|Airdate||November 19, 2013|
|Written by||Monica Owusu-Breen|
|Directed by||Jonathan Frakes|
For all the knowledge that the gods of Asgard are in fact alien beings worshiped as gods, Coulson and his team find themselves stuck with the cleanup after Thor’s battle with Malekith through Greenwich. Simmons ducks a call from her concerned parents, while Coulson laments that Thor never sticks around after the destruction, and Skye expresses her excitement and intrigue of learning about the Asgardians as alien beings. Elsewhere in a Norway national park, a couple follows directions to a mysterious tree, chopping it down to find an Asgardian staff that grants the woman rage-filed strength by touching it, which she then uses on a park ranger. Later at the scene, Ward helps Simmons through her reticence to investigate the downed tree, using her tech to create a 3D model of the staff for Fitz to print out. The analysis reveals the artifact as Asgardian, while Skye sees over the news that the couple, Petra Larsen and her boyfriend Jakob, have been connected to several ongoing Norway riots as part of a Norse hate group. In order to identify the item, Coulson suggests they contact the same professor he used for Thor’s hammer, a man named Elliot Randolph.
Coulson visits the professor in Spain, who identifies the artifact as one of three pieces of the Berserker Staff, a rage and strength-inducing weapon used by an Asgardian army long ago. The warrior who used the staff supposedly elected to remain on Earth, and hid its three pieces around the world, though the manuscripts leave dubious clues as to their location. Several investigations fail to bear fruit, though Skye eventually tracks another potential location to a church, coincidentally in Seville.
Ward and Skye investigate the ruins of the old church, where Ward encounters Professor Randolph attempting to abscond with the staff piece himself, though touching the item forces Ward to double over in pain. Randolph manages to escape, as Skye quickly finds that Ward is not himself, seeing flashes of a boy in a well. Outside, Randolph encounters the hate group, who manage to overpower him and take the staff piece before Coulson arrives to intervene.
Simmons tests an increasingly irate and snippy Ward, while Coulson learns little from interrogating Randolph, with the professor claiming he merely wanted to study the artifact before S.H.I.E.L.D. could lock it away. Ward angrily shrugs off Skye’s questions about the memory flashes pertaining to his brother, while Simmons dismisses his actions as an adrenaline spike. Ward attempts to work through the anger with a punching bag, continually seeing images of the boy struggling in the well, as May offers to lend a hand in quelling his rage. Elsewhere, Jakob and Petra continue building an army by recruiting others to touch the staff.
Ward admits to Coulson that he feels compromised by the staff, and the painful memories it dredges up, but Coulson wonders if they might put his aggression to good use in interrogating Randolph. Ward enters the room to begin his questions, drawing a knife to the man in anger, though Randolph easily deflects and destroys the blade, revealing himself as the Asgardian in the story. Randolph admits to never liking the power that came with the Berserker staff, abandoning his lowly Asgardian life to live on earth throughout the ages, accidentally recording his own myth. At the very least, Randolph admits to storing the third section of the staff in a monastery in Ireland.
Arriving in the emerald isle, Randolph assures Ward that his rage will subside eventually, though the staff has a way of shining a light on unpleasant memories, in Ward’s case his first experience with hatred. The group arrive to the monastery and find the piece’s hiding place, but not before Jakob and his forces have arrived, stabbing Randolph in the heart and forcing Ward to fuel up on rage again to fight the group. Jakob and Ward battle it out on the monastery floor, while Fitz and Simmons attempt desperately to save Randolph’s life, Coulson plunging his hands into the Asgardian’s chest to stop the bleeding, and start his advanced healing.
During the fight, Ward relives the full memory from his youth, revealing himself not as the boy in the well, but as a boy up top whose brother bullied him into withholding a rope from the drowning youth. Back in the present, Ward allows May to take over, assembling the full staff as she fights off Petra, before ridding herself of the artifact without difficulty. Upstairs, Randolph regains consciousness.
While Simmons finally accepts a call from her parents, May admits to Ward that she relives some of her worst memories daily, hence the staff had little effect on her. Coulson ponders picking up the staff, admitting his death and resurrection to Randolph, before advising the outed professor to move to Portland for a means to stay out of the limelight. That night, Ward apologizes for his behavior with Skye, returning upstairs to his hotel room, before accepting a tacit invitation to join May for a drink in hers.
After the credits, Coulson dreams of his magical beach in Tahiti, waking suddenly in a panicked sweat.
- Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
- Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May
- Brett Dalton as Grant Ward
- Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz
- Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
- Chloe Bennet as Skye
- Peter MacNicol as Professor Elliot Randolph
- Michael Graziadei as Jakob Nystrom
- Erin Way as Petra Larsen
- Toby Wilson as Neils
- Alex Neustaedter as young Christian Ward
- Sylvia Brindis as Elena
- Ward referred to Jakob and Petra as "Sid and Nancy", a shout-out to Sid Vicious the Bassist of the Sex Pistols and his partner Nancy Spungen. The pair shared a self-destructive, drug-fuelled relationship, which ended in Sid killing Nancy and then having a heroin overdose and dying himself
- In Coulson's dream he wakes up on a massage table and asks his masseuse, "Did I fall asleep?", to which she responds, "For a little while." This is a reference to the post-wipe script in another of Joss Whedon's shows, Dollhouse.
- When suggesting places to live, Coulson's only suggestion is Portland, Oregon; where he remarks on the food scene and the philharmonic. Coulson has a long-distance relationship with a cellist in Portland.
Coulson: "I can't remember a single time when anything alien in human hands ended well."
Skye:"Wouldn't mind getting my human hands on Thor. He's so dreamy..."
Coulson: "Sure, he's handsome, but... "
May: "No. He's dreamy." (Walks on. Other two stare at her, slightly surprised)
Skye: (To Simmons, about Randolph's origin) "Or we could just ask him - weirdo."
Ward: (To Coulson, concerning Randolph) "You were right. He is Asgardian."
Skye: (To Ward)" If you ever need to talk, I'm here. My shoulder's free."
May: (To Ward, about the Staff) "This time, let me help."
- Phil Coulson
- Leo Fitz
- Petra Larsen
- Melinda May
- Jakob Nystrom
- Elliot Randolph
- Jemma Simmons
- Grant Ward
Weapons and TechnologyEdit
- The dialogue in Coulson's dream of Tahiti refers to the show "Dollhouse", which was also developed by Joss Whedon.