Agents of SHIELD needed a bit of a spark and with Girl in the Flower Dress that finally arrived. No, not with the latest super powered character Scorch, but rather a mysterious character whose shifting loyalties made her the first real enigma of the series whose storyline couldn’t be neatly wrapped in one episode.
Street magician Chan Ho Yin (Louis Ozawa) meets Raina (Ruth Negga), an alluring woman intrigued by his gift of controlling fire. As is typically the case in TV land, when a beautiful woman wants to go to a stranger’s place nothing good will come out of it. In Chan’s case that means Raina’s brought along two friends and not in a good way. They’re dressed in asbestos gear and take him to a secluded lab run by Dr. Debbie (Shannon Lucio), the same woman who’s behind the Extremis Centipede project.
Initially upset at being taken, Chan gets sweet talked by Raina, who assures him they’re going to make him famous. All he needs is a nickname — Scorch. Ozawa gives Chan so much personality that it was almost a shame to waste him on a one episode character. The last two episodes SHIELD has introduced some interesting characters that probably should have been revisited.
Coulson links up with a Hong Kong SHIELD Agent Quan (Tzi Ma, The Farewell), who reveals Chan was on the SHIELD watch list of super powered individuals. Ironically, SHIELD had an unofficial Sokovia Accords project long before General Ross and the UN agreed to one. Interestingly enough, the Rising Tide got hold of that list, which led to Chan’s apprehension.
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And in a wacky coincidence it was Skye’s Rising Tad mentor/boyfriend Miles (Austin Nicols, The Walking Dead) who leaked the intel. Skye helps him evade SHIELD long enough for them to hook up, but Coulson and company surprise them afterwards. This mainly felt like a way to get that whole Rising Tide subplot over with since it was dragging down Skye’s potential growth with the team.
Keeping it going much longer wasn’t going to be useful for Skye or the show since so much of the focus was devoted to an apparent mole. This also provides some much needed apprehension from the rest of the team regarding their trust in Skye.
Slight spoiler for a retro review: the first five episodes are full of subterfuge, twists and betrayals done in a way to make them almost feel commonplace. Casting doubt on Skye from the get-go was brilliant and now having the rest of the team leery about trusting her disrupts that overly simplistic series SHIELD felt like it was becoming. This was easily the riskiest play of any comic book based TV series. Good thing it pays off later…
Miles recalls encountering Raina, who worked with some eco-friendly group interested in centipedes. Raina is cold and once Scorch breaks free of their restraint, she leaves Debbie to get vaporized. With Skye’s help, Coulson and May are able to stop the fully corrupted Chan, but not before he kills Quan. This was the first time a named SHIELD agent got killed in the line of duty, which was helpful in establishing that characters weren’t safe.
With Chan on ice (sorry), Miles gets to rejoin society albeit with a bracelet that prevents him from accessing tech. After learning she joined Rising Tide to find out anything about her parents, Coulson opts to give Skye another chance, but not without taking precautions so she gets the tech restraint as well.
Raina meets with a prisoner and asks him to touch base with The Clairvoyant. So now we’ve got a name for this Centipede-based alliance threat. Interesting.
This episode does a stronger job of showing SHIELD’s potential in any episode since the premiere. Diving into an extended arc full of questions and shadowy characters doesn’t hurt either.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: ABC