“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” recap 1.12: The Ice Man Cometh

Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson found out that he was dead for a little longer than eight seconds after the Battle of New York. He was dead for more like, oh, days and days until Agent Fury could find some doctors willing to do Dark Magic and resurrect him. Agent Victoria Hand, who still hasn’t come out of the closet, kind of oversaw his rescue and felt reeeeal curious about why every one from Fury to Maria Hill was freaking out about Coulson going missing. Skye proved she was worth all the trouble when May strategically unleashed her as a civilian on the hard streets of Los Angeles to track down their leader. And after Coulson dealt with his inadvertent immortality, everyone shared a big group hug.

When the kids at S.H.I.E.L.D. college need to blow off a little steam, they do things like break into the school pool and go skinny-dipping, because what could go wrong at a university where the smartest people in the world have access to every kind of technology and occasional alien artifacts? I’ll tell you what could go wrong: They could get themselves frozen solid by a an ice-ray contraption. Which is how “Bad Seed” opens and it doesn’t take long for Agent May to turn that bus around and point it toward S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy because of course Fitz and Simmons are the ones who invented the Leopold technology the students used to build that ice-ray. They plan to give the kids at the academy a little lecture on safety while Ward spearheads an investigation into who’s causing trouble their big brains and science. What Ward doesn’t expect — actually, honestly, what none of us expect — is that FitzSimmons are kind of rock stars at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s school for super geniuses. The smartest, youngest ever graduates.

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE, IAIN DE CAESTECKER

During Fitz and Simmons’ presentation, one of the kids from the pool freezing finds himself being turned into a block of human ice, but Fitz and Simmons and Ward and Skye manage to chip him out of it before he goes full Mr. Freeze (… for now!).

The kid’s name is Donnie and Ward asks Fitz to befriend him while he and the ladies head down to The Boiler Room — the underground lounge of bored academy kids — to sniff out a lead. The spirit of Joss Whedon is strong with this script; it got at least three real laughs from me, one of them when Fitz fought back about how young he looks: “Time will come when you won’t make fun of me for that! You’ll be jealous! You’ll be jealous wrinkly old hags!” Spoken like a true Xander!

Flirting with students doesn’t get the team anywhere, so Simmons and Skye retire to a quiet corner to flirt with each other instead.

CHLOE BENNET, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE

Ward does strike up a conversation with the S.H.I.E.L.D. cadet who was reluctant to get into the pool the night of the freeze attack. She says Donnie and Seth have been so excited about meeting the FitzSimmons for weeks and weeks, and Ward tilts his head to the side and makes that confused Scooby-Doo noise like, “Arrwwhoo?” Yeah, see, Seth and Donnie lured Fitz and Simmons here with the two small staged attacks, both on each other to draw the investigation away from them, in the hopes they could borrow some of FitzSimmons’ legendary brainpower to fix their giant freeze-ray. Fitz walks right into it, buddies up to Donnie, offers him the exact solution he needs. Though, to be fair, the solution was like, “Cool off the batteries with air so they don’t get so hot.” Which: Not exactly wizardry, dudes.

Anyway, by the time the gang figures out what’s going on, Seth and Donnie have taken their super freeze-ray out into an abandoned parking lot to sell it to Ian Quinn, the guy who was going bonaners for the Gravitonium a couple of weeks ago. He’s not really into buying it now, though, because the place is swarming with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but he could always use a giggle, so he turns his private jet around and tells the boys to go ahead and set off their freeze ray anyway. They do. It creates a super storm. Seth definitely gets electrocuted to death by the lightning and Donnie gets banged up pretty good. May swoops in to save them at the last minute by making the plane into a hovercraft that drops down in the eye of the storm. Sadly, she has to take off her aviators to navigate.

Coulson doesn’t let Simmons try very long to revive Seth. He doesn’t want another Tahiti situation on his hands, sawing someone’s skull in half and letting spider robots bleep blorp around in there willy nilly-like. Watching his only friend die makes Donnie real sad.

MING-NA WEN, CLARK GREGG

But where were Coulson and May the whole time? Well, those two flew on down to Mexico City to meet up with the only guy who might know why a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent dropped off Skye at an orphanage lo, those many years ago. While they’re doing surveillance on him, May pokes at grumpy old Coulson to try to get him to open up about being Jesus, basically. He’s so bamboozled by the fact that she’s stringing together full sentences — multiple sentences, none of which include scowling or grunting — that he confesses he’s having a little bit of an existential crisis about who to trust. She tells him he can trust her. He says that’s one thing he really does know. He sighs and says, “We need to root out all our secrets” and half a beat later, May goes, “Agent Ward and I have been having sex.” More delightful Wheedony dialogue, hurray!

They don’t have time to dwell on the sex bomb; they spot their rogue agent and chase him down, after which he reveals that he lost his partner, his team, and his whole identity trying to protect an 084 two decades ago. You know, an 084. And “object of unknown origin.” Like, say, the hammer of a god that falls from the heavens and lands in a Nevada desert. The 084 this guy was protecting? It was Skye!

MING-NA WEN

Awesome. Awesome reveal.

May warns Coulson not to tell her, but he’s pretty done with protocol and secrets so he shares everything and she cries and instead of bundling up so much guilt and tucking it away in her consciousness in a way that is sure to make her into a supervillain, Skye tells Coulson she is filled with nothing but gratitude. She thought she’d never have a family, but she realized she was wrong.

The show ends with Donnie on his way to The Sandbox. In the backseat of an unmarked S.H.I.E.L.D. car, he realizes his freeze-ray actually imbued his body with freezing powers. He’s gonna be Donald “Blizzard” Gill!

I don’t know about you, but for me, this was the absolute best S.H.I.E.L.D. episode to date. Heart, humor, time off the plane, teammates taking care of other teammates, and finally some superhero mythology we can actually see on the show because ABC doesn’t need to pay Chris Hemsworth or Scarlett Johansson to make an appearance. More of this can only mean good things ahead.

What did you think of “Bad Seed”?

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