‘Girl In The Flower Dress’

Agents of SHIELD has been struggling to assert itself under the weight of the Marvel name, and whilst it’s yet to deliver a completely original storyline, it’s become a satisfying series to indulge in. There’s something comforting about the Marvel cinematic universe, something that makes you want to root for the show even when the dialogue is awkward and the plot feels like it’s treading familiar ground. This week’s episode had all the same pitfalls and yet still managed to be an enjoyable romp.

Continuing to clock up some serious air miles, SHIELD took us to Hong Kong where we were introduced to Chan Ho Yin, a street magician whose pyrokinetic abilities had him kidnapped by the titular ‘girl in the flower dress’, otherwise known as ruthless Raina from here on out. Exploiting Chan’s dream of being a household name, Raina (Ruth Negga) coaxed him into taking part in a series of tests with promises of fame. Chan fell for it hook, line and sinker, being so desperate for people to know he existed that he was willing to make a deal with the devil. The deal didn’t turn out too well for poor Chan, who became yet another victim of the Centipede Project we encountered in the pilot.

Having discovered that the Rising Tide – the hacker organisation that Skye was once a part of – had leaked the information which led to Chan’s abduction, Coulson had the team follow Skye to a secret rendezvous with Miles Lydon, the hacker in question. Skye was caught in the act and her whole future as a SHIELD consultant was suddenly very bleak. Her betrayal of being in bed with the enemy, quite literally, came as a massive blow to both Coulson and Ward, who had taken quite a shine to the sharp-talking beauty. After taking Skye and Miles into SHIELD custody, it wasn’t long before Coulson needed their hacking skills to infiltrate the Centipede experimentation facility in order to save Chan; little did they know that he was too far gone to be saved.

By injecting Chan with Extremis, a serum that increased his pyro-powers, and nicknaming him ‘Scorch’ (“Ah crap, they gave him a name” as Coulson so aptly put it), Raina had created quite the weapon. She quickly turned on him though, removing the blood platelets that enabled him to produce fire without internally combusting in order to harvest them. Scorch was suddenly burning himself from the inside out and royally peeved with it. Enter the SHIELD team, who came up against fierce opposition from Chan but managed to save the day as they always do.

It was only a matter of time before Skye’s allegiance to the team came under question again. Whilst the writers tried very hard to make us think she was a mole, it was difficult to believe her loyalty resided anywhere other than with the team. She slotted in so well with Ward and Fitz/Simmons and her bond with Coulson was palpable. When it came out that her sole motive for being a part of both the Rising Tide and SHIELD was so that she could track down her parents, Chloe Bennett did a great job of making us believe in this young woman who ultimately just wanted to know what happened to her mum and dad. The big shocker came in the form of the knowledge that her parents’ disappearance had something to do with SHIELD, hence her eagerness to be involved with the organisation.

As far as character development goes, we took a giant leap forward with Skye’s big secret being revealed and Coulson’s weakness for protégés being severely tested. It’s difficult to work out who took Skye’s betrayal worse, Ward or Coulson… Both men seemed to take it badly with Ward treating Skye to a wall of silence and Coulson giving her a severe fatherly telling off. Whilst he might not trust her, Coulson did pledge to help find her parents – though she probably won’t like what they find. The team were just starting to work together and Skye’s deception is a giant setback in the bonding process – she’ll have to work doubly hard to win back their trust.

SHIELD is still without a decent villain, sticking firming to the villain of the week format. Chan was a hideously weak character from the start, serving as nothing more than a catalyst for bigger events. Despite the tame villain, Girl In The Flower Dress delivered a more emotional episode, with enthused performances from Clark Gregg and Ruth Negga. Eye-candy was provided courtesy of a half-naked Chloe Bennett and cute as a button Austin Nichols, whilst there were enough amusing one-liners to entice a few smiles. The action sequences weren’t as good as they have been but we did see a woman burnt alive – I’ll let you decide whether that’s a pro or con.

★★★

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