Week of March 6, 2022:

Girl in the Flower Dress (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s1 e5) released October 22, 2013 (where to watch)
FZZT (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s1 e6) released November 5, 2013
Scott Hardie | March 13, 2022

Girl in the Flower Dress: IMDb says, "During production, this episode was going to be named Scorch, but by the time it was shot, Ruth Negga's performance as Raina impressed the producers so much that they renamed the episode to reference her character." I find that disappointing, because Negga's performance is the worst thing in this episode, and that's saying something. She's so badly overacting that I half-expected a mustache to be costume-glued onto her face so that she could twirl it. I have little tolerance for villainous roles that ask good actors (Negga's an Oscar nominee) to give deliberately hammy performances (I groan every time Star Trek visits its Mirror Universe), so I'm already dreading what I assume will be the return of this character. (And what's with calling her "Girl" anyway? Thanks for setting the tone, Joss Whedon.)

Anyway, the Skye storyline here is as dumb and underdeveloped as everything else involving Rising Tide so far. I don't buy any of these characters as brilliant or hackers, but I guess I'm glad that they're not being portrayed the way that Hollywood typically portrays hackers, as sweaty fatsos living in their mothers' basements with Cheeto dust on their fingers. There wasn't much action in this episode, but the character of "Scorch" at least provided some new ways to stage it, and that was refreshing. This show needs to figure out how to do more of what it does well (the action scenes, Coulson, and I guess May) and ground the rest of the show better in reality. It's straining to be believable just sticking its toes into science fiction at this point and that's a problem given how much more must be coming. (3/10)

Scott Hardie | March 13, 2022

FZZT: I liked this! I think this was the first good episode of the series. And I think it succeeded by positioning Simmons as the heart of the show. I don't care what happens to most of these characters -- Ward is a jerk, Syke is a dope, Fitz is a creep, and May is a genre cliché -- but I cared what happened to Simmons here, and I can see the show later building on that foundation with her character. Also really good was Coulson's talk with the dying firefighter, giving the show a much-needed touch of heart and humanity. It started with a good mystery, ended with an exciting freefall sequence, had decent music, and even found time for a callback to a Marvel One-Shot, so all around this was pretty good. The only thing I disliked was that we in the audience got to see the solution to the mystery (the firefighter holding the Chitauri helmet) before the heroes did. That kind of reveal only works if it informs us that the heroes are unwittingly in danger; otherwise it just pointlessly robs the show of tension. But that's a minor quibble. More like this, please. (7/10)

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