“At least we’re in the dark together.”
This week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we pick up right where we left off with last week’s after-credits scene. Lorelei is done with the newlywed groom that she stole from his bride, and is moving on to building her army. Hot on her trail, however, is the lovely Asgardian warrior Lady Sif, who’s come to Earth to bring the seducing sorceress back to their home planet for her crimes across the realms.
I went into this episode with some worry, as the last two episodes that were focused around a movie crossing over left much to be desired. Luckily, while it wasn’t as good as last week’s episode, it leaps ahead of the last crossover. The team gets their mission once they receive word that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been detecting abnormal energy readings, similar to the one’s Dr. Selvig recorded from the arrival of Thor. After referencing back to Loki and the events of The Avengers, they decide it’s in their best interest to find out just which Asgardian they are dealing with. It’s on their search for this energy field that they come across Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), who comes to warn them of the danger that Lorelei brings to Earth.
Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the horribly predictable Lorelei (Elena Satine) character. I know she a villain tailor made for a strong heroine to take down, but I don’t think it was necessary to bring Sif over at all. She isn’t as nearly as enjoyable as she is in the movies, once all of the attention is focused on her and not carried by the rest of her Asgardian friends. Besides being the face of this whole “all men think with their dicks” storyline, she really doesn’t do anything that any other Asgardian couldn’t do. Don’t get me wrong; it’s refreshing to see a female come out in the role of hero, and this show has worked hard at doing that, but how blatant can they get with this? You’re telling me that the strongly willed Coulson and Ward would fall for Lorelei’s sorcery, strictly because they are men? What about people of different orientations? Why aren’t Coulson, Ward, and Fitz tripping over each other to get at the three sexy women they already share close quarters with? I mean, Christ, Simmons even says “I’m not saying you were weak, I’m saying all men are weak.” I’m guessing that most people who watch the show accept women as equals to men, or they wouldn’t still be watching, as the majority of the time, the women save the day. Honestly, it just felt outdated in a show that’s practically built on the strong will of its characters, regardless of gender.
As the only male member of the team in a relationship, it seems the obvious choice that Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) would get turned to Lorelei’s side. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also had the Berserker staff, and it’s effects that stay with him for the rest of his life (which everyone’s already forgotten about). It isn’t his relationship with May, though, that makes this whole ordeal interesting, though; we find that, before Lorelei, it wasn’t May that he loved. As we all should have known from their relationship (or lack thereof), Ward had feelings for Skye, and they didn’t disappear once his relationship (or lack thereof) with May started. As the show’s gone on, I’ve found myself caring less for both Skye and Ward, and becoming more of a fan of May, so the reveal that he’s still harboring feelings for Skye doesn’t really do much for me… not nearly as much as the reveal that he doesn’t have feelings for May. While this will surely be one of the more interesting parts of the overall story, I can’t help but think that it would have had more of an effect, had we seen Grant masking his feelings for Skye while pretending to have them for May.
Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) could have actually been the perfect lead for this episode, showing time and again that she’s a strong, ass-kicking female, but it went to our guest star instead. In fact, the inclusion of Sif really hurt May’s character (could it be more obvious that she’s never handled a sword?), and really just stole screen time. It easily could have been shown that they find the means to put away Lorelei on their own, or even just a brief communication with one of the Asgardians would have sufficed. When she finally does get the spotlight back, things between her and Ward start to make sense. The whole reason behind the absent relationship I’ve been complaining about this whole time suddenly seems to have been in front of us all along. Not only does this give Melinda May emotional depth than I ever thought possible, but it opens so many doors for her development. We know she’s all business, so her relationship with Ward may not change much, but her relationship with Skye was almost the opposite. She seemed to have formed almost a maternal bond for Skye, who she has almost no respect for as an agent, but how will May react now that the man that she had feelings for loved Skye instead?
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), although he’s largely restricted to the background in this episode, does have a nice way of working into the twist of the episode, which, although predictable and sort of upsetting, was really well done and perfectly snuck in. Unfortunately, it did show what they think of Fitz. I was hoping that, what with having Ward falling to Lorelei so quickly, they would make Fitz able to resist her somehow. Instead, they have Coulson easily outsmart the enchanted Fitz, which really makes him look stupid, and considering his smarts is the only thing he really has, it makes him pretty much worthless. The treatment of his character is a shame, as I’m really a fan of Fitz, but it seems that he’ll never have a true place on the show. He’s reduced to a joke, and that’s all he’ll ever be, until they inevitably sacrifice him to the television Gods.
Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), on the other hand, thankfully gets a chance to shine in this episode, in her never-ending selfless quest to help the world. Coulson may want to stop the GH-325 drug from ever coming into contact with another person again, but Simmons the other side of things. She sees the effects it’s had on Skye, and the good it can do if mass-produced. This brings up an interesting dilemma, as, even though she doesn’t know where the drug has come from like Coulson does, the drug hasn’t had any ill effects thus far. Regardless, Simmons feels it’s her duty to do whatever is necessary to save as many lives as possible as a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist, even to the point of outright expressing her disagreement to Coulson, which I think was another very powerful moment for her character. With how much they’ve brought up that the drug hasn’t had any side effects, I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be seeing some before the season is over.
We see Skye (Chloe Bennet) doing much better under the care of Simmons right after the lead-in, and immediately, I miss her being unconscious and realize how little this show needs her. I’ve tried to stay positive on her character, but it’s almost like they make her look stupid on purpose. I cringed when she said, “I must look terrible” during Ward’s visit. Wasn’t the whole point of this episode to focus on the strength of women? She’s far from the best example. Luckily, the overarching story with Coulson makes you sort of care about the idea of Skye, if not the actual character.
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) meets with Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández), who apparently shows up just to tell Coulson that Fury can’t be found, and to ask him about Tahiti yet again; to which Coulson now replies, “it sucked.” I like the changes in Coulson, and he’s been going through a lot of them since finding the nature of his resurrection. We soon find that, since Skye’s injection, Coulson has been off on his own, searching for answers about that mysterious blue-bodied alien in the tube from last week. When Lady Sif arrives, however, the answer has seemingly fallen into his lap. After mentioning having gone to many other realms, Coulson begins prodding her about having ever seen blue aliens, to which Sif rifles off a whole list (among them, the highly speculated Kree). After telling Skye about the source of the drug that they’ve both been injected with, he decides that, against protocol, Director Fury, and all of S.H.I.E.L.D., they are going to find all of the answers that they want.
All in all, when compared to previous crossover episodes, this was by far the strongest, and yet, it was still a step down from last week’s offering. Frankly, the addition of Thor characters just wasn’t needed, and it really took away from the building of the show’s own characters, which has actually been going pretty well as of late. Even the one effect that Sif did have, which was listing a bunch of alien races that fit Coulson’s vague description, didn’t really answer any questions and can’t lead to too much else. Coulson still has to find these answers on his own, and I can’t help but feel that we’ve wasted time in the search by babysitting two Asgardians on a field trip. We may not be getting another episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. next week, but fans should still tune in to check out Marvel’s Assembling a Universe special, which will feature sneak peaks at The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and future Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes!