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- Episode: The Well (Season 1, Episode 8)
- Starring: Clark Gregg. Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge
- Written By: Monica Owusu-Breen
- Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
- Network: ABC
- Studio: ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Well Review
Agent Coulson mentions Thor a Lot!
By Tim Janson
November 20, 2013
If you’ve wondered why I don’t think Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be canceled anytime soon I present to you, “The Well”, a blatant, hour long commercial for Thor: The Dark World disguised (barely) as the latest episode of AOS. The episode takes place just after the events in Thor 2 as the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is on mop-up duty and gathering bits of the Dark Elf/pillar thingy from the film for analysis. In Norway, two members of a paganist group Jakob (Michael Graziadei) and Petra (Erin Way) have found a metal rod with Norse runes inside of a tree in a national park which imbues them with superhuman strength and a lust for destruction.
Coulson and the team fly to Spain to meet with Professor Dr. Elliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol), an expert in Norse mythology. The Professor deciphers the runes and discovers the rod is a part of an Asgardian artifact known as the Berserker Staff that was broken into three parts by an Asgardian Warrior and hidden when he gave up the life of battle to live peacefully on Earth. He gives the team clues on where to find the next two pieces of the staff before the Paganists can find them. When Agent Ward comes into contact with the next piece, it gives him great strength, but also an incredible rage that he takes out on the rest of the team, notably Skye. It also brings back repressed memories of a traumatic event from his childhood. Turns out, the Professor IS the very same Asgardian Warrior who has lived on Earth for over 1000 years. He leads the group to the final piece of the staff in Ireland where War and Agent May have to absorb its power to battle with the Paganists who also want the final piece.
Coulson’s mentions Thor’s name so many times during the episode that you’d have thought the two grew up together painting picket fences and riding a raft down the Mississippi. I half expected for Coulson to turn to the camera and say “Go see Thor: The Dark World, in theaters now!” We are even treated to brief glimpses of The Destroyer and Thor himself…from the waist down not to mention Sky and May exclaiming how “dreamy” he is.
I honestly have no problem with Disney and ABC using Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a billboard for the big screen films as long as they do something interesting. But “The Well” simply was not interesting. You had a pair of nondescript villains who seemingly had no goal or plans for their newfound powers other than to go on a Hulk-like rampage through the city. I love Peter MacNicol but certainly not buying him as a former Asgardian warrior. The plot was riddled with silliness throughout. It made little sense for Randolph to go after the second piece of the staff and if he was going to, why tell Coulson where it was? Why was Ward so adversely affected by the staff that it knocked him out upon contact and through him into a blind fury (no pun intended) later while May held two pieces of the staff to battle the Paganists and yet it had nary and effect on her?
Thankfully there were a few positive elements to the episode. We get some much needed depth of character for Agent Ward and his one note portrayal. There were some funny exchanges between Coulson and Randolph on whether that latter “knows” Thor. I enjoyed the action scenes as well and it was nice to see May kicking ass again. Finally, the after the credits segment seemed to hint that Coulson’s memories of his recuperation in Tahiti may be programmed and not real. As disappointing as the show has been over the past couple of weeks I think the best is yet to come. These episodes were in the can and I believe series creator Joss Whedon will begin work out the kinks.