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      This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Girl in the Flower Dress,” was written by Brent Fletcher and directed by Jesse Bochco. Bochco, who is the son of well-known producer Stephen Bochco, is perhaps best known for dramas such as Dallas and Raising the Bar does a great job with the action, effects and drama of this episode. Fletcher comes out of the Whedon stable through his start on Angel and has most recently been writing for Spartacus: War of the Damned (for which Jed Whedon wrote two episodes as well).

     I really enjoyed this week’s episode. The effects were amazing, so a shout out to visual effects producer Sabrina Arnold and digital effects supervisor Kevin Lingenfelser. I liked that the plot linked us back to the first episode and what seems like it will be the major story arc going forward, developing a nemesis for S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m also really liking that the story is moving along quickly. We didn’t have to wait for half the season to finally have Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) big secret revealed. I like that they aren’t holding over our heads “can she be trusted?” It’s still possible, of course, that they could still be holding back something, but I don’t think they are – other that Coulson (Clark Gregg) mystery, of course! It’s important for a “hero” show to let us identify the heroes as quickly as possible so that we, as the audience, can really bond with them and root for them.

    Coulson and May (Ming-Na Wen) are quickly becoming my favorite pair. They have terrific chemistry which comes out in the wonderfully written banter and very subtle reaction on their part. I really like them working together in the field and May providing the confidante and support that Coulson needs. I love seeing them together in the field – and I begin to wonder if May may be there to protect Coulson. It was hysterical to watch as May cleared the room and Coulson just strolled in after her. Also, as always, a joy to watch Wen fight. I thought it was very telling when Coulson mentioned being “stabbed through the heart.” It adds yet another clue to the growing mystery surrounding him. It’s hard to believe that being stabbed through the heart ends in anything other than death. Part of me can’t help but wonder if May has been assigned – perhaps by Fury – to watch over Coulson. May was in admin, and I’m sure she was very high level, so maybe she would have been privy to whatever happened in “Tahiti.” It seems likely that even if either of those aren’t the case, May will be the one to discover whatever the mystery is – is Coulson a clone? An android? Was the Coulson with the Avengers a decoy android/clone? Does Coulson have some latent super-power? Or maybe Coulson himself is an alien and his heart was in a different place. Maybe as an alien, he’s fascinated with earth trinkets and history and that’s why his office is full of them? Did anyone else catch the mini-Lola sitting on his desk? Everyone should have a matchbox car on their desk...
  
     The episode itself was well-written and carried its theme through both the action plot and the team plot as several characters revealed and acknowledged their true selves. The action begins in Hong Kong with Chan (Louis Ozawa Changchien). Raina (Ruth Negga) tells him he’s been chosen. The next scene begins with Ward telling Skye that every decision she makes from here has consequences. The juxtaposition of these two scenes dovetails nicely. Skye has been chosen – as has the whole team. Chan, of course, has been chosen for nefarious reasons and is about to be exploited and held prisoner, ultimately to be sacrificed for Centipede’s end game. Is there reason to see that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents or even the members of The Rising Tide aren’t being subjected to the same treatment? I think we are definitely meant to see that S.H.I.E.L.D. is nothing like Centipede and Miles, the representative of The Rising Tide helps to point out the differences. He tells Skye that she now has a support system for instance. Raina’s callous abandonment of Debbie (Shannon Lucio – who also died on Supernatural this week!) clearly shows there is no such loyalty among Centipede members. The importance of loyalty to the team is clearly shown by everyone’s disappointment in learning that Skye hasn’t been being honest. S.H.I.E.L.D. does try to save Chan – they have consistently tried to save people, not exploit them – that we’ve seen so far.

    I know I was pretty surprised when Skye turned up in Miles’ (Austin Nichols) apartment and it was clear that they had an ongoing relationship – both personal and professional. There was definitely good chemistry between the two actors and their history was very believable. He also provided a nice counterpoint to her current SO, Ward (Brett Dalton). The game of battleship between Ward and Skye was a nice touch to showcase their chemistry in counterpoint. In the end, Miles tells Skye that she’s changed, and she’s not who she used to be. Skye replies that Miles isn’t who she thought he was. It seems clear that Skye has always had a different agenda. She is more concerned about saving the life of Chan, for instance, that “an innocent guy might die for money.” She feels betrayed when she learns that the events have been set in motion because Miles sold out for money. When it comes down to it, Skye is more interested in saving lives – just as the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. team is. It’s a nice moment when Ward savours getting to tell Skye that Miles sold out. There is also a nice exchange between Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Fitz remarks that he thought Skye was their friend and Simmons points out that Skye and Miles have “history.” This resonates with the theme of loyalty and also points out Fitz’s concern with friendship while Simmons places an emphasis on the relationship. Can we infer from this that Fitz is a bit dense when it comes to Simmons’ feelings?

    The big reveal of the episode was Skye’s confession to Coulson. It was a terrific scene from both Gregg and Bennet. It was also very well timed by the writers. It came soon enough that as viewers we didn’t feel betrayed by coming to like Skye, but there was also enough time for Skye to have bonded sufficiently and believably enough to trust Coulson enough to tell him the truth. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Skye is going to have an easy time winning back the trust of all the team members. It’s pretty clear that she hadn’t shared the information on the chip with Miles which speaks volumes about how much she trusts Coulson. Of course, given her history, it is easy to see that Coulson fills a father-figure role for her that even Ward or Miles couldn’t. Coulson responds to Ward’s remark that you can’t save someone from themselves after Chan’s death by saying, “You can if you get to them early enough.” Clearly, Coulson is also hoping he’s gotten to Skye early enough. When Coulson gives her the ultimatum to come clean or he’s done with her, she takes him seriously. Given that S.H.I.E.L.D. almost certainly had something to do with her parents’ deaths or disappearances, it is a testament to how much she trusts Coulson that she does confide in him. As we would expect, Coulson vows to help her even as he warns her that she might not like what she finds out. Coulson is used to S.H.I.E.L.D. going after the bad guys, so he may be worried that Skye’s parents were up to no good. In the end, however, he does require her to wear a monitoring bracelet just like Miles. I’ll be interested to see if she tries to circumvent it at some point – somehow, I don’t think she will.

    The other big reveal was at the end of the episode when we get more information on Centipede. We see Raina visiting a suspiciously creepy guy in some kind of prison. It seems unlikely that they could have had the conversation they did in a regular prison as the conversations are all monitored – unless she turns out to be his lawyer. Regardless, she asks mysterious guy number one to contact mysterious guy number two – the clairvoyant. We also learn in the episode that Centipede is an extremely well-financed international conglomerate interested in developing a super-soldier. Who they’re developing the soldiers for is likely the highest bidder – though that remains unclear.

    Another solid episode. Once again they manage to blend drama and action with some nice touches of humor. I loved it when Coulson recognizes they are in trouble when he finds out they’ve named Chan Scorch – which was pretty funny all by itself! Looks like some serious team-rebuilding is up for Skye and we will, no doubt, be seeing a lot more of Centipede. What did you think of the episode? Do you trust Skye? Do you think the others will let her back in? No episode next week – but let me know what you thought about this one in the comments below!

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