stage 3, to which the man reluctantly agrees, hoping to get their “toy soldiers off the shelf.”

OUR REVIEW:

Suffice to say, where last week’s “Eye Spy” tended to divide viewers between those looking to see ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ develop into more of its own entity, and those looking for wall-to-wall Marvel tie-ins, “Girl in the Flower Dress” establishes our most effective balance yet. That isn’t to say that the hour lacked for problems however, leading us to wonder about some earlier reports that a few scripts had come in under par, but hey, progress is progress.

Five episodes into the series, we were glad to see the pilot’s threads finally picked up once more, even tapping Shannon Lucio’s mysterious character to return as a key figure of the “Centipede” organization looking to utilize an Extremis cocktail to create super-soldiers. The closing tag added a few surprising wrinkles to the shadowy organization, which we’ll presume to have more explicit ties to the Marvel universe than the placeholder “Centipede” name would suggest, but for now ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ at least has a recurring threat to offer a bit of direction in episodes going forward.

“Girl in the Flower Dress” also wisely turns over all of Skye’s cards, as the character had proven somewhat frustrating and slippery in the inaugural hours. We’re still not entirely sold on the character as our fulcrum for future S.H.I.E.L.D. exploration, though the series will undoubtedly benefit from a clearer motivation in its protagonist. It stands to reason that Skye’s parents could hold a larger place within the Marvel universe, throwing in a few shades of Peter Parker (say, didn’t she reference Spider-Man in the pilot?), but for once it seems ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has a strong handle of its ongoing mysteries, rather than just haphazardly tossing down clues as it has in the previous episodes.

That said, the hour still suffered from a few notable hiccups, most notably that Chin Ho Yan as “Scorch” often failed to resonate in his villainous turn, having seemed so effortlessly likable in the beginning sequences. ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has some larger questions to answer no doubt, continually channeling its focus into little guys getting a glimpse into the super life, though the execution could use a bit of work. Like Mike Peterson before him, Chan might have made for an exciting future ally if the writing hadn’t so forcibly broken bad.

Louis Ozawa Changchien’s grasp of the English dialogue not withstanding, most of the exposition landed like lead throughout the hour as well, either in the weekly Avenger namedrop to bash us over the head with, Coulson’s repeat reference of his Asgardian impalement, or Fitz recapping the morality of Skye’s actions mere moments after they took place, with her sitting a scant few inches away. Understandably, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has enough cooks in the kitchen and quite a lot to polish in its weekly action sequences, though the weaker moments of “Girl in the Flower Dress” remind us that ABC has plenty of work ahead in righting the bus ship, regardless of its Marvel-ous mythology.

Well, what say you? Did ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s latest outing “Girl in the Flower Dress” sell you on the series?  What did you think about the hat tip toward a serialized villain? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next week for another all-new recap of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s latest episode “FZZT” on ABC!

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