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- Airdate: 3/11/2014
- Director: John Terslesky (80s actor turned director whose recent credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Human Target, Gossip Girl, Castle)
- Writer: Shalisha Francis (Castle, previously wrote “The Bridge” for SHIELD)
Holy crap, this episode aired nearly a week ago, and I’m just now writing the review? Sorry about that. If I ever do completely give up this show, or stop writing these reviews there will be some kind of post on the site explaining as much. With that out of the way, why delay any further —
Lorelei (Elena Satine), the smoking hot redhead with the ability to magically seduce any man, now commands her own biker gang, who shall help her conquer Earth though pausing a moment to explain our monetary system to her (she demands gold, dang-it).
Coulson & Pals, needing a distraction from all the “What’s up with Coulson?” whispering, pick up on the Asgardian signature Lorelei’s arrival on Earth left behind and rush out to greet the next Asgardian visitor: Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander). Through Sif, we learn that Lorelei is an Asgardian who’d been imprisoned for centuries, but escaped during Malekith’s (Christopher Eccleston) siege of Asgard in Thor: The Dark World. Loki-Odin wants her returned, and to do so Sif must first re-affix a magical Asgardian muzzle to Lorelei’s face thus neutralizing her.
Of course, Sif takes down the biker gang pretty much completely on her own because she’s basically the female version of Thor minus the hammer (and dangly parts):
However, even though they’ve all been warned that Lorelei can control any man either through her voice or her voice combined with physical contact the team takes zero precautions for the eventuality that Lorelei would end up facing one of the male agents. So, of course she rather quickly seduces Ward, and the two escape the battle en route to Vegas for some magically consensual, but actually rape-y sex.
Using an anecdote about a past lover (totally Thor though not technically Thor) of her’s whom Lorelei seduced, Sif warns May to be prepared to do whatever it takes when they find Ward. May gives her a quick, “Bitch, please. Like I actually care at all about that tall glass of bland.” That’s put to the test pretty quickly as Ward and Lorelei surprise the team (mostly because Coulson is fairly terrible at his job) by having quietly taken over the bus and magically recruited Fitz. Coulson, Skye, and Simmons take out Fitz, Sif spends some time literally on top of the plane before taking out Lorelei, and May just barely survives combat with Ward.
Sif and Lorelei depart for Asgard, where Loki-Odin intends to turn Lorelei into some kind of military asset. Sif doesn’t like it, but orders are orders, right? For Coulson, that was the last straw. He snaps, rushing to Skye to explain all about the Blue Man Group torso (Skye seems pretty cool with it), and pledging to finally get answers once and for all. You hear that, Nick Fury! However, May overheard everything, and informs someone via spy phone that “Coulson knows.” May is…a mole! [Dun-dun-dun]
Back in November, Agents of SHIELD‘s first step up to the corporate synergy plate was pretty much a swing and miss. “The Well,” the great, awaited Thor: The Dark World tie-in episode, featured one scene on a Dark World set, and then gave us a story that could have really been any other episode of SHIELD if you dropped the “Thor is so dreamy” jokes and replaced the word “Asgardian” with something else
What were they supposed to do, though? Agents of SHIELD exists due to corporate synergy, but if we’re simply tuning in to wait for the next big stunt-casting or movie tie-in then they’ve failed to give us compelling, unique-to-the-show characters in which to invest our time. Plus, more practically, “The Well” premiered when The Dark World had only been in theaters for a couple of weeks. They couldn’t simply assume we’d all already seen the thing. So, “The Well”‘s lack of a heavier Dark World tie-in didn’t alone make it a bad episode, though definitely a very disappointing one based upon expectations ( kind of sums up SHIELD).
Well, this was their “do-over,” and they gave us probably just as much of Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif in “Yes Men” as we’ve seen in either of the Thor films. This possibly made up for Sif’s abbreviated Dark World screen time, which was likely a result of the fairly serious injury Alexander suffered during filming. On the downside, this left little room for someone like Fitz (and, to a lesser degree, Simmons).
You could see where independent of contractual obligations or “being a good team player”Alexander and her impeccable not-quite British but definitely god-like accent may have been reluctant to agree to this. SHIELD is shaping up to be a show people look back on years from now with disappointment as to how they ruined the character of Coulson, joking, “Remember how everyone was so excited when Nick Fury showed up, but by the time Sif arrived no one cared anymore?”
Then again, there is only so much screen time to go around in these Marvel films, and the Agents of SHIELD format (as well as Marvel One-Shot) is a desirable spot to take some of the supporting characters for some more in-depth examination. Who knows if the Thor films will ever truly go ahead with a full Thor-Jane Foster-Sif love triangle ala the comics. It’s hinted at in Dark World, but not as much as it could have been. Now, through Sif’s confrontation with Lorelei and conversation with May “Yes Men’ was able to advance that cause.
Plus, through Sif’s discomfort with Loki-Odin’s orders concerning Lorelei we get a wonderful sense of how Asgard is being run now that Loki has taken command in disguise as Odin. Sif seemed similarly displeased when delivering the aether to Benicio del Toro’s The Collector, as per Loki-Odin’s orders, in Dark World‘s mid-credits sequence.
The problem, though, is that Sif is not a regular character on this show nor, presumably, will any hypothetical future supporting player dropping by from the cinematic universe. If you love Thor and the Lady Sif as I do her’s was an incredibly welcome presence, but did it actually serve the show any benefit? Well, they tried to make it more than stunt casting. Due to Sif and Lorelei’s combined presence the following went down with various character arcs among the regular cast:
- May and Ward are splitsville since Ward truly desires another, who we all know is Skye
- Coulson spills the beans to Skye, and shit is about to go down in his hunt for answers.
- May is some kind of mole on the team, spying on Coulson.
These are some pretty significant developments. Let’s work backwards –
May a Mole?
Considering that May says, “It’s not what it seems,” in the trailer for upcoming episodes, I assume this will play out roughly similar to the “Skye is a mole” situation from earlier in the season. However, for now, it was certainly a genuine surprise ending. The problem is the likelihood that May won’t suffer any great consequences for her apparent treachery.
Coulson Vs. Shield
Clark Gregg’s acting in his final scene with Skye was highly suspect, almost comical with his pauses and gasps. Coulson is and always will be best as the unflappable mediator between larger-than-life characters. Seeing him so unhinged just feels wrong. I get him being horrified that he was saved by fluid from an alien torso, but the damn dude has met extraterrestrial gods and the Incredible Hulk. Why has the discovery of his blue, new best friend been so unnerving? It can’t just be because it most likely confirms the existence of aliens. We knew that [see: the Chautari in The Avengers].
That all being said, this is the start of that promised “Uprising,” and it’s the right direction to go. So far, SHIELD has been like the version of Torchwood from Doctor Who. They need to be more like Torchwood from the actual show Torcwhood. Breaking away from orders and presumably going after Nick Fury is a great start.
May, Ward, Skye
Meh. May and Ward are two seemingly emotionless robots making their supposedly emotionally fraught climactic combat largely lifeless. Returning back to a potential Ward-Skye union is disappointing if you don’t like Skye, but it is what this show has been building to since the pilot.
THE BOTTOM LINE
By the end of “Yes Men” we’re still left with the same cast of characters, and this episode did absolutely nothing to advance Fitz and little for Simmons, although her joke about Fitz always getting knocked out was spot-on. Plus, the emotion we were supposed to feel while the lovers – May and Ward – fought just was not there since neither of them really ever ever express any emotion, particularly May. For me, the most effective material came from Sif’s interactions with Lorelei, i.e., the two guest stars. However, “Yes Men” did successfully use stunt casting to bring about quite a bit of a change. While I’m more interested in what happens next with Sif & Lorelei upon returning to Asgard, “Yes Men” did enough to intrigue as to how Coulson’s uprising will play out.
1. Comic Book 101: Lady Sif
First Appearance: 1964
Believe it or not, Jane Foster is not necessarily the end all, be all of Thor’s love life in the comics, despite what the films have done with those two to this point. His constant companion from childhood was actually Sif, Heimdall’s sister (who is not black in the comics). Based upon an actual Norse goddess, Sif is the best female warrior among the Asgardians, and is just generally a Wonder Woman-level badass when it comes to combat. This gives Thor an Asgardian boner for her and her a lady boner for him – she’s the best female warrior, he’s the best male warrior.
She loves Thor without fail, and on occasion and across long stretches of time he has returned her affection. Her only other love interests have been very brief, and they’ve all been men who either strongly resembled Thor or proved worthy of wielding his hammer (often both). Thor, on the other hand, just can’t be tied down. For starters, he can’t completely shake his affection for Jane, even after the two part ways due to his immortality and her mortality making them incompatible. As such, those couple of times when Sif had to kind-of, sort-of possess Jane was just confusing for everyone. However, beyond Jane and Sif, Thor has a long-standing love-hate thing with Enchantress, whom he marries and has a son with in one since erased timeline, and even has his own stalker in the Enchantress’ sister, Lorelei.
2. Comic Book 101: Lorelei
First Appearance: 1984
As depicted in “Yes Men,” Lorelei has all of the normal super-strong, super-long-life powers of an Asgardian. As sister to Amora (The Enchantress), she also has magical abilities, which she chooses not to cultivate as much as she could, mostly just using the power over men thing. The sad thing, though, for a character whose power is to control men most of Lorelei’s comic book history is devoted to her being used as a pawn/tool in the games of male villains like Loki, Fafnir, Malekith, Seth, and Pluto.
Lorelei started out as kind of like a crazy, magical stalker of Thor, and she eventually succeeded in forcing him to fall in love with her, breaking poor Sif’s heart in the process. However, then Lorelei slept with Loki (it’s complicated), and Thor walked in on them, his ensuing rage breaking her hold over him. Sif forgave Thor’s transgressions, and Lorelei became an enemy of Asgard. Since then, her story has mostly been about her sister repeatedly trying and failing to save her, since the Enchantress is a much more notable character who was going through a redemptive story arc at the time.
3. The Lorelei-Ward rape – I had no objections. My only thoughts at the time were that I couldn’t believe Lorelei referenced the Berserker rage Ward supposedly has since that crap hasn’t been touched since they introduced it in “The Well.” Plus, if not for the rape implications a Whedon-esque tactic here would have been for the team to be discussing in concern what Lorelei might do to Ward only to then cut to the love scene, thus creating comedic juxtaposition.
4. Favorite moment of the episode: When Sif muzzled Lorelei and then taunted her sudden inability to speak. It reminded me of Loki’s sarcastic, “I’m listening,” after Thor is about to tell him something only to be struck mid-sentence by Iron Man in The Avengers.
5. Have You Looked at the Ratings Lately? According to THR, in the overnight ratings “Agents of SHIELD (2.0 adults) rose two-tenths of a point.” The ratings went up – that’s good, after last week set a series low.
Let us know what you thought of this episode in the comments section.
- Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD “Yes Men” with Special Guest Star Sif. Grade: B (avclub.com)
- Agents of SHIELD Finds Its Voice & Has Fun With Asgardians (screenrant.com)
- Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Episode 15: “Yes Men” Review (sidekickreviews.wordpress.com)
- Review – Agents of SHIELD, “Yes Men” (livingthegeeklife.wordpress.com)