Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was criticised early in its first season for being too disconnected from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with people wanting characters such as Captain America and Iron Man to make appearances. Whilst this would have indeed attracted more viewers it would have taken away from the main focus of the series: the team.
Now that the show has had time to establish its own characters and story it’s the right time to bring in an already established movie character. Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander) might seem like a strange choice of character to bring into the show, but it makes sense for a lot of reasons: she’s got a connection to Coulson (Clark Gregg), she’s an amazing fighter, she brings the team knowledge that helps with the overall story in the form of knowledge of blue aliens, and the fans really like her.
On this occasion Lady Sif has returned to Earth in order to capture the escaped Asgardian villain Lorelei (Elena Satine). A fairly major character from the Thor comics, Lorelei is a surprise choice to appear here as it expands the Thor universe quite a bit. With connections to characters such as Enchantress and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Lorelei now being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is sure to raise questions of whether or not we will see Enchantress in future films. The inclusion of these characters also showed that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t need to be connected to big events such as the destruction of London in Thor: The Dark World in order to feel integrated into the larger universe.
Within the show itself this episode manages to move some of the character development forward a little, in particular the relationship between Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). The May and Ward relationship never felt like there was much to it other than two people finding a release for their stress with each other through sex. Thankfully, the relationship came to an end this episode, which puts to an end any awkward love triangles that may come from Ward having a thing for Skye (Chloe Bennet).
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The inclusion of the Asgardians means that the episode has the opportunity to up the ante in regards to action, making good use of their enhanced strength to deliver bigger and crazier set pieces than the show usually has. The fight in the biker bar where Lady Sif completely clears house is one of the better moments of the season to date.
The biggest misstep of the episode, however, is how it treats Ward, in particular him falling under Lorelei’s spell and sleeping with her. Whilst under the influence of her magic he’s not himself, his judgement has been altered, and he’s not able to completely consent to the things he does. In short, Lorelei date rapes him. This could have been an interesting area to explore, but the show and the characters seem to completely brush this aside as soon as it’s done, never bringing it up again. I can’t help but feel that some of this comes from the fact that it’s a fit, muscled man going to bed with a beautiful woman that has something to do with this, that changes how people look at it. If this was a young woman being magically made to sleep with an unattractive man people would quickly, and correctly, identify it as being very wrong.
Despite these missteps the episode is actually very good. Yes, it’s a standalone episode, but it’s done so well and is so enjoyable to watch that you don’t really mind that the show isn’t really addressing the main issues such as Coulson’s resurrection, Centipede, and the mysterious Clairvoyant. Hopefully the series will produce more episodes like this, and get Lady Sif back again in the future.