Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Recap, Episode 15: ‘Yes Men’
In tonight's Agents of SHIELD: Sif happens. Yes, for the first time since the Nick Fury cameo in episode two, an actual non-Coulson-shaped major character from the Marvel Studios movies makes an appearance! Everything's going to be great from now on!
Actually, despite claims from some corners of fandom that viewers will never be happy with Agents of SHIELD until Iron Man appears in every episode, I never expected Iron Man to appear, nor did I ever ask for it, and I'm surprised to see Sif in an episode. The main thing I ever wanted from this show was some decent TV. So, I'm grateful for Lady Sif, but let's see how this episode fares on the other front.
Last week's episode ended with the Asgardian Lorelei (Elena Satine) convincing a newlywed to abandon his wife at a motel in Death Valley and drive her to civilization. (Is Death Valley a popular honeymoon destination?) This week Lorelei swiftly and fatally ditches her beau and trades up to Rooster (Dylan Bruno), the captain of a biker gang -- not because chicks dig bad boys, but because Rooster has manpower.
Last week's episode also ended with Skye (Chloe Bennet) getting an injection of, let's say, Kree serum to bring her back from the brink of death. Skye is making a good recovery, but Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) wants to know what was in the serum, and a study of Skye's blood isn't yielding any results, and Coulson won't let her send a sample to HQ.
Elsewhere, Coulson has a rendezvous with Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) to try to convince Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury to appear on the show again, but they just can't seem to find Director Fury. Who'd have thought?
Lorelei's arrival on Earth triggers energy fluctuations, so the agents investigate -- just as Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) arrives in a flash of light and tarmac vandalism to bring the criminal to justice. As Sif quickly explains, Lorelei spent the last 600 years in the realm of Prisongard (they don't actually say that) for the crime of using "sorcery" to bend the wills of men to her purpose and command armies.
Sif confirms that Lorelei's powers don't work on women, because men have "an inherent weakness." Point of order, Agents of SHIELD; you're right, we menfolk are all weak, carnal, doltish creatures who are universally controlled by our lustful urges -- stupid, stupid men creatures -- but some of us have lustful urges for other men, and I dare say some women would happily do Lorelei's bidding. Do you mean to tell me, Agents of SHIELD, that Lorelei would turn me straight? In a universe that has Thor in it? Let me assure you; no.
Sif gets away with using the word "sorcery" here without anyone saying, "oh, but there's no such thing," which is a nice change. Sif's debrief also gives Coulson the chance to ask Sif not to tell Thor he's come back from the dead. This is because having something happen in Agents of SHIELD that might impact movie continuity would be awkward. There is no way they're letting this tail wag that dog.
In case Sif's exposition isn't painting a clear enough picture, we next see Lorelei in a biker bar, where the bikers bring her stolen goods and Rooster casually kills his wife on her orders. Lorelei, you see, can make a man kill someone he cares about. This is important.
Coulson asks Sif about blue aliens; she reels off a list of names, a couple of which I didn't recognize or couldn't understand. Mentodites and Fairgots? The others are all familiar, and Kree is thrown into the middle, perhaps to hide the most obvious answer in plain sight.
SHIELD tracks Lorelei's location and sends the agents in -- all armed with "night-night guns" (now called "icers"). It's taken fifteen episodes, but the good guys finally has multiple long-range non-lethal weapons. Hooray! It only came one episode too late for those two innocent dudes they killed last week.
SHIELD takes on Lorelei's private army (bikers and cops), and Sif goes in alone for a bit of bar-brawling action. Outside, Ward beats up Rooster, and the winner of that fight gets to be Lorelei's new sap. Lorelei and Ward ride off into the sunset together. Did anyone see that coming? Everyone? Good, well done everyone.
Ward takes Lorelei to Vegas, where they bone, and Ward pledges to use his knowledge of his old team to eliminate Sif.
