Let’s hear it for corporate synergy! This week’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. incorporates the plot of the recent big screen sequel, Thor: The Dark World, though rest assured that you don’t need to have seen the Chris Hemsworth flick to understand the episode. It’s just a ratings stunt, folks!
Let’s bitch it out…
I imagine that fans of the big screen Marvel world wondered what all of the fuss was when they tuned in. Obviously Mavel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was never going to make the latest Phase 2 film compulsory viewing in order to understand the episode, but it’s a little laughable just how little the attack on England factors into the action in ‘The Well’.
All you need to know is that there’s another world called Asgard. There’s enough exposition to fill in any other blanks as the team pursues a mystical staff broken in three pieces by a love-struck Asgardian hiding out on Earth. There’s an exposition dump about the staff’s potential as a weapon (super strength…again!) and there’s a band of rebels/punks/Europeans looking to connect the pieces and become Gods. It’s all very blah and inconsequential and the writers seem to know it since we never really learn anything about the bad guys’ motivations, or how they began figuring out the locations of each piece of the staff. In the end, those details have no real bearing on the plot, so why bother addressing them?
No, the real purpose of the week is showcasing Brett Dalton’s Agent Ward, the bland everyman who hits stuff real good. Since taking on Skye (Chloe Bennet) as a protegé, Ward has become significantly more tolerable, though before ‘The Well’ we knew very little about him. The sad reality is that following this episode we still don’t really know much about him, other than the fact that he allowed a bully to leave his brother treading water in a well as a boy. Mmmmkay. And???
As with the miraculous resurrection of Coulson (Clark Gregg) storyline, information on these characters is being doled out extremely slowly. Ward clearly had a traumatic childhood, or rather he’s traumatized by this single event (Side Note: bet you $20 his brother drowned), but it still doesn’t make the generically pretty Agent a fleshed out character. It’s too much to hope for the show to tell us everything about everyone in just a few episodes – and if the writers did we would likely complain about the exposition dump even more – but as we creep towards the mid-season, I can’t help but wish these stories would dispatch with the case of the week and really delve into who these people are (in greater depth and with greater urgency).
These little fragments simply aren’t telling us enough about the characters to relate to them and the cases of the week aren’t captivating enough to reward us for tuning in. There’s been a clear shift in recent episodes and the pieces are coming together…it’s just happening too slowly.
- It’s great guest casting to bring in Peter MacNicol as Elliot Randolph, the Earth-bound Asgardian pacifist. No one would suspect that he’s an alien considering our frame of reference is the God-like awesomeness of Chris Hemsworth and Idris Elba
- Sooo…Ward and Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) totally just talked when he wandered into her room at the end of the episode, right? ‘Cause if they did more than bond over their respective experiences holding the magic staff, that would be a pretty nifty turn-around considering we’ve all been waiting (with dread) for him to hook up with Skye (which will still happen, regardless)
- There’s an interesting debate at play in the episode between magic & science and Gods & aliens. Randolph argues the magic/God angle, while -unsurprisingly – Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Coulson all argue for science and aliens
- Ward to Skye: Stop talking. Audience: Seconded!
- Finally – and this is the most mind blowing aspect of the episode – is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. set in the same universe as Dollhouse? I seriously doubt it, though the deliberate use of the same word play in Coulson’s dream as the dialogue uttered in the cult classic is apt to be significant. The exchange “Did I fall asleep?” and “Only for a little while” was the cue used to confirmed that Dolls had successfully had their memories erased in the 2009-2010 FOX show. This suggests more than ever that the Coulson we’ve watched for nine episodes is not actually the Coulson from the Marvel films, but rather another body with Coulson’s imported memories
- Melinda (correcting Coulson’s suggestion that Thor is good looking): “No, he’s definitely dreamy”
- Coulson (planning to go into the tunnels in Seville): “Let’s see what we can dig up. See what I did there?”
Your turn: are you satisfied with the speed of the character development we’ve gotten? Did ‘The Well’ make you care about Ward more? Did he and Melinda get horizontal? And is Coulson secretly a Doll? Sound off below
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC. Next week looks like more stupid plane drama, so…yay?