‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: “Yes Men”
Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ assembles its latest installment in “Yes Men,” as 'Thor''s Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) arrives to Earth in pursuit of the villainous Lorelei (Elena Satine), while Coulson wrestles with his secret knowledge of Skye's miraculous recovery.
Previous ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ episode “T.A.H.I.T.I.” saw the race to save Skye bringing Coulson and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton) to the unknown facility responsible for Coulson's resurrection, deepening the mystery of its origins even further, so how does ABC’s ‘Avengers‘-adjacent series keep us marveling at its inaugural season?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s fifteenth episode, “Yes Men!”
Lorelei and her companion pull up to a biker bar, the leader of which, Rooster, questions her interest in such a weakling. Seeing that Rooster commands a group of men with beastly motorcycles, Lorelei quickly disposes of her first companion, and takes up with the new group. Elsewhere, Simmons takes another sample of Skye’s blood, as Ward expresses his relief to see Skye doing better, as she expresses her intent to train harder to avoid future injuries. Meanwhile, Simmons takes the blood for analysis, but finds no trace of the GH-325, frustrating her that Coulson wants to keep its use under wraps.
Coulson meets with Agent Sitwell to request a favor, though Sitwell points out that Coulson has been causing a lot more trouble than usual, including his attempts to find Director Fury. Back on the plane, Melinda May reveals to the group that they’ve begun detecting signs of an imminent Asgardian arrival to California, for which they’ll get to be the welcome wagon. Shortly thereafter, the team drives to the source of the disturbance on a desert road, as Lady Sif descends from Asgard and warns them of imminent danger.
On the plane, Coulson assures May that Sif can be trusted, though May seems more preoccupied with whatever Coulson has been keeping to himself about Skye's recovery. Sif recognizes Coulson as having died in battle alongside Thor, but Coulson asks that she keep his survival to herself for the moment. The Asgardian warrior explains Lorelei’s power to bend the will of men, for which she provides a collar that will disable Lorelei's voice’s power, if only they can find her.
Lorelei expresses her displeasure at Rooster bringing her stolen cash, as opposed to gold, sinisterly manipulating the man to keep his wife quiet by rendering her unconscious. Meanwhile, Coulson takes a moment alone with Sif to question if she’d ever come across any blue aliens in her journeys, for which she lists multiple Marvel races, but none that would have been to Earth. Just then, Sif finds reports of gun and jewelery store robberies by a gang of bikers that sound like Lorelei’s handiwork.
Coulson and the team find a cadre of police waiting for them outside the biker bar housing Loreli and her men, though the corrupted police quickly open fire on Sif and the agents. Sif fights her way inside, taking on the men as Lorelei slips outside, and asserts her will over Ward, before the two drive off. Back on the bus, Sif realizes that the collar has been damaged, for which Coulson tasks Fitz to attempt a repair, simultaneously assigning Skye to track down an admittedly crafty Ward. Simmons requests a moment with Coulson to press that they report the mystery drug to S.H.I.E.L.D., but Coulson reminds her that two men died to protect its secret, and they need to know why first.
Ward fulfills Lorelei’s desire for a palace and wealth by taking her to Caesar’s Palace casino, though he acknowledges that likely he means nothing to her, before she shows him otherwise in a bedroom suite upstairs. Afterward, Lorelei urges Ward not to underestimate Sif, but Ward poses that he can get to Sif by affecting those she’s in league with, namely his former teammates. Meanwhile, May and Sif admire one another’s skills with a blade, as Sif realizes what Ward represents to May, and urges that she be prepared for the worst. Coulson brings news that they’ve tracked the pair to Vegas, though by the time the arrive, Lorelei and Ward have gone.
The team returns to the plane to find Fitz has fixed Lorelei’s collar, though in leading Sif to it, Fitz slyly locks her inside the cell, as Lorelei and Ward push the plane to take off upstairs. With Skye and Simmons locked in the medical bay, Coulson heads upstairs to find Fitz outside Sif’s room, as Coulson pretends to be under the thrall as well. Meanwhile, May prepares to take on Lorelei in the gallery, as Fitz opens the cell’s roof, sucking Sif out of the plane in mid-air.
Lorelei easily overpowers May, bringing in Ward to do the fighting for her and revealing in the process that Ward told her he desired someone else on the team beside May. Ward and May fight it out, as Coulson knocks Fitz out and reopens the hatch, allowing hanger-on Sif to reenter the plane. As Lorelei attempts to retrieve Sif’s sword, Sif herself attacks, and endures a number of taunts about Thor and her previous love under Lorelei's thrawl, before finally managing to collar Lorelei with the device. Ward and Fitz are finally shaken of the spell, but May gets one last hit in on Ward regardless.
