This week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D … Things get a little heated , in more ways than one. Centipede comes crawling out of the woodwork. And Skye is forced to reveal herself, both literally and figuratively, as we discover why she really joined the team.
This week’s mission
A Hong Kong street magician capable of spontaneously creating fire is abducted and S.H.I.E.L.D. must do everything they can to recover him – or stop him.
Burn, baby, burn
Like last week, this episode is darker in nature and highlights that not everything S.H.I.E L.D. does is morally pure. Here their surveillance and suppression of those with abilities such as Chan Ho Yin sits in a grey moral area, ultimately resulting in Coulson and May making the pragmatic decision to limit the damage and allow Chan – now going by the name Scorch – to destroy himself.
The somewhat nebulous threat of Centipede from the pilot also begins to coalesce and intensify in the form of Raina. She’s quite happy to extract the blood platelets which prevent Chan from burning himself and then to sacrifice her team’s doctor when he breaks free seeking vengeance. The scene in which Scorch incinerates her is as macabre as anything we have seen on the show so far. And the coda referring to ‘the clairvoyant’ and stage three of the Extremis project promises further escalation of the Centipede menace in coming episodes.
Elsewhere there are heavy allusions to Wikileaks, Anonymous and Guantanamo Bay in Skye’s interactions with her mentor and boyfriend Miles Lydon. His actions reveal him to be less than the idealist he professes to be. Her abrupt loss of trust by the team and the setback in her developing brother/little sister relationship with Grant Ward will take some rebuilding.
More arcs (sic) than Noah?
Five episodes in, it now looks like we have three developing long-term story arcs under way: Centipede/Extremis, Dr Franklin Hall/Graviton and the unseen organisation behind Akela Amador’s activities last week.
In addition, we have exchanged one mystery about Skye for another. It was a wise move by the writers to ensure the question over her ambiguous allegiance didn’t outstay its welcome. Now that we know her parents were either on S.H.I.E.L.D’s radar or agents themselves, we’re left wondering as to exactly who they are. It’s too much of a cliché for her to be related to a member of the team, surely?
As episodes go, this was okay but lacked the fizz of last week. On the plus side it advanced another ongoing major threat for later in the season while moving the ongoing Skye plot along a step. On the down-side, we’re now long overdue a Fitz-Simmons-centric story – the pair urgently need to be made more than two-dimensional and interchangeable spouters of exposition.
We revisit both the pilot and Iron Man 3 as we learn Centipede is trying to stabilise the effects of the Extremis serum on it subjects.
Scorch has previously appeared as a minor villain in Marvel comic-books. He was also an Asian pyrokinetic, named Tommy Ng.
Oh crap. They gave him a name.
Coulson is displeased that Centipede gave Chan a name to feed his dreams and ego.