THE ONE WHERE A pyrokinetic is kidnapped by Centipede. SHIELD swoop in to rescue, but not before Skye has tipped off her boyfriend in the Rising Tide…
VERDICT Busted! It’s a nice surprise that, five episodes in, Agents of SHIELD is already tackling Skye’s conflicted loyalties head on. After hooking up with Miles, her super-annoying boyfriend, she is caught out by May and Coulsen. Hooray for SHIELD operating like a competent outfit!
That Skye infiltrated SHIELD to find information on her missing parents wraps up one mystery while setting up another. The “mysterious parents” trope is fairly tired, especially in superhero stories, but there’s potential here. We all know that Joss worked on the Runaways comic a few years back… what if it turns out that Skye is the daughter of a powered-villain or some such? That could be fun.
We need to talk about Miles though. We all knew the Rising Tide would be back sooner rather than later, and here they are in the form of Skye’s b/f. He’s horrid – a creepy, cringey “hacktivist” cliché who spouts lines like, “alright suit, you asked for it!” with apparent sincerity. You’re meant to find him a bit of a tool, of course – he’s selling off sensitive information, after all – but did he have to be quite so irritating? “It’s information, it has a life of its own.” Oh do piss off. At the end of the episode he’s left in Hong Kong. Let’s hope he stays there.
Misfits’ Ruth Negga plays Raina.
The thing is, the idea that SHIELD is a faintly ominous Big Brother organisation is a good one, and for a while it looks like the episode might engage with that idea (they toss in a line about “Manning, Snowden…” in case you hadn’t joined the dots). When the gang discuss “the Index” – a register of powered objects and individuals that SHIELD is monitoring, there’s a lovely moment of doubt about how far they might go. That’s ripe for exploring… but alas not here. It looks like Winter Soldier has bagsied that one. Instead, this episode is merely interested in discrediting Miles. Not only is he corrupt, selling secrets to line his own pockets, but he’s secretly a little bit into the whole spy-fi thing, whispering that SHIELD is “pretty cool” towards the end. Whatever, guy.
The Centipede storyline nudged forward this week too. Raina – the girl in the flower dress of the title – is an interesting villain, and we’re clearly going to see more of her as the season progresses. Chan, on the other hand, is fairly forgettable. His pyrokinetic powers are dull and the transition to “Scorch” was fluffed. By the end you’re left with a villain who could easily have wandered in from Mutant X or some-such. Credit where it’s due, however, the scene where he incinerates Debbie was pleasingly nasty.
As with last week’s “Eye Spy”, the show felt a shade more mature than the initial instalments. It’s a welcome growth, and it does feel like Agents Of SHIELD is getting itself together. They found the right levels of warmth and humanity last week, and humour and drama this time around. Now they just need to start going on some genuinely compelling missions against decent enemies…
Pants watch is back!
SEXPOSITION The long, semi-naked dialogue between Skye and Miles was jarring. I’ve no objection to people in their pants – especially as it was both Skye and Miles this time – but it felt a wee bit shoe-horned in. At least it wasn’t as blatant as the wet t-shirt moment a few episodes back.
TRAVELOGUE A good chunk of the episode takes place in Hong Kong.
RATINGSSHIELD is continuing to lose viewers Stateside. Not catastrophically so – it pulled in 7.1m for this episode, which is very decent – but it’s been on a downward trajectory since the pilot. Let’s hope it stabilizes now that it’s starting to get into its groove.
We know how you feel.
MARVEL UNIVERSE There’s a direct reference to Steve Rogers. Centipede are back and using their Extremis-powered serum. In the Marvel comics universe there are two characters who go by the name of Scorch. Neither of them are Chan Ho Yin, however, so the link is fairly tenuous. Oh, and Coulsen refers to an “alien staff going through my heart”. You know, just in case you’d forgotten that he died in The Avengers. It’s not like he ever brings it up.
SPECULATION Two big questions posed this week. Who is “the Clairvoyant”? And what has become of Skye’s parents? The latter will likely play out over the rest of the season, but let’s hope we discover more about the former soon…
BEST LINE Coulsen to Miles: “You’ve got two choices – take what’s in this box, or we put you in a slightly bigger one.”