Sif bids farewell with Lorelei in tow, likening the displeasing task of returning her captive alive at Odin’s behest to the manner in which S.H.I.E.L.D. agents follow orders. Coulson suggest May talk things out with Ward, while she poses the same suggestion with regard to Skye’s miraculous recovery. Upstairs, Ward waits to apologize to May, though she insists she could never be hurt, even If Ward should be as honest with himself about his feelings as he was with Lorelei.
Coulson takes a moment alone with Skye to reveal that the GH-325 that saved them both was in fact alien in origin, though he has no further answers than that. Skye seems surprisingly nonchalant about the revelation, considering both of them seem to be in fine health all the same, but Coulson remains adamant they need to find answers together, keeping their teammates in the dark about their knowledge as they hunt for Mike and the Clairvoyant. In the post-credits tag however, we see that May listened in on their conversation, before reporting to a secure S.H.I.E.L.D. log that Coulson knows the truth.
No review of tonight’s installment would go without mentioning that “Yes Men” undoubtedly represents the most ambitious, and likely most important episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ yet. Whatever expectations we carried along before the series debut, Marvel’s first foray into live-action TV has disappointed fans much moreso than we anticipated, not necessarily for lack of super-powered figures, but a general difficulty in recreating the same sense of scale, or consequence. We never needed Thor to swoop down and save Melinda May out of the clear blue sky, but rather to care whether she lived or died in the first place, instead relying on an occasional Marvel hero appearance to add a bit of color and that super-powered spark every now and again.
Introducing Lady Sif into the mix really was Marvel’s best hope to address a few of these issues, both a clear fan-favorite, and with TV budget-friendly powers, though “Yes Men” clearly had a great deal riding on its promise. Given all the excitement surrounding the first TV appearance of an actual cinematic Marvel hero, not to mention all the smashing and crashing that accompanies some of tonight’s fight sequences, it’s a bit difficult to keep sight of the series as a whole in order to review, but we’ll do our best. In that way, it shouldn’t surprise that “Yes Men” is more or less the series we’ve wanted to see from the very beginning, though keeping expectations at that height may not have been reasonable in the first place.
Also, the arrival of a genuine Asgardian menace doesn’t exactly offer much thematic continuity with the episode that came before it, leaving a few clumsy bridges here and there as Coulson prods for information about any and all blue aliens (kudos for those who predicted Kree from last week). As a whole “Yes Men” did offer a few appreciated nods to overall Marvel continuity at least, both in explaining the delicate secrecy of Coulson’s resurrection, and tying Lorelei’s escape to the Asgard breakout of ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ but it’s tough to say how well such an action-packed hour will affect the series’ curve for future episodes.
More importantly than Sif’s appearance and all its implications however, the cleverly-performed action sequences and overall reliance on established character dynamics are what really knocked “Yes Men” out of the park. It’d be tough to recreate all the wanton destruction of Sif’s battles on a weekly basis, though it was especially impressive to see the use of a confined location, and its breakable components lending credence to the super-powered battle within, rather than any major CGI trickery, which otherwise proved a bit wonky in its sparse uses. Even moreso, imagine our refreshment to actually care about the fights between Coulson and Simmons, or Ward and May given the groundwork laid for their delicate bond over the course of the season. ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has been pretty sluggish to build up its core relationships, but Lorelei’s machinations certainly did a number on the team tonight.
Oh yes, did we mention the actual villain driving the action tonight? Would it be too much trouble to ask for more memorable villainy on a week to week basis, both in otherworldly abilities, and the ability to cause some emotional destruction as well? Obviously, the movies aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to use Lorelei in future cinematic ventures, nor would we necessarily want to consider the logistics of a return appearance for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ but future episodes would do well to leave a more lasting impression with its antagonists.
Of course, not everything works, as anyone with half a brain could have predicted that Lorelei’s influence would extend to the police outside her hideaway, or that she and Ward would undoubtedly target Fitz and the vulnerable plane (Marvel remains leaps and bounds ahead of DC with regard to cinematic portrayals of female heroes, but seriously guys, did no one even think to assemble an all-women squad against Lorelei?!). Still, even without the promise of super-powered shenanigans in the coming weeks, “Yes Men” at least left us with plenty of implications for future episodes, between May’s apparent report on Coulson, he and Skye’s newfound quest to understand their alien benefactor, and whatever damage Ward inflicted on his teammates.
It’s tough to say if ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ will ever truly cultivate a consistent a consistently engaging story in the shadow of the Marvel movies, or even a consistent level of execution for its attempts, but if nothing else “Yes Men” should be more than enough to remind us of the potential Marvel’s live-action TV adventures once (and still) carry. We don’t need to see superheroes and villains each and every week, but the impact of their comings and goings should certainly be felt as strongly as they were tonight.
Well, what say you? Did ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s latest outing “Yes Men” finally deliver the Marvel-ous series we've been waiting for? What did you make of Lady Sif's first Earth adventure with the team? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again in two weeks for another all-new recap of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s latest episode, "End of the Beginning" on ABC! In the meantime...