It may have been promoted as a follow-up to Thor: The Dark World, but it was more like an Asgardian version of “Item 47.” There was also a couple of shout-outs to two other Whedon shows, but also some insight into a piece of Agent Ward’s past that he’d rather forget. It’s why this episode is called “The Well.”
The episode starts with clips from both Thor movies, then cuts to Agent Simmons complaining about the cleanup after the battle between Thor and the Dark Elves in Greenwich. Skye wishes she could find one of their spaceships, or even Thor (although she may have to get past Jane Foster to do that). For those who did wish Thor was in this week’s episode, here’s this:
The story really begins with a couple trying to find a certain tree in a Norwegian forest. They cut it down and find a strange metal staff that amplifies the woman’s rage and strength. The rod is Asgardian and pretty dangerous. It isn’t long before they cause a riot, injure 20 people, and leave a message literally burning on a street, “We are gods.” What if Andrew Wells saw that? (Ask a Buffy fan).
The couple, Nystrom and Larsen, is part of a Norse paganist hate group that wants to use the staff to become the new gods. The crew turns to Prof. Eliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol), an expert in Norse mythology who’s teaching in Spain. He says the rod is part of the Berserker Staff, once used by an Asgardian warrior who decided to stay on Earth. He hid the staff in three pieces, and the second piece is nearby, of course.
However, so is Randolph, with the second piece. Is he in league with the Nystrom’s Neo-Beserkers? Before we find out, Ward grabs the second piece, which not only increases his rage but unveils a hidden memory. Oh, and Nystrom’s group takes that piece. Despite some disappointment that the episode won’t include cameos by Thor or even the Warriors Three, the real issues are why Randolph wants the Berserker Staff, and how Ward grabbing it forces him to face something he’d literally fight to forget. It involves someone trapped in a well, calling for help. However, how come Skye knew the memory was about Ward’s brother? When did they talk about that?
Both plot lines merge when Coulson uses Angry Ward to force Randolph to reveal what he knows. When Ward tries to stab Randolph, the professor bends the knife with one hand— as Coulson suspected. Randolph’s the Berserker. The rest of the crew is stunned, and they talk about getting tissue samples from him, or that he’s better than a History Channel special.
After Randolph regrets blabbing about the staff, he reveals that it not only increases rage but also reveals a person’s darkest secrets. In the case of Ward, it was finding someone in a well when he was young, but being told by someone else to not rescue the trapped boy. We don’t know the whole story, but we get enough to know it’s been tearing him up inside for a long time. Grant Ward is a good SHIELD agent, but his past has its dark side.
The professor reveals the third piece is in an Irish monastery, but the Neo-Berserkers, including Nystrom, are already there. When Randolph is stabbed, Ward is forced to grab the third rod, and use the rage from that dark childhood memory to beat the invaders. Then Larsen, still with super-strength, arrives. May sees her, and uses the entire Berserker Staff to defeat her. May recovers quickly, because her dark memories are always part of her, every day. Randolph survives after Coulson reaches inside his wound to stop the bleeding. He tells Randolph he should start a new life… maybe in Portland. However, what if he meets a pretty cello player?
The fallout from the mission may wind up changing things. As Ward heads to his hotel room, he sees Agent May entering her room, with a bottle of wine… and the door open. It’s suggested Ward followed.
Meanwhile, some fans want the show to stop using references from the Marvel movies and add a regular villain or three, like CENTIPEDE. Buffy had a Big Bad (the Master, Mayor Wilkins, Glory and even Angel), Angel had Wolfram and Hart, The X-Files had the Cigarette Smoking Man, and even Arrow has returning villains. Isn’t it about Agents of SHIELD had a Big Bad or two? Bring back the Girl In The Flower Dress!
But before that, it should reveal what happened to Coulson. He was close to grabbing the staff to suddenly remember if he was really in Tahiti. The final scene showed him there, asking his masseuse if he fell asleep, and she says “for a little while.” Sound familiar? It turns out it was a dream, and it worries him. No matter what that SHIELD doctor said in the pilot, Coulson should know, or he’ll find out himself.