Kelsey McNeal/Fox
Andrea Towers
March 12, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Skye’s dead! (But not really.) Coulson is still freaked out about his resurrection thanks to a possible alien! Oh, and some Asgardian whore named Lorelei came to town.

This episode probably went one of two ways for you. If you’re a casual Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. viewer and not exactly well-versed in Marvel lore, you probably were confused at the mouthfuls of exposition about Asgard and Thor and Odin and 600 years in prison, yadda yadda yadda. If you’re a Marvel stan, on the other hand, you probably shrieked with glee every time Sif opened her mouth with another vague reference.

I feel like this is something that the show has struggled with walking a fine line between since the beginning, trying to give hardcore comic fans what they want, and at the same time, keeping things simple enough so that new viewers aren’t turned off. This episode was probably the most prominent test of that so far, but I felt like it succeeded pretty strongly being engaging, while also dropping a lot of intel that would be sure to please more interested fans. And there was action! And lady fighting! Quite possibly my favorite episode so far. Can we bring Jaimie Alexander back for all the guest starring roles, please?

We pick up right where we left off last week, with Lorelei controlling the guy that she’s seduced and taken from his wife in order to gain transport. They make a pit stop at a gas station, where the dopey-eyed newlywed makes the mistake of leaving Lorelei alone with a group of bikers that immediately try to flirt with her. Entranced by one particular biker dude by the name of “Rooster,” she quickly puts him under his spell. She decides that Rooster and her men will serve her and become her army, and at this moment the poor guy comes back, and…oh, kid. “I said we’d be together til the end, and this is the end,” says Lorelei before she gets rid of him. Didn’t your mother tell you not trust Asgardian whores?

On the Bus, Skye, mostly cured thanks to last week’s miracle drug, is getting antsy about being bedridden. She tries to stealthily escape, but Simmons is on it. Skye thanks Simmons for saving her and around this time, I start wondering when fanfic for this particular scene is going to start popping up online. Ward comes by to interrupt and pass along his regards, which, given the nature of the episode, seems more like a stealth way for the writers to say, “Hey, remember that this relationship existed once?” But the moment is actually rather cute and heartfelt, with Skye expressing her embarrassment at looking less than attractive and Ward clearly just being happy she’s alive. Oh, and Skye shouldn’t feel bad for getting shot. “Thanks to you every S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the country knows Mike Peterson is alive,” says Ward, also confirming that he’s part of a project called “Deathlok.” Skye tells him that when she gets better, she wants to start training again to be stronger, emphasizing, “I don’t want to depend on some miracle drug to save me.”

That miracle drug is exactly what Simmons is stressing over, while taking samples of Skye’s blood and trying to find something in both hers and Coulson’s that would explain its properties. She wants to know what happened with Coulson in the bunker, because he’s being oddly strange about sending the drug to HQ for testing, but Fitz remains mum. Coulson, meanwhile, is brooding in Lola and calling in favors from his friends – one such friend being an agent by the name of Jasper Sitwell. “I don’t know where Director Fury is,” he tells Coulson, before implying that this isn’t the first time Coulson has called someone to try to sniff out the elusive one-eyed man. He tells him what we all know: “Fury is a high-level agent off the grid, you don’t find him unless he wants to find you.” (AKA: Samuel L. Jackson is expensive, probably preparing for the Captain America 2 press tour and/or Age of Ultron and/or doing more Capital One commercials, but either way, he can only make one appearance a season.) Not to be outdone, Sitwell asks him how Tahiti was. “It sucked,” Coulson answers dryly, in what might be the understatement of the century.

Back on the Bus, May is talking with the agents about new orders – they’ve detected massive energy readings at the California/Nevada border. Simmons pipes up all too excitedly that it’s the same level of readings that Selvig (!) and Jane Foster (!!) picked up in London and New Mexico. What does that mean? Hello, possible Asgardian! (I’m pretty sure all the ladies are hoping that they’ll have Jane’s luck and Thor will be the one to fall out of the sky. Though if that’s the case, you’d need someone to play Darcy and taser him, because that’s also half the fun.) According to May, S.H.I.E.L.D. wants the team to be the welcome wagon, something that unnerves Fitz slightly. (We also get a Loki shout out, because it wouldn’t be a crossover without a Loki mention.)

