Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Agents of SHIELD: The Well Review

Thoughts: "The Well," the long awaited tie into Thor: The Dark World. Does it deliver Asgardian action we were hoping for?
Well ("See what I did there"), not so much. While "The Well" is about Asgard, only the beginning of the episode directly ties into The Dark World's storyline, which is both a positive and a negative. Even though something directly tied into the film would have been cool, I like that Agents of SHIELD is also trying to be its own thing. After a brief opening, narrated by Simmons, explaining what Asgard is, along with some footage from the films, and Skye and, surprisingly, May commenting that Thor is "dreamy," which was particularly humorous coming from May, the episode does not have a lot directly associated with The Dark World. It would have been hilarious if there was a "Loki-fangirl" in the episode though.
When Jakob and Petra, both part of a Norse pagonist hate group, find a piece of the Berserker Staff in Norway and kill some locals, the team is off to find them as usual. Coulson tells the team that he consulted Doctor Randolph about Asgardian mythology after Thor's hammer was found in New Mexico, and he returns to consult him again regarding the Berserker Staff. According to Randolph, the Berserker Staff sends the user into a rage and gives them super strength and presumably, enhanced durability. Ward unexpectedly encounters Doctor Randolph and inadvertently touches the staff, which brings back painful memories of Ward's childhood. "The Well" is one of the first episodes in a while to focus on Ward, who is probably the series' weakest character in terms of development and likability, and my least favorite of the cast since Fitz and Simmons have been fleshed out. My only problem with Ward's flashback to, presumably, his younger brother in the well, and his older brother telling him to leave the younger brother in there, was left unfinished. We never got to see what happened after he, again presumably, helps his little brother out of the well. SHIELD really needs to answer a few questions before it turns into a J.J. Abrams show. Other than that, Ward is really developed well in the episode and his character was finally fleshed out. The always mysterious Melinda May has some great moments as well, including a possible hook-up with Ward, which I will discuss later. But back to the story, where Coulson figures out that Randolph is actually an Asgardian, which is a cool and unexpected twist. To my knowledge, the character is not based on any pre-existing comic book character, but rather based on actual Norse mythology. Randolph enjoyed earth, particularly earth women, and decided he would stick around after his war campaign on earth thousands of years ago. Finally, fans get the superpowered characters we wanted to see on the show, unfortunately, he does not get to really use his power. However, Peter MacNicol gives a very fun and entertaining performance in the role. Hopefully he will return, because his character is the best guest star we have had on the show. The final beatdown with Ward controlling his rage and using the staff to take out pagonist group was very cool, and one of the better fights from the series, even if the flashbacks were distracting. May picking up the staff and seemingly being able to maintain complete control despite using the entire staff was quite interesting. Ward asks how she was able to do hold back the rage and she response that she faces them everyday, which is our real first insight into her character. During that scene, Ward and May really seemed to have connected, which sets up a later scene that I will be discussing soon. Skye also tells Ward that she will be there to listen if he needs anyone to talk to. 
The strangest part of the episode has to be May inviting Ward into her room. What exactly was going there? Was it just for drinks and sharing war stories, or was there some romance going on? The general consensus online seems to be romance, but I am not so sure. However, that will not stop the shippers from calling them "Way." Either way, that scene was intriguing and adds some complexity to the team dynamic, plus I think Ward might have better chemistry with May than Skye, even if May is 20 years older than Ward. What do you think: romance or other? I think they were probably just drinking without romance.
Coulson do not have a ton to do in the episode, however that is not particularly a bad thing since Ward and May were given the screentime. However, he did get the chance to shove his hand into an Asgardian as Simmons freaks out as to what she should do. Randolph talking to Coulson about him not feeling right was interesting and even though the episode did not do much in the "what the heck happened to Coulson" subplot, the after credits scene in Tahiti was interesting. Also Coulson mentioning to Randolph that he should move to Portland was a nice little reference to Coulson's girlfriend, the cellist, who was mentioned as living in Portland in The Avengers.

Action: Ward versus the Norse pagonist hate group was one of the better fights of the series. While they did not address it, I assume those people were also bulletproof, which is why they did not just unload a clip on them. May also using the staff produced a rather cool scene.

Acting: Guest star Peter MacNicol was great in the episode and he gave us a good look at the lower Asgardian peoples, who are not born into a royal family. His meager appearance did a good job of showing that. Both Ming-Na Wen and Brett Dalton stepped up their performances for the episode.

Production Value/Special Effects: For the most part, "The Well" was not an effects heavy episode. However, the cars flipping and the super strength of the users of the staff was executed surprisingly well. My main concern is that the Berserker Staff itself could have been better as a prop; how hard can it be to make something that actually looks like a metal staff?

Comedy: This was another mostly serious episode, with several memorably humorous moments. Peter MacNicol was particularly hilarious with the line, "No, I don't know Thor, but I did go to summer camp with two of the Warriors Three!"

Overall: 9.6/10- Overall, "The Well" might not have delivered the Thor tie-in we hoped for, but it give us some superpowered action and interesting character beats. It might be the best episode yet.

