Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S01E12: Seeds (spoilers)

Directed by Ken Fink
Written by Monica Owusu-Breen & Jed Whedon

FitzSimmons brings Skye and Ward to the academy to solve a “cold” case while Coulson and May head down to Mexico City to get further information about the mystery behind Skye’s origin.

The episode opens with some coeds going underwear dipping in a indoor pool while a nerd skulks away. The pool rapidly turns to ice while two of the people are in it and the nerd has to use a pool tool save the long haired guy. It turns out these people weren’t at a regular school, but at the Science SHIELD Academy.
We learn that SHIELD has three academies. Operations, where Ward went, Science and Technology, where FitzSimmons went (and graduated earliest of anyone), and Communications, where Skye would have gone.

May finds Coulson moping over his autopsy and all of the information he learned from last episode. He convinces him to join her on a search for information about Skye’s origin in Mexico City, while the rest of the team investigates the freezing with technology created by FitzSimmons at the Academy.

The team learns that a classmate is probably responsible for the freezing incident. FitzSimmons are treated as returning heroes on campus. They are asked to give a speech. I’m not exactly sure why they are supposed to give a speech. But, they make some jokes, and then the nerd freezes in the middle of it, and gets tapped out and saved. Ward asks FitzSimmons if there is any place private students are likely to go. They go to the Boiler ROom. Which is a very private night club in the middle of campus. The fact that it is so big, popular, and is obviously well known by the staff kind of defeats the purpose of a private place to meet. But, what do I know? I only have an IQ of 15, or so. Fitz is sent to talk to and befriend the nerd. Who’s name is Donny, by the way. Down in the Boiler Room Ward is using tricky offers to slip up one of the Academy’s top students. You’d think they would teach their top students to see through such transparent offers, but I guess that is the difference between Operations and Science and Technology. She says that Donny and the long haired guy have been talking about talking to Fitz for weeks. Meanwhile, Donny shows Fitz his ideas, and then he shows him his big idea. A battery capable of producing 1.21 gigawatts. Or something. There’s one flaw with the design that Fitz is able to fix in a couple of seconds. Walking to the boiler room Simmons tells Fitz that it was all a trick to get him to come to the Academy. Fitz poohpoohs this idea and then realizes it’s true, so runs back to the room to confront Donny (without backup [Another difference between Operations and Science and Technology]). The long haired guy shoots him when Fitz sees that they are using the battery to power a huge version of the freeze device.

While all of this is going on Coulson and May are in Mexico City staking out the agent who’s partner was killed while protecting Skye. They have a heart to heart about the value of truth while waiting for him to show up. They spot him and May follows and Lumley and May have a fight sequence. He tries to take cyanide, but that is stopped. He is able to get away from May, but Coulson uses his flying car to stop him. He is relieved to hear that they are from SHIELD and goes along willingly. Back on the plane he tells the story about what happened to his partner. They were on a mission about an Object of Unknown Origin. An entire village was killed protecting the object, as was the SHIELD agent in charge. The object was baby Skye and they put her into the foster system with orders to have her moved every few months. May thinks this information shouldn’t be shared with Skye. They drop Lumley off somewhere on there way back to the academy.

FitzSimmons and Skye meet up back at the plane and report what happened. Coulson is ignoring Skye while they are there. But, when she asks for a couple of seconds to talk he agrees and gets a case of the Truths. He tells her everything he found out from Lumley. He might have waited until after the mission. But, no hacking was needed at, so I guess it is ok.

Donny and Long Haired Dude are in a truck in a local parking lot talking to Bad Guy CEO Ian Quinn trying to convince him to come buy the machine. Quinn’s spooked by SHIELD’s awareness of the project. So, he turns his plane around and asks long haired guy for a demonstration. Donny doesn’t especially want to do it, but the long haired guy convinces him. So, they turn the machine on. At first, it seems like the machine didn’t work. But, surprisingly, the device created by greedy scientists surpassed their expectations and put their lives in trouble. They hid out in the truck for awhile, but the huge chunks of ice slamming into the windshield convinced Donny that he needed to find a way to reverse what was done. While they worked on that lighting struck. Sending the long haired guy flying, and destroying the machine. Fitz realized that the only way to get to the two guys was by flying through the eye of the storm and picking them up. They tried unsuccessfully to revive the long haired guy.

Donny is sent to the Sandbox to be watched and on the way there he discovers he somehow ended up with an ice power that he smiles slightly evilly at. With Gravitron that makes two possible bad guys indirectly created by Ian Quinn.

Coulson tells May that Skye’s reaction to the news about her bloody origin helped restore a piece of his faith in humanity. Instead of tearing her apart, it made her feel good that SHIELD was protecting her all of those years.

The episode ends with Coulson giving Quinn a phone call to let him know he will get blown up if he comes to SHIELD territory. In this call Coulson finds out that Quinn is in contact with the Clairvoyant.

