Jaimie Alexander as Sif: Always nice when a superhero turns up in a TV show that’s supposed to be about superheroes!
Yes Men is unique among the episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that have aired thus far, in that it includes a major character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the film series that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoffs from. From the Thor series comes Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif: an alien being that, like her comrade Thor, was worshipped as a god by the ancient Norse peoples (hence why characters from Norse mythology are present in the Marvel films). For reasons that are never adequately explained, Sif enlists the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. in tracking down a dangerous superhuman from her world. Lorelei (Elena Satine) is a mind-controlling criminal from Sif’s home of Asgard, liberated during the events of 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. Her particular talent allows her to control the minds of (presumably only heterosexual) men into falling in love with her. She uses her power, first to amass an army from a Middle America biker gang, then to take control of Agent Ward (Brett Dalton). Soon, Lady Sif and the S.H.I.E.L.D. teammates under Coulson (Clark Gregg) are forced to do battle not only with the dangerous Lorelei, but with members of their own group.
There’s a lot to like about this episode. It is humorous, possesses several impressive action sequences (for TV) and makes strong use of locations. When Lorelei demands Ward takes her to a palace worthy of her beauty, he drives her to Las Vegas; a great visual setting to subtly emulate the grandeur seen in the Thor movies. Speaking of which, Jaimie Alexander delivers a great performance as Sif, bringing the same sense of strength and grace that her character demonstrated in Thor and its sequel. Her inclusion in the show was a genius idea, since it allows a very strong connection to the Marvel movies, without having to use one of the Avengers characters (almost certainly too costly for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s budget). It is always great when the show’s writers put a superhuman character on the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, such as when J. August Richards’s Mike Petersen got to become a S.H.I.E.L.D.-backed superhero. Considering that the show’s entire premise is that it is set in a world where superheroes exist, one would think that superheroes would appear more frequently. The unusual and increasingly intriguing relationship between Ward and May (Ming Na-Wen) is made even more complicated in this episode due to Lorelei’s ministrations. Perhaps most welcome is that the ever-infuriating Skye (played by the also rather infuriating Chloe Bennett) is mostly absent from the episode, having been injured in the team’s second-to-last adventure.
There are, however, certainly some very problematic aspects to this episode (as is expected of this show). Whilst Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has improved drastically since its first few dreadful episodes, it is still a long way from being what can be described as regularly good television. Whilst her presence is very welcomed, Jaimie Alexander does serve to really highlight the failings of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. In the Thor movies, she and her co-stars are shot and lit in a way that really serves to emphasise their godlike nature. When one watches Thor and its sequel, one can truly believe that Sif is an ageless superbeing that only resembles a human woman. Her unusual armour and weapons seem stylised, yet convincing and realistic. In Yes Men, the conventional and drab cinematography and lighting rips the grandiosity from the character. Alexander does a good job performing the character as something that is more than human, but she looks like an actress trying to play a goddess – not a goddess herself. This is best emphasised in her depressingly drab fight with Lorelei in the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane’s holding cells. Compared to the fight choreography and lavish sets of the Marvel movies, the fight scene in this episode is frankly depressing. One might wish that Marvel Studios hurry up and begin production of Thor 3, to spare Alexander the embarrassment of being in more episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. On the other side of the scale is Elena Satine as Lorelei; an actress seemingly plucked from a pantomime or a children’s TV show. Her understanding of how to play a villain is so stock that one wonders why she doesn’t have a moustache to twirl. It is likely that she is trying to imitate the performance of Tom Hiddleston, best known as Loki in the Thor and Avengers films. Unfortunately, Satine does not possess Hiddleston’s charm or acting talent and so comes off as a terrible attempt at being a classically evil antagonist.
Equally problematic are the horrendous computer effects (bizarre, since early episodes of the show had strong if not film-quality CGI) and lacklustre production design. This is a particularly flat and boring-looking episode, outside of the Vegas scenes. Perhaps if the train battle from the episode T.R.A.C.K.S. or the ominous setting of the episode T.A.H.I.T.I. had been saved for this episode, there would have been more to enjoy besides one actress and some humorous jokes.
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