The group travels to the site of the energy readings, only to be interrupted by a rainbow bridge, some majestic music, and the arrival of one Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) – and on her 50th birthday, no less! Coulson drops some intel about Sif being on earth back in the first Thor movie when her and the Warriors Three helped Thor defeat The Destroyer. “She was pretty bad ass,” he adds. (Yes. Yes she was.) Sif warns them of the real reason she’s here — their world is in grave danger — and says she needs them to help her find someone. (In another aside, May calls out Coulson for brooding and disappearing randomly and tries to sympathize.) Sif is more or less shocked to see Coulson, telling him that Thor told him he died by Loki’s hand. While she tells him Thor would be pleased to hear of his miracle resurrection, Coulson basically tells her to keep his survival on the DL – luckily, Sif is nothing but loyal when it comes to people she trusts.

We finally get to the heat of the episode, where Sif shares that specifically, she’s come to earth to find Lorelei. And again, more exposition! Sif tells them how 600 years ago, Lorelei wrecked havoc along the Nine Realms thanks to her own sorcery. Ward is skeptical about what kinds of “powers” could do so much damage until Sif elaborates further on Lorelei’s signature trait. Her powers don’t work on women, which is helpful, mostly because “men have an inherent weakness we do not share.” (Ain’t that the truth.) She tells them that when the Dark Elves invaded Asgard (Thor: The Dark World plotline alert), Lorelei escaped via of Loki’s secret passageways between worlds. (This is actually a really clever tie-in — it makes sense that she would know Loki’s secrets since the two were close, and given the events of The Dark World, it’s entirely plausible that this is something that could’ve happened.) Also, she can be captured and tamed, by the help of a gold collar that robs her of her powers — that is, if they can get it on in time.

In a bar in the desert, Lorelei’s new boy toy brings her money, which she finds uninteresting and worthless. His girlfriend walks in and loses it upon seeing him with another woman, which only pisses off Lorelei more. What fun! Coulson, meanwhile, is trying to educate Sif on how to use the holo-table to find police reports, and it turns out that not only are women on this show better at technology than men are, but Asgardians are as well. (Really, it’s also because Sif has visited other realms. Girl’s been busy.) This piques Coulson’s interest, prompting him to ask if he’s seen any blue animals. Sif name-drops a few interesting ones: Interdites, Levians, Pheragots, Kree, Sarks, Centaurians, Frost Giants. But according to her, none have visited earth. Their conversation is interrupted when the two find reports of Lorelei having stolen some guns and gold, and Sif puts together that she’s trying to collect an army. They get a hit on the bar, and the team goes to track her down. But the best part about this entire sequence is Sif dropping like a BAMF onto the Bus when they’re all ready to go. Seriously.

(Also, Son of Coul. It’s the little things.)

Apparently the team has underestimated how many men Lorelei can bend to her will, because when they arrive, they’re immediately fired upon. Coulson asks for help, and Sif single-handedly uses her Asgardian strength to move a trailer in front of them for protection before storming the bar to take on Lorelei herself. The first of many awesome fight sequences of the hour ensue until Ward, who has been fighting Rooster, has the unfortunate luck of being found by the seductress, who quickly makes him her new minion. If that’s not enough to get people upset, Sif finds out that the collar was damaged in the firefight.

Coulson goes straight to FitzSimmons to see about fixing the collar, and again we get a little hammering home of how much Skye cares about Ward. Simmons again asks about sending samples to HQ, but Coulson is adamant about not sharing it with anyone, even when Simmons (rightfully) declares the right to do so her duty as a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist.

Lorelei wants Ward to “take her somewhere grand,” which apparently means…Vegas? We’ll go with Vegas (it is grand.) Lorelei continues using her powers with her new man, ending in a wild and dirty sexual escapade that I’m sure, if Ward remembers, he’ll promptly feel guilty about. Afterwards, Lorelei seems to soften for a bit, telling him about how much it sucks to be chained up in a dungeon. That lasts about two seconds before she’s thinking of ways to kill people again.

There’s a nice moment between May and Sif while Sif is cleaning her (most awesome) Asgardian sword. I just really love seeing these two women together. The conversation mainly centers on Sif inferring that she knows May cares about Ward in that way, and she should be prepared to do whatever it takes to stop him. She drops some more information about Lorelei — it gives her a thrill if the man is already taken, and she attaches herself to the strongest warrior she can find. May’s convinced that Ward won’t kill her, though.

The team finds security footage that leads them to Vegas, but they don’t have much luck. Back on the Bus, things go from good to bad as Fitz tells Sif they’ve fixed Lorelei’s collar. Good! He then locks her in a room with it, because Lorelei and Ward have infiltrated the ship and Lorelei has used her powers to make sure Sif stays trapped. Bad! Coulson at least figures out what’s going on and runs downstairs to rescue Skye and Simmons, who have also been locked up. Good! And then an airlock is opened in the room where Sif is being held, and the collar is almost lost, but Sif manages to hang onto it — while also disappearing out of the airlock. (Potentially) bad!

Coulson doesn’t believe that Sif is dead, claiming “it takes more than that to kill an Asgardian,” and I guess he would know, right? May’s not really happy that Ward and Lorelei have hijacked her plane, of all things, and Lorelei hints that Ward told him who he desired while under her spell — hint hint, it’s not her! Here we get our second awesome fight sequence of the evening, as Ward battles it out with May, while Lorelei finds Sif’s sword in her room and tries to take it thinking she’s dead. Surprise, bitch! And there’s our third awesome fight sequence as the two warriors battle it out.

Some interesting exposition and information is dropped through this fight, notably, further hinting at Sif’s love for Thor while Lorelei continues to make comments about how she stole Lorelei’s man — interesting in of itself because we’re going the route of the comics here in terms of backstory (since in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor’s love is clearly Jane.) Sif bests her and manages to get the collar around her neck, while Lorelei begs for death. Sorry, Lorelei, Sif ain’t having it — if Loki couldn’t die after blowing up New York, you’re not going to die after turning a few men.

Sif apologies for her damage of Coulson’s “flying boat” but hey, no harm done. Coulson asks her how she feels about obeying orders, and Sif responds that she does what she’s told: In this case, her orders from Odin were to bring Lorelei back alive. This is really, really interesting because if you read into this in the context of what we were left with at the end of Thor: The Dark World, it was really Loki impersonating Odin (it’s currently up in the air whether or not Odin is imprisoned or actually dead, but we’re leaning towards imprisoned.) And given the connection between Lorelei and Loki, of course Loki would want her back, right?

May tells Coulson that Skye deserves to know the truth about what Coulson saw in T.A.H.I.T.I. before going to see Ward, telling him he was more honest with Lorelei than he was with himself. Ouch. Coulson takes May’s advice and tells Skye everything — the source of her miracle drug being potentially alien, the guilt he has over not being able to save her from being injected with it, and how much it bothers him that they’re in the dark over what’s been done to them. Skye is pretty much unaffected because in her mind, she’s a damn 0-8-4, and no one knows what that is, either — so she’s already in the dark about things. Coulson promises that they’re going to get answers, protocol be damned, and go after the people responsible.

Which, you know, would be all well and good if our tag didn’t show May picking up their conversation through a bug and relaying “he knows” to a mysterious recipient (Fury? Someone else involved in the Tahiti coverup?)

Let’s recap the lessons we can take away from this episode:

1. Don’t underestimate Lady Sif.

2. Don’t talk to Asgardian strangers.

3. And never, ever try to take Melinda May’s plane without asking.

What did you think of the episode?

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