“The time will come when you won’t make fun of me for that, you’ll be jealous. You’ll be jealous, wrinkly, old hags.”
The show starts with some surprisingly rebellious kids swimming at the S.H.I.E.L.D. Training Academy. When the pool suddenly freezes over, with the students narrowly escaping, S.H.I.E.L.D. finds some sort of high tech gadget was used in the attack. Naturally, Fitz, Simmons, Skye and Ward are called in to sort out the bad “seeds” of the academy, while Coulson and May tackle a lead on Skye’s past in Mexico City.
After a somewhat lackluster return from hiatus last week, save for Coulson’s big reveal, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks to capitalize on what holds the most potential in this show; its great cast. The storyline for “Seeds” was tailor-made to utilize each cast member, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t turn out to be one of the best episodes yet. The rest of the team breaks off from Coulson and May, with the “kids” left to stow their worries of Coulson in the back of their mind while they try to figure out who tried to freeze the S.H.I.E.L.D. Science Academy’s pool… yeah, that does sound like something that they should handle… right? Well, even if the premise of how the team gets into the situation is far-fetched, it’s easy to overlook when you consider the end result.
The balance between the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization and Coulson’s team was nothing short of perfect in this episode. One of the things that the show’s been struggling with, it seems, is telling the story of these characters, while also developing the background of this mysterious government agency that the characters work for, usually opting to focus on one or the other. In “Seeds,” they manage to do both, and the impact of either one is probably more significant than anything before it. Sure, we needed to see The Hub, but that’s about the only thing they focused on in the episode it was featured in. It doesn’t need to be anything more than the simple deliver that we saw in this episode, when Skye (Chloe Bennet) and Ward (Brett Dalton) visit the Wall of Valor. “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s history can be traced on walls like this… Bucky Barnes.” A reference to the Captain America franchise (and the upcoming movie), yes, but it also gives us an idea of just how these characters from the movies fit into this world, which is what’s most important.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) finally get some screen time, and even some attention from someone other than me! When returning to their old academy, they are revered as the youngest graduates from the school, and the current students’ role models, which is something completely different from these two, who’ve been allowed to do nothing more than say a few funny lines here and there. In this episode, they’re heavily in the spotlight, and I think it pays off. I can’t help but be a huge fan of Fitz; his charm and charisma is drowning in his current role on the show, but it’s in clear view in this episode. Even with the student he’s sent to talk to, you can immediately relate to his passionate temperament. Thankfully, as I’ve been hoping for all season, Fitz gets his chance to become something of a hero, and actually has an emotional scene or two thrown in as well. I’ve said it before, but I truly believe that Fitz could and should be the face of the show; he’s an unlikely hero, in a show about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, Simmons isn’t as prominently featured as Fitz, but she’s given more room to spread her wings than usual, easily the most she’s gotten since her run-in with the Chitari artifact. While it was great to see these two actually get to do something, I think they’re capable of running with an even bigger, more engaging storyline, and I hope that we’ll get to see that soon. A step in the right direction for these two, for sure.
With the rivalry between the Science Academy and Operations Academy, as well as the distinct differences between the team members that went to either academy, Skye is left to wonder which, had she joined the S.H.I.E.L.D. under normal circumstances, would she have gone to. This did a decent enough job of continuing her “who am I?” story- which totally takes a crazy turn that I’ll get to in a bit- while examining the infrastructure of S.H.I.E.L.D. She becomes upset about the fact that she didn’t come in like everyone else, but her S.O. Ward tells her that it isn’t about how they got there, rather that they care about the greater good. Ward, luckily, finds a comfortable place in this episode. He’s not in the spotlight, but he definitely moves the story along, and his character isn’t so crammed down our throats, it’s actually possible to enjoy. The more I mull over his character, the more I see him working more as a John Casey from Chuck type, which would surely be in his wheelhouse.
After witnessing a mind-shattering revelation for Coulson (Clark Gregg), we find him this week, distraught as ever, looking at photos of his dead self, and we know this thing won’t be over any time soon. But what will he do? What can he do? To pull Coulson away from reading his own file- which he isn’t even sure if he believes anymore- May convinces him to track down a lead she found concerning Skye’s past. The agent that dropped her off is dead, but her partner is in Mexico City. While on the investigation, though, they discuss how, if they were to leave S.H.I.E.L.D., how they would do it? Would they follow in the footsteps of the man they’re tracking, or do it some other way? It’s clear that Coulson has already been thinking about this, but it makes me curious as to whether or not May really cares, or is just trying to change his state of mind. Then she went and did it…
Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) completely bugs the living hell out of me. Her boring, robotic delivery, and her need for everyone to care about what she’s doing is exhausting. If she were really trying to keep the things that her and Coulson were looking into a secret, she wouldn’t have said anything in the first place. Is this awful writing? Is it fantastic writing, but May is just supposed to be an annoying character that wants everyone to think that she’s special? Is it something else entirely that I’m not getting? I don’t know, but I just want to smoosh her face the majority of the time… Then, she belts out the line, “Agent Ward and I have been having sex.” After an awesome cliffhanger, there’s been nothing but slight mention of what should have been one of the primary storylines in every episode since- the two of them developing their feelings, trying to hide it from the rest of the team, learning to understand the vulnerability that neither of them are used to, etc.-, and then she just throws it out there to Coulson, during an intense stakeout, which was hilarious. It doesn’t make up for the complete absence of this for the past however many episodes, but it was definitely enough to thoroughly confuse me on whether or not I care for Melinda May. I’ve never felt so bipolar on a character in my life; she’s one of the most boring characters, but has the potential for, and has teased, some of the most entertaining storylines that we could end up seeing on this show.
After one of the worst fight scenes I’ve ever seen (seriously, guys, if you want to know how to make an action packed, realistic looking fight scene, go watch Arrow), they confront the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who, aside from being a parkour expert, knows exactly why Coulson is looking for him after 24 years of avoiding S.H.I.E.L.D. What happens next, is something that I truly wasn’t expecting, and was really well done; Skye is a 0-8-4, which as we should know from the second episode, is S.H.I.E.L.D.’s code for an object of unknown origin. I’m not really sure what this means, or how that will affect Skye, but color me intrigued. On top of potentially giving Skye something to actually do, it’s already beginning to evolve the relationship between Skye and Coulson, especially when Coulson decides to ignore protocol and tell Skye of her true identity. Although their relationship seemed inane up to this point, they are both very much in the same boat now, and I’m excited to see where that takes us.
Finally, we’re treated to a cleverly worked in return by Ian Quinn (David Conrad), the rich baddy from The Asset, who’s shown up to fund the freeze technology that’s terrorizing the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy. I’m not sure what his exact role is in all of this, but he could potentially be the big bad that this show really seems to need. Phil finally gets a chance to confront Quinn, and we find that he’s got ties to the Clairvoyant, but who’s working for who? Either way, I think it could mean that we finally have a solid direction for our nemesis, at least for the rest of this season.
After many misfires and near-hits, it looks like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has found its footing, and has given us one of its best offerings to date. Having volunteered to review this show for the season, I can only hope that my hunch is right, and we finally have all the pieces in place to be able to focus on what makes this show fun. Skye has something going on that might be worthwhile, Ward seems to have found his balance, and his relationship with Melinda May could make for some great television between those two, Coulson is questioning the system that he’s sworn by for most of his life, and FitzSimmons are finally being given a chance to tell a story. The stars have aligned, everything seems to be ready to move into what this show can and should be, and I hope, for everyone who’s still giving this show a chance, that I’m not wrong.