After two weeks delving into the overall story of the season with Centipede and the mysterious Clairvoyant, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes a step back to adventure of the week, but brings a level of charm and fun to proceedings that has been missing for a while.
When a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. cadets at the academy fall foul of a mysterious assailant who uses a device to try to freeze them to death, Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are called in to get to the bottom of it. What’s surprising to the team, and the audience, is that it turns out that Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) are something of superstars in the science division.
Giving Fitz and Simmons the spotlight without making a thing of their obvious love for each other was a welcome change, and we actually get to see the two of them having a lot of fun. They both seem incredibly comfortable being back in the academy, and fit well into the roles as mentor-like figures for the younger cadets. If the show were to suddenly spend a handful of episodes just following the two of them at the academy, helping out the future agents, it would be a great little diversion.
It turns out that one of the victims of the ice attack, Donnie Gill (Dylan Minnette), orchestrated the entire event specifically to get Fitz back at the academy in order to get him to fix the power source for his machine. Whilst this isn’t the biggest or most shocking secret plan in the history of espionage fiction, it’s kind of brilliant in its simplicity. Fitz identifies with the young Donnie, and desperately want to connect with him and help him come out of his shell, so of course he helps him with his project. But the project is actually a secret weapon that Donnie and his friend Seth (Daniel Zovatto) plan to sell to the shady Ian Quinn (David Conrad).
Outside of the Fitz and Simmons focus the episode sheds a little more light onto the mystery of Skye (Chloe Bennet) and her past, in particular her connection to a failed S.H.I.E.L.D. operation in the past that led to several deaths. Not only did these developments put an end to Skye’s search for her parents, but hinted at some deeper mystery to her past that could tie her into more important plots.
The best things about this episode though are the sense that the show has finally started to spend a little money on its episodes, and it painted S.H.I.E.L.D. as a larger organisation in a better light.
Donnie’s weather machine looks great, especially on a television budget, and the team behind the scenes managed to make things look fresh and interesting. We get to see the bus in an action sequence that wasn’t just the camera shaking on the set whilst the actors threw themselves around feigning turbulance. We got to see the plane from the outside as it fought against the deadly storm. It might not seem like much, but after so many episodes of seeing the plane just flying from place to place it makes a difference to see something a little more spectacular happening.
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The S.H.I.E.L.D. academy is also portrayed as a really nice place to be, which is a stark contrast to the hectic nature and cold personalities of the Hub. You can see the hope in the eyes of the staff and the students, you get a sense that they’re eager to become part of something bigger than themselves, something that stands for what’s right. We get a small moment of this when Coulson takes Skye to see the wall of fallen agents. It’s an inspirational moment, and even the nod to Captain America can’t ruin it when she just happens to pick out the name Bucky Barnes out of all of them to read.
‘Seeds’ is a very different episode from what has come before. It doesn’t appear to play into the central plot in any big ways, but doesn’t feel like previous adventure of the week episodes. It has a sense of comfortableness that comes from a series that has finally found its feet.
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