Full spoilers ahead (both for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Thor 2)
Taking advantage of an audience like this is not cool and not easily forgivable.
The entire promotional campaign for the latest episode of Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” entitled “The Well” was advertised as a direct sequel to the recently released “Thor 2” motion picture. This was a big opportunity for Marvel to begin what certainly would have (and still should) become a trend with the crossing of television and movie campaigns in ways never done before. The second post-credit scene in “Thor 2” left one of the Frost creatures free to roam the streets and destroy everything in its path. This could have been a wonderful spot for the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to step in and clean up the mess.
Instead, “The Well” practically had zero ties to “Thor 2.” Sure, the episode revolved around Asgardians, Thor’s race, but it had virtually nothing to do with anything else going on. The episode could have come at any other point of the season and still make total sense.
Having said that, “The Well” was one of the best episodes of the season thus far. An accident in the woods leads to the discovery of a piece of Asgardian weaponry left on Earth, the Beserker, a source of god-like strength and rage.
The pacing and pathway of the episode is practically a love letter to the quest-driven “Indiana Jones” saga. S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to reach out to an expert, Dr. Elliott Randolph (played cleverly by Peter MacNicol), who knows all about Asgard lore and tells Agent Coulson how track down the other pieces of the Berserker staff. One piece is underneath a church within dark passageways crawling with spider webs and other foulness (“The Last Crusade,” anyone?). At one point, Coulson pays respect to today’s social networking language when he says “Let’s see what we can dig up,” then, “You see what I did there?”
For this episode, it’s Agent Ward’s turn as the show continues to play Ring Around The Rosy with spotlighting a character’s back-story. Ward gets his hands on one of the pieces of the Beserker, which unleashes rage and also unlocks bad memories. We see a flashback of Ward as a child with his brother, who is in a well (similar to a scene from the old Batman movies). Skye, who already has been trying to get close to Ward (for romantic reasons or otherwise, who knows; she still can’t be trusted), talks with him about his personal experiences, though not much is revealed yet. That continues the trend S.H.I.E.LD. has going against it. There are simply too many breadcrumb trails and not enough meat to these agents’ stories.
Another rabbit hole is opened up at the end of the episode. At one point, Agent May also used the Beserker (in kick-butt fashion), and Ward tries to figure out how she handles the rage so much better than he does. At the end, May is seen going into her hotel room with a bottle of wine and leaves the door open for Ward. Quite the open invitation; there never was any romantic links between the two yet. But does this mean something is going to happen with them? Guess we’ll have to wait and see, as usual.
Agent Coulson makes a nice reference to Iron Man 2 when he recommends that Dr. Randolph take a vacation to the Pacific Northwest (the place where Coulson dated a cellist).
In the final scene, Coulson wakes up in Tahiti and asks a masseuse “Did I fall asleep?” to which she replies “For a little while” (a reference to the TV show “Dollhouse,” which was created by “Agents of S.H.I.E.LD." writer Joss Whedon). What really happened in Tahiti has been teased since the beginning of the show, so hopefully Whedon and company can hurry and answer some questions instead of asking more.