Thursday, November 21, 2013

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 8: The Well

Hey, we got a really good episode this week! I liked this one a lot, mostly because we finally got an episode that contained some actual super hero trappings.

The promos have been screaming for weeks now that this episode is a direct tie-in to the current Marvel movie Thor: The Dark World, stopping just short of calling it Thor 2.5. Technically they weren't lying-- the episode begins with a few clips from the movie and then we see the S.H.I.E.L.D. team sifting through the wreckage caused by Thor and Malekith. But that's about it. There's lots of name dropping about Thor and Asgardians and space gods but no one from the movie actually shows up (we do meet an Asgardian though, but not the one we expect).

The episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, Star Trek: The Next Generation's own Commander Will Riker. Frakes directed several ST:TNG episodes and has become a pretty decent director, one who understands the sci-fi/fantasy genre and is knowledgable about special effects. Maybe they ought to have him direct every episode from here on out.

Thoughts (Spoilers!)
• I realize I've been pretty critical about the lack of super stuff in past episodes. I understand that this series is taking a look at how normal everyday humans cope in a world of superheroes. I get it, really I do. But they've got to throw us a super bone once in a while, or else the series just becomes another iteration of CSI.

• Simmons has the exact same ring tone that I have, which was freaking me out. Every time her phone rang on screen I thought someone was calling me.

• Lots of dialog about how Asgardians are aliens, not gods, and how their technology isn't magic, it's just so advanced we can't yet understand it.

Marvel comics take this exact same view toward Thor and his world. The writers have obviously done their homework.

• Jakob and Petra (the duo who find the first piece of the Berserker Staff) were pretty lame villains. That seems to be par for the course for this show. They definitely need to work on their bad guys.

• Sorry, but I had to laugh at "Norse paganist hate group." Not those guys again! Every time there's a terrorist attack, one of those damn Norse paganist hate groups steps up and claims responsibility.

• OK, they got me-- I totally didn't suspect that doughy Dr. Randolph was an Asgardian until Ward tried to stab him. Nice touch that life story became myth and legend here on Earth.

One thing I don't quite buy though-- in the Thor films, Asgard looks like a pretty cool place. Spectacular scenery, beautiful architecture, amazing technology… why an Asgardian would want to live out their life here on our miserable planet? 

Yes, he said one reason he stayed here was because he met a lovely young French maid or something, but surely Earth women can't hold a candle to Asgardian super-babes. Plus doesn't he get tired of watching a succession of wives wither and die while he lives out his 5,000 year life span?

• I liked Randolph's snide comment that no, just because he's from Asgard doesn't mean he knows Thor. Reminded me of when white people think all blacks know one another.

• After Ward accidentally touches the Berserker Staff, it causes him to become surly and aggressive. When Skye tries to get him to open up to her, he snaps, "That's what you're here to do. Talk and talk and talk!" Tell it brother! We're not all as enamored of Skye as you are, wrtiers!

• I wonder what they'll do with the Berserker Staff? Will they use The Slingshot (from the 0-8-4 episode) to fling it into the Sun, or will they give it to Thor for safe keeping?

• Everybody's got a dark secret on this show (with the possible exception of FitzSimmons). Coulson suspects he was more seriously injured by Loki than he thought. Skye's some kind of spy, or is she? Something awful happened to May in the field and it still haunts her. And now we find out that Ward had some murky childhood trauma involving his brother. 

• May's fast becoming my favorite character on the show. Loved her bad-assery as she assembled the pieces of the Berserker Staff and expertly wielded it. More scenes like this, please.

• So, May and Ward, huh? At the end of the episode she nonchalantly invites him into her hotel room. Did they hook up? Or sit on the bed and talk about their various traumas while getting plastered? Or both?

Personally I vote for hooked up, but that's probably just because I've had a crush on Ming-Na Wen for years now.

• So it's pretty obvious at this point that Coulson is a Life Model Decoy. The viewers know it, the writers know it, the only ones who don't know it are the characters. 

I hope they're not going to drag out this mystery for the entire season, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did. Once it's revealed, the only other thing they could do with Coulson is deal with how he reacts to the fact that he's not real, and they'll no doubt want to save that arc for Season 2.

• I still think this would have been a perfect time for a cameo by Chris Hemsworth as Thor. It wouldn't even have had to be a lengthy scene; he could have just walked past Coulson and said, "Hey, how's it going, Son of Coul?"  Or they could have had Tom Hiddleston doing his awesome Owen Wilson impression. C'mon, Marvel!

What, he's so busy he couldn't spare an hour to shoot a ten second scene?

So when's Hasselhoff gonna pop up on this show?


  1. Did you also note the Joss Whedon 'Dollhouse' dialogue when Coulson was dreaming... "Did I fall asleep?", "For a little while"

  2. Sorry, I never watched Dollhouse, so I didn't catch that reference.

    1. The premise in Dollhouse was that their operatives would have a personality, skill, knowledge etc implanted to cary out various missions or objectives. Their original personality is stored elsewhere during the entire time of their contract and reloaded once it is up. At the end of each mission, they are wipe to a very simple state and when they wake up they ask "did I fall asleep", to which the programmer replies "for a little while".

      So, is the line in this episode just a nod to Joss Whedon or does it imply as you suggest that this is not the original Coulson and he has had his entire personality, memories and experience downloaded in to a duplicate. Or is that in itself just to throw us all off the track.


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