Last week’s middling episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was an even mix of good and bad. “The Well,” an insipid tie-in to Thor 2, had a lot of the bad but very little of the good. The links to Thor 2 are unimaginative – they’re literally cleaning up the wreckage – and hanging a lampshade on it doesn’t help any. The episode ends up more like an early Smallville episode, with a Asgardian staff standing in for that show’s kryptonite chunks, providing personality-changing superpowers that ill-defined villains (looking like a bunch of Spartacus extras) use to achieve their own nebulous goals.
The episode again focuses its action on ..action, which is the show’s least interesting mode (especially once they’ve reminded us of their bigger budget Hollywood inspiration). The writers try to improve matters by fleshing out its characters with backstory. Yes, there’s more of the same enigmatic, underwhelming stuff related to “magical” Tahiti for Coulson, while a mysterious professor played by Peter MacNicol turns out to be an Asgardian, earning shrugs on both counts. The show tries to make Mr Bland interesting with a backstory of his own, drawing from Batman Begins and The Ring, but it feels clichéd rather than illuminating.