This week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets an Asgardian-sized crossover with Thor: The Dark World, but reign in all that excitement because neither Chris Hemsworth nor Dark Elves or really anything from the film are anywhere to be found. Instead, while the team cleans up the wreckage of Thor's recent battle, a Norse-Paganist Hate Group uncovers a section of an ancient Asgardian staff (that was left on Earth hundreds of years ago and has nothing to do with the events of Thor 2) that channels the darkness of whoever touches it, and gives them a burst of super-strength and seething rage. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team must track down the other pieces of the staff before the hate group can get their hands on them and wreak havoc across the globe. First, however, they need to learn a thing or two about Asgard from a professional (nope, not Thor).
Agent Ward is the star of the show this week. He accidentally touches the staff which dregs up some painful childhood memories that he has worked hard to push deep into the dark crevices of his psyche. Agent Ward somehow manages to be even more broody than normal (which is impressive), and in his new found rage, he says some nasty things to his fellow agents, but that's just the alien staff talking, right?
The team seeks out professor Elliot Randolph, an expert on Asgardian history. The professor turns out to not be not only an Asgardian himself, but the original owner of the staff. He hid the pieces of the staff around the world hundreds of years ago. The Asgardian helps the team track down the other pieces of the staff that he hid all those years ago. They find the last piece of the staff, but also bump into the juiced-up members of the hate group. Ward and the super-powered thugs commence in a battle royale, and when Ward looks down for the count, Melinda May takes in some of the staff's power for herself and helps put the beat down into the hate group. May and Ward bond over their shared dark experiences, while Agent Coulson is still struggling to understand his second chance at life. Just how magical can Tahiti be anyway?
— It's hard not to feel a bit swindled after this episode. We were promised a Thor 2 crossover event, but the episode's plot is only just tangentially related to anything that happened in the latest Marvel film. At least we got to see some Asgardians, I guess.
— Ward's backstory involving his abusive brother finally gives the character some interesting wrinkles outside of his ability to punch things really good.
— After a day of kicking tail and taking names, Melinda signals Ward to come to her room to presumably have a little talk. Are they going to talk, or are they going to "talk."
— Coulson quips about not being able to afford a fancy pen but you'd think someone as far up the ranks of a clandestine organization as he is would have a little bit of cash to throw around.
— "You know, it'd be nice if, for once, Thor and his people sent down the god of cleaning up after yourself."