As usual, I liked it. I think the trip to the Academy did a good job of keeping Skye as an outsider, and it told us a little bit about FitzSimmons. Skye’s story got more interesting, but we found out enough that it wasn’t a frustrating small leak of information. I couldn’t understand why Coulson would call that an end to her search, since we still don’t know why she was an unknown object. It’s going to be pretty cool to see how they handle that. And, I hope we are going to get more information about Coulson’s rebirth. The explanation that it was a bunch of doctors working over time isn’t nearly interesting enough. But, I did like that they showed how understandably upset he is with SHIELD. And they beefed up his relationship with May. I also like that they have a couple of super powered bad guys stored up for future episodes. I hope they don’t waste them.

Fun Stuff[ul]
[li]“Far easier to get into.” “That’s where you would go, Skye”[/li][li]“Bad Seed isn’t a SHIELD term”[/li][li]Skye is really in love with SHIELD. She even noticed Bucky Barnes name on the wall. I hope she’s not too upset if it turns out SHIELD isn’t always good.[/li][li]Is this the first time we find out Fitz’s first name is Leopold? If not, I’m not sure how I missed that. Leopold.[/li][li]“You’ll be jealous. Jealous wrinkly old hags.”[/li][li]“Agent Ward and I have been having sex.” “I got em…”[/li][li]“Whereever she goes death follows.”[/li][li]“Simmons is probably smarter. Technically. But, that’s because she likes homework more than life itself.”[/li][li]“It can’t be worse than what I imagined.” “It is.”[/li][/ul]

I liked it. It ramped things up quite nicely, and the previews for the next episode promise a “game-changer.”

Firstly, thanks, pricciar, for writing up those detailed synopses every week.

I will say the things that are most holding my interest about this show are the darker bits regarding the backgrounds of the various characters, particularly Coulson and May, which make a nice contrast with the (sorry) general silliness of the case ‘o’ the week.

There were were several things in this ep that left me with a bunch of dumb questions rattling around in my head. Admittedly the most shallow was, when the Bus was on its way to Mexico, and May comes downstairs to have a heart-to-heart with Coulson, all I could think was, “Wait, you’re 40 minutes out of Mexico City, and should be starting your descent. Who’s flying the plane?”

Another was, everyone is focused on the Instant Ice Machine, which admittedly every ski resort, hotel and bar on earth would probably be happy to buy even if Quinn doesn’t, and no one even for a moment seems to consider the potential commercial value of coming up with a way to increase the output of Li-ion batteries by a thousand-fold, which, seems to me, was the far more significant achievement.

Lastly, now that they’ve (sort of) let the cat out of the bag as to where they’re going with the Skye character, I do hope they deliver. If I understood what I was hearing, she supposedly has powers a whole lot more interesting than being able to hack computers, but which she clearly is totally unaware of.

I wonder if Skye is Asgardian?

Yeah. That’s the same idea I picked up from that. I was a little bit surprised a bigger deal wasn’t made of the fact that she might have powers. Like, maybe an argument about whether or not she should be tested. Or something like that. It does make me look forward to where the show goes with Skye’s story.

Another episode I’d rank as good but not great. I’m starting to think this is where the show plateaus and it just doesn’t have greatness in it. It’s not a terrible thing - there are good shows I watch and enjoy every week. But I had hoped for more from this one.

Anyway, pricciar covered all the high points. So I’ll point out some of the spots that didn’t work:

[ul][li]Fitz and Simmons’ speech: The way they kept alternating sentences. Try and deliver a speech that way sometimes. It takes a huge amount of preparation and practice. But they were supposedly delivering their first speech. [/li][li]The Mexico City surveillance: Mexico City is one of the largest cities on Earth. It has twenty million people in it. But somehow, Coulson knew the only place in the entire city where a guy he had never met was going to show up to buy a fake ID.[/li][li]Ward and the storm: This was probably Ward’s worst episode. He pretty much did nothing. Okay, it was centered on other characters and that happens. But the scene where he opened the door and said he couldn’t rescue the boys was pathetic. Are we supposed to accept that Ward was intimidated by a big storm? The Ward we’ve seen in past episodes would have just stepped outside and punched the storm. It would have been a lot more believable if they had written in that a roof had collapsed and blocked the door or something like that.[/li][li]Donny’s plot: They passed over this really lightly and it’s easy to see why they didn’t want to call attention to it. Donny couldn’t figure out how to get enough power to operate his ice machine. So he and his pal came up with a plan. The basic idea was that Donny and his friend would fake two murder attempts against themselves. Because they figured this would result in Shield sending Fitz and Simmons to visit the academy where Ward would tell Fitz to visit Donny’s room, where Fitz would notice Donny’s battery project, and spontaneously and immediately invent a way to fix the problem which could be put into effect within a couple of minutes. Seriously, I’ve seen Lucy and Ethel come up with schemes that were more plausible than this. [/li]Donny’s ice power: Is anyone else having trouble with this? Donny invents an ice machine which malfunctions and somehow transfers its power to Donny? Even for a comic book that’s a ridiculous origin story.[/ul]

[quote=“Little_Nemo, post:6, topic:678851”]

[li]The Mexico City surveillance: Mexico City is one of the largest cities on Earth. It has twenty million people in it. But somehow, Coulson knew the only place in the entire city where a guy he had never met was going to show up to buy a fake ID.[/li][/QUOTE]

Well, Coulson said that this particular forger was the only one in the city who worked without using a computer. It seems plausible enough to me that almost anyone offering fake papers would use a computer for some part of the job, so I can accept that there’d only be one in the entire city who didn’t use computers. It also makes sense to me that the guy who doesn’t use computers would be the most attractive option to someone trying to stay off S.H.I.E.L.D.'s radar.

