Major spoilers ahead
One of the coolest aspects of watching a show or movie about superheroes is seeing superpowers in action. While there's been a little of that here and there, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." hadn't exactly hit one out of the park.
The latest episode S.H.I.E.L.D., entitled "Seeds," definitely has a good blast, and while there is a little more visual reservation than preferred (Not many TV episodes can pack the same punch as the Marvel movies on the big screen, after all), the show is picking up plenty of steam in just its second episode back from its midseason break.
The story focuses on Donnie Gill, a student at S.H.I.E.L.D.'s training university. Before delving into his backstory, though, getting to see a glimpse of this school can be something that might not receive much attention and just slip through the cracks. But there were plenty of hints about the history of S.H.I.E.L.D., including its involvement with Hydra, the evil faction headed by Red Skull in "Captain America." Hopefully, later shows—Marvel has contracted several more shows to be released in the future—will delve further into these stories (or heck, even later episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. That would make sense, right?).
Anyway, Donnie comes across interesting superhero abilities. Well, at first they aren't, per se, abilities. They're more like an unstable condition that can prove lethal. At the beginning of the episode, some students are nearly frozen to death while in a pool that suddenly turns to ice (one good scene of visuals). Donnie later is listening to a classroom lecture by Fitz and Simmons when he suddenly gets encased in a fast-generating ice block around his body (another great visual—would've been nice for even more of these, but it was more than adequate). That's how it usually goes for origin stories, right? It knacks of "Spider-man," when he accidentally comes across this ability and doesn't even realize it's a superpower until later.
Donnie, in fact, does become a villain that goes by the name Blizzard. This episode is his origin story. So "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is finally giving us another villain directly from the comics (He was once an enemy of Iron Man's). We already had Gravitron fairly early in the series, but nothing has been mentioned about him since that episode.
Hopefully that doesn't happen with Blizzard. He's one cool character. He was a loner student too genius for his own good. He eventually makes a friend, and together they harness this ice-making ability with a machine that creates a giant storm. The whole point of this is to get the attention of Clairvoyant one, so everything is starting to tie together. One cool little clip is after Donnie's friend dies in the storm. Donnie later becomes bitter about this, then is seen driving away in a car when he puts his hand to the window and ices it at his own will. Seems he learned to control his anger. On a side note, the friendship development between the two wasn't nearly effective enough to convince anyone that Donnie was truly traumatized by his friend's death. But that's beside the point.
The other major story in "Seeds" revolved around Skye's past. This leads to one of the best directed scenes the series has seen thus far. As Coulson is telling her of the horrid truth about deaths that followed her wherever she went as an orphan child, the dialogue fades into the background as a heartfelt musical score plays with cutaways to all the core characters. Coulson then gives a profound speech about how people with great will and fortitude, like Skye, face the tragedies of life. Truly touching.
Turns out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was protecting Skye all along, so it'll be interesting to learn why. Coulson mentioned something about how Skye might have been identified as a gifted child, so maybe there's more to Skye.
It seems there is more to Coulson now, as well, after his discovery about what S.H.I.E.L.D. did to him during last week's episode. Clark Gregg does a convincing job of showing a different side of Coulson, like he is seeing the world through a different set of colored glasses for the first time. His distrust of S.H.I.E.L.D. is surprising, yet intriguing. There are plenty of roads for this story to take.
Also of note (and I had to research this to double check to verify), Skye, at one point, mentions the name "Bucky Barnes," which refers to the Winter Soldier. "Captain America: Winter Soldier" releases in theatres in April. Coincidence? Probably not.