Finally it’s here – Joss Whedon’s television series sequel to Marvel’s The Avengers and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We begin with a brief introduction to that world, a New York rocked by gods, aliens, monsters, knights and men out of time. That’s followed up by a civilian superhero making a rescue, and a secret agent just doing his job, but this is Joss Whedon, so nothing is really as it seems. My review begins after the jump.
Coulson Dead or Alive
Let’s start right off with the juicy stuff. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson, leading a new team to protect the world from the weirder world that has emerged, the one with the gods, aliens, and superpowers. There’s your premise. The problem, and the question we all want the answer to, is how is Coulson alive?
When we last saw Phil Coulson, he was dead. Waaay dead, Asgardian sword-staff in the chest dead, and his death at the hands of the Norse god of mischief, Loki, is what cements the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe together to become the Avengers, and save New York, and yes, the entire Earth from an alien invasion. So how’s he walking around in this pilot?
My bets on Coulson’s survival are tied up in the S.H.I.E.L.D. technology called L.M.D. – Life Model Decoy – a robot double that thinks it’s the person it’s modeled after, complete with memories. Coulson himself tells us he was only dead for a few seconds, long enough to motivate the Avengers, before being revived and whisked away to Tahiti to rest. My first reaction was, yeah, okay, that works, and it works better for mainstream non-comic audiences than an LMD would. Bravo, Joss.
Then blam, he hits us with the possibility that maybe he is an LMD, as once he out of the room, other characters note that Coulson must never know what really happened to him. So he is an LMD? Maybe, we’ll find out sooner or later, I’m sure. In the meantime, I love you, Joss Whedon.
The focus this episode, other than gathering the team, and introducing the concept, is our mystery hero in the hood who saves a woman from a burning building using enhanced strength, agility, and endurance. J. August Richards plays Michael Peterson, who in many early previews was identified as possibly Power Man, but this is a new character. Down and out, Michael gets involved with some bad folks who are implanting subjects with ‘the centipede,’ a power-enhancing device.
The bad news is that the centipede is Extremis technology, yeah, baby, tying in the story strings of Iron Man Three with this series. And as everyone who’s seen that movie knows, Extremis sometimes makes its subject blow up, as well as make them irrational. Yep, that’s right, we’re on the clock before Mikey goes boom-boom. I’m kinda hoping we see Mike again, as I like him, and like his chemistry with Skye as well.
The Rising Tide
Ah yes, Skye. I dig her a lot. I like her spunk, and her paranoid conspiracy Art Bell mindset mixed up in a superhero universe. She makes this episode a lot of fun, playing both sides, and Chloe Bennet plays the hell out of her. She will be one of the main reasons I will continue watching.
As I said, she’s playing both sides. Skye may or may not be involved with the potential enemy in the background (this is Joss Whedon after all) called The Rising Tide. This is either a new group, or the beginnings of a cinematic version of AIM or Hydra, more traditional enemies of S.H.I.E.L.D. I would rather have someone new, but I would so not be mad to see the real deal baddies on my TV set.
Coulson’s team is a whole new security level, level seven, and he begins by recruiting Agent Grant Ward, played by newcomer Brett Dalton. Ward is the straight man, the standard secret agent, the plain Jane in this group of misfits. I look forward to some good action in the future with him. I only hope he doesn’t soften like another Jayne in Whedon’s past.
Next up is the hesitant Melinda May, a pilot who is deskbound at the start of this venture. There’s obviously something in her past we don’t know yet, and that’s other than her past with Coulson. She’s played by Ming-Na Wen, a favorite actress of mine from way back in the “ER” days, The Joy Luck Club and even in Mulan. Like Ward, she got to kick some ass in tonight’s episode as well.
Then there’s the Torchwood Twins, Fitz and Simmons, played respectively by Iain DeCaestecker and veteran actress Elizabeth Henstridge. Their odd behavior and interaction just kept reminding me of the crew from “Doctor Who” spin-off, “Torchwood,” and not just because of their adorable accents. I loved the ‘Journey into Mystery’ comment.
Other Stuff I Liked
There was a lot of namedropping and wink-wink nudge-nudges for the comics fans in this episode, and much like the current “Arrow” and the 1990s “The Flash” TV series, I hope that continues. I love that kind of stuff. I nearly had a nerdgasm when Project Pegasus was mentioned, and of course the cool part was not just Marvel was checked, there were also references to Harry Potter and the Terminator among others. I did think it was odd that all of the Avengers’ bits were veiled however.
I liked seeing Cobie Smulders reprising her Maria Hill role. Perhaps Samuel L. Jackson can drop by as Nick Fury sooner or later. We also had an appearance by Joss Whedon alumnus from “Firefly,” Ron Glass, as Dr. Streiten. I always look forward to seeing his work. And I loved seeing the Lola fly!
I also like the use of the term (shades of Civil War) ‘unregistered gifted,’ as it shows a bit of what may be coming. Speaking of what may come, we know that an appearance of Dr. Franklin Hall is on its way. Avengers fans will know that name as the super-villain Graviton. I think big things are coming. One hour, I’m hooked. How about you?