NOTE: The following piece includes spoilers for Thor: The Dark World.
Yes Men scores the title of being the most explicit tie-in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has yet made to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by virtue of featuring a guest appearance by a major character from the films (save for Samuel L. Jackson’s brief surprise cameo as Nick Fury at the conclusion of the second episode) in the personage of Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif, late of the Thor movies. But it’s also the first one that seems built to reward fans who’ve followed (or attempted to follow) the plot threads of the series itself. Up until now, almost any episode of this show could be more-or-less easily “jumped into” providing you’d at least seen The Avengers, but this one works from the assumption that if you’re still watching now you’ve probably been watching all along.
Let’s start with the plot. The short version is Sif is on Midgard – aka Earth – hunting the seduction-powered sorceress Lorelei, and since S.H.I.E.L.D. can now track where and when Asgardians are beaming in they send Team Coulson to back her up because hey, why not? This story demands that you remember in the previous episode Agent Coulson discovered that the super-secret serum that Nick Fury employed to raise him from the dead (and that he was too late to stop from being used to heal a wounded Agent Skye) was derived from the blood of a blue-skinned space-alien being kept on ice in a mysterious bunker. You must have already recalled that Agent Ward had got jacked-up on Asgardian “Berzerker Energy” in The Well and his non-romance with Agent May spinning out of those events.
Anyway! we’re informed that Lorelei has been locked up and muzzled in Asgardian Jail for 600 years and was only freed recently during the Dark Elf-engineered prison break in Thor: The Dark World. This conceit mainly seems to exist so that we’ll get to see her use her male-specific hypnotism powers to get around for a bit instead of just stealing a cellphone and calling for a cab, but it also helpfully reminds us how quickly the “old timey character confused by modern technology/idioms” schtick gets old and how nice it is of the Thor movies to keep it dialed back. Either way, we learn Sif’s goal: Slap a voice-canceling restraint collar on Lorelei, since she can enslave most men just by talking to them (really tough guys require a touch.)
Fortunately, sci-fi movie clichés turn out to be one of those Earth things Lorelei doesn’t know, because she immediately decides to do what every other laying-low alien/robot/time-travlere/etc does and hang out in a biker bar – so she’s pretty easy to find. We get a pretty decent shootout/brawl with Sif knocking henchmen around while The Agents test out new higher-powered tactical versions of Fitz/Simmons’ “Night-Night Guns” (now rechristened “Icers”) on the stragglers. It’s all for naught, though, because Lorelei gets control of Ward and makes him take her to Las Vegas (she’s trying to score weapons, gold and followers), where she decides to also seduce him in the more tactile sense after intuiting that he’s already in a relationship; cut to Sif explaining to May that Lorelei prefers to take men who are already “spoken for” because (for lack of a better term) she gets off on the thrill.
Sif also gets some alone time with Coulson (turns out Asgardians are so advanced they already know how to use S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fancy hologram-table), who takes the opportunity to pump her for information about blue-skinned alien races. She rattles off a bunch, with what feels like subtle but specific emphasis on Kree – which I’m pretty sure is the first time The Kree have actually been mentioned by name in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so that’s pretty cool if presently inconsequential. Of more immediate interest: As far as Sif knows, none of the Kree have been to Earth yet.
Oh, and we also learn that Coulson has ordered Fitz/Simmons not to tell S.H.I.E.L.D.-proper about the alien miracle cure until he gets to speak to Nick Fury about it personally. Problematically, Fury seems to be missing – I wonder what might be distracting him…
Still, Vegas, baby! What a great, colorful location to set an episode of an action series in! What a lot of fun could be had with a glamour-fixated sorceress in such a place! I can’t wait to see… nah, I’m just messin’ with ya – the action relocates back to The Bus almost immediately; as Coulson, May and Sif return to find that Lorelei and Ward doubled back and took over – hypnotizing Fitz, putting Skye and Simmons on lockdown and shooting Sif out of an airlock… which, since she’s Asgardian, is mostly just inconventient. But before she can get back in, Lorelei has time to trade tough-gal taunts with May. Her trump card? According to her, Ward offered up the name of the team member he’d had romantic feelings for prior to being enthralled… and it wasn’t May.
End result: Close-quarter swordfight between Sif and Lorelei (spoiler: the one who still needs to show up in Thor 3 wins), very well-executed no-holds-barred brawl between May and Possessed Ward, Coulson is forced to knock out Fitz – leading Simmons to observe that this seems to happen to him a lot. Lorelei gets her muzzle again, but not before she gets to tease Sif about a former lover she apparently stole/killed and also about her poorly-disguised crush on Thor. Sif implies that she’d prefer to just kill her (Lorlelei) and be done with it, but Odin specifically asked that she take her alive. Given that, as of Thor: The Dark World, the “Odin” sitting on Asgard’s throne is actually Loki in disguise, that’s… interesting, to say the least.
The experience appears to have taken a toll on Ward and May, meanwhile: When he goes to apologize, she essentially tells him there won’t be any more playdates. Awww. May also encourages Coulson to tell Skye whatever it is he’s keeping from her, so he heads down to the medical bay to spill his guts about The Blue Guy… and what he plans to do about it: He and Skye, separately from even the rest of the team, will run down what’s really going on regardless of how many S.H.I.E.L.D. regulations need breaking to do it…
…but a final stinger reveals that they’ve already failed to keep this on the down-low: The room has been bugged, and listening to their conversation on the other end is: Agent May, who immediately jumps onto an encrypted phone line to inform whoever picks up that “He knows. Coulson knows.”
- Is Agent May a bad guy? Is she babysitting Coulson on someone else’s orders? It’s widely believed that Captain America: The Winter Soldier will reveal that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by some kind of corrupting influence – is she on the phone with Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce?
- Depending on who May is in contact with, this could be pretty bad for everyone involved: She’s also the only other person who knows that Skye may not be specifically human to begin with and where the off-the-grid ex-Agent who revealed that disappeared to.
- Sif is surprised to see Coulson alive, and reveals that Thor doesn’t know he’s alive either – a secret Coulson asks her to continue keeping. Okay, at some point they really need to explain how the “secret” part of this works. He gets to walk around in public, talk to associates and suspects, etc… no one has managed to snap a photo of him that’s gotten back to any of The Avengers yet? Not even Heimdall, evidently, has noticed him up and about?
- Might as well just say it: Sif stomping around The Bus in her Renaissance Faire Asgardian armor next to The Agents and all their tech is completely silly looking, but there’s no way to make it not silly looking. Better to just run with it, which they do.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes another (sort of) week off, as next week’s timeslot will be filled by the Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe TV special, a “documentary” (read: commercial) about the making and maintaining of a shared-universe film series that aims to get everyone caught back up in advance of the (supposedly) continuity-heavy Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
BUT! Regular episodes will resume on April 1st with the ominously titled The End of The Beginning, which will feature the return of Deathlok, appearances by Agents Hand, Sitwell, Blake, Triplett, Garrett and an yet-unidentified new character named Thomas Nash played by the mighty Brad Dourif.