MovieBob - Intermission
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 5: Girl In The Flower Dress

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 23 Oct 2013 16:00
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But, to be frank, his story isn't as immediately compelling as watching Coulson etc. re-asses Skye while Skye re-asseses her opinion of Miles, whose repertoire of high-minded Assange-isms is sounding a lot less alluring to her now that she's seen what S.H.I.E.L.D. is actually up against in the world - and more recently how the information Miles "set free" has put an innocent man's life in danger. And in case the S.H.I.E.L.D. = NSA, Rising Tide = WikiLeaks/Anonymous inching up toward newsworthy relevance wasn't explicit enough, Miles self-righteously name-drops hacktivist martyred saints Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Aaron Schwartz as his heroes.

Whoa.

Just like that, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ideological metaphor would appear to have dropped the "metaphor" part. Unless there's a major misdirection being set up, thus far the arc of the series' first five episodes re: Rising Tide is essentially about the idealism of free-information hacktivist zealots being dangerously naïve, and the attempt to help someone from that world (Skye) "grow up," see the light and join the good guys. I don't really take an issue with this (a show where spies are the good guys kind of has to fall on this side, doesn't it?) but I imagine a lot of people will.

In any case, as if to put the cherry on top, it turns out Miles isn't (only) an obnoxious idealist - he's a phony. He didn't leak S.H.I.E.L.D secrets for some ideal of transparency... he did it for a million dollar payday! Skye is appalled by this, though you have to wonder if she's really just worried that her Obvious Douchebag Detector has been broken for this long (seriously, they might as well have gone all the way and given Miles a K-Mart fedora.) But where did the money come from?

Centipede! You remember, right? No? The vaguely alluded-to bad guys from the first episode? Well, they're some kind of super-science shadow outfit (like I said, A.I.M. has to come back into this picture at some point) evidently trying to brew up its own superhumans using a grab bag of borrowed technology from the various Marvel Movies. In fact, turns out Shannon Lucio's Debbie - the redhead scientist who was experimenting on Michael from the pilot - is working with (for?) Raina, and what they really want from Chan is to extract his genetically fire-proof blood platelets to improve on Extremis (the serum treatment from Iron Man 3 than turns you into a superhuman but also makes you overheat and explode.) The process leaves Chan still able to use his powers, but now they burn him - and the effect is pretty nasty-looking for a family hour network show.

With all that out of the way, we wrap on a big action sequence as S.H.I.E.L.D raids the facility where Chan is being held; backed up by a redemption-seeking Skye on "somehow open doors and windows with keystrokes" Movie Hacker duty. They're expecting to fight whoever/whatever Centipede is, but instead the Final Boss is a now quite mad Chan; who murders Kwan and declares that he dislikes S.H.I.E.L.D suppressing his powers just as much as he dislikes Centipede's machinations. He'd now rather just go all Trogdor on everybody as Scorch. "Oh no. They gave him a name." sighs Coulson in the episode's best line. He uses those ever more impressive-looking fire powers to incinerate Debbie (Raina escapes) and neutralize Coulson's knock-out gun; ultimately forcing May to kill him via an overdose of Extremis.

Geez. Re-typing it, this episode was pretty damn dark, right?

Back on The Bus, Miles gets unceremoniously dumped in Hong Kong, fitted with S.H.I.E.L.D's version of a parolee monitor bracelet, and Skye gets called into Coulson's office for the big dressing-down. He's pissed (the episode makes great use of how jarring Clark Gregg breaking his monotone calm reserve can be) but just because of her near-betrayal. Actually... The Agents as a whole don't really seem that put out about it, basically treating Skye like they're all in High School and she just totally narc'd on a wicked awesome keg party. Coulson, though, is upset that, since Skye wasn't Miles' mole but was lying, it means there's still something she's hiding - and he's not going to let her stay unless she tells the truth.

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