Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: as much as I love Agents of SHIELD
, it is at least 10 times cooler when there are actual superpowers on display. Episodes like this one finally pay off with what many of us expected the series to be before it premiered.
Don't get me wrong, the non-superhero stuff works and remains highly entertaining, but characters with mutant abilities are the bread and butter of the Marvel Universe, and this really gives us something to get excited about.
You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Fiery
"Girl in the Flower Dress" introduces us to our second "exceptional" character this season, a Hong Kong street performer with pyrokinetic abilities named Chan Ho Yin (even though the character is billed as Renshu Tseng). He feels disrespected when some passersby discredit his magic as an illusion, so he shoots some fire at them while screaming, "This is not a trick!" Not exactly feng shui, kemosabe.
His abilities attract the attention of the beautiful Raina (aka the girl in the flower dress), who charms her way into his apartment with lofty talk of him being special. She quickly kidnaps him with the help of men in flame-retardant suits, and Chan learns the hard way what every normal-looking guy already knows: you never trust a hot stranger who seemingly wants you for no reason. Unless there is alcohol involved. But you should still be wary then, too.
Don't Forget, Skye was Once a Hot Stranger
Agent Ward continues to buddy up to Skye, unaware that she has been harboring a dark secret and is still in connection with members of the Rising Tide. Still, she's too important a character to have completely sinister motives, but more on that later.
It turns out that SHIELD has been in constant contact with Chan after they identified his powers, so foreign Agent Quan immediately notices his disappearance. Chan's location was leaked by the Rising Tide, and in an effort to deflect attention from herself and prove her (dis)loyalty, Skye tracks the hack to her old friend Miles Lydon in Austin, Texas.
After tipping off Miles that SHIELD is on the way (He loses a pursuing Coulson with a "Gridlock" app that messes with traffic lights, complete with cheesy "Alright suit, you asked for it" line), she meets up with him and yells a lot for messing with her mission before they pop the Agents of SHIELD primetime cherry.
This is followed by wonderful shots of Chloe Bennet in her skivvies and the revelation that she keeps a data card near her ta-tas before Agent May interrupts and everyone gets put in handcuffs.
Millipedes Have More Legs, or So Atari Taught Me
After Chan wakes up in a nice comfy bed and demands to know why he's been abducted, Raina assures him she is a friend and wants to nurture his powers and give him a lasting legacy. She even gives him a superhero name, Scorch, and compares his future to Captain America, all of which convinces him not to walk out the door. Which is good, because they wouldn't have let him anyway.
You see, it turns out Raina works for Centipede, the same organization that tried to "improve" the two guys with superpowers in the pilot. One of them exploded, and then came darn near close before Ward shot him in the face.
The serum still has a combustion problem, so Dr. Debbie is back from the premiere to test if a guy whose power relies on combustion can help solve the issue.
Chan's platelets are in fact fire resistant, so his blood neutralizes the volatility in the serum. His purpose is not to solve crimes and have his own action figure, but to be drained to improve the serum and Centipede's likelihood of creating an army of anti-Captain Americas.
The platelet removal also means Chan now burns himself every time he manifests his powers.
The Wings on the Bus Go Fly, Fly, Fly
As the SHIELD team heads to Hong Kong, Coulson laments his gut instinct's failure about Skye and the fact that she screwed them all over. And he can tell she is still lying and hiding something else.
They find that Miles recently deposited $1 million into his bank account, selling the information about Chan to what he thought was an eco-research group doing testing on insects. Because he apparently never played Atari, and even the brightest minds can be quite dim when it comes to stereotyping the type of group that would offer that kind of money for hacked information.
May and Coulson head to the Centipede facility with help from the Hong Kong SHIELD team, while Ward stays with the prisoners. They bust in with relative ease and free Chan, but in typical good-mutant-gone-bad fashion, Chan got a taste of power and doesn't know what's good for him.
Introducing the Extinguished Gentleman
Scorch injects himself with more serum and kills Agent Quan with a fireball through the midsection, burning his arms in the process. He then takes aim at Coulson and May, who duck for cover while Ward and Skye breach the facility so she can hack open the lockdown.
She completes the task in about two seconds, and with the doors open, Scorch pursues Raina and Dr. Debbie to the elevator.
Raina lets the doors close in Deb's face, and Scorch disintegrates her with a stream of fire he sends along the ground.
"We Don't Want To Hurt You, But We Have To"
Those are Coulson's final words to Chan before May injects him with a double dose of serum to speed up the combustion process. The suddenly-useful Miles hacks the ventilation system and routes the explosion through the roof to contain the flames. Crisis averted, mission complete.
Miles is given a locator bracelet and told to keep things street legal and avoid tech gadgets for a while. Then Coulson donates Miles' million to Quan's family and sends him on his Hong Kongean way. But not before the now ex-lover tells Skye she's changed and that he hopes she finds what she's looking for.
We're treated to a bit of fancy editing, as the preview showed Coulson telling Skye, "I'm done with you!" But what he actually says is, "Truth, now, or I'm done with you." She comes clean that the disk in her underwire contains a single document that is the culmination of her lifelong search for her parents, and said document has been highly redacted by SHIELD.
That is why she hacked and infiltrated the group, and she says she won't stop looking but does still want to be part of the team. Coulson says he might be able to help before slapping the same bracelet on her.
Raina visits some creepy guy in prison and tells him that Dr. Deb is dead, the combustion problem is solved and Centipede is moving on to Stage 2. But since SHIELD is consistently meddling with the plans, the prisoner has to ask "The Clairvoyant" what they need to be aware of before Stage 3 of their super soldier program. He's less than excited, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Just ... Wow
This show is really getting cool, and "Girl in the Flower Dress" really offers a peak of what Agents of SHIELD can deliver once it's fully developed. I can only imagine a season 2 full of superheros and supervillains, even if they are of the lesser-known variety. Like I said, the non-superhero stuff is just fine, but this is what will attract fans of the genre and casual viewers alike.
Were you as excited about this episode as I was? Even though we've established you mostly all enjoy the show as is, did the presence of more superpowers amp it up for you?
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 8pm on ABC.