Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Which I Review Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (1x8)

Something occurred to me last night. I was sitting in a car, with 10 minutes to spare until SHIELD came on. I was watching the clock, hoping I got home in time, when it suddenly hit me: I didn't care if I missed the first few minutes. I didn't even really care if I missed the first ten or fifteen minuets. Or the first twenty. Now, I did end up making it home in time to catch the whole episode, but as I sit here this morning, coffee in hand, to write my blog on this weeks episode, "The Well," I realize that I have almost nothing to say. Well, nothing good. There was one and only one purpose to this episode: Thor 2. The number one movie in the world, the next movie in the Marvel Superhero saga, following in the wake of the Avengers, this episode was simply fodder to promote a movie. It wasn't even subtle. By my count, the name "Thor" was dropped five times by various individuals, including Coulson, the only character to have actually met the blonde Asgardian. Oh and apparently we learned more about Ward and his greatest secret, which isn't actually a secret since he told Skye several episodes back. 

The whole episode starts with the Agents discussing Asgardian relics. Gee, I wonder if that's significant. I mean, I know I stand around randomly discussing alien technology and the hotness that is Thor. Skye, as usual, is saying stupid things about wanting to fly an Asgard ship and meet Thor because of his dreamyness (Skye, you're supposed to be familiar with the internet. Come on, now. You should know that everyone is obsessed with Loki, not Thor). There is a little set up about how aliens and humans don't mix well. *yawn* I'm sorry, what were you saying, Agents? Was it important? I was too busy rolling my eyes over to obvious set up. Raise your hand if you now think this episode will focus on how humans and aliens cannot mix well. *Raises hands and feet and eyebrows.* Oh, what's this? Random hikers out in the woods who decide to cut down a tree. Well, I'm sure that is perfectly normal and isn't a reflection of what the Agents were just discussing. So these random hikers start cutting down a tree and find a metal rod. From henceforth, I shall refer to the metal rod as a stick. I'm sure it has a fancy name, but considering the idiocy of this entire episode for it be anything but "the stick" would just be silly. The stick makes you HULK out. Oh. Look at that. Another Marvel reference. A person touches the stick and it glows and then you have super human strength and anger and you must embrace the rage. Random Human Angry! Random Human Smash!

The team arrives in the forest and I guess there is some sort of banter (I actually wrote in my notes "some sort of banter" because I couldn't be bothered to pay attention to what the stiff cardboard cut outs were saying to each other). They learn that the stick is not of this world. SHOCK! I am in total SHOCK. You mean the beginning conversation about aliens and Asgard was setting something up? Miracle of miracles. Anyway, there is a cult obsessed with Norse mythology and they want the stick. (Another sign this show is loosing ground fast is when even I'm not interested in the mythology episode. I have a degree in religion which heavily focuses on myth and I'm bored!) Also, the stick is only a third of a stick. The real stick is much bigger. Two other sticks out in the world. Oh dear. I wonder if we have to go in search of them. Better call in some random plot device guy who can tell us everything we need to know about the sticks in an info-dump; and while we're at it, let's make him seem somewhat suspicious.

Meet random plot device info-dump suspicious guy! I think he has a name. Elliot Randall is what I wrote in my notes, but it is *very* possible that I made that up. Let's just call him Suspicious Professor. Suspicious Professor is an expert in Norse history and myth and has the ability to read the writing on the stick. The agents of SHIELD, the top secret government agency who have dealt with the Asgardians, have a working relationship with the future king and had his younger brother in captivity once CAN'T read the writing, but Suspicious Professor can. Golly, what a wonderful plot device. Alright, here comes the info-dump. Long ago there existed a set of warriors known as the Beserkers who fought in an almost trance induced state of rage and anger. They were the stuff of nightmares. But one lone Berserker fell in love with the Earth and decided that the way of peace was for him. So he took his stick and broke it into thirds and scattered it throughout the earth. Which is dumb. All someone has to do is touch one third of the stick and they Hulk out. So if you loved the earth and its people so much, maybe you should have drowned the stick or destroyed it with fire. Or sent it back to the Asgard. Or, anything else really. At any rate, now the Agents know their mission and they go off to search for the other pieces of the stick and they wind up in an underground tunnel where--lo and behold, wonder of wonders--the Suspicious Professor is seen carrying off another piece of the stick! Ward confronts him, only to touch the stick and is infected with rage! Ward Angry! Ward Smash!

Honestly, I could care less. Ward is about as compelling as watching cheese become moldy. Apparently when you touch the stick, you start to relive your worst memory. And this is a memory Ward has pushed deep down and tried to forget. Remember when he told Skye about his brother and his brother's cruelty? Yes, his worst memory has something to do with that. Apparently his older brother threw him down a well as a child and made him tread water before allowing the other brother to pull him out. Which is horrifying, I grant. But it wasn't exactly revelatory. And then there is Skye. Ward doesn't want to talk about this moment with anyone and Skye tells FitzSimmons to drop it and leave Ward be except then she turns around and butts into his life with her, "I'm here if you want to talk. Maybe we can talk. Can we talk? Let's talk" nonsense and someone make her shut up! At least Ward shuts her down, completely going off on Skye and I cheered. If she were to "accidentally" fall out of the plane, I'd be ok with it.

Meanwhile, Coulson is questioning the Suspicious Professor (they captured him. Did I mention that?). And then the big moment: the Suspicious Professor is an Asgard alien. He's like the Anti-Thor! Thor is big and muscular and full of the sex. This guy is small, mousy, and balding. Oh, I get it. We weren't supposed to suspect Suspicious Professor of being a god. And naturally the only one who guessed was Coulson because of a random clue? Oh, and Suspicious Professor is also the warrior from the stick story, but I'm guessing you already put that together too. The Suspicious Professor gives one more piece of background on his stick, "it shines a light into your dark places." The frack does that even mean? That is a line written by some writer who has lofty ideals about self and being. It is also dirty and my mind is in the gutter. Thankfully, the rage and the memories the stick invokes will wear off, but while Ward has all that simmering rage, might as well put it to good use. So the team packs up to find the third piece, which was located in a church. But the crazy cult is also there and a fight breaks out and Ward...goes berserk. Yeah, I've been waiting to use that line. For some reason the Suspicious Professor is injured and Coulson sticks his hand into the alien chest. In the end it isn't even Ward who takes down the cult but May who uses the stick to defeat them but instead of going crazy like Ward, she is able to channel her anger. It's all that tai chi.

Miscellaneous Notes from The Well

--Ok, so in case you missed it, you should now be properly conditioned to go see Thor 2.

--More Tahiti references and still we won't be getting that story next week. Stop making me wait. Coulson is the only thing saving this show right now.

--May tells Ward that unlike him, she sees her worst memory everyday. Again, writers, you need to develop her. No one cares about the rest of your cast/characters. Work with your strengths and maybe I'll come back next fall.


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