Agents of SHIELD has struggled in its first season to find its voice as a stand-alone TV show and its identity within the larger Marvel universe. One possible reason is that the show hasn’t developed a formula. “Seeds” does not change this, but while it does not develop a formula unique to Agents of SHIELD, it does borrow an episodic formula familiar to fans of The X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fitz and Simmons return to SHIELD Academy after an accident involving technology that they developed while studying at the academy. A student has built a device capable of freezing water in the air, which could be weaponized to freeze enemies to death or create massive weather storms. Donnie, a highly intelligent and socially awkward freshman, is under suspicion for being behind the accident, but when he is later attacked during a lecture, Fitz turns his efforts to befriending him. Meanwhile, Coulson and May head down to Mexico City to find answers about Skye’s past.
When you go back and watch Marvel’s “Phase One” films (Iron Man to The Avengers), these are all films that excel in being particularly goofy and silly. That’s just Marvel’s schtick. They’re good at it. Their golden boy, Joss Whedon, has always had a talent for the same thing. A Whedon film or TV show can be picked out of a line up for that very reason. There’s simply a certain feel to his (and Marvel’s) work. It’s only logical that the jump from movies to TV on Marvel’s part would mirror that same aspect. What doesn’t work for Marvel, however, is the melodrama created by Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) character.
The series premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scored impressive ratings: 12.1 million people tuned in to watch the premiere last Tuesday (based on the adjusted afternoon nationals from Nielsen). Another 3.7 million watched it on DVR later in the week, and another 4.7 million watched the show’s repeat on Thursday evening. Add on another 1.6 million who streamed the pilot online (and who knows how many others pirated the episode), and we’re looking at a minimum of 22.1 million viewers (and climbing). Yet despite the ratings, the pilot was also met with a decidedly mixed reception from fans and critics alike.