Hello again, Level 7 Agents! SHIELD is back after last week’s big episode, which explored the mysteries behind Coulson’s resurrection and the secret of the “Magical Place” from his memory. Tonight’s episode continued the trend of revelations, this time giving us a partial explanation of Skye’s mysterious past which raises more questions than it answers while simultaneously driving the character forward (as all good mystery answers should). It also brought back a character from earlier in the season, introduced us to a classic character from the comics as well as giving us a look at the oft-discussed SHIELD Academy. In all, another solid episode from the show, as things keep building and growing. So let’s go ahead and jump right into “Seeds”, written by Monica Owusu-Breen and showrunner Jed Whedon and directed by Ken Fink.
After another “Previously on…” we jump to what seems like a college campus, where a group of students are breaking into the campus swimming pool while they discuss their thermodynamics test. One of the boys, Seth, jumps in, as does one of the girls, while Callie starts to strip to her underwear after some encouragement. Before she can jump in, however, the pool starts to quickly freeze solid. The girl in the pool climbs out, but before Seth can get out of the water it freezes, trapping his leg in the ice. A shy-looking boy nearby, who had been working on a laptop until the freezing started (and who seemed to be heading for the exit before Seth was trapped) runs over and helps to break him free. Once he is out, Callie throws a sweatshirt over him to warm him up and we see that it bears the SHIELD logo on the back.
Onboard the Bus, FitzSimmons, Ward and Skye are discussing the incident. It seems like a mysterious device was planted in the pool’s filter, as though this was a deliberate attack on these particular students rather than a random accident. FitzSimmons recognize the device, as they helped design it, and they’ve been called in by the academy both to investigate the event and so that the team’s brains can speak to the student body. Ward and FitzSimmons trade some barbs as the old rivalry between the science and operations branches of SHIELD emerges. As they get ready to head to campus, May informs them that she and Coulson have other business to attend to and that they’ll be on their own. The group discusses Coulson with concern, seeing as how he has hardly left his office since the events of last week’s episode, but Ward reminds them that Coulson can handle it and that there’s a job to do.
The science vs. operations battle continues, as Ward laments the undisciplined nature of the science campus as well as the lack of any discernible muscle tone, while FitzSimmons are happy to be somewhere where no one has an IQ that is only two digits. The agents wonder whether there’s a “bad seed” on campus, and when Ward tries to explain what that means Skye helpfully points out, “that’s not a SHIELD term, it’s just a term.” FitzSimmons are mobbed by students as they walk through campus, clearly the popular kids for once.
Ward shows Skye around, taking her to the Wall of Valor on campus, which keeps a record of SHIELD agents who lost their lives in the line of duty. She points out Bucky Barnes’ name on the plaque, who you might remember as Steve Roger’s friend and comrade from Captain America (and who has a spoilery connection to this year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Skye feels a little out of place when confronted with the Wall of Valor, as though she doesn’t belong. Everyone else on the Bus passed lots of tests and had lots of training to become a part of SHIELD, while she only “hacked my way in.” She says it’s like she cheated to get there, but Ward tells her that there is more than one way to become a part of SHIELD.
On the Bus, which is heading elsewhere, Coulson continues to sit in his office reading through his file, which he finally was given access to after making a direct request to Nick Fury. May comes in and tells him to stop reading, but recent events have shaken his faith in SHIELD and in everything he knows. He doesn’t trust what’s in the file, or really anything anymore. May informs him that they’re on their way to Mexico City, where her renewed investigation into Skye’s past has turned up a lead. We learn that the female agent who gave Skye to the orphanage was named Avery, and that she died but her partner, Agent Richard Lumley was never found. He vanished for all these years until a selfie that someone posted online caught a glimpse of him in the background.
At the Academy, FitzSimmons are introduced to an assembly of students as the youngest graduates from the program to date. After opening with a joke about falling asleep in one particularly boring teacher’s class, they talk a bit about SHIELD’s history, beginning with the formation of the organization after the defeat of Hydra (tonight’s second reference to Captain America). They tell the students that while SHIELD may have fought against Hydra, Centipede and AIM (Killian’s group from Iron Man 3), the resources of SHIELD provide a “dangerous potential”, with the possibility of abuse or misuse of these resources very close at hand.
While they lecture, Ward interviews Seth about the pool incident. Seth can’t think of anyone who would want to attack him, and when Ward gives him a list of the 10% of students who might be capable of this Seth says he is friends with all but one. Donnie Gill, the kid with the laptop from the pool event, is a loner who doesn’t socialize well with anyone, but Seth can’t think of any reason why Donnie might have attacked him. Meanwhile, in the lecture hall, Donnie listens to the speech closely, when suddenly he screams and stands up, his body beginning to quickly freeze. Callie looks on dispassionately while FitzSimmons rush to save him, breaking through the ice to expose a patch of skin and inject him with something to keep him alive, while Skye finds another hidden device and smashes it. They break Donnie free to a round of applause from the lecture hall.
We cut to what seems to be a limousine and a familiar character. Ian Quinn, last seen financing the work of Franklin Hall on a gravity weapon, is talking on the phone with someone telling them to “take care of” the situation and that he isn’t interested in excuses. Clearly he has some connection to what’s happening at the Academy. Donnie, meanwhile, doesn’t know why he would be a target, as he doesn’t know anyone well enough to have made enemies. He heads back to his dorm room and our team is informed that he’s just a freshman but was already being eyed as a potential recruit for the Sandbox, a big honor for him.
Ward asks FitzSimmons if there is somewhere the sciencey types go to unwind, and they reluctantly reveal the existence of a secret underground hangout called the Boiler Room. Ward suggests that they go try to pick up on some gossip leading, saying that “Skye looks young enough to blend in.” She replies with, “You’re not exactly old man river, and Fitz looks younger than us.” Fitz angrily replies, “Time will come when you won’t make fun of me for that. You’ll be jealous. You’ll be jealous, wrinkly, old hags.” Ward, however, sends Fitz to check up on Donnie, as Donnie seemed to idolize Fitz. Ward says that Fitz is a hero in Donnie’s eyes, and that Donnie could probably use a friend right about now. After Fitz leaves the girls turn to stare at Ward. “It’s strategic,” he quickly explains. “It’s adorable,” Simmons replies. “The tin man has a heart after all,” Skye adds with a smile.