So the last two episodes of the show were a mixed bunch. Tracks was fairly good but TAHITI not so much. All the same, the overall story was moving forward in an easy way, with lots of breadcrumbs along the way, so that’s a saving grace at least when it comes to the show, because it hasn’t been all that good about it, to date. Whether the show’s creative team is listening or not, they seem to be getting more things right these days than otherwise, so I still remain cautiously optimistic about the show. And if every episode could be like Ep 15 “Yes Men“, then man, this should be really freaking great.
Ep 15 marks the television debut of Lady Sif, played by the ever-wonderful Jaimie Alexander, who has only starred in the two Thor movies to date. And along with her we have the first ever live-action portrayal of Lorelei, one of Thor’s greater Asgardian villains. With Lorelei escaping her cell during the events of Thor: The Dark World and arriving on Earth, Sif is sent to bring her back in what proves to be one of the absolute best episodes of the entire season, probably the best episode. Ep 16 continues the story of Coulson’s team hunting for the Clairvoyant and running into Mike Peterson as well, who has been code-named Deathlok by SHIELD. This episode was confusing on a few levels and also perpetrated some of the worst excesses of the show, combined with an absolutely confusing final five minutes.
One of the things that the show has actively struggled with is its integration with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Phil Coulson is the only significant tie-up that the show has and while a lot of the episodes have focused on his near-death experience during Avengers and his subsequent return, other tie-ins have been decidedly lackluster. Even any wider connections to the Marvel universes have been sporadic at best, with name-drops the best that you can hope for.
Now, that has all changed with Ep 15 because in this episode we got the strongest connection yet. Lady Sif has featured in both Marvel movies starring Thor as the titular character, although in the sequel she didn’t exactly get to do much and there were hints of romance between her and Thor that were never developed, largely because Thor is still taken with Jane Foster. But that’s by and by, because in Yes Men we see her being so much more badass than she’s been in the movies, excepting that one time in the first movie when she speared the Destroyer through his faceplate with her double-bladed sword. That was goddamn awesome.
When the Dark Elves attacked Asgard in Thor: The Dark World, some of the prisoners held in the dungeons beneath Odin’s palace were freed as a result. Lorelei was one of them, as this episode explains, and she has come to Earth to escape from her captors and spend a life of luxury and conquest. Being a witch, she has sorcerous abilities, and her specialty is in making men do what she wants. Powers of persuasion you could call them. Good thing for us, her powers don’t work on women. Hence why Odin sends his best woman for the job, Lady Sif, who has had experience with the witch before and has a personal stake in the matter, as we learn towards the end.
Seeing Jaimie Alexander’s Sif again, and in such a substantial role, was pretty damn awesome. I’m one of the fans of the show (if I could be called a fan), who have been wanting to see the show acknowledge its connection to the comics and movies in a substantial way since the beginning and that is exactly what this episode was. We have an alien watch and we have an alien warrior. And the best thing is that they are both female. There’s been a glut of male villains on the show, excepting Raina and a former SHIELD agent gone rogue as far as I remember, so seeing the ladies take charge, and in such an explosive way, was great.
Jaimie Alexander’s performance here was loads better than what she did in the movies. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Jaimie and Sif in the movies, but here, there was so much intensity in the performance and in the character. She does have history with Lorelei (no points for guessing what exactly), and Jaimie rocked every scene she was in, whether that included stepping off the Bifrost in front of a SHIELD convoy, sword-fighting against Lorelei (they both acknowledge each other as great warriors!), or just in general being unconsciously intimidating for the kids on Coulson’s team. Its a thrill all the way.
Lorelei herself was developed well, although the story did get stuck in a bit of a cliche in the middle. Elena Satine performed the role admirably though, and I wouldn’t be averse to seeing her pop back in at some point, either in the next movie or in season 2 of the show. Whether it was her accent or her performance in general, I think sh was a good fit for the role, and Lorelei’s character is one of the more intriguing ones from Thor’s rogues gallery. And I think it is significant that of all the villains that the writers could have gone for here, they went for someone from Thor’s roster, rather than say Captain America or Black Widow or Hawkeye or Iron Man. Sign of good things to come? Hopefully!
The whole angle with Skye’s recuperation and Coulson’s own resurrection was developed a bit further, but seemed to be stalled in general, what with the team getting drawn into the whole Lady Sif vs Lorelei fight. The previous episode was rather disappointing in most aspects, especially this one, and while I was fine with the plot taking a backseat to the new characters here, I still wish that the writers had managed this better. And of course, the decisions that Coulson is struggling with, Sif faces something similar and in that respect her story with Lorelei offers some commentary and ideas about how Coulson himself can handle things on his end.
So either way, this was a pretty good episode. The new episode from this Tuesday however, not so much.
This one is all about the team taking it to the Clairvoyant. All the major SHIELD agents we’ve seen in the show so far, such as Agents Garrett, Victoria Hand, Blake and Sitwell got an outing in this episode. Coulson brings them all together to hunt down the person who has been several steps ahead of them for a good long while now, and divides them all into teams, with information double blinds in place so that no one person knows all the details about the hunt and thus the Clairvoyant can be kept in the dark. Hopefully.
I liked this episode on some level, especially since we got to see J. August Richards (Mike Peterson/Deathlok) and Bill Paxton (Agent Garrett) and Titus Welliver (Agent Blake) again, and there was a lot of action here, but at the same time, this was also a very confusing episode and the writers seem to have gone the tried and true route. The whole episode is basically a bluff by the Clairvoyant. Knowing that SHIELD is on the active hunt for him/her, the Clairvoyant once again enlists the unwilling Deathlok to handle matters and to essentially fool the team. But nothing is as it seems, nothing. And this goes for the ending that we saw with Melinda May in the previous episode, which is tied up into the current events at the end of this episode, and even contributes to the confusion.
The show seems to still be struggling in terms of makings its villains likable and adding more personality to Ward. The previous episode helped a bit when Ward got tangled up with Lorelei, but in this one things took a step back, and not for the better either. There’s bonding moment in the new episode when Skye is briefing Agent Garrett on how the search op for the Clairvoyant is going down and Garrett tells her a little about Ward and how the relationship between an SO and the junior agent goes both ways. He used to be Ward’s SO and now Ward is Skye’s SO, so he imparts her some wisdom. Funny thing is, while I liked what Garrett was doing and I loved seeing him interact with Skye, the whole scene didn’t really work for me because it was all about Ward. Some of the things that are mentioned here come to roost later on when Ward makes a surprising and shocking decision, but at the same time, I wanted to see something like this from Ward’s own perspective, or at least happen when Ward is in the scene. If other characters are building him up, then that isn’t as rewarding as Ward building himself up.
Either way, this wasn’t all that likeable a moment in the episode. At the same time, can we just have Bill Paxton around for like forever? Despite being a hardass as we saw in TAHITI, Garrett’s character is pretty damn cool. He hangs out with Skye, with Ward, with Coulson, and he just fits in so naturally with the rest of the team. The show could definitely have used a bright spot like him and Bill Paxton is getting the job done magnificently here.
If anything though, all the revelations at the end made my head hurt. Coulson and Skye come to a very troubling conclusion about the identity of the Clairvoyant and this sets in motion a very startling chain of events that sees the course of the team changed without their input (literally!). And there are now even more divisions in the team, than there have ever been before, so the team is most definitely not in a good place. For Coulson, who has been struggling with betrayal after after betrayal from the people that he trusted most, the post-climax of this episode does not help at all, and I really feel sorry for the guy.
All I can say is that while I did not enjoy this episode as much as I wanted to, particularly since Deathlok was just a disappointing footnote (and by the way, what kind of a cyborg attacks a SHIELD safehouse with two specialist agents inside without having any weapons on him? So, so disappointing to see that opening one minute sequence). The show did well with Lady Sif and Lorelei in the previous episode, and now we are beginning to see Deathlok’s transformation, so I want him to be doing a hell of a lot more.
Oh, the best part about the latest episode has to be that Skye is now a full-on SHIELD agent! Yeah, yeah, she is only Level 1 for now, but want to bet that she is going to be like Level 4 or 5 or something by the time the season ends? I wouldn’t take that bet!!
More Agents of SHIELD reviews can be found here. I’ve reviewed every episode so far.