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  1. I enjoyed this episode, all the way until the very last scene when Ward and May disappeared into the room to get drunk/possibly in bed. In my house the sort of interaction that was implied there makes any show instantly skippable. It was really disappointing to see this show doing that sort ol thing since the basis of the show itself (the Marvel Universe) is marketed at kids. As for the credits scene with Coulson in Tahiti you know he says 'too good to be true" and then wakes up in shock like it was a nightmare. He probably just realized that he was never actually on Tahiti. he was being told he was as part of the coverup of his "recovery"

  2. Great review of the episode!! :D I agree, it was a very good one and probably one of the better ones so far :D.
    Yes, the humor in this episode, when we got it, was great! XD I loved how Coulson was all "no, he's not all that handsome" and the girls were all like "YES he is!". Yes, a Loki fan girl would have been awesome! :D XD. I also really liked the character development, though I do kind of wish the kid in the well had actually been Ward(since, at first, that's who I thought it was). And I agree, the berserker character was a very good one(one of my favorite guest stars yet) and the plot twist with him was unexpected, which is always nice to see; hopefully he'll appear again. :). I thought the exploration of hate groups and how evil they are(especially since I've heard of a few recently) was good and something that should be addressed; and yes, the fight scene totally rocked! :D
    As for the scene with Ward and May at the end, I'm not sure what was going on, it could have been several things since it was a bit open-ended. I kind of hope it isn't since I like the idea of there not being any romance on the show, and everyone just being friends. The ending with Coulson was also very interesting. Oddly enough, I had a dream a few nights ago about the aftermath of this episode(basically, it was like the next episode).

  3. I think it would be super super hilarious if there is one Loki fangirl in Agents of Shield and everyone looks at her like she sprouted wings...she could always be going on the Internet and has her own Tumblr. It wouldn't have to be big but it could be a very amusing but brief fan-service to Loki's Army :P

  4. I only saw the first episode of the show but I sure hope that they are not putting mushy stuff in it. There is a lack of good TV shows these days. I don't want this one to go downhill. Besides. If there was a romance it seems to me that it should be Ward and Skye. May makes a good quiet character.

  5. Be pre-warned, this is rather long comment. I got to typing and it just felt right. :) Some of these things we could discuss on Skype...

    I enjoyed this episode, I found the plot good and it was nice seeing everyone back together as one big team again. I actually didn't expect that much when it came to the Thor tie-in so I wasn't disappoint on that level. I thought the quote about the norse god of "Cleaning Up After Oneself" was really funny. :P

    I really liked seeing more of Ward and his background, although now that you mention it, the flashbacks were left rather open ended. But maybe that means we'll learn more later? That would be nice. He's a good character.

    I just don't see Ward and May together as a couple; they've shown no relational or even chemistry-like aspect between them that could even make the idea even plausible. If it is revealed that they're Bed Buddies, then I will be confused. Hopefully all they did was share some drinks together or something.

    Speaking of May, I would really appreciate some backstory for her at some point here. She's my least favorite character at this point because I've still not been able to really connect with her (I better understand Skye, so she doesn't bother me as much). In movies and shows, I as a girl don't need a 'strong' female character who can kick butt without blinking. I need a female character that I can connect with on some level of emotion or conviction so that I can care about her. Right now I can't connect with the fight skills and blankish looks. There's no earned respect from me for her yet. And before anyone throws Black Widow in my face; at least in the Avengers we saw motivation--she was doing what she did for Hawkeye because she owned him something and they had a "best-friend-'Got-Your-Back" relationship; I was able to connect with that because I know the feeling. So she's completely different. I really hope we get some backstory for May because she has potential to be a great Marvel character.

    I'm glad Thor is getting love and acknowledgement through the show since here in real life he's pretty overshadowed by Loki. Which leads me to the opinion--and you can disagree with me, of course--that I don't want there to be any Loki fangirls in the Marvel Universe. It doesn't make sense for there to be any. All anyone on Earth knows is that he came down from the heavens, traumatized some people in Germany and than ransacked New York, killing tons of people. At least here in real life, we fangirls are audiance members, we actually know Loki's backstory, we know why he does what he does and we understand. It's diferent. I don't think there would be any fangirls for Loki in the Marvel Universe-and if there were, then that would really just be sick. And it would be a bad representation of who us actual fangirls are. Everyone on Earth should have the exact same feelings for Loki as Erik Selvig. I'm sorry if I'm coming off harshly, I don't intend too, I just think putting fangirls for Loki in the show would be contradictory to the story. And for record, to anyone else who might be reading this, I'm a huge Loki fangirl myself!

    Sorry if I went on a bit here and there but I know you won't judge me too harshly. :P

  6. I finally got to see this tonight, and oh my goodness! Peter MacNicol from Numb3rs in an ep of this that's directed by Jonathan Frakes? It's like a nerdly-tv-show-cataclysm or something! I was quite excited by the end of the opening credits.

    Anyway, it was a relief to learn more about Ward, as I want to like him but just don't care. I'm wondering which of the other boys in the flashbacks was his brother -- the one in the well, or the bully? I could see either one working, and I kind of hope it was the bully because that would be more unexpected.

    The Thor references pleased me no end, Thor fangirl that I am. My favorite part of the pilot was probably Agent Hill's comment about his arms, so to have both Skye and May categorize him as 'dreamy' made me grin and bounce up and down. Finally, some appreciation for Thor! The internet gets so dreary for a Thor fan sometimes.

    As for the Ward-May possible hookup -- didn't see that coming. But I kinda like the pairing, as it's also unexpected. Still, yes, let's not see the airplane devolve into a love boat.

    But my goodness, poor, dear Coulson. He needs a hug.


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