Elsewhere, May (Ming-Na Wen) talks weaponry with Sif. In an ideal world that conversation would have ended with swords and strategy, but sadly the writers decided to give May "feelings" for Ward. Back when the two of them were agents-with-benefits I didn't care, but now it's clear that every woman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- Skye, Simmons, May, and Asgardian love goddess Lorelei -- finds Ward's comic shop cardboard standee charms irresistible. It's frankly a bit revolting. The show now bends around this deluded ideal of the alpha male.
The agents track Lorelei to Vegas but are too late to catch her. They return to the plane where Fitz (Iain DeCaestecker) takes Sif to her room to check the repairs on [macguffin]. He then locks her in the room because he's under Lorelei's control. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but Coulson has a weird habit of accomodating guests in the on-board prison cell with the retractable ceiling rather than in an actual room. So Sif gets sucked out of the plane.
Lorelei is on the plane, but she only has Fitz and Ward. Inexplicably she hasn't bothered with Coulson, so he goes to free Skye and Simmons, who have been locked in the sick bay, while May confronts Lorelei and Ward. Lorelei takes the opportunity to tell May that Ward has feelings for someone else, then heads to the cell to retrieve Sif's sword -- only to discover that Sif has climbed back inside.
Sif fights Lorelei. She wins.
May fights Ward. He appears to win, but she steals his clip, so it's a stalemate. With Lorelei defeated, her influence over Ward ends, but May takes the opportunity to land one more punch on him.
Sif takes Lorelei off SHIELD's "flying boat" (didn't they have any non-boat-shaped aircraft in the Thor movies?) and returns him to Odin. If you've seen Thor: The Dark World you'll know there are potential ramifications to this, but I don't suppose we're ever likely to see Lorelei in the movies. I think the whole reason Agents of SHIELD was able to use her is that the movies don't need to; they can use her big sister the Enchantress, who is basically the same character with a higher profile.
The episode ends with a couple of confessionals. Ward tells May he never meant to hurt her; she says that was never a risk. I miss the days when I believed that. Coulson tells Skye that her magic healing serum came from an alien. Skye is pretty chill about it, saying not unreasonably that they are at least both alive, but Coulson insists that she not be chill, and gets to yell the line, "I subjected you to unknown ramifications or side-effects." Unknown ramifications or side-effects! Do not operate heavy machinery.
Coulson tells Skye that the two of them will have to get to the bottom of this alien mystery without telling the rest of the team, because... at this point I think it's just standard operating procedure. "I'm making a coffee run. Do not inform the rest of the team or our superiors at SHIELD headquarters. Nick Fury must never know."
In the kicker, we learn that May bugged the room and overheard Coulson and Skye's conversation. She places a call on a secure line and says, "He knows. I repeat; Coulson knows."
Yes, we're getting another round of, "Agent May puts the interests of SHIELD ahead of her team," to no doubt be followed by another round of, "Agent May was looking out for the interests of her team the whole time you guys."
And we're done. That was our Lady Sif episode. I admit, the presence of a couple of larger-than-life characters in Sif and Lorelei was a welcome change, but the storyline wasn't very ambitious or inventive, and these big characters still had to exist alongside the mediocrity of the rest of the show. Agents of SHIELD never bothered to make its characters interesting enough to survive in the Marvel Universe.
Credit where it's due:
"Yes Men" was directed by John Terlesky and written by Shalisha Francis.
SHIELD, Sif, Nick Fury, Jasper Sitwell, the Kree, and Marvel's Frost Giants were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Jane Foster and Marvel's Thor, Loki, and Asgard were created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby. Lorelei was created by Walt Simonson. Deathlok was created by Doug Moench and Rich Buckler. The Levians were created by Len Wein and John Buscema. The Sarks were created by Jim Starlin. The Centaurians were created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan.
Phil Coulson was created for the movie Iron Man, by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. Erik Selvig was created for the movie Thor, by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne.