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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x5 - "Girl In The Flower Dress"

Skye. Scorch. Skye. Scorch. Those are the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s two big problems this week. One's a liar, the other's on fire. Let's start with Scorch, if that is his real name. It isn't. Scorch is Chan Ho Yin, a Hong Kong street magician gifted with the very real power of pyrokinesis. He can make fire, but he can't ignite his dreamed of career as a world famous illusionist like Criss Angel or David Copperfield. Chan wants to be famous, but S.H.I.E.L.D. caught wind of his firepower and put a kibosh on his dreams, forcing him to not be all he can be. Resentful, Chan falls under the thrall of the episode's title character, the girl in the flower dress, whose name is Raina. Raina is a smooth talker with a silky voice and even after she has a couple of guys in fireproof suits black bag Chan, she still manages to sweet talk him into agreeing to experiments to enhance his pyro powers. Chan's reaction to her new name for him - Scorch - was "Are you joking?" It is kind of a lousy codename. Why not The Human Torch or Firestorm or Sunfire? Oh, we know why. But citing how no one knows who Steve Rogers is but everyone's heard of Captain America, it doesn't take much for Raina to sell Chan on calling himself Scorch. It does kind of grow on you quickly.

Meanwhile, just as Skye has grown comfortable in S.H.I.E.L.D. and a lot closer to Ward - you sank my Battleship closer - her secret life as a Rising Tide hacker blows it all up in their faces. The kidnapping of Chan has the Hong Kong wing of S.H.I.E.L.D. bamboozled until they determined a member of the Rising Tide hacked S.H.I.E.L.D. and sold the information about Chan to the mysterious, villainous Centipede. The very Centipede who is creating unstable Extremis fire soldiers like Mike Peterson in the pilot and now has a pyrokinetic to experiment on. (Chan's very ability to be fireproof is what Centipede needed to fix what was wrong with their Extremis tech.) Naturally, all suspicion fell on Skye, who claimed she didn't hack S.H.I.E.L.D. China. But she quickly fingers who did, a famous Rising Tider named Miles, and we quickly learn Miles has been doing more than fingering Skye. They're ex-lovers. All that suspicion that fell on Skye? Coulson acted on it by sending Melinda to tail her. Thank you, Melinda, for not exposing Skye as a traitor until after Skye was exposed in her underpants. Soon, Coulson has Miles and Skye brought into The Bus in irons, and everyone feels real lousy for different reasons about Skye, including Skye herself. (Meanwhile, Fitz needs Simmons to explain to him how human behavior works, literally needing it spelled out for him why Skye tried to protect her ex-boyfriend from her current work friends. Fitz is either a robot or a six year old boy. Split the difference - he's a six year old robot.)

Skye really blew it. Ward was pissed as her S.O. and for someone starting to like and trust her. Coulson vouched for her up and down the line and now questions his own judgment, along with all the other little weird things he questions about himself lately. And Skye herself finds out Miles isn't quite the high-minded, incorruptible hacktivist he styles himself to be when Ward reveals that Miles hacked Chan for Centipede for a cool million bucks. Miles is a guy who can justify anything he does via the distance he maintains from the damage he's doing via his keyboard, i.e. just like 99.9% of the people on the Internet. Skye has some choices to make about who she wants her friends to be and who she herself wants to be, but that'll have to wait until the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rescue Chan in China. When the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. penetrate the Centipede base, unfortunately, they don't meet the helpless Mr. Chan, they meet Scorch, the Extremis-deranged supervillain who wants to "burn bright." ("They gave him a name," rues Coulson.)

They may be prisoners, but Coulson's team is still lucky to have two world-class Rising Tide hackers currently on their plane. As Scorch terrorizes May and Coulson, and roasts the evil Centipede doctor who removed the fireproof platelets from his bones, Ward unshackles Skye and Miles long enough for them to use The Power of Hacking to help save the day. Ward Seal Team Sixes Skye into the Centipede base so she can unlock the doors and hack Centipede for some intel with lickety-quick speed, while Miles uses his hacking powers to reroute a detonating Scorch's fire into the vents and through the roof, saving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from having to pay the extra expense of showing a building explode. The pyro budget of this episode was already maxed out. 

As Raina confers with a Mysterious Centipede Man in Prison about going to stage two with Extremis and contacting The Clairvoyant, Coulson must set his own Bus in order regarding Skye. Miles? Not an issue. S.H.I.E.L.D. takes all his money, straps a metal cuff around his wrist keeping him from operating any electronic devices, and kicks him off the Bus in Hong Kong. Get back to Austin, Texas who cares how. But Skye, she's one of the stars of the show. No kicking her off the Bus. What to do about Skye. May and Ward are back to pilot-level coldness towards her, but the person Skye needs to make good with is Coulson, her mentor. Finally, Skye tearfully comes clean about what she's really doing as part of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's all on her Boob Chip. Skye's precious Boob Chip. It has everything, which isn't much -- Skye is looking for her birth parents. Her entire lifetime of searching is summed up in a redacted S.H.I.E.L.D. document. Skye stays on the Bus, as she must, but with the no-electronics cuff on her wrist. Thus ends the best episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet.