This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Now, that’s more like it. That’s the kind of stuff fans have been begging for. This week’s Agents of SHIELD essentially serves as Thor 2.5, as fans get to see more of Lady Sif, a major player in the Thor franchise. It’s not a meaningless ratings grab either as Sif’s character actually progresses during the course of her battle with her Asgardian rival, Lorelei.
This type of storytelling is pretty unheard of, a major motion picture being continued in an episodic television series. The most impressive thing about this mostly impressive episode is that the story and inclusion of Sif does not in any way intrude on the story of Agents of SHIELD. Just the opposite, in fact. The inclusion of a major Marvel character gives the show and characters validity. Suddenly, SHIELD’s players interacting with a “name” Marvel hero legitimizes the cast. They are playing with the big girls now.
Jamie Alexander’s screen presence as Sif is not in any way diminished by the small screen. She commands every scene that she is in and is a true joy to watch. As a loyal and devout Marvelite, I had to pinch myself more than once to remind myself of the reality of this episode. Here was a Lee and Kirby creation, taken from a film and thrust on to my television. Truly ‘tis the Golden Age.
“Yes Men” begins in a small rural town that is a stylistic throwback to the second act of the first Thor. Lorelei, as played by Elena Satine (Magic City), arrives and instantly finds herself a group of worthy minions in a biker gang. She seduces their leader (who seems to be some dude cosplaying as Daryl Dixon) and starts to explore Midgard. These sequences are interspersed with Skye’s recovery after being injected with the alien (Kree?) blood in the previous episode. This is where the episode’s warts show as it is never satisfactorily explained why Phil Coulson is so adamant that his team stays in the dark regarding the alien blood. Fitz and Simmons would certainly be more efficient armed with the truth, but the show has the character keep secrets for the sake of keeping secrets and this kind of spoils the narrative. Coulson seems needlessly obtuse about the whole thing.
But this can’t ruin the buzz of the pure Marvel presence of Sif and Lorelei. Lorelei finally represents a villain that fans can sink their teeth into. She is a violent and selfish killer who orders her biker to murder his girlfriend. She isn’t a villain who received her powers by accident (like what the show passed off as Blizzard and Graviton), but a villainess that revels in her power. Lorelei is a sensualist, a genuine threat to the world, and the first real menace the show has offered up, and darn it, it’s appreciated. There is a depth to Lorelei: a thrill seeker, a passionate conqueror who desperately wants her freedom from her Asgardian prison and she would kill anyone to keep it. She is the first SHIELD villain with understandable motivations, and it is about damn time.
“Yes Men” dovetails nicely with the events of Thor: The Dark World and the events of Avengers as Sif is now in on the secret that Couslon is really alive. Coulson begs Sif not to tell Thor in a moment that is the show’s deepest tie to the Avengers yet. Thor has a constant presence in this episode even though he is never seen. Once again, this is the potential of the show, a constant and lasting weekly reminder of the films we love. It’s so cool to see how the existence of beings like Sif, Thor, and Lorelei affects people like Coulson, Ward, May, and Skye. Not every episode needs film guest stars, but this one should serve as a blue print for Agents of SHIELD’s mission statement to be a weekly tour of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a reminder that the events of these films have lasting consequences.
Coulson gets to pick Sif’s brain on blue skinned alien life, and she says the name “Kree” for the first time in any Marvel film project. She also mentions Alpha Centaurians which is a little shout out to the coming Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy. So, in a show that focuses on black-ops missions and martial arts, somehow, the alien races of the Marvel Universe and the magical side of Asgard are all explored. An impressive juggling act.
Meanwhile, Lorelei possesses Ward and in one scene with the villainess, there is more character development for beefstick Ward than in the show’s previous episodes. She recognizes his warrior’s spirit, and reveals that his true love is not Melinda May. This sequence is juxtaposed with some bonding between May and Sif (the scene only needs Agent Romanov to complete the trinity of badass Marvel Women). Sif compares May’s relationship with Ward to her own with Thor, a great callback to the Thor films and a tremendous spotlight on Sif’s sad story of unrequited love. The next time fans see Sif in a Thor film, this moment will resonate.
As the Agents get ready to confront Lorelei, the show turns over a trump card by revealing that Lorelei and Ward were aboard the Bus and control poor Fitz. This was a great use of Lorelei’s powers and a legit surprise. May confronts Lorelei and is incredibly overpowered reminding fans of just how dangerous Asgardians are. May is a true badass but was swatted like a fly.
One of the show’s strengths has been the amazing fight choreography, which continues with a dual struggle between Ward and May and Lorelei and Sif. Lorelei mocks Sif about her love for Thor, until Sif has enough and physically bests her foe. Even the most heavy handed soap opera elements work when combined with the Lady Sif kicking copious amounts of ass. Sif takes Lorelei back to Asgard, revealing that Odin ordered the villainess returned to the Golden Realm. An ominous revelation as fans know that after the events of Thor: The Dark World, Odin isn’t Odin, but that is a story for another day.
“Yes Men” dealt with truth. Lorelei’s powers bend truth, while Couslon tries to figure out how to deal with the truth of the alien whose blood flows through his and Skye’s veins. He also has to deal with how much truth to share, but when he comes clean to Skye, we learn that May is reporting back to an unknown source.
As the nature of truth is examined, could it be that May is living a lie?