Plot: A man with pyrotechnic superpowers named Renshu Tseng (Louis Changchien) has gone missing and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team based in Hong Kong cannot find him. To avoid a catastrophe, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team set out to find who leaked Tseng’s information and where he is currently being held. The mission puts Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) loyalty to the test with her future as an unofficial member of this top secret S.H.I.E.L.D. team on the line.
As you already saw with my review last week of “Eye Spy,” I began to notice how Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had the habit of introducing new major stories and then not following up with them in the next episode. I know, we’re only at the very beginning of this series, but I began to wonder when we’d actually see some story growth beyond the problem of the week. Obviously this wasn’t a huge issue now but could have been if it continued. Thankfully last night’s episode “Girl in the Flower Dress” gave us our first real follow up with Centipede making a grand reappearance. Debbie (Shannon Lucio), the doctor from the Pilot, even came back too while introducing a completely new adversary for the team. We also got some brilliant insight into the person Skye really is even though that entire plot walked the line between new material and re-hashed story very carefully. This all built up to an extremely strong episode and one of the better ones to date.
“Girl in the Flower Dress” had two distinct conflicts, one outside the group and one within the group. The outside group story revolved around trying to find Renshu Tseng, a street performer in Hong Kong who has the ability to conjure fire. Even though I kept thinking this man was really Sunfire from the comics, he was a completely original creation for the show. His flame powers put him on an Index run by S.H.I.E.L.D. that keeps track of super people, so when he disappears a huge red flag is thrown up. Who took him and why is a big question throughout the episode and we’re brought along for the ride as the team figures out the mystery. I had my own theories but it was fun watching the team unravel the truth from barely anything. The big reveal that it was really Centipede and that the titular flower dress girl named Raina (Ruth Negga) is an important member was also amazing. Who Centipede is and what they’re trying to do is one of the most prominent mysteries this show needs to solve.
Coulson’s search for Tseng brought them to a secret facility in Hong Kong where Centipede is doing painful experiments on the aspiring hero. Centipede even attracted Tseng with the promise of a new life as a legend named Scorch, akin to Steve Rogers becoming Captain America. Their real motive is to harvest the fire resistant platelets in Tseng’s blood to stop the combustion issue their volatile mix of Extremis and Super Soldier Serum has. Centipede succeeds in getting their updated concoction, but this causes Tseng to enter a rampage against S.H.I.E.L.D. Plus, now his body is severely burned every time he lights up. Tseng’s ensuing battle with Coulson and Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) was really epic and it all started with the death of Agent Quan Chen (Tzi Ma) by Tseng’s hand. There was even this intense scene where Tseng literally turned Debbie into a pile of human ash. Once again, the show really used its obviously high special effects budget to its highest potential.
Interspersed in the search for Tseng was another plot revolving around Skye’s personal conflicts. It was almost a rehash of what we saw in “The Asset” where Skye portrayed herself as a double agent only out for her personal gain and not S.H.I.E.L.D. That ended with Skye staying on the team and, no surprise here, tonight’s episode did the same. While searching for the man behind the leak, an extremely talented hacker named Miles (Austin Nichols), Skye waits for him at his place and sleeps with him. Turns out these two have an extremely storied past, a truth S.H.I.E.L.D. discovers very quickly as May caught Skye in the act of betrayal. Despite this, Skye is still on the team and I wonder how long this top secret group will keep giving a total outsider second chances. It’s obvious that her actions last night have put her in an extremely bad place though as Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) doesn’t trust her anymore and Agents Leo Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) feel personally hurt by her betrayal. Coulson now has Skye on a short leash in the form of a tracking bracelet (which he also gave Miles at the end) so at least they’re taking some action.
I was really happy last night with the reveal of what Skye’s true motives are for being on S.H.I.E.L.D. Turns out she’s looking for her parents and has been her entire life. This has led her to becoming a hacker and living out of a van. Everything she has found so far has brought her to a single document which has been completely redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. This means that who ever Skye’s real parents are, they were so important S.H.I.E.L.D. had to make sure no one could ever find them. The seemingly endless possibilities of who Skye’s parents are is definitely a welcomed addition to show and I’m excited to find out what they could have done to be considered a threat to national security. This also provided some great insight into what makes this hacker tick. So little is known about her and I welcome any new leads with open arms.
Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention that I was a little upset with the explosive death of Tseng at the end. Yes it was exciting, but he’s the second super person to be introduced and removed from the show (not including Dr. Franklin Hall’s (Ian Hart) Graviton as we only saw the hand) and part of me wonders when one will actually stick around. They don’t need to become a member of the main team by any means, or even an established character, but it would be cool to see them pop up from time to time. I’m really just looking for a new superhero to actually support on this show and have them not always be the bad guys.
“Girl in the Flower Dress” was a great episode despite its flaws. I’m really glad that the Skye story wasn’t a “been there seen that” type of deal and I love any new addition to her identity as a person. Tseng/Scorch was a cool addition to the show and it sucks that he’s already gone for good. Bringing Centipede back was amazing though and I absolutely cannot wait to see what their Phase 3 plans bring to the table. With the combustion issue seemingly solved, the team could be fighting an army of super people in the very near future. That has the potential to be a real sight to see.