First, I apologize for the lateness of this review. My DVR ate the second half of "Girl in the Flower Dress" so I had to break it into a thousand pieces, throw them out the window, and then light them on fire. And then I had to watch the rest of the episode online. But I did, so now let's chat about it!
With each passing week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is becoming a more fully developed series. We're learning more about our team (or we're learning more about Skye), and each new episode, while still procedural in nature, has been stronger than those that preceded it. This week's case was also directly connected to two of the series' ongoing story arcs—Extremis and the secret life of Skye—which automatically makes "Girl in the Flower Dress" a winner in my book.
Let's tackle Skye first, because she's S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most accessible character. For weeks we've been wondering what Skye's true motives are. We've been wondering where her true allegiances lie since the second episode of the series, when she signed on as a consultant to the team. Is she with S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Rising Tide? In "Girl in the Flower Dress," we discovered that the answer is neither. Skye's only allegiance is to herself and to her van. And depending on the situation, S.H.I.E.L.D. is a distant third. Everything she's done, including joining Rising Tide and then joining S.H.I.E.L.D., has been to find out who she is and who her parents are.
We already knew that Skye essentially raised herself, that she grew up in the system, but we never knew why. And as it turns out, neither did she. Everything she knows about her parents can be traced back to a single S.H.I.E.L.D. document that looks like the list I received from my high school guidance counselor after I told her my hopes and dreams. Everything was blacked out or redacted, so Skye became a hacker and eventually joined the team with the hope that she'd one day be able to find out more information about her own past. Seems legit, no? I'd want to know who my birth parents were, especially if they were somehow involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. Were they good guys? Bad guys? Carnies? Is she a test tube baby conceived as part of a S.H.I.E.L.D. experiment? It's still unclear whether Skye has actually had the chance to really dive into the search, especially because she's not a full agent and probably has little to no clearance at the moment. But it doesn't look like she's going to get the opportunity any time soon, either.
Agent Coulson—feeling less betrayed than he was when he first discovered that Skye had been lying to him and that she had her own agenda for joining the team—told her that she might actually be better off living in the dark (obviously this statement was as much about Skye as it was Coulson's own past). There's a reason people say ignorance is bliss, and it's that sometimes ignorance really is better than knowing the truth. In the end, Skye was allowed to remain a member of the team (I guess?), but with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s version of a shock collar; she now has to wear a bracelet that probably zaps her and/or severely injures her if she tries to do anything involving electronics. But hey, at least it's fashionable, right?
We also met Skye's mentor and part-time lover, Miles Lydon, in "Girl in the Flower Dress." But he wasn't who Skye thought he was and she gave him the official boot by episode's end. For all of his talk about freedom of information, he was still willing to accept a $1M paycheck in exchange for some information, which was not cool in Skye's book. Especially since the information he sold was about Chan Ho Yin, a man from Hong Kong with pyro-kinetic abilities, and who was directly related to a S.H.I.E.L.D. case. And that's how the case of the week tied both Skye's arc and the Extremis arc together.
Lydon sold the information to a Centipede research lab in Hong Kong believing it really was an ecological research lab, so in his defense, he really didn't know what would happen. (But in defense of good ol' fashioned common sense: What the hell would an eco-lab want with S.H.I.E.L.D. information? Lydon might be computer smart, but he doesn't really seem smart smart. Just saying). Lydon had no idea that Shannon Lucio would return as Doctor Debbie from the pilot and inject Chan—who was given the name Scorch (LOL) by the mysterious girl in the flower dress (who, as we later learned, was named Raina)—with the Extremis serum.
As Debbie had expected, the blood platelets in Chan's blood that kept him from being burned by the fire he could create, also acted as a stabilizer for the Extremis. Naturally, she ordered him drained of blood so they could stabilize the serum for their army of toy soldiers. S.H.I.E.L.D. was eventually able to intervene, but Chan had had a taste of the power that the serum gave him and injected himself with more. A kerfuffle ensued and Coulson and May were forced to make the hard call of injecting him twice more, which eventually caused the reaction we've come to recognize with Extremis: combustion. R.I.P. Scorch, we hardly even had the chance to laugh at your catchphrase, "You just got scorched!"
While Skye's arc wasn't exactly a mind blowing reveal, it was definitely a new piece to the Skye puzzle and character development is never a bad thing. I really thought her Rising Tide/S.H.I.E.L.D. allegiance would end up being a major plot point towards the end of the season, and I suppose it still could come in to play, but now that we know her true motives, it looks like the search for her parents will become Skye's larger arc instead, which is kind of boring in my very important opinion. Her relationship with Agent Handsome has also now been strained, because he feels betrayed by her actions (and because he refused to sit in on her meeting with Coulson, he doesn't know the truth about her real objectives).
As for the Extremis arc and what it means going forward: with Chan's blood, the Big Bad can now move forward with their army of super soldiers. We still don't know much more than that, which is okay. This is a season-long story and we're only five episodes in. I'm just glad we're starting to move towards some semblance of serialized storytelling, tying in cases of the week with the overarching stories of the season. Keep it up, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; you're doing all right.
– Fight scenes, guys. Work on them. Go watch some episodes of Arrow if you need some inspiration. They could be (and should be) so, so, so much better.
– What's Stage 3? And is there really someone who's clairvoyant now? After being told last week that there's no evidence of anyone having that ability? Interesting.
– Is Scorch really dead? We didn't see a body!
– Steve Rogers/Captain America shout-out!
– Shannon Lucio died in two shows last night (S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supernatural). Tough luck.
– Bye Austin Nichols, please come back soon because your laid-back scruffyness is the perfect antithesis to Agent Handsome's cold, hard Blue Steel!
– Does Fitz have a crush on Skye? He was really hurt that Skye hadn't said anything about her relationship with Miles. And it seemed to be more than just a friendly hurt.
– Fitz and Simmons didn't have much to do this week, so I still don't have much to say about them. Please give them more to do than just act as comic relief, show. I enjoy them, but so far they're still just two characters we met in the pilot.
– Handsome: "Make it a double." May: "Is there any other kind?" (May is the best.)
– "Now you're making fun of my van!?" Do NOT insult Skye's van, y'all.
– "So we're good, right?"
– May: "His file say anything about him being homicidal?" Coulson: "Just that he was kind of a tool."