I mentioned last week in my recap of “The Magical Place” that, Agent Colson aside, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. In fact, I specifically pointed out how I found the rest of the cast to be little more than underdeveloped archetypes and that I’d rather just follow Colson and his journeys. Lo and behold, “Seeds” sidelines a still traumatized Colson to a side mission while the rest of the team takes over the main storyline. Oh boy…
To be fair, it’s an interesting enough premise and actually works much better than I initially thought. In any case, I liked it much better than “The Magical Place,” which I mostly found to be a major let down after ten episodes of build-up. “Seeds” is back-to-basics S.H.I.E.L.D., and that’s probably for the best.
At the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy, some malevolent prankster appears to have developed technology that allows air particles to be converted into ice. We see a demonstration of this tech in the opening teaser when a group of students take a late-night dip in the facility pool, only to find themselves nearly frozen when the pool begins to ice over. The obvious suspect is a troubled student named Donnie Gill (Dylan Minnette, Jack Shepard’s alternate reality son on Lost), who we see creepily observing the students at the pool in the teaser only to save one student (Seth) when his foot gets trapped in the ice.
Upon arriving at the school, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team proceeds to investigate the student body. This includes a trip to the boiler room, which the students have, over time, rigged up to act as their own personal nightclub. Here, we find an atmosphere of intense competition and the drama it subsequently breeds. Once here, Agent Leo Fitz finds a kinship with the young Donnie and even offers him help to complete his invention. Yet, the midway point reveal—that Donnie and Seth are secretly working together to produce a deadly weather machine and have lured Fitz there to help them perfect their prototype -ends up feeling overly convoluted and little more than a quickie justification for having the team there.
In any case, the team subsequently stops Donnie, but not before he loses something very precious to him. Our last image of the boy, as he is driven away to be kept under secure watch, is him frosting the windows of the car with his bare hands. Are we witnessing the birth of a new super-powered S.H.I.E.L.D. adversary? Only time will tell. What is clear is that Donnie and Seth’s secret benefactor, devious businessman Ian Quinn (returning from “The Asset”), is much more than he seems, as he gives Colson a greeting from none other than The Clairvoyant.
Then there’s the Colson-Melinda scenes, which have the two tracking down a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. The agent reveals that, years ago, his team heard word of an 0-8-4 (code for “object of unknown origin”) and, in the process of protecting it, were massacred. This 0-8-4, it turns out, was none another than an infant Skye, who was subsequently passed around to different foster homes because, in the agent’s words, “wherever she goes, death follows her.” After some internal debate about whether or not they should tell Skye of their discovery, Colson decides to tell her the whole truth. What follows is a sequence where Colson effectively monologues about this interaction and what Skye’s subsequent reaction was. He describes the emotional devastation it took on her while also noting that she, nevertheless, found the strength to move past it. As he speaks these words, we see images of Skye wandering about monuments and settling upon, I suppose, the one dedicated to the men and women who died saving her.
Now, this may just be a personal preference, but scenes like this tend to frustrate me, regardless of the fact that Gregg beautifully delivers his speech. For one, it’s a classic example of telling us what a character did rather than actually showing it happen. It’s like if you had the chance to bear witness to a life-altering conversation, only to decide that you’d rather hear about it secondhand from someone else.
And, you know what, that somewhat encapsulates my feeling of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a nutshell. It’s a show I continually feel like has elements of an exciting, addictive show, but this ideal show too often feels distant and faded, much like I’m hearing other people insist it’s great rather than witnessing its greatness firsthand. All that being said, there’s most definitely a version of this show I’d love to watch and become invested in. Maybe, should the series get a second season, it will undergo the proper course correction. Until then, I can only keep tuning in and hoping that one day the show will meet me halfway.