No, sorry, it’s a variation on the old cliche: “We found a foot print at the crime scene. And it just happens to be from a very rare shoe that’s only sold by one store in the country. And the owner of the store happens to remember selling the only pair he’s sold in the last ten years to somebody just this week. And the guy who bought that pair of shoes happened to mention that he was coming to this city. And the store owner has the guy’s name and home address. I think we’ve found our suspect.”

It’s a shopworn trick used by writers to gloss over the fact that there’s no plausible way that two people are going to be able to find somebody in a major city. So they invent a trail of bread crumbs to lead their protagonists from point A to point B before the next commercial.

Of all things, I was bothered by basic physics: why didn’t the blast from the Bus landing blow Donny, the truck and everything else all to hell and gone?

I also thought they were in the parking structure when they turned the ice machine on. How did they end up in the parking lot?

They were on the top level (uncovered/roof level) of the parking structure- the whole time from when we first see them at that location.

Excellent episode, I enjoyed this one immensely. Funny little shout out, I heard them call the smart woman student was Ally Hannigan. Though on IMDB it turns out the character was actually Callie Hannigan.

Is the Ice Kid a Marvel Comics thing or something new for the show?

Little Nemo, concerning Fitz and Simmons’ speech: I’ve done it before without any prep. It was a matter of 2 people who knew each other well and when one of us stopped for a moment the other stepped up immediately. So while maybe not easy, not that egregious either.

I liked Coulson stopping the resuscitation efforts for long haired cadet; a relatively subtle plot point that they didn’t hammer home.

The plan to get Fitz and Simmons to the academy was beyond stupid - a low point in plot holes.

Loved the humor around the May/December, oops I mean May/Ward revelation.

I don’t like the “machine malfunctions and turns creator into super” and they’ve used it twice now. Please stop using this tired old trope.

Fitz jumping off a moving, bucking plane’s open cargo door to the ground without hesitation, stumbling, or any fear pinged my implausibility meter but I think I need to send it into the shop for re-calibration if I want to continue watching this show.

Where did they get the freakin’ pickup truck? I have no idea why that bothered me but why did two cadets have a pickup truck?

There have been a few characters with ice related powers. Not clear if this is intended to be one of the existing characters. The main one I can think of is a mutant which doesn’t really fit into this continuity.

As soon as the machine fizzled out and the ice storm started, as Coulson was telling Skye her story, I immediately decided:

The machine did in fact break - Skye was unknowingly causing the storm, due to the emotions she was feeling as she found out about her past. She’s actually Loki’s daughter, so she’s part Frost Giant, and granddaughter of King Laufey, and has all sorts of unknown powers.

And then it turned out loner kid has ice powers, and blew up my theory.

They landed the Bus on a parking structure? Riiiiight.

I am liking the fact that they don’t play a mystery out too long. Middle of the season and both the puzzles set up in the pilot have been explained. Of course, that just leads to more puzzles, but so does Life.

I’m expecting several set-ups of Avengers 2 in the next set of episodes. No way that Joss and his brother/sister-in-law aren’t in communication about that.

Also, as noted above, I liked the shout-out to Bucky.

Was this the first time they confirmed (in the movie/TV show universe) that SHIELD is the direct descendant of SSR from Captain America?

That was my first thought during the swimming pool scene. I figured the kid in the stands was going to turn out to be Bobby Drake.

It was implied if you add Iron Man 2 and Captain America together. In Iron Man 2 it is stated that Howard Stark was a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and in Captain America he’s the head of (or a top ranking member of) the SSR.

In a deleted scene from Captain America, it is more explicitly stated: At the end, when Cap wakes up and goes charging through Times Square and he is met by Nick Fury, Fury introduces himself as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and tells Cap something to the effect of “In your time it was known as the Strategic Scientific Reserve.”

It is also explicitly stated in the short film Agent Carter which is included as an extra on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray.Peggy Carter works for the SSR after the war is over, she is then called up by Howard Stark to join him as a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D.In my opinion the absolute best of the “Marvel One Shot” short films that have accompanied the Blu-ray releases (starting with the Thor Blu-ray release).

It didn’t actually land (I noticed that, too) – May had the Bus hovering just over the deck of the parking structure.

Yeah, that would make sense in a Marvel Universe sort of way, but my understanding is that Disney / Marvel isn’t allowed to make mention of “mutants”, or use any of the X-Men characters, in their “Marvel Cinematic Universe” stuff. Fox is the licensee which holds the X-Men franchise, and has the rights to those characters (and “mutant” storylines in general).