Spoilers ahead. Please make sure you’ve watched episode 8 before continuing with the following debriefing. Disclosure of the events include heavy spoilers. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, don’t drink and drive. Stay in school.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: The Well is a tie-in to the movie Thor: The Dark World. To make sure to recap this week’s episode in context, I made sure to see the movie during the weekend. Follow this link for a review. Turns out that it’s not really tied to the movie plot, but Thor does get name-dropped a lot in this one.
The episode starts with scenes taken from both Thor movies as we segue into SHIELD cleaning up in Greenwich, UK following the attack of Malekith and the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Coulson states the Asgardians are not Gods but aliens who inspired the Norse mythology. Skye pipes in and wonders how many other religions could be based on aliens. The show had no qualms about her taking a shot at Vishnu being an alien – Vishnu is a deity that has been featured in the Thor comics – but I wonder how much hot water they’d have gotten into if they had made a lightly passing remark on mainstream Christianity.
But this is Disney, so let’s go back to the entertainment part. Two hikers in a national park in Norway are following a riddle that leads them up to a spot with a tree. Without giving it a second thought, the guy break out a chainsaw and proceed to bring it down and carve it up to reveal a broken piece of a staff inside. It looks Asgardian. The guy, Jakob, presents the woman, Petra, with the staff. Upon touching it, she’s visibly affected and the staff glows. When they’re confronted by park officials, Petra sends one of them hurling several feet away.
SHIELD arrives and canvasses the area. Simmons walks up the downed tree, conquering her fears thanks to Ward distracting her. They get a reading from where the staff was embedded back to Fitz on the lab that he uses to make a 3D model of it. The reading also tells them that the artifact is similar to Thor’s hammer. We’re following an Asgardian weapon.
If the show has been shy about mentioning any of the Avengers, they didn’t this week. They definitely had carte blanche to drop references to Thor and Asgard on this episode. I half expected to see a little text in the corner saying “*– see Thor: The Dark World!” This is a good thing though, it firmly encased everything in the Marvel universe.
Jakob and Petra are all over the news. Using the piece of the staff, they are building an army of followers and rioting in Oslo. They’ve also left a message, conveniently in English: “We are gods.” Kids today. No respect.
The team travels to Seville, Spain where Coulson decides to call upon Norse mythology expert Dr. Elliot Randolph, played by Emmy winning actor Peter MacNicol. Nice of this show to get some quality guest stars. Randolph knows all about the staff and points out an old legend about the Berserkers from Asgard, who could summon their rage through the weapon. He also mentions three riddles for finding each pieces of the staff.
The team figures out the second riddle is right there in Seville on the Divino Niño church. Skye and Ward split to search both the church and the catacombs respectively. Ward is told there’s someone there with him and finds Dr. Randolph with the second piece of the staff. When Ward tries to take it from him, the staff glows and Ward becomes affected.
This is the episode in which we have super-agent Ward break down his impervious exterior. This is because the staff brings forth his worst memory, which involves a child stuck down a well. The kid is close to drowning. There’s another kid at the very top looking at him. We’re not sure who is who.
Meanwhile, Randolph literally runs into Jakob and Petra, who follow him and take the second piece of the staff.
Skye finds Ward in a very altered stated, scared and hostile. We’ve never seen him like this. Ward is examined by Fitz and Simmons to find his body is in a heightened state of activity, with his adrenaline levels peaking. This is Ward out of control, threatening Skye and the two wiz kids and seeming about to snap any second.
After taking it out on a punching bag, Ward gets a talk from May and decides to talk to Agent Coulson. Ward tells him he’s seeing his most terrible memory, the first time he really felt hatred and it’s about his brother. Coulson convinces him to use that rage and talk to Dr. Randolph, who has not been cooperating with them. Ward goes into the room and tries to stab Dr. Randolph with a knife. Not only does he fail but Randolph bends the blade with his hand without even getting up.
Turns out that Randolph knows everything about the staff because he’s Asgardian. He’s the berserker that stayed behind while the others left. He’s stayed anonymous but one conversation with a girl was later transcribed to a priest who wrote his story. Randolph agrees to help them recover the last piece of the staff in exchange for staying anonymous.
The team travels to Ireland, where the last piece is hidden on a monastery. But Jakob has gotten there first and stabs Randolph with the last piece of the staff. Ward manages to grab it and take it out of Randolph. When he does, he becomes a berserker himself and takes down Jakob and his men, recovering another part of the staff.
During the fight, we see what Ward’s memory is about. He’s not the boy about to drown, but the one atop the well. He grabs a rope to cast it down, he gets told by another kid: “Not yet, if you help him now I will throw you down with him.” As he comes to, he’s defeated everyone. Skye approaches him as he’s near a breakdown. However, Petra shows up at that moment.
Without hesitation, May tells Ward to let her help and takes the two pieces of the staff. Petra is knocked down. The piece on the ground that she drops floats to join one of the pieces May is holding. May joins in the last piece and stands up with the complete staff.
Petra gets up and screams, “I’m not afraid of you!” Really? I would be shitting my pants. May was dangerous without a single piece of the staff and now she’s wielding the complete weapon. Petra attacks May. That’s kind of a snowflake attacking a bear at this point. Petra is thrown across the room and will be needing a chiropractor. Berserker-May sets the staff on the ground and backs away.
As the clean up crew shows up, Ward asks May if she saw something. She says she did. When he asks her how could she have held all three pieces of the staff she says it’s something she sees every day. We’ll have to learn that another time.
Phil Coulson is staring at the staff on the ground, contemplating touching it. Randolph asks him what is it he wants to see. Coulson tells him about that blank period in his life, the one between his death and waking up a few months later. He wants to learn how he was revived. Randolph asks him if he’s haunted by it. Coulson says no. The staff is taken by SHIELD.
Grant Ward is having a drink all by his lonesome at a bar. Skye shows up. He tells her the vision is about his brother. Skye offers him her shoulder if he wants to talk, but Ward passes on it. As he’s about to turn in, he sees May down the corridor. She looks at him, opens the door and goes into her room, bringing in a bottle with her but leaving her door open. Grant goes in after her and closes the door. Cue the fans going nuts.
The epilogue is a very meaningful one. It’s Coulson waking up in Tahiti. He says, “did I fall asleep?” which I’m told is a reference to Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. He’s getting a massage from a beautiful girl. He says that Tahiti is too good to be true. She tells him, “it’s a magical place.” Coulson then wakes up in his quarters in a cold sweat. I guess he’s haunted by it after all.
That will do for now.