Season One, Episode One
Continuing after the incredibly successful Avengers film, we get S.H.I.E.L.D. to give us insight on how this chaotic world of freaks and superfreaks are doing on Earth. But you have to assume that the humans, especially in New York City, are pretty damn rattled after there was an intergalactic battle right in their hometown, right? Not exactly, at least not from the small group of characters we meet in the pilot episode. S.H.I.E.L.D. did their best to cover up and repair the damage done to the city, so I guess everything is back to normal.
The pilot opens with a poor man searching for a job to take care of himself and his young son, who ends up saving the day by climbing the side of a building on fire, scooping up the woman calling for help, and jumping several stories to safety. Strangely enough, no one really makes a fuss. Maybe it’s because they recently got bombarded but an army of aliens, but hell if I saw that happened I’d be freaking out!
Back to S.H.I.E.L.D., we somehow have Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) back in the mix after he apparently died in The Avengers. Being the only veteran of the franchise, it’s no surprise that Gregg is the most comfortable with Whedon’s dialogue and delivering the sharp off-beat comedy with ease. How could you not chuckle at Agent Coulson stepping out from the shadows, admitting that was a lot more dramatic than it should’ve been only because one of the bulbs was out! Keep these gags coming!
Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders) is also in the mix, including the new addition of Agent Ward (Brett Dalton), a super agent with phenomenal field-test scores… basically one dude you don’t want to mess with. Also on the team are Agents Fitz and Simmons, two falt-talking brainiacs in charge