Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Girl in the Flower Dress Review (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Source: Mania.com

So far, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has swung back and forth between comic book superhero action and espionage thriller.  “Girl in the Flower Dress” strikes an effective balance between both genres and gets back to some of the plot lines seen in the pilot episode.  A street magician in Hong Kong named Chan displays the ability to produce fire from his hands.  He’s approached by Raina (the woman in the flower dress of the title) who entices him enough that he takes her back to his apartment.  There she reveals her less than innocent intentions as men in fireproof suits capture Chan.

Coulson is contacted by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in Hong Kong who informs him that Chan’s whereabouts were leaked by the hacker group Rising Tide.  Suspicion immediately falls on Skye do to her ties to the group however she volunteers to try and track down the source of the leak herself.  Chan awakes in a laboratory where Raina offers to help him control and increase his powers, even giving him the nickname “Scorch” in true comic book style.  However Chan is little more than another experiment for the Extremis serum as the sinister group continues to try and stabilize the forum so its subjects do not explode as Mike Peterson did in the pilot.

As Coulson plans a rescue mission to free Chan, it’s exposed that Skye has been involved with another member of the Rising Tide named Myles Lydo, her past lover.  Skye’s dual loyalties are discovered and she and Lydo are taken into custody by Melinda May.  When interrogated, Skye divulges that her involvement with The Rising Tide was due to her searching for information about her parents for whom S.H.I.E.L.D kept a secret file.  Coulson agrees to help Skye locate her parents but also fits her with a bracelet this acts as an electronic tether but also prevents her from using electronic devices.  After the final break we see Raina meeting with a man in prison, telling him to make contact with someone known only as “the clairvoyant”.

This episode certainly was not aimed at the kiddies after “Scorch” uses his power to burn a woman alive turning her to ashes in seconds; didn’t quite see that one coming, at least to that graphic of a degree taking into account the 8:00pm time slot. After a few mainly self-contained episodes we get back to the Extremis/Centipede device.  While still not revealed as HYDRA it would seem to be leaning that way.  The reference at the end to the “Clairvoyant” could be any number of people in the Marvel Universe who have psychic powers, unless of course it turns out to be an original character.  My vote would go to Mentallo though since the character has S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA connections.  And could the man in prison be The Fixer?  The Fixer was allied with Mentallo and he did bear a resemblance to the comic character.

Skye is continuing the proud tradition of the parents of characters in the Marvel Universe often having more shadowy backgrounds than the main characters themselves.  I thought Skye playing to Coulson’s sympathies about her parents far too contrived.  Why not just disclose this from the beginning?  Doing it earlier versus doing it now doesn’t give her character any more depth.  If she truly didn’t have any ulterior motives for wanting to join S.H.I.E.L.D. then this merely setup unneeded trust issues with the team.  Also a bit contrived was Chan’s transformation into a quiet, nice guy street performer into a crazed pyromaniac murderer.  I suppose you can chalk this up to the effects of the Extremis formula but it happened just too quickly and for the sole purpose of a climactic battle.

In short, the episode definitely advanced the show from point B to point C, but did so by hitting several potholes along the road.

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Mania Grade: B-
Episode: Girl in the Flower Dress (Season 1, Episode 5)
Starring: Clark Gregg. Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet
Written By: Brent Fletcher
Directed By: Jesse Bochco
Network: ABC
Studio: ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy
Series: