Ho-ly crap. That's a hell of a lot of episode crammed into 60 minutes, isn't it? I took so many notes during the latest Agents of SHIELD
that I'm not sure I actually watched any of it. It was almost a feature-length film squeezed into an hour timeslot.
"The Well" ties in with the latest Avengers sequel, Thor: The Dark World
, and it is our first major plot crossover into the ever-evolving Marvel universe. Previously, we had an appearance by Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, the introduction of some comic book characters and references to the movies and various Avengers, but this was the first direct cross-promotional tie-in with a standalone Marvel feature.
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Unfortunately, I haven't seen Thor 2
yet, but I can only assume the Asgardians once again left behind a giant mess. This time, they decided to spare New York City and trash London instead. And it's the agents of SHIELD's job to clean it up, making sure no alien objects end up in the wrong hands.
And that's when things get crazy.
A Convenient Plot
Like I said earlier, there is a lot going on in this one, and the only way to fit it all in is to make things obviously convenient while leaving other questions blatantly unanswered. So while SHIELD bags and tags any Asgardian relics, a nice Norse paganist couple is scouring Norway's national forest for the elusive Berserker Staff.
Using a very vague ancient text that treasure hunters have apparently been trying to decode for centuries, Jakob Nystrom and Petra Larsen find a piece of the staff, a relic consistent with Thor's hammer that fills the bearer with a hate-filled rage and gives him or her the strength of 20 warriors, hidden inside a Norway spruce. Violence erupts, people get hurt and then things really start working out.
Long story short, the SHIELD team heads to Seville and consults Dr. Elliot Randolph, better known as Ghostbusters 2's Dr. Janosz Poha (welcome, Lord Vigo!), who tells them that the staff belonged to an Asgardian Berserker warrior who came to earth to fight but fell in love with life and stuck around. He then broke the staff into three pieces and hid them around the globe.
So, of course, the second piece is in Seville, and of course they track it down at the exact same time Dr. Randolph is stealing it, which of course happens at the exact same time Jakob and Petra arrive at the location to take it from him.
Then it turns out Dr. Randolph is the Asgardian Berserker who stayed on earth, and he hid the third piece of the staff in Ireland, where the team arrives shortly after Jakob does, just in time for a confrontation. Is goon transportation as fast as the Bus? And how did these cultists locate all the pieces so quickly?
You Would Like Ward When He's Angry
"The Well" also serves as a real coming out party for Agent Grant Ward, who is clearly the focus of the episode. Skye and FitzSimmons don't do much, and while Coulson and May have their moments, this one is about Ward, who gets to be a jerk and endearing all at the same time.
He starts out talking Simmons through her rather pedestrian ascent to the edge of the toppled tree, even promising to catch her if she falls. Awww. Ward is also the one who stumbles across Dr. Randolph stealing piece two, and he grabs the staff in an effort to stop him. This unleashes all his repressed memories about the first time he felt hate and "shines a light into his dark places." That just sounds dirty.
So for awhile, he's just mean to everyone. Then he tries to take out all the aggression on a punching bag before telling Coulson he is distracted and doesn't trust himself, but that self-awareness is exactly what makes Coulson continue to trust him.
The Well and Zen May
It turns out that Ward's deepest secret involves his brother being stuck in a water well and his other horrible brother not letting him toss a rope down for a rescue. It's unclear if the brother dies because of this, but the memory enrages Ward to the point where he can beat Jakob in a fight after the cult leader stabs Dr. Randolph in the chest.
Ward doubles up on staff pieces and takes down the rest of Jacob's henchmen, but he's too exhausted to continue when Petra arrives with the third piece. That's when May steps in, kicks ass and unites all three pieces into one fully-formed Berserker Staff, which SHIELD promptly bags and tags to keep it out of human hands.
Meanwhile, Coulson saves Dr. Randolph's life by sticking his hand into his chest, clutching his heart and preventing him from bleeding out before his body can regenerate itself. All in all, just another day at the office.
May is affected by the anger she experiences after holding all three pieces of the staff, but because she sees her unknown-to-us rage vision every day, she can control the emotions and remains in her usual zen-like state.
Still, she invites Ward into her hotel room to commiserate over a drink.
Ward can apparently expect his rage to weaken over the next few decades, but I doubt it will last that long.
Simmons apparently has some sort of briefly-estranged relationship with her parents that she resolves by the end.
After two really strong episodes, is Fitz even in this one?
Skye is "there" for Ward, who continues to evolve nicely as a character, which I honestly didn't see coming.
Coulson is still plagued by his mysterious resurrection and has a nightmare about Tahiti to close the show.
So yeah, wow, that was quite the action-packed episode. It moved so quickly and relied heavily on those conveniences I mentioned earlier, but overall it was quite entertaining. It didn't pack the comic punch it usually does, but still had enough one-liners to keep things light where appropriate.
My favorites were Coulson asking for "a god of cleaning-up-after-yourself," and the fact that one of the posts on the message board Skye was looking at read, "I rode a horse today. ;)"
What did you think of "The Well"? Were you entranced? Or was it too much happening too quickly? Did you notice all the convenient plot points before I pointed them out? Or were you sucked in enough to take things on the level? Next week: more super powers! (I think.)
You can watch Agents of SHIELD
every Tuesday at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)