“Girl in the Flower Dress” (Season 1, Episode 5)
It takes more than a handful of episodes for any show — even the great shows — to find its rhythm and work out its kinks. I want to chalk up the mostly-misfire of this week’s episode to growing pains. I suppose “Girl in the Flower Dress” isn’t a bad episode, it’s just not a particularly grabbing one.
This week the show makes an effort to return to the threads started back in the pilot. The mysterious girl in the flower dress of the episode’s title, Raina (Ruth Negga), kidnaps Renshu Tseng (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a young street magician in Hong Kong who has the ability to create and control fire in the palm of his hand. Raina sweet-talks him into taking part in some tests to enhance his abilities with the promise of fame and being remembered — she also gives him the name ‘Scorch.’ To enhance his powers, he’s injected with Extremis, which historically has ended well for exactly no one.
For the majority of the episode, this storyline is relegated to the B plot. “Girl in the Flower Dress” focuses mainly on the search for Tseng, who S.H.I.E.L.D. has been monitoring. Raina found Tseng after a Rising Tide member sold her the information after hacking S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, now all eyes are now accusingly on Skye — assuming she may have had knowledge of this hack, or even perpetrated it from the inside. International hacking is a small circle, apparently, and Rising Tide is an even smaller mysterious organization because the Tide member who hacked S.H.I.E.L.D. and sold information to the evil scientists is none other than Skye’s former boyfriend. This jeopardizes Skye’s relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. bringing issues of trust to the forefront.
One of the areas where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to improve is in this department. It’s a less-than-interesting plot and I don’t particularly care if Skye’s still in cahoots with Rising Tide and is infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. I don’t find the question of Skye’s motivations and loyalties holds any dramatic weight or suspense whatsoever. I can’t quite tell if its because of Chloe Bennett’s limitations as an actor or if I’m just completely uninterested in plots of this nature.
Part of the problem is the shows lack of an overall focus. It wants to be a show that takes place in the same universe as The Avengers and explore this world by bringing in other-worldly elements and superheroes, but it’s not delivering that. This week really shows that disconnect by reintroducing Extremis and giving us a character with superhuman abilities while spending the majority of its time acting like a spy show relying on old tropes and clichés to move the story forward.
I had hopes that borrowing elements from various genres would give the show a flexibility to be creative in its storytelling from week-to-week. (Wouldn’t it be great to have an off-week where the team comes in for annual training? Or an episode focusing on a mundane assignment — say, investigating threatening mail sent to Captain America?) However, to be flexible in this way, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs a clear purpose. I find here, after five episodes, the show is no closer to finding its rhythm and I’m no more sure of what the show is wanting to be or trying to accomplish.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Drinking Game
- Do a shot every time Coulson makes reference to being stabbed in the heart in The Avengers.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Girl in the Flower Dress.” Directed by Jesse Bochco. Written by Brent Fletcher.