TV REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Well

This week's episode finds the gang in Greenwich on a cleanup operation after the events of Thor: The Dark World. They're soon diverted to Norway where an Asgardian artefact has been found, then on to Seville and then to Ireland. Phew. Is this the most globe-trotting SHIELD yet?

Ok so the promised crossover was a little bit of a letdown, especially considering the post-credits sting of Thor: The Dark World (come on Marvel, you know we all wanted to see the team deal with that). However, it did lead to some quality team interaction, particularly Simmons' majestic opening voiceover, Coulson's 'the God of cleaning up after yourselves' and Skye and May's description of 'dreamy' Thor. Totally with you ladies. The chemistry in the ensemble is really sparking now as the cast have had chance to work with each other for a while and the writing has improved a whole lot.

There was one small issue I had with the episode though and this is more about laziness than anything else... why were the Norwegian characters speaking English to each other in their own country? It's all very convenient and I understand that they are significant to the plot and needed to establish some decent exposition. However, it's small details like that which are still holding SHIELD back from looking a bit cheap and cheerful rather than a multicultural, globe-trotting procedural that is usually so capable of being. It's my only gripe with the episode, but it's enough to stop the whole best episode so far review; it's easily on a par with last week's The Hub, but doesn't exceed it.

Following on from last week's focus on Fitz, this one shifts to Ward as he becomes affected by the Berserker staff and gets all ragelike. First up, it took them so long to get to a Hulk joke, I thought they were never going to get there. Secondly, this was much needed for Ward, a character I'm starting to warm despite thinking he was initially about as interesting as a plank. I like that Ward is now settling into the big brother role, something which he clearly hasn't been able to do in his personal life (I'm still not sure of how the bullying brother works just yet). He's the supportive, stoic backbone of the younger members of the group and his scene with Simmons climbing the tree was adorable. It also made his rage that bit more affecting as he laid into the younger team-mates with workmanlike vitriol, played beautifully by the cast, particularly Fitz' expression after the saving Simmons line.

Does this mean we're going to get a May episode soon? I hope so, because I love Ming-Na Wen in the role and she really deserves to have a bit more to do than just look stern a lot. Though she does do that very well. One thing does worry me though, we seem to be heading towards dangerous love triangle territory... or am I reading too much into the longing glance at the bar and the enigmatic hotel door shutting? I hope so. At least for now. These characters are still settling down and introducing something that can quickly become tiresome might put even more people off.

Returning to the episode, the Asgardian story strand, whilst not entirely to do with Thor: The Dark World, was a neat extension on the events of the film. SHIELD dealing with the aftermath, particularly the human element, is exactly what the show needs to be doing. Although they weren't explored too much beyond being the bad guys, the Norse Paganist cult is an interesting idea as a reaction to the discovery that aliens are real and also happen to have been gods in our world. Whilst this was another character piece, it would have been good to go into the ideology of the cult and explore how these revelations have been affecting the regular public.

Peter MacNicol was an excellent guest star and his scene with Ward and Coulson was easily the highlight of the episode; his reaction to "Do you know Thor?" was very amusing with Skye and FitzSimmons' commentary. It also built into the more grounded element of Thor: The Dark World, a look at the Asgardians who don't go around having inter-dimensional feuds with their brother, and was a nicely affecting story too. Again, he is a character it would have been worth spending more time with. As Skye points out, this is a man who has lived through a lot. Let's hope they can get MacNicol back for at least one more episode.

Then, there was a neat Dollhouse reference in the episode sting - "Did I fall asleep?" "For a little while" - Could this be a hint at what has happened to Coulson? Dollhouse was a show about messing with minds and repurposing bodies and we all know that something's a bit dodgy with our Phil. Lots of people have been pointing to Marvel canon with the Life Model Decoys, something which SHIELD writers and producers would surely know that fans would allude to. What is the important thing though is that, as we build to the mid-season break, this storyline actually seems to be progressing somewhere, even if its just with Coulson's growing realisation that something isn't right.

Another strong instalment, SHIELD finally seems to have settled into itself and is progressing nicely. Of course with ratings dropping like a stone, a second season could be a tall order, but let's keep our fingers crossed that people will rediscover it. A little gentle encouragement couldn't hurt.

- Becky

You can read Becky's review of The Hub here.

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