An elusive girl in a flower dress may hold the key to the mystery that brings Coulson and team to Asia to rescue a young man with an unusual and dangerous power; and Skye has a secret that jeopardizes her relationship with the team right when they need her most.
On the streets of Hong Kong a man is performing magic tricks for a crowd. As his tricks become too predictable for the crowd the presence of a mysterious woman in a flowery dress influences the man to use his natural "gift" to produce real fire from his hands, impressing the crowd. Back at his apartment, the woman in the flower dress shows interest in the man's abilities, resulting in him being kidnapped by men in fire proof suits. Waking up, the man, Chan Ho Yin, is at first hostile towards the woman, who introduces herself as Raina, but she manages to convince him to work with her by saying that with her help she will make his name known and give him recognition for his unique abilities.
On the "Bus", Skye, who has finally seemed to gain the group's trust, is playing Battleship with Ward until they are brought to the briefing room with the others. Coulson introduces the others to Agent Quan Chen, leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Hong Kong district who tells them that meta-human Chan Ho Yin was kidnapped. Skye, surprised to find out there are other people with powers, is told by Coulson that Chan is on The Index, a short list of people with incredible abilities kept by S.H.I.E.L.D.
Quan Chen then reveals that Mr. Chan's abilities were revealed by the same group of hackers who have been messing with their system: the Rising Tide, causing everybody to focus on Skye. In Coulson's office Skye claims that she is innocent, noting that she has been on The Bus with the team for the last two weeks, but Coulson claims this would give her the perfect opportunity to hack S.H.I.E.L.D. Backed by Ward, Skye claims to prove her innocence by helping them find the hacker who sent the leak. In Texas, the team attempts to capture Miles Lydon, an experienced Rising Tide hacker, but he manages to escape them.
Back at his apartment Lydon is met by Skye, who asks if he had been followed and it is soon revealed that the two are in a relationship. After making love, Skye and Lydon are caught by May. While Skye tries to convince Coulson that Lydon is innocent, May interrogates him but he does not cooperate.
Meanwhile Raina and the Centipede Project scientist Debbie manage to increase Chan's fire abilities with a version of the Centipede Serum, leading Chan to choose the name "Scorch". They then knock him out again to continue their experiments.
On The Bus, Lydon is surprised when Skye defends the team and claims that because of him an innocent man was kidnapped. Meanwhile, at the lab Debbie and Raina extract Chan's naturally fire resistant blood platelets for use in future projects, which causes Chan to burn himself whenever he uses his powers.
Coulson, May, and Quan along with other agents infiltrate the lab while, on The Bus, Ward reveals that Lydon sold the information for money, thinking that the scientist were working on an actual centipede. Ward releases Skye when Coulson tells them they need her help to hack the facilities system. As the agents free Chan he quickly kills Agent Quan, claiming that no matter who he goes with he'll never be able to use his gift. Chan begins to attack the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent present, despite his powers now causing him pain and burning his skin. Chan catches up to Raina and Debbie, seeking revenge for their inhumane experiments. Raina indifferently shuts Debbie out of the elevator they are on, after which Chan burns her to death using his powers.
After trying to get through to him, May and Coulson inject Chan with an extremely high dose of the Centipede serum, causing Chan's body to overheat and explode. However, with Lydon's help they manage to transfer the energy from the explosion out of the building and into the sky, saving the civilians. Coulson thanks Lydon before kicking him off the plane, making him find his own way back to Texas (from Hong Kong) while donating the money he got from the information he leaked to Agent Quan's family.
Coulson then turns his attention to Skye and claims that ever since she got on the plane she's been hiding something and orders her to confess or he's done with her resulting in Skye revealing a chip that has all of the existing information on her parents, from which she only found a single file docketed by S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson decides to let her stay, but in return she must wear a bracelet that lets S.H.I.E.L.D. track her every move, and limits her ability to interact with electronic devices without permission.
- Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
- Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward
- Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May
- Chloe Bennet as Skye
- Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz
- Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons
- Ruth Negga as Raina
- Louis Ozawa Changchien as Chan Ho Yin/Scorch
- Shannon Lucio as Debbie
- Austin Nichols as Miles Lydon
- Tzi Ma as Agent Quan Chen
- Cullen Douglas as Edison Po
- Jimmy Ouyang as Chinese Teenager #1
- Alice Wen as Chinese Teenager #2
- Paul Sanchez as Tiny (uncredited)
- Elsi Eng as Hong Kong S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent (uncredited)
- Richard Par as Hong Kong Bystander (uncredited)
- Marc Abbink as Tourist (uncredited)
- Hong Kong, China
- Austin, Texas
- Havenworth Federal Penitentiary
- Los Angeles, California (mentioned)
- S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters (mentioned)
- Centipede Serum
- Night-Night Pistol
- Heat Signature Detector
- Pick-Lock Device
- Tracking Bracelet
- Extremis (mentioned)
- Scepter (mentioned)
- Captain America
- Harry Houdini
- Vladimir Putin
- Edward Snowden
- Bradley Manning
- Aaron Swartz
- In Marvel Comics, there are many characters that use the "Scorch" codename. Among them is Tommy Ng, a pyrokinetic mutant; Ross Jonas, former Air Force Major mutated by adrenalin taken from Prime Skrull; and a former member of A.R.E.S.
- This episode marks the first mention of The Clairvoyant.
- The Pick-Lock Device used by Phil Coulson is a reference to the Iron Man film, as Coulson uses the device in exactly the same way: He asks for the device to one of his subordinates just raising his hand, and after pressing the button, he waits for the explosion with his arms folded across his chest.
- During production, this episode was going to be named Scorch, but by the time it was shot, Ruth Negga's performance as Raina impressed so much the producers that they renamed the episode to reference her character.