Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 5. Girl in the Flower Dress
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, episode 5. Girl in the Flower Dress demonstrates the age-old truth that unless you have intelligent dialogue in service to a good plot shown through well-produced visuals, you have a show that’s dead in the water. Let’s start with the question of the dialogue’s quality. At its heart, this series has begun to demonstrate a clear point of view preference. The default setting is Skye (Chloe Bennet). Although the theory says we’re watching the growth of a team, Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), the British science geeks, were effectively sidelined, Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) has a coupe of scenes with Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) aka Woodentop lurches around looking for his lost brain (assuming he was issued one on birth). This episode is all about Skye’s agenda and the deception she’s been running intended to achieve her ends. In the right hands, this plot could have been interesting as we watched her vacillate between old and new relationships. Sadly, what we heard and saw was facile and not worthy of our attention. Indeed, the dialogue bubbles in some comic stories are better than this. To show they are getting along better, Skye and Woodentop play battleships (that’s about the right intellectual level for him and he still lost). But, if you listen to the script, the male actor is incapable of displaying anything approximating actual emotion. The effort going into writing the script is therefore wasted. May and Coulson do better in their more limited exchanges (May gets to speak Mandarin in two scenes which she does rather more convincingly since that’s her mother tongue). The science geeks remain deeply annoying.
As to the plot, it seems S.H.I.E.L.D. runs a list of people with ability who might be dangerous if they fell into the wrong hands. Via stock footage, we travel to Hong Kong where a generic street scene offers us a “magician” who can actually make fire. We’re supposed to recognise him as a human mutant who, like Pyro in the X-Men series, can manipulate fire. Well, in the initial scenes, the power is rather limited but, on the budget we’ve seen from the show so far, it’s a step in the right direction. Anyway, the titular girl in the flower dress gets a personal demonstration and then watches with a smile on her lips as appropriately suited heavies subdue him,. To punish him for having a mutant talent, they propose to call him Scorch. Meanwhile, back on the Bus, an agent from Hong Kong reports the “magician’s” abduction, speculating this is the work of the Rising Tide. Skye is embarrassed because she’s supposed to be a part of that organisation and should warn S.H.I.E.L.D. when any of her colleagues propose to cross the line. It’s a big organisation, OK. To prove she’s now on the side of the good guys, Skye identifies the person who hacked S.H.I.E.L.D. Leaving the local people in Hong Kong to recover the man they were supposed to be protecting, our newly emerging team set off for Austin Texas (because it’s cheaper to film generic American cities and make believe we’re in Texas).
Because he’s standing on the pavement trying not to be conspicuous, Miles, the hacker, immediately identifies Woodentop as an agent and runs off (only joking — Skye has already tipped him off). This precipitates a time-wasting chase. Skye however continues to play both sides and is waiting for Miles back at his run-down apartment. Yes, it’s the hacker and ex-lover. Later in post-coital bliss, they are arrested and taken to Hong Kong. Sorry, I was too quick to keep us in America (an irrelevant comment because none of the exterior scenes are identifiable as to location). Anyway, we’re back to the organisation from the first episode that’s trying to create a supersoldier. I think I forgot to mention it’s calling itself Centipede. With only inferior scientific abilities available, their serum is unstable, but the British science geeks speculate the pyrokenetic ability of the kidnapped mutant could stabilise the serum. Personally, that sounds an absurd idea but, in this show, I’m past caring. So now the enhanced Scorch burns a couple of people to ash (not very impressive CGI) and is then persuaded to explode. Miles the hacker, allowed out of his handcuffs at the last moment, directs the blast of flame out of the laboratory roof through the air-conditioning system (totally absurd CGI) — nothing is too much of a challenge for this guy. The team reassembles on the Bus. Miles is stripped of his money and left in Hong Kong with the ultimate in electronic tagging. Skye is on probation, finally admitting she’s trying to find out what happened to her parents. Everyone else is in limbo apart from the girl in the flower dress who is prison visiting to hint there may be some plot continuity about to develop. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Girl in the Flower Dress is not quite the worst episode so far but close to it.
For a review of other episodes, see:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 1. Pilot
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 2. 0-8-4
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 3. The Asset
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 4. Eye-Spy
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 6. FZZT
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 7. The Hub.