[This is a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 15. There will be SPOILERS.]
This week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. proves that a full-on Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover can not only work and be fun, but that effects-heavy superheroics can be scaled-down to a television budget while still remaining believable. More so, Coulson (Clark Gregg) decides to go after the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In this week’s episode, “Yes Men,” written by Shalisha Francis, Lorelei (Elena Satine) continues her plans to build an army and take over the world, while Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) travels from Asgard to Earth, to recapture her escaped prisoner. When Ward (Brett Dalton) falls under Lorelei’s spell, and Fitz is coaxed to “not muck her plans”, Coulson calls upon his femme fatales to help Lady Sif quiet the man-eater. Elsewhere, Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) is mocked, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is put in the crosshairs.
There are quite a few interesting developments that occur within this episode. The success of Lady Sif’s inclusion is clearly the most apparent; however, the subtle nudges many of the characters receive while involved in this adventure will likely be the most important, long-term. Skye (Chloe Bennet) and Ward show that a one-off, awkward whisper conversation can reveal a bit of range we’ve not seen from them before; Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) proves he can absolutely stand on his own, comedically-speaking; Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) wins every battle – including fighting her way out of her relationship with Ward; and Agent Phillip Coulson draws a line in the sand and goes after Fury.
Coulson taking on Fury might be most interesting, as it allows Coulson to create a logical divide between the theatrical universe and its television counter-part. Now there’s a real reason for the team to be somewhat distant from the rest of the group, and now any appearance from Fury – or even Sitwell – will bring with it the promise of a confrontation - not just the quarterly “Hey, we still exist in the same world” check-in we’ve seen previously. Additionally, it plants the seeds of S.H.I.E.L.D shenanigans, which Captain American: The Winter Solider will play into upon its release.
As for the actual tale at hand, Lady Sif and Lorelei help bring some of the fun that the show promised from the start. The story may not be as compelling as the inner-workerings of S.H.I.E.L.D. that “The Hub” brought, but as a “do over” of sorts for the previous Thor: The Dark World tie-in, fans should be more-than pleased with how successful this crossover is. Asgardian powers work just as well on the small screen as they do in the films, and when the budget to allow Lady Sif and Lorelei to realistically punch through anything ran out, they relied on established knowledge to help sidestep their limitations: S.H.I.E.L.D. has developed Asgardian-proof items before.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has clearly been attempting to find itself throughout its many episodes, and this is really the first time that this experimental synergistic universe can truly be called successful. Sure, the helping hand of a theatrical voice does make things a bit easier; however, they made good use of Sif's inclusion and earnestly attempted to include some actual character development. Whether or not this continues still remains to be seen, but Coulson’s newfound “uprising” will certainly give them something to play off of.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with "End of the Beginning" @9pm on ABC.