[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 12, "Seeds"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions
Last week, I was cautiously hopeful that the lacklusterness of that episode was a bump in the road. After this week's episode, I'm worried that the show has went right back to square one. And will spent the back half of it's first (and if they aren't careful, only) season building back up to a level that can only be described as "fine." Because this episode, from Monica Owusu-Breen (who wrote the terrific Asgardian episode) and showrunner Jed Whedon, was lacking the necessary charm, structure or quality that should be standard by this point. And in light of the final moments, it seemed like little more than a filler episode, setting up yet another potential recurring element. Which I had hoped we'd moved past. It would be nice to see some of these established threats actually, you know, be threatening one of these days.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also have a rivalry with operations.

There were two clear objectives in this episode: the first was to fill in more of Skye's backstory, and the second was to play out what was ultimately revealed to be a villains origin story. It did neither of these things well. To be perfectly frank, Phil and Melinda's Mexican Excursion felt like padding, trying to dress up exposition delivery in a pseudo-action way. The revelation of Skye's origin, that she is somehow a mystery-thing that gets people killed, was the goal, but getting to that information felt more like a fumble. Giving Coulson an opportunity to work through, and talk out, all the emotions he's feeling since learning of his resurrection was smart. Probably something that should have been the A-plot. Certainly something that should have had a little more depth than May telling him to buck-up and get over it.

The real A-plot was a trip to the SHIELD training academy, science division, after one of the students is attacked by a nefarious device. Despite the fact that Coulson's team is a shadow group, acting where SHIELD can't be highly visible, they get called in to lead this investigation because FitzSimmons are apparently such campus legends that only they can give a pep talk to the student body that will convince them not to become homicidal murders. It's also important to note that the plan all along hinged entirely on the massive SHIELD organization making this exact decision, which is meant to seem like the masterminds are such geniuses that they can manipulate events to occurring exactly how thy want. Really, it just seems like lazy writing.

It wasn't the only example of laziness in this episode. The superstorm, despite being a superstorm, passes by without incident. I guess once The Bus flew clear of the clouds (and, someone on the writing staff really needs to talk to an aeronautics engineer, because what they are getting that plane to do really breaks the suspension of disbelief) the danger had passed, despite a massive whirling vortex sitting on top of the academy. Also glazed over were both Coulson and Skye's reactions to their revelations. Coulson seems to take solace in the fact that Skye is able to overcome her own grief, a grief we only see fleetingly, in a montage, and see none of her overcoming it. Coulson was clearly shaken, and has had his trust in the SHIELD system shaken, which will be interesting to see how else it manifests down the line. They set up all these internet-bait mysteries, but seem very content to breeze through the "reaction" part of solving them. Which is usually when the interesting character stuff happens.

In the early episodes, I commented that the whole thing looked cheap. That the production values were not up to par with a premiere network tentpole series, but had a basic cable feel to them. This seemed to stop being a problem, until now. This episode looked and felt cheap. The scenes in Mexico looked like a backlot set, or at the vary least very LA. The CG was crap, with special mention going to Ward hiding from the superstorm and Coulson's flying car (it's obvious now my that effect hasn't been used since the pilot). It was, in every scene, very obviously a television show, and that was distracting as hell.

The writers recently reacted to the critical backlash against the show, saying that the first part was about establishing the characters and the environment, and that the back half would be about exploring those things. I feel that they've taken too long in the former regard, and not acted fast enough in the latter. The characters were not immediately engaging, and repeatedly saying that they eventually does not generate interest, especially with Skye. And yet again, we have a potential threat established, without really seeing any of the other, previously established threats pay off or be threatening. I'd like to see something happen on this show, actually happen. I feel like it did in the Asgardian episode, that it wasn't just a procedural episode dressed up in a monkey suit. Too many of the episodes so far have little more than posturing, and that needs to stop.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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