Crossover time once more, as Jamie Alexander jumps over from Movieworld to TV Land temporarily. Such a thing gave Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D a very necessary boost earlier on in its run, does it do the same here? Thoughts:
-So, Lorelei. In terms of Asgardian villains they could go for, she’s a good choice, not requiring any super fancy special effects or make-up, just an attractive actress really. But, her powers did cause some problems for me, mostly in terms of how the plot went in the third act. Elena Satine did a decent job with her though.
-The opening was solid, if just a bit of a rehash of the closing scene from “T.A.H.I.T.I”. It served to show Lorelei as more power hungry and distractible as well as a basic Asgardian physical threat. Still, the new husband guy was doomed to die since last week wasn’t he?
-Anyway, Skye is back in the land of the conscious after receiving the blue alien blood last week. Her and Simmons share a nice moment in the beginning of the episode, reinforcing the bond that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D has largely scrambled to create. Skye even thanks her for saving her life. Progress!
-Very convenient for plot purposes that the alien drug is completely gone, and that the facility is completely buried. The production team desperately trying to reintroduce tension over possible death there.
– Agent Sitwell, Marvels’ favourite minor recurring character, makes a return. He and Coulson have a quick powwow with some interesting points, not least that Nick Fury is off the radar completely. Some set-up for Captain America: The Winter Soldier there I would think.
-“How was Tahiti?” “…It sucked.” Not only is that an excellent line from Coulson, but it demonstrates a few things. Firstly, he’s broken out of the mind changes that were forced upon him – no more “It’s a magical place” – and secondly it sets up the theme of the episode, which is about following orders and “the mission”, that Coulson has previously commented strongly on. The cracks in that visage have been showing for a while, but “Yes Men” is about Coulson really breaking free.
-“Yes Men” blows its CGI budget on a brief shot of Lady Sif arriving from Asgard in the middle of the desert. Bifrost is always spectacular looking.
-I really interesting conversation takes place between Sif and Coulson early on, where he explains his resurrection is basic terms and then tells Sif he’d prefer if Thor heard it from him. I’d imagine that’s a very small set-up for Age of Ultron and an inevitable Coulson/Avengers reunion.
-Lorelei continues her mini rampage in a rather creepy scene in the biker bar. The guy strangling his wife – “You’re making too much noise” – was rather horrific compared to what we had seen so far, but had a purpose in showing how deadly Lorelei could be.
-Rather obvious attempts by Coulson to fish for details on blue skinned aliens from Sif. I suppose it makes sense that she wouldn’t think too much on it though.
-A very simple investigation tracks down Lorelei, but that also fit the episode I guess. Lorelei is a total stranger to Earth and wouldn’t realise she’s failing to keep a low profile.
-But here’s the problem. S.H.I.E.L.D is told that Lorelei can exert a powerful “sorcery” on all men, with only a touch required to turn the strongest willed to her cause. So, when they go to take her down, the only women present on the team are Sif and May for some reason. Seemed very strange, though it might have been a very small commentary on gender roles in S.H.I.E.L.D. Stories like this are a lot like that.
-Because this story has been told before. The one firmest in my mind is a season one episode of Stargate: SG1 when the Goa’uld Hathor takes over the SGC by mind controlling all the men, leaving it to the women to take her down. The parallels are obvious, and I’m sure there are other examples. I don’t especially like that kind of story, if only because it’s usually just an opportunity to make male characters look bad and female characters look good in as strained and forced circumstances as possible.
-Case in point: Ward knows that Lorelei’s voice and touch have immense power, but lets her talk and touch him without pulling the trigger. Queue the creation of an obedient mind slave. Yeesh.
-That was just the stinger to a really pedestrian bar fight as Sif flung bikers to and from with abandon. Boring!
-With Ward out of the picture, it’s time for the rest of the team to come to the fore. But ultimately it’s pretty tame stuff, as Fitz and Skye are given some really household choir-ish activates to keep them involved in the plot, like fixing the magical torque and tracking down Ward using those hacking skills. It takes a scene.
-Decent scene follows, when an unusually aggressive Simmons berates Coulson over the lack of detail over the drug. Coulson very correctly puts her in her place, calling back to the fact that two men died protecting its secrets. Coulson’s temporarily back in “the mission” mode.
-Ward takes Lorelei to Vegas. Potential for a good set-piece in such surrounds, but nothing comes of it, other than an aggressive sex scene, followed by a more mellow aftermath moment between the two.
-Gotta love that double sword Sif has.
-Her conversation with May is about “steeling” herself to kill Ward if she has to, detailing her own history with Lorelei, which isn’t pleasant. As is typical with the May we’ve come to know, she doesn’t really seem to care about the possibility of having to off Ward. I’ve never liked their little romantic sub-plot, and this is one of the reasons why: there’s no proper selling of it.
-A halfway clever turnaround occurs as Lorelei and Ward take over the plane, along with Fitz, whose suddenly just comedy material.
-The standard stuff you would expect occurs between May and Ward. “I know you” “Snap out of it” “Don’t make me…”. A little tiresome.
-It’s made up in the fact that two decent fight scenes result, with May and Ward’s being the best, a real down and dirty type fight. In fact, that fight might be the best action that the show has had so far.
-Simmons notes that Fitz is constantly getting knocked out. When you start to draw attention to it, it means you’ve gone too far.
-Sif beats Lorelei anyway, without too much trouble in the end. She shows herself up to be fairly heartless in a way, as she dooms her nemesis to more centuries of silence rather than just kill her – all part of following orders, something that is a direct contrast with the increasingly rebellious Coulson.
-“Odin ordered her back alive”. Well, well, well. Did “Odin”? I imagine we will be seeing Lorelei again, maybe in whatever Thor 3 turns out to be.
-The Ward/May romance ends on a bit of a damp squib, as May stonewalls him on any kind of revealing chat about their relationship, and we’re left with just not-so-subtle hinting about Ward’s infatuation with Skye. Meh to this entire sub-plot.
-The final scenes involve a very important conversation between Coulson and Skye. He’s almost thrown by her nonchalance about being injected with an alien fluid, but that’s in line with her character really. Anyway, she’s alive, of course she wouldn’t mind. But then Coulson resolutely states that he’s done accepting a total lack of information about what happened to the two of them. It’s time to get some answers. He’s breaking free of the usual shackles, as he has been threatening to do for a while, explicitly saying he’s finished with protocols. I’ll make a prediction and say that Phil Coulson will not be a S.H.I.E.L.D agent by the time season one ends. Skye’s there with him, “in the dark together”.
-What’s first? The person responsible for Skye’s near death experience. I would imagine that means Ian Quinn, which means taking on Bill Paxton’s Agent Garrett.
-And the stinger: May’s been reporting to someone for a while about Coulson search for the truth. More secrets within the team. Who else knew the truth about Coulson’s resurrection? I’m sure we’ll find out. I hope so anyway, because they’ve teased this out for a very long time already.
A solid enough episode, some flaws but some very good moments as well. Things are moving in a better direction all the time in terms of the shows quality. A slight ratings boost too, in line with “The Well” which also featured Asgardians. It’s obvious what viewers want, I just hope the show continues to give it. Garrett, Hand and Deathlok all return next week.
To read my thoughts on other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, click here to go to the index.