Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Well Review -

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Mania Grade: D+

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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
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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.


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WarCry 11/20/2013 12:14:52 PM

 Do you even WATCH these shows before you reveiw them?

"I love Peter MacNicol but certainly not buying him as a former Asgardian warrior."

He stated IN THE EPISODE that he wasn't a warrior, he was a mason. So, yeah, it might be hard to see him as something he didn't claim to be. The story of him as a warrior was an embelishment, first as he was telling a girl he liked, then when that girl's brother wrote it down.

You spent 80% of this review knocking about 2 minutes of it - the beginning, when they were - admittedly and as advertised - tying it in to the Thor film. They've been hyping that for 3 damn weeks, and you act like it was completely out of the blue.

I don't mind negative reviews when they have a basis in the material being reviewed. But if you're not interested in even watching the show before you "review" it, tell the folks here at Mania. I'm sure they'll be glad to find someone else to do it.








ElBaz13 11/20/2013 12:20:09 PM

To each his own. I loved this episode. Sure, this was a commercial for Thor, but Disney did it because they can. Why waste money on TV ad time when you have a freebie here? Last night's episode was no different than one of those Marvel One Shots on the DVDs with Coulson.

Glad to see the characters being fleshed out. As the episodes go deeper in the season, we are getting more and more. What's with Simmons' mom calling? Is she a character or actress we know? Maybe Peggy Carter is her grandma? Also, level 8 agents seem to live in their own worlds as Ward said they supress a lot. Which means he has more in common with May, which led to the final scene. What a cougar! Is it me or is May hot? You got the sense of the episode Skye wanted to shag Ward and he refused going for the more experience. ;)

I like Peter MacNicol but not convincing as an old warrior. I guess that's why it was surprising. They should have used someone like Rutger Hauer.

Lots of Avengers name dropping. I played the "Hanso's MAoS Avengers Name Dropping Game" last night and was so bombed at 9 pm. :)

ElBaz13 11/20/2013 12:22:07 PM


I believe he said he was a mason on Asgard but he signed up for being a warrior during the war to get his hands on the staff.

toran 11/20/2013 12:26:55 PM

I don't agree with the rather negative assestment of this episode. I did enjoy it  but it is clear what AOS's central problem is: villians.

As the saying goes, a hero is only as good as his villian counterpart. In almost all of the episodes aired so far, the antagonists are either poorly defined or basically good people that are in over their heads. SHIELD has manpower, firepower and techincal know-how to spare.  What the show really needs is a seriously evil villian or organisation that is on par with SHIELD and its resources. This is a world based on comic books afterall.  So far the show has been a little like the Marvel version of Highway to Heaven: going from place to place, helping people in need. Which isn't a bad thing every once and a while.  But the stakes have been kind of low. Where's the peril?

The heroes, on the other hand, keep growing on me. They are being fleshed out pretty well and the more time I spend with them the more I like them. But they need comparable antagonists to truly test them and take this show to the next level.


ElBaz13 11/20/2013 12:34:45 PM

The villains will come I'm sure. There has been references to a sinister force behind a few things, no doubt Hydra or AIM.

This is just the warmup/prologue.


makabriel 11/20/2013 12:40:11 PM

 Oh, and Coulson didn't handle the staff.  

tjanson 11/20/2013 12:47:30 PM

 WarCry...and do you even read the review or only look at the Grade...I clearly mentioned the opening clean up moment, the point at which the crappy villains found the first part of the Rod, meeting the Professor, finding the second part, Ward's reaction to the staff, going to Ireland.  May kicking ass...and Coulson mentioning Thor's name 2789 times.

makabriel 11/20/2013 12:51:49 PM

 @ElBaz.  Nah, the Asgardian was pretty vocal about how much he hated the staff.  He went with them to travel.

tjanson 11/20/2013 12:52:33 PM

And Randolph looked more like a court jester than a warror OR a mason

stonedtodeath 11/20/2013 12:53:42 PM

I did not like the episode, aside from the unfair criticism about McNichols portraying an Asgardian warrior, like others have mentioned he was a mason and joined a war effort to see the world.  McNichols was the one bright spot for this episode, he did a good job playing the part, even if as some have bemoaned he didn't look the part.  My complaints are with the acting and the cheesy dialogue, or failed attempts at cheesy dialogue.  I can't tell if it's bad directing and acting or bad writing and acting...or all three.  I like Fitz and Simmons, they play their parts fairly well.  Sky does okay at times and I feel like she has been better of late.  May has done well, but I am becoming annoyed with the "nodding knowingly" thing they tend to do too much.  It's like the writers couldn't come up with any dialogue for the actor in that circumstance, so they tell them to nod knowingly.  The Berserker Army story line was recently in the comic "Journey into Mystery" as Sif aligns herself with three former Berserkers.  I read comics regularly and the writers for Marvel write some great dialogue occasionally.  Take advantage of these writers that are already on the Mouse's payroll and utilize them.  Yost, Brubaker, Remender, Fraction, Bendis, Gillen, and Jason Aaron can write good to great dialogue at times.  Kill off Ward quickly, he is dragging the show down, it's not too late to save this'll be disappointing attempt at bringing comics to the small screen.

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