Friday, February 21, 2014

View Log: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "The Well"

Directed by Jonathan Frakes. Commander Riker himself. 
…well, I’ve nothing more to say about that.

I haven't seen Thor: the Dark World, but this episode is exactly what it should be: S.H.I.E.L.D. cleaning up after the larger events, the behind-the-scenes stuff. The relics left behind that create super villains. Even if they were left behind a long time ago. Convenient timing that an ancient Asgardian artifact is uncovered right after the Dark Elf invasion. Still, I like that they made an episode that technically ties in with the latest film that can be enjoyed by people who haven’t seen the film.

I also really like how Skye tries to address the theological implications of the Norse Gods being aliens, and Coulson just wants to go about the 9 to 5. As for the plot, it turns out, if you cut up a 9000 year old tree, there's a staff of power inside. How did the villains know it was there? Well, there was a prophecy. Always a prophecy. You know, I hate it when ancient prophecies in another language always have an English rhyme... though the prophecy in this episode doesn't always rhyme. Nice touch.

Wait, they find a metal rod that bestows Asgardian-level super-strength? This is just an update of the magical crowbar that gives the Wrecker his powers. And the main villains use the rods they got to give other people powers, too. Like how Wrecker shared his powers with Thunderball, Piledriver, and Bulldozer. Although, the rods (actually the broken "Berserker Staff" from a member of the Asgardian "Berserker Army") also cause ULTIMATE RAGE through negative memories. When Ward went all ragey, he apparently remembered something about his brother. A well, and his brother drowning in it. We begin to see his issues with needing to save everyone from this. This is further seen when Ward made the choice to wield the staff again, which goes on to show his self-sacrificing nature.

The idea that Ward and Melinda will have dark, inner rages for a few decades is an interesting one, and I'm interested to see how this plays out. If Coulson's team is compared to the Avengers, I guess Ward is now the team's Hulk, and May... is a more in-control Hulk. Well, if they remember this plot point.

That’s right, Melinda May could activate the rage-staff, so I don’t know if she's human or not anymore. That Whedon, always keeping us guessing. When May says she sees her rage memories every day, I can't help but wonder, was she the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who took Skye to the orphanage as a child? Or is she talking about Coulson? Now, the reveal of Ward's childhood trauma, that a bully coerced him into not throwing a rope for his drowning brother (a very Loki-ish looking bully), was quite the shock, and I don't know what to make of it.

On a lighter note, my God, I love Peter MacNicol as villains. Mad Hatter, Doc Ock, this former Berserker, he does all these roles so well. When Peter MacNicol bent the knife that Agent Ward tried to stab him with, I thought he just touched the staff, but him being Asgardian? Dang. I like how Coulson figured it out by seeing his fancy pen and remembering what Loki acted like in captivity. Well, that and the fact that the prof wasn't interested in the fact that Couslon had met aliens. The fact that MacSerker (as I call him) explicitly states never knew Thor is in a nice stark contrast to similar situations where every alien knows each other. Every Vulcan knows Spock, or every Yoda knows Chewbacca, etc.

Simmons almost seems offended by the lack of specifics when it comes to Asgardian magic/science. It’s a nicely implemented character trait. The whole "reach-inside-MacSerker-until-you-fix-his-heart" plan of hers is... iffy, but it works.

I like that MacSerker and Coulson have a budding friendship at the end of the episode. They have a nice bonding moment talking about getting stabbed in the heart and dying. Speaking of which, Coulson had no hospital, no recovery, he just woke up. ...as a robot, maybe? I hate to keep harping on this, but it's the mystery of the show. Continuing Coulson's subplot, the episode ends with a nightmare... of him getting a massage in Tahiti by a lovely young lady and being told that Tahiti is... a "magical" place. This makes him wake up in a cold sweat, no doubt lending itself to many "Coulson is gay because his nightmare is a beautiful woman" jokes. I will not be making any. But there's that word again, "magical." Tahiti is always called "magical." It has to mean something.

But alas, such things are only for Whedon to know.
Until next time!

(Originally posted on 11/26/13)

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