The Well (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
|Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode|
|Directed by||Jonathan Frakes|
|Written by||Monica Owusu-Breen|
|Cinematography by||Jeff Mygatt|
|Editing by||Debby Germino|
|Original air date||November 19, 2013|
|Running time||43 minutes|
"The Well" is the eighth episode of the first season of the American television series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or simply Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), a fictional peacekeeping and spy agency in a world populated with superheroes and numerous supernatural phenomena. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The episode was written by Monica Owusu-Breen, and directed by Jonathan Frakes.
The episode revolves around the character of Phil Coulson, with Clark Gregg reprising his role from the film series, and his agents, played by regular cast members Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge, as they search for an Asgardian weapon while fighting a paganist hate group. This episode serves a direct tie-in to the film Thor: The Dark World, depicting the immediate aftermath of that film, while also sharing Asgardian-related plot points and characters.
In Norway, the leaders of a pagan hate group obsessed with Norse mythology find part of a staff hidden within an ancient tree that grants them superhuman strength. Agent Phil Coulson and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, having recently assisted with the cleanup of London following the Convergence, analyze the remains of the tree, with Agents Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz producing a rough 3D model of the staff based on its imprint in the wood, determining that it is of Asgardian origin, and that there are at least two more pieces of it that were broken off.
Coulson consults with Elliot Randolph, a professor of Norse mythology in Seville, Spain. He tells the legend of the Berserker, a mythological tale concerning an Asgardian warrior who remained on Earth after a long ago war, and broke his war staff into three pieces, hiding them in different locations to avoid its power falling into the wrong hands. The professor reveals three poems, each pointing to the location of a piece, and one matching the tree in Norway. Randolph points the team in the direction of Baffin Island, but they soon learn that this was misdirection. They follow one of the poems to a crypt in Seville, where Randolph forces Agent Grant Ward to touch a second piece of the staff, unlocking painful memories of a young boy stuck in a well.
The pagans, numbers ever growing and sowing chaos around the world, proclaim themselves gods, and attack Randolph with their own piece of the staff, taking his. Coulson arrests Randolph for deceiving them, and they discover that he is the Berserker of legend, posing as a human professor so as to live a peaceful life on Earth. He directs them to Ireland, to a church where he hid the third piece of the staff, but the pagans also find the church, and use the staff to stab Randolph in the heart. The staff causes great surges of adrenalin within its users, and for Ward this comes from hateful memories – he had been forced by his older brother to trap their younger brother in a well. Ward manages to defeat the pagans, with the help of Agent Melinda May, who is seemingly immune to the rage-inducing side effects of the staff because she already constantly relives her bad memories. Coulson, Simmons, and Fitz manage to keep Randolph alive long enough for his Asgardian heart to heal itself, and though Coulson wishes to touch the staff himself to try and unlock memories from his recovery directly after he died, Randolph convinces him not to. That night, Ward turns down Agent Skye's offer to talk about his past, instead going into May's hotel room.
In an end tag, Coulson has a nightmare of his recovery in Tahiti.
In November 2013, Marvel revealed that main cast members Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge would star as Phil Coulson, Melinda May, Grant Ward, Skye, Leo Fitz, and Jemma Simmons, respectively. It was also revealed that the guest cast for the episode would include Peter MacNicol as Professor Elliot Randolph, Michael Graziadei as Jakob Nystrom, Erin Way as Petra Larsen, Toby Wilson as Neils, Alex Neustaedter as Maynard and Sylvia Brindis as Elena. Wilson, Neustaedter, and Brindis did not receive guest star credit in the episode. Neustaedter's character, who is not named in the episode, would later be renamed Christian for the second season of the series. Additionally, Chris Hemsworth appears briefly as Thor through archive footage from Thor: The Dark World.
Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins
The opening of the episode serves as a tie-in to the film Thor: The Dark World, including a montage of footage from that film to start the episode, followed by a depiction of the aftermath of the film. The rest of the episode deals with Asgardians, as first introduced in Thor (MacNicol's character is revealed to be an Asgardian). During the episode, Coulson mentions that he consulted with Professor Randolph around the events of Thor.
"The Well" was first aired in the United States on ABC on November 19, 2013. It was aired as the eighth episode of the season, however, it was the seventh episode produced. It premiered in the United Kingdom on Channel 4 on November 24, 2013, while it aired on the Seven Network in Australia on November 20, 2013.
The episode, along with the rest of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 's first season, was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 9, 2014. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel. It was released in Region 2 on October 20, and in Region 4 on November 11, 2014. On November 20, 2014, the episode became available for streaming on Netflix.
In the United States the episode received a 2.4/7 percent share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, meaning that it was seen by 2.4 percent of all households, and 7 percent of all of those watching television at the time of the broadcast. It was watched by 6.89 million viewers. The United Kingdom premiere had 2.1 million viewers and in Australia, the premiere had 1.5 million viewers, including 0.7 million timeshifted viewers.
Following the airing of the episode, Rajan Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, called for an apology for its insinuation that Hindu god Vishnu could be an alien. In a statement concerning the incident, the Society said that "faith was something sacred and attempts at debasing it hurt the adherents. Television and Hollywood should be more conscious while handling faith related subjects, as television and cinema were very mighty mediums and these could create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences." Zed elaborated that "Hinduism ... should not be taken lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled." A fictional version of Vishnu has appeared as a character in Marvel Comics.
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