Agents of SHIELD
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 8: The Well

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 20 Nov 2013 16:53
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Our villains are revealed as the leaders of a Scandinavian Neo-Paganist sect that are actively hunting down Asgardian relics for their power, which is a pretty ingenious use of Thor etc's presence in the Marvel backdrop: What does the revelation that their gods actually do walk among us do to such movements, which really do exist with increasing mainstream visibility? To score some more answers, the team turns to the great Peter MacNicol as Professor Elliot Randolph; an expert in Norse myths (introduced simultaneously not up-grading but still making dinner plans with a sexy student) who gets off a great line about what his life is in the post-Avengers world: "All these years, I thought I was a studying mythology - turns out, I'm a history professor."

He identifies the silver rod as being part of a Berserker Staff, a rage-channeling weapon given to Asgardian foot-soldiers - one of which legend holds to have been left in pieces on Earth by one such soldier who fell in love with the human world millennia ago and elected to stay behind. Gee, wonder if that will be important later? S.H.I.E.L.D hurries off to find the next piece (apparently hidden in a nearby graveyard) only to find Randolph already there ahead of them and trying to run off with the treasure. He escapes, but only because Ward accidentally grabs the staff and has a rage-induced breakdown - and even then doesn't get far when the bad guys show up and steal it from him.

Here, then, seems to be the "meat" of this week's episode: The Agents trying to interrogate the strangely-unafraid Randolph as to what he knows and whether he's connected to the Scandinavians (who're busily building up an army of shabbily-dressed anger-warriors) while coping with Ward - the last person among them who needed more anger issues - being jacked-up on barely contained Berserker rage that apparently works by fixating him on terrible flashbacks of a young boy drowning at the bottom of a well while another boy looks down from above: A clue that we're now revisiting the thread of Ward having been abused by his evil older brother as a kid.

"Ah. Another character-expansion episode." Well, yes, but not exactly. The obligatory business of Ward venting his frustrations with his co-Agents gets knocked out in a single scene so that we can double-down on breaking the "compromised good guy" formula. Unexpectedly, Ward immediately goes to Coulson and asks to be taken out of action for the good of the team. More unexpectedly, Coulson's response is that they should instead use his affliction to go "bad cop" on the stalling Randolph. Berserker Ward's version of "bad cop?" Trying to stab the prisoner in the throat with a knife - averted only because Randolph casually blocks and bends the blade out of shape with his bare hand.

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