Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 1×08 “The Well” Review
Peter MacNicol, the Berserker Staff, stellar fight scenes, Simmons' cheeky commentary.
No hanky panky for Ward and May. Not allowed. Nope.
I dug “The Well.” I’m a well-digger. – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
“The Well” was quite cool without giving us too much too soon, and the series keeps getting closer to including the big boys on their plot menu (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, etc.). This is a smart move on the writers’ part because this is what will bring people in. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a limited amount of trump cards it can play to gather in a larger viewership. The Avengers are included in those cards and Nick Fury has already made a brief cameo. People will turn out to see the Avengers, and what they’ve done this week is peak our interest with a taste of Asgard. There’s a reason why Marvel has been pumping out films like clockwork. We have entered a recent superhero age of film, so when people sit down for AoS, they’re hoping to see anything that might tie in with the comic book champions they know/adore/fangirl over. This was a brave attempt at bringing viewers closer to the heroes without teasing them because they made what was happening genuinely interesting. It was enough to distract us from the fact that we weren’t going to see Thor. And I was okay with the distraction. Maybe even glad for it. I’ll explain why through the roles Ward, Professor Randolph, and May played in the installment. There were too many positives in this episode, so why focus on what we don’t have (a god of thunder)?
We finally had the chance to sneak a peek at Ward’s hypothetical journal. It said “STAY OUT” in glittery letters on the cover and was locked with a dainty (yet manly) key, but we looked anyway like the daring rebels we are. Go, us. Ah, the man of steely mystery isn’t quite so mysterious anymore. It now seems that Fitz and Simmons may be the only true rays of sunshine on the show. Ward has brother issues. Skye has parental unit issues. Coulson has death/Tahiti issues. And May has… actually, we don’t know what she has yet, but “The Well” was a window into Ward’s life. Personally, I liked it. Makes him a bit more human/tragic and less super soldier-y. Though, the super soldier aspects of him are pretty incredible, especially when you add a hint of Berserker Staff. Holy cow, it was completely insane. I LOVED IT. The way they’ve been working artifacts into the story shows how talented the writers are, because to put it bluntly, I’m not tired of them finding crap that does stuff. The Berserker Staff had some really awesome capabilities. If it had made the person who touched it rage for now reason, I wouldn’t have been nearly as impressed, but the staff dredges up your worst memories and fuels the hate that makes you fight. Whoever thought that up was particularly clever in how they worked Ward into the staff’s effects.
“You’ve got some rage built up. Maybe it’s time to let it out.” ~ Coulson
He came from outer space and moved in next door…
Peter MacNicol was an engaging addition to the show. This guy has been in the business a long time, and he played an endearing trickster of sorts in his stint on AoS. Some characters passing through don’t really feel substantial to us, but he added something. What his role brought to us was this: Aliens can be normal too. They’re not all hammer-wielding, macho, exceedingly handsome royals. They can be Professor Randolph, an Asgardian who was a mason in his own world and stayed on Earth because he was horny. Not really into the whole war thing, either. Even though his story twisted and morphed over the years, Randolph is just a guy trying to go with the flow. How great is that? MacNicol was the perfect actor for the role. Equal parts scholar and sleaze, Professor Randolph is memorable and hopefully he’ll return to the show in future episodes.
“Were you captured? Tortured?” ~ Ward
“Horny.” ~ Randolph
A killing machine with feelings…
Ah, May. What is your deal? TELL ME. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO. Man, I can’t wait to hear about the details of her background, because whatever happened to her wasn’t good at all. She’s not all-powerful like she would have you believe. There are chinks in the armor. May is pretty amazing (portrayed skillfully by Ming-Na Wen), but I think my view of her as a well-rounded character would improve if they provided me with some flaws, namely her shadowy past. Also, the scene towards the end where Ward follows May into her room… literally, this is what I wrote in my review notes: “I hope they don’t sex.” Not the most eloquent phrase in the book, but you catch my drift. That would be too freaking weird. They can drink and talk about their feelings and braid each other’s hair, but nothing more. I don’t know if their goal was to make us spaz out, but if it was they’re succeeding. Why end the scene that way? Why not have them sit at the hotel bar and commiserate (like he did with Skye)? The circumstances they set up for the conclusion of that scene were too suggestive for my liking. They had to have known it would lead to questions. If something happens, I foresee a trip to Awkward City in our near future.
“Sure, he’s handsome.” ~ Coulson
“No, he’s dreamy.” May
From the awesomely epic fight scenes to the truly uncomfortable moments, “The Well” fired on all cylinders. It was a delicate balance of action and revelations. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to, and I hope you did as well. I don’t think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is necessarily getting the credit it deserves. It may not have been the strongest series in the beginning, but at this point it’s really pulling itself together. I advise you to give it a chance. It might surprise you.