|Series:||Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.|
|Original airdate:||November 19, 2013|
|Previous Episode:||"The Hub"|
"The Well" is the eighth episode of the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
In the aftermath of the events Thor: The Dark World, Coulson and his team find themselves stuck with the clean up after Thor’s destructive battle with Malekith through Greenwich. Simmons ducks a call from her concerned parents, while Coulson laments that Thor never sticks around after the destruction, and Skye expresses her excitement and intrigue of learning about the Asgardians as alien beings. Elsewhere in a Norway national park, a couple follows directions to a mysterious tree, chopping it down to find an Asgardian staff that grants the woman rage-filed strength by touching it, which she then uses on a park ranger.
Later at the scene, Ward helps Simmons through her reticence to investigate the downed tree, using her tech to create a 3D model of the staff for Fitz to print out. The analysis reveals the artifact as Asgardian, while Skye sees over the news that the couple, Petra Larsen and her boyfriend Jakob, have been connected to several ongoing Norway riots as part of a Norse hate group. In order to identify the item, Coulson suggests they contact the same professor he used for Thor’s hammer, a man named Elliot Randolph. Coulson visits the professor in Spain, who identifies the artifact as one of three pieces of the Berserker staff, a rage and strength-inducing weapon used by an Asgardian army long ago. The warrior who used the staff supposedly elected to remain on Earth, and hid its three pieces around the world, though the manuscripts leave dubious clues as to their location. Several investigations fail to bear fruit, though Skye eventually tracks another potential location to a church, coincidentally in Seville.
Ward and Skye investigate the ruins of the old church, where Ward encounters Professor Randolph attempting to abscond with the staff piece himself, though touching the item forces Ward to double over in pain. Randolph manages to escape, as Skye quickly finds that Ward is not himself, seeing flashes of a boy in a well. Outside, Randolph encounters the hate group, who manage to overpower him and take the staff piece before Coulson arrives to intervene. Simmons tests an increasingly irate and snippy Ward, while Coulson learns little from interrogating Randolph, with the professor claiming he merely wanted to study the artifact before S.H.I.E.L.D. could lock it away. Ward angrily shrugs off Skye’s questions about the memory flashes pertaining to his brother, while Simmons dismisses his actions as an adrenaline spike. Ward attempts to work through the anger with a punching bag, continually seeing images of the boy struggling in the well, as May offers to lend a hand in quelling his rage. Elsewhere, Jakob and Petra continue building an army by recruiting others to touch the staff.
Ward admits to Coulson that he feels compromised by the staff, and the painful memories it dredges up, but Coulson wonders if they might put his aggression to good use in interrogating Randolph. Ward enters the room to begin his questions, drawing a knife to the man in anger, though Randolph easily deflects and destroys the blade, revealing himself as the Asgardian in the story. Randolph admits to never liking the power that came with the Berserker staff, abandoning his lowly Asgardian life to live on Earth throughout the ages, accidentally recording his own myth. He refuses to reveal the location of the third piece of the staff but relents when Coulson reveals that he knows Thor and threatens to end his anonymity. At the very least, Randolph admits to storing the third section of the staff in a monastery in Ireland.
Arriving in the emerald isle, Randolph assures Ward that his rage will subside eventually, though the staff has a way of shining a light on unpleasant memories, in Ward’s case his first experience with hatred. The group arrive to the monastery and find the piece’s hiding place, but not before Jakob and his forces have arrived, having tortured the resident priests into giving up its location, stabbing Randolph in the heart and forcing Ward to fuel up on rage again to fight the group. Jakob and Ward battle it out on the monastery floor, while Fitz and Simmons attempt desperately to save Randolph’s life, Coulson plunging his hands into the Asgardian’s chest to stop the bleeding, and start his advanced healing.
During the fight, Ward relives the full memory from his youth, revealing himself not as the boy in the well, but as a boy up top whose brother bullied him into withholding a rope from the drowning youth. Back in the present, Ward allows May to take over, assembling the full staff as she fights off Petra, before ridding herself of the artifact without difficulty. Upstairs, Randolph regains consciousness and tells Simmons that she's the most beautiful woman he's seen in a thousand years.
Next morning, while Simmons finally accepts a call from her parents, May admits to Ward that she relives some of her worst memories daily, hence the staff had little effect on her. Coulson ponders picking up the staff, admitting his death and resurrection to Randolph, before advising the outed professor to move to Portland for a means to stay out of the limelight. He also suggests introducing Randolph to Thor next time he's in town. That night, Ward apologizes for his behavior with Skye, returning upstairs to his hotel room, before accepting an invitation to join May for a drink in hers.
Coulson dreams of his magical beach in Tahiti, waking up in a panicked sweat.
- Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
- Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May
- Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
- Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz
- Brett Dalton as Grant Ward
- Chloe Bennet as Skye
- Peter MacNicol as Professor Elliot Randolph
- Michael Graziadei as Jakob Nystrom
- Erin Way as Petra Larsen
- Toby Wilson as Neils
- Josh Diogo as Bjorn
- Micah Nelson as Thomas Ward
- Alex Neustaedter as Christian Ward
- Sylvia Brindis as Elena
- Samantha Cutaran as Karine
- Steve De Castro as Ador
- Dennis Keiffer as Rollo
- Jessen Noviello as Lars
- Brian Orosco as Olaf
Continuity and References to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Asgard is mentioned and seen in recycled footage.
- The Destroyer is seen in recycled footage.
- The Battle of New Mexico is seen in recycled footage.
- Thor is mentioned and seen in recycled footage.
- Mjolnir is seen in recycled footage.
- The Harrow is seen in recycled footage.
- The Battle of Greenwich is seen in recycled footage.
- While examining the wreckage found in the Greenwich University, Agent Ward notes, We don't want anything alien getting into the wrong hands. The comment is an ominous reminder of when just such a thing happened in Marvel One-Shot: Item 47.
- The Berserker Staff appears.
- Christian Ward is introduced in flashbacks.
- The Hulk is mentioned.
- The Chitauri are mentioned.
- An Asgardian appears.
- Coulson's "death" is mentioned.
- The Bus interrogation room is revealed to be made from Vibranium amongst other materials.
- Coulson recommends that Randolph relocate to Portland, saying the city has a great symphony. In The Avengers, it's implied that Coulson is involved with an unnamed cellist from Portland.
- This episode is set after the events of Thor: The Dark World.
- In the flashback/dream sequence at the end when Coulson is getting the massage in Tahiti he asks the masseuse "Did I fall asleep?" to which she replies "For a little while." This was the question and answer response for all of the "Dolls" when they had undergone programming in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.
- Coulson identifies Professor Randolph's pen as a "Waterfield '44 with a 14ct nib and mother of pearl inlay." If a company named Waterfield existed which made fountain pens, there appears to be no remaining evidence of it. 14ct nibs were typical for any but budget models during the era of fountain pens, making that an easy guess for Coulson. The pen in the show is made from celluloid in an iridescent pattern which is commonly called mother of pearl, but there's no inlay. Based on its limited on-screen exposure it appears to be a 1930s era Gold Bond with a lever filler (also very common at that time). Additionally, as of the episode's air date and excluding particularly rare models, a vintage fountain pen is easily within a professor's or Federal agent's salary.