Tuesday 9:00 PM on ABC

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01E12: "Seeds"

For an episode that didn't sound very promising in episode description or name, "Seeds," much like the similarly odd-titled "F.Z.Z.T." from earlier this season, exceeded my expectations. One could argue it's because they weren't that high based on the very little we knew of the episode, but I think that would be unfair here. This episode—silly superstorm effects aside—succeeded in making us laugh and making our hearts hurt, plus it was another origin story for a potential villain. It also answered, at least somewhat, the mystery of Skye, but that's something else altogether.

After some students at S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy (the science and technology division, not operations) were involved in an accident in which an indoor pool suddenly froze over, Fitz and Simmons were called in to speak to the students and find the culprit behind the device that turned all moisture in a certain radius to ice. I don't know if the writers just understand their characters better than the others, but FitzSimmons are continually developed in a more integrated, less obviously clunky way than everyone else. We still don't know that much about any of these characters, but we do know quite a bit about Fitz and Simmons through actual storytelling and less conspicuous exposition. You could argue it's because they're the two characters who don't really have "mysteries" surrounding who they are, and can be developed more easily, but I think it's also that the writers are able to play them off each other because of their close history and friendship in ways they cannot do with the rest of the team.

But Fitz also got to shine on his own in this episode, which is not something that happens all that often. Fitz connected with Donnie Gill, the brightest student at the Academy, as they bonded about similar upbringings and their love of science. It felt completely sincere, and in a way it was, but it broke my heart when I realized what was actually happening and who Donnie would be come through this encounter. Fitz will undoubtedly blame himself for the part he played in Donnie becoming Blizzard, but based on the show's history in the matter, we probably won't be seeing Donnie anytime soon now that he's in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.

In addition to Fitz's interactions with Donnie and Simmons this week, the writers also gave us a bit of Handsome/Fitz in "Seeds," which is always nice because it softens Handsome's hard demeanor and makes him feel slightly more human than his usual robotic self. His sexual relationship with May is also meant to do this, but so far it's seen little success. In fact, I'd nearly forgotten about their secret liaison entirely until May decided to bring it up to Coulson during a trip to Mexico. They were searching for a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who'd gone off the grid in the wake of the murder of his partner—the woman who brought Skye in—and May was being particularly chatty because Coulson was not. But during a stake out still doesn't seem like the best time to drop that kind of knowledge bomb. 

Skye's parentage, along with the mystery of what happened to Coulson after New York, has been one of the series' longest-running threads, and "Seeds" attempted to uncover a bit of that mystery. Skye was an 0-8-4, or an object of unknown origin, that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been called in to retrieve and protect 24 years ago. This could, of course, mean many things, especially knowing that the members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team who rescued her were eventually killed off one by one until there was only one of them left—the man named Richard Lumley who Coulson and May tracked down in Mexico. The news that Skye might not be completely human is not something I had considered, knowing that the series isn't about people with superpowers, but it's a pretty cool move in general.

Does this new revelation suddenly make Skye more interesting? Not really, because we still don't know what it all means, but it has shined a little light on who she is, and it kind of answers why she's the de facto main character of the series after Coulson. It also resulted in a quiet moment where Skye felt like she'd finally found the place she's always belonged. I'm a sucker for stories about unconventional families, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is certainly attempting to state its case that S.H.I.E.L.D. is one with episodes like "Seeds." And to be honest, I'm just kind of glad, much like I was last week, that we've learned something about this long-running mystery. Now that we know how Skye came to be in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s care, we can move on to the why, which I assume will probably be Skye's new focus for the rest of the season. Whatever comes of this story, I certainly find this arc more enjoyable than if May, or the agent who brought her in, had been her mother. 

I don't think it would be wrong to declare "Seeds" one of the strongest episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to date. Yes, we had to suspend our disbelief a bit to accept Skye's "origin story," but the episode tugged on viewers' heartstrings while also finding moments to make us laugh. And I certainly can't argue against an episode that introduces a future villain and name-drops Hydra, because it ties the series back to the world of comics in a real way. Some viewers will undoubtedly be frustrated by another episode that asked as many questions as it answered, but I'm not really worried about that at this point. We're still in the middle of the season, and the writers are making progress, even if it's slow-going. 


– This week saw the return of Ian Quinn, who we first glimpsed in the series' third episode. Truth be told, I did not see this coming, but considering the role he also played in the origin story of Graviton, I shouldn't be surprised. I do find it interesting he knows, or is involved with, the Clairvoyant. 

– "My room was exactly like this, except there was a lot more laundry on the floor." (Fitz just gets me.)

– "Simmons is probably smarter, technically, but that's because she likes homework more than life itself."

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