Marvels Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Yes Men”
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Marvels Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Yes Men”

With special guest star Sif

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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Yes Men

Season 1, Episode 15

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A superhero appears on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the show gets better. Who’d have thought? The presence of Thor’s Lady Sif makes “Yes Men” feel like a bigger part of the MCU than previous episodes, but the reason this story succeeds is because writer Shalisha Francis uses the Asgardian connection to push the season’s overarching plots forward. The sorceress Lorelei (Elena Satine) escaped her prison in Asgard after the Dark Elf attack in Thor: The Dark World and has found her way to Earth via one of Loki’s hidden passageways between the realms, and Sif follows the witch’s tracks so that she can stop her from taking over the planet with an army of mind-controlled men.

“Yes Men” contains some definite shades of Firefly’s “Our Mrs. Reynolds,” another story focusing on a wily redhead who manipulates men to get what she wants. (Both also spend considerable time on ship sets.) While Saffron’s appearance leads to considerable developments for Mal and Inara’s romance in Firefly, Lorelei’s presence forces S.H.I.E.L.D.’s main romantic pairing, May and Ward, to confront the reality of their relationship (again). This episode doesn’t have the sense of humor of that Firefly script, which finds comedy in Saffron’s attempts to woo the men of the ship’s crew, and the magical nature of Lorelei’s powers means that there’s not much in the way of seduction or duplicity on her part. The villain is played straight as a vengeful sorceress looking to assemble a giant army of men, and it would have been nice to see Elena Satine take her performance a bit further and chew the scenery more.

Amora the Enchantress is a big character in the Thor mythos, so it’s likely that Marvel is waiting to introduce her on the big screen with a well-known actress in the role. Amora’s younger sister Lorelei doesn’t have as much importance, which is probably why she’s available for this show to use. Hopefully Marvel continues to incorporate lower-tier comic book characters into this series, because they not only expand the MCU, but help establish a fantastic atmosphere surrounding the human S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The writers’ past attempts at creating their own superhumans didn’t work out too well, so they should take advantage of the wealth of characters introduced in the comics. Characters like Lorelei may not be extremely popular, but they have at least proved their worth by becoming recurring supporting players on the page.

Lorelei’s main function in this episode is to drive a wedge between May and Ward, taking control of Ward’s mind after the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents track her down, and gleaning information from it that she uses to cause mischief. It’s a bit silly to see an Asgardian take time away from her quest for world domination to make her boy toy’s former lover feel bad, but that’s what supervillains do: take cheap shots when they don’t have to. This show exists in a world where anything can happen, and there are storytelling avenues available to it that don’t exist in a more realistic series. If the writers want to complicate the relationship between two characters, they can introduce an alien witch that uses sorcery to gather secret knowledge and have her reveal that just for kicks.

Ward being more attracted to Skye than May is the kind of info that would probably never get out if it weren’t for Lorelei’s meddling, and learning about Ward’s true desire shows May that their relationship is becoming more than just a casual sex thing. That misplaced-affection reveal is foreshadowed by a conversation between Sif and May. Lady Sif can sense May’s connection to Ward when he disappears and tries to convince her to let him go or risk being hurt when she can’t free him from Lorelei’s control, recounting her own experience losing a lover to Lorelei’s power. But there’s another layer to Sif’s speech that she may not even be aware of, and that concerns her relationship with Thor. Sif wants to give her heart to Thor but his belongs to Jane Foster, and her conversation with May is a warning so that she doesn’t find herself in that position with Ward and Skye. 

Other than Black Widow, Sif is the MCU’s only other female superhero at the moment, so giving her some extra time in the spotlight is appreciated. Jaimie Alexander’s British accent is pretty rough, but she does great work with the action sequences, and this episode’s fights actually hit with the impact one would expect from these superpowered characters. It’s a shame that most of the fighting in the second half of the episode is confined to The Bus, but the choreography actually works very well for these close quarters brawls. Ward and May’s fistfight in particular has an intensity that makes it very intimate, and it’s not too much of a stretch to say these two get a sexual thrill from the violence. 

Thanks to his relationship with Thor, Coulson is a few degrees closer to Sif than the rest of his team, and their scenes together have more gravity because there’s a sense of history in their conversations. Sif is surprised to see Coulson alive and is pleased that she’ll be able to tell Thor his friend isn’t dead, which is a good use of established continuity to establish an immediate connection between these characters that will be further explored as the episode continues. Later, Coulson decides to take advantage of Sif’s experience as an explorer of the nine realms to ask about any blue alien races she’s encountered in hopes of getting a lead on the creature he discovered last episode, and Sif responds with a list that includes Interdites, Levians, Pharagots. Kree, Sarks, and Centaurians.

That’s a lot of comic-book races that are now confirmed to exist in the MCU, and having Sif bury “Kree” in the middle of her line suggests that’s probably what Coulson found at the Guest House. That placement makes it appear to be just another word in a list, but it’s a very important one that will mean more once Guardians Of The Galaxy hits this summer, and assuming the alien is a Kree, having Sif actually say the word means the reveal won’t come out of nowhere.

At the end of the episode, Coulson guiltily confesses to Skye about the blue alien and decides that it’s time to stop sitting around waiting for answers, announcing that he’ll break all rules and protocol so that he can figure out where the alien came from, why Skye is an 0-8-4, and who is behind all this recent Centipede business. It’s a moment that feels like someone stepped on the plot accelerator, and Gregg really sells Coulson’s determination during his conversation with Skye.

He’s going to need that determination if he’s going to get past the obstacles in his way, which happen to include Agent May, who is revealed to be a mole in the episode’s cliffhanger. It’s not made explicitly clear, but May appears to be working with S.H.I.E.L.D. higher-ups to keep Coulson in the dark about his resurrection, and when she eavesdrops on his conversation with Skye, she has confirmation that Coulson is closer to the truth than ever. It’s a great last-minute twist that adds a major new wrinkle to the show and turns up the suspense for the next chapter, making this a Thor crossover episode that actually gives new viewers a reason to return.

Stray observations:

  • Fans of this show should check out the first issue of Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, and Matthew Wilson’s new Secret Avengers #1 out tomorrow, a book that has superhero bathhouse action, Coulson and Nick Fury fighting Alan Moore’s The Fury in space, and M.O.D.O.K. working for the good guys but still acting all supervillainy. It’s a lot of fun, and you can read more about it in this week’s Comics Panel
  • Want to know more about Lorelei? Seek out Walt Simonson’s run of The Mighty Thor. You will not regret it. She also appeared in last week’s Loki: Agent Of Asgard #2.
  • No Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. next week. Instead ABC is airing a special about Marvel Studios, which will include a preview of The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Could be interesting, or could be full of promotional crap. Probably the latter.
  • Characters on this show sure do love asking each other to open up about their feelings, and then doing it over and over again after their initial request is rejected.
  • “Want to go to a movie? Hold hands?”
  • “He may try to kill me, but he won’t.”
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