Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review – “The Well”

It’s been well advertised that this episode follows Thor: The Dark World. Seeing the film first is not necessary: the connection is strong enough to confirm that the movies and TV series are in the same continuity, but weak enough that watching even a single Thor or Thor: The Dark World trailer is enough to understand what’s going on here.

Cast and Crew Information

Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May
Brett Dalton as Grant Ward
Chloe Benet as Skye
Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz
Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
Peter MacNicol as Professor Elliot Randolph (in what may be his most normal role since Ghostbusters II.)
Michael Graziadei as Jakob Nystrom
Erin Way as Petra Larsen

Written by Monica Owusu-Breen
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Premise

An Asgardian artifact has been found, and it grants power while creating a pure rage in its weilder.

High Point

In continuity, I’d say it’s Coulson’s deductive skills.

Possibly in continuity, I wonder if this was a deliberate reference to Kuurth, Breaker of Stones, one of the forms taken by hammer weilders during Fear Itself, written by Matt Fraction.

Out of continuity, the nod to Portland was quite amusing. For those not in the know, Portland, Oregon is not only the birthplace of guest star Erin Way, it’s the home of the aforementioned Matt Fraction, as well as Brian Michael Bendis, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and a number of other comic book professionals.

Low Point

The beach at Tahiti was very clearly not Tahiti. That may work in context, but I was thrown immediately and completely out of the episode. When blue-screening, you need to use the same type of lens for the props and for the image on the screen, and you need to orient them at the same angle relative to the ground, or the results will just look “wrong” to the audience, even if the audience can’t necessarily pin down why.

The Review

The originality is decent. It’s a new story to the series, if it’s not that much different from what we’ve seen in the source material. It’s also great to keep the ties between the titles as they should be: there’s no question that the properties are connected, but you are not obligated to watch both. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were great right up until we saw the beach. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story was interesting, with a twist on the obvious twist, additional character back story, and a final twist I didn’t see coming, and which still may not be what it looks like. The large number of remarkably subtle Easter Eggs was nice, too. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting is great. MacNicol is underappreciated in many of his roles, and he naturally plays this part which isn’t what I expected him to be. The regular cast are really getting comfortable here. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is great. It was only in retrospect that I realized how the quickly cutting flashbacks and character moments managed to replace the significantly more expensive sequences that we’d have been seeing instead. Marvel Studios controls its budgets very effectively. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is good. It wasn’t fantastic, but I was along for the ride. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a good episode in and of itself, with the ongoing plots and movie connections acting as embellishment instead of the main purpose. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, The Well receives 36 out of 42.

7 replies on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review – “The Well””

  1. Fez says:

    To make the Coulson confusion more fun:
    If you’re a Joss fan and watched Dollhouse the first exchange from “Tahiti” should sound _very_ familiar. It’s the call and response used when a handler is with a Doll after they wake up from a memory wipe.

  2. JD DeLuzio says:

    It was an okay episode, though I wish the Norse cult had been fleshed out further. Such groups exist, often with racist leanings.

    My low point is the use of the tie-in. They could have found the artifact at any time. It didn’t necessarily need to be Asgardian, though that was a good touch. But really, except for a few moments at the start, it really doesn’t tie in at all to the recent film, just to the Marvel Movie Universe generally. It also reminds us the show’s prolonged tease element. It should cross over with the movies. I suppose the team might merit a cameo in one of the movies, but Thor and Iron Man won’t be showing up int he series, even when it would make sense.

  3. vanyel says:

    My high point were two lines in the Tahiti scene Fez mentioned. I hope they pursue that line further!

  4. J_W_W says:

    Perhaps Tahiti was supposed to look a bit off. After all, we’re pretty sure Tahiti really isn’t Tahiti. Also, that was part of a dream inspired by the fact Coulson is starting to question his recuperation from …. death.

    • Fez says:

      I thought the same thing. I felt it had the over-exaggerated weirdness of a dream sequence at first. Like we were supposed to suspect it was fake.

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