Sunday, October 4, 2015

Nice to See You Again, Professor

The Great Asgardian Warrior
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In case you didn’t notice from the episode photos released last week or teaser at the end of the season premiere, a character from the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to be appearing in the second episode of this season, “The Purpose in the Machine.”  This character has a unique perspective on alien artifacts and the history of interaction between humans and aliens, making him the perfect consultant for S.H.I.E.L.D. to bring in to find out exactly what the Monolith is and what happened to Simmons.

That character is Professor Elliot Randolph, who made his debut in the episode “The Well” (AoS 1x08).

Because so many people stopped watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. early in its run and have since returned—and also for the benefit of any new people who started watching during season 2 or 3—I am going to offer a very simple biography of Professor Randolph so you will not be lost when he shows up in the episode.

Warning:  There will (obviously) be spoilers for “The Well,” so don’t be surprised.  There are also a few spoilers for other season 1 episodes, as well as the season 3 premiere, “Laws of Nature.”

“The Well” is the episode immediately following the theatrical release of Thor: The Dark World.  It is also an excellent example of a poor movie tie-in, as the episode opens with Coulson’s team cleaning up the wreckage from Malekith’s ship crashing in Greenwich.  However, the remainder of the episode is actually pretty interesting, as Coulson’s team investigates a “Norse Paganist Cult” which is trying to recover the pieces of the so-called “Berserker’s Staff” which was left on Earth by an Asgardian warrior in the twelfth century.  Coulson goes to an old acquaintance whom S.H.I.E.L.D. has consulted on Asgardian artifacts in the past—specifically, Coulson talked to him about Mjölnir when it appeared in New Mexico.  The consultant is Professor Elliot Randolph, a professor of Norse mythology at a university in Seville, Spain.

However, over the course of the investigation—specifically when Ward tries to stab him in the hand and he instead bends the knife into an unusable clump—Coulson comes to realize that Randolph is not who he appears to be; he is in fact the legendary Berserker, a member of Odin’s Army who fought in that war centuries earlier and chose to remain behind on Midgard (Earth) when the rest of the army returned to Asgard.  Randolph then broke up his Berserker Staff and hid the parts around the world—1 in Norway, 1 in Seville, and 1 in Ireland.  Coulson forces Randolph to lead him to the final piece of the Staff, though they are met by the Paganists, who attempt to kill Randolph.  Coulson saves his life by holding his heart together long enough for his Asgardian physiology to heal it (and who says an 8:00 show on network TV can’t show a little blood every so often?).  Ward and May use the Berserker Staff to defeat the Paganists, after which S.H.I.E.L.D. takes possession of the Staff.  Randolph then decides to leave Seville; Coulson suggests Portland.

The Berserker Staff itself also has an interesting history on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  After “The Well” it next shows up in “Providence” (1x18), when Ward recovers it from the vault at the Fridge.  Hydra then brings the Staff to Cuba, where one of the Hydra soldiers used it against Coulson’s team.  May took it away from him and used it herself before throwing it at one of the load-bearing posts, bringing the sub-basement down on the Hydra and Centipede soldiers (“Beginning of the End,” 1x22).  That is the last we’ve seen of the Berserker Staff, though I doubt it was destroyed in the building collapse.  I would guess that the Centipede soldiers recovered it and brought it back to either Hydra or Cybertek, though it could also still be buried in the wreckage of the old Hydra base.

So why is all of this important?

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Simply put, Fitz is now absolutely desperate for information about the Kree Monolith.  He’s tried tracking down the information by himself, and it’s only gotten him a single Hebrew word:  מות, “death.”  Now it appears that he—or Coulson—has decided to call in an expert.  And who better to consult on mysterious alien artifacts than an alien who’s spent the better part of a millennium wandering the Earth?  Even though the Monolith predates Randolph’s time on Midgard by a good 2 millennia, it is entirely possible that he is aware of it and its purpose.  After all, we discovered in “Who You Really Are” (AoS 2x12) that Asgard is well-aware of the Kree experiments with Terrigenesis, even if they didn’t know that the experiments succeeded on Earth.  And the Asgardians certainly know the Kree—though the two races distrust each other immensely, if Sif’s reaction to meeting the Kree Vin-Tak in “Who You Really Are” is any indication.  If anyone on Earth can help Coulson and Fitz put this mystery to rest, it is Randolph.

Of course, that begs the question:  what happened to Simmons?  That answer is beyond the scope of this article, but I’ll give a quick answer, anyway.  Two weeks ago I wrote an article outlining three possibilities for what happened to her:  the Monolith is giving her powers (like Terrigenesis), it transported her to Hala (the Kree homeworld) or another Kree location, or it transported her to Attilan.  Of the three options, I’m going to rule out the first one as the sole result and I’m also going to rule out the Attilan theory because Attilan is on or near Earth.  That leaves the second possibility as my best guess:  Simmons is on Hala or another Kree location.  As far as what’s been happening to her, I will leave that to your imagination, along with this instruction:  get on Netflix and watch Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes season 2, episode 6:  “Michael Korvac.”  That’s what can happen to a Kree guinea pig!

Are you excited to see the Professor return?  What other characters from the first 2 seasons do you want to see come back?  What do you think happened to Simmons?  Let me know in the comments!

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