The best things “Girl in the Flower Dress” had going for it was it’s special effects/action and getting Skye’s double-agent status out in the open and dealt with. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had let that particular plotline carry on much longer, the series would’ve suffered. What this show needs to do is push forward at breakneck speed and never look back for too long. I like that Centipede was brought back into the mix and, instead of prancing around the same story we saw in their previous appearance, we were treated to something a little different that progressed that particular plot arc while giving us a much-needed backstory for Skye.
Our freak of the week is a man who eventually calls himself Scorch – everyone seems to groan whenever they hear he’s been given a name – because of his ability to produce fire and not burn himself. He’s one of SHIELD’s best-kept secrets and has his own handler to keep him undercover. But when a friend of Skye’s hacks SHIELD and gives up sensitive data, Scorch is found out and abducted by Centipede. They act like they’re his friend, but they’re mainly interested in how his fire resistance can be used to stabilize Extremis. We’re reintroduced to Shannon Lucio’s character, reprised from the pilot, who is once again working her scientist magic to steal the secrets of Scorch’s genetic makeup. It’s sad how they manipulate him into believing he’s special and then take his humanity away. By the time they’re done with their experimenting, they’ve ripped Scorch of his fire resistance, causing him to be burned whenever he uses his powers. But he’s so consumed by his hatred of SHIELD for keeping him tucked away that he essentially puts his head on the chopping block. When SHIELD finally finds Centipede’s hideout, Scorch is so far gone from redemption that Coulson and May have no choice but to kill him so he doesn’t hurt anybody else.
As for Skye, her hacker friend is tracked down during the search for Scorch and she tips him off and crawls into bed with him not long after. Unfortunately, she’s not that great of a spy yet and May tracks her down. Now everything is out in the open; Skye has been working with the Rising Tide this entire time, looking for secrets. But just what Skye has been looking for isn’t revealed until the end of the episode. After sending her friend away – Skye’s lost interest in him once Ward exposes him for the sell-out he is – Coulson demands to know what Skye’s hiding or he’s done with her. This is the angriest we’ve ever seen Coulson and Skye caves. She pulls out a single flash drive, containing everything she knows about her past and her parents. Apparently Skye is an orphan and her past has been heavily redacted by SHIELD, which explains why she’s been targeting them for information.
It’s good to get a look into somebody’s past other than Coulson, but “Girl in the Flower Dress” was only a so-so episode of SHIELD. The fire effects were cool, but the scenes between Skye and her hacker friend felt more like an excuse to get Chloe Bennet in her underwear for an uncomfortably long period of time. And while it is great Skye is being expanded upon, I was more relieved to be done with her Rising Tide business than I was for her search for her parents. It just didn’t have the weight I would’ve expected from such a scene, even though Bennet sold her grief. I guess I wanted more of a reaction from Coulson at the news Skye’s past waS affected by SHIELD. His response that maybe he could help her just wasn’t enough. He was pissed one second and then it was like all emotion left him. I wanted some compassion from him. Maybe it wasn’t the time for compassion, but those last moments needed something more. I can only hope the next episode, which won’t be for two weeks, more firmly establishes Coulson’s determination to help Skye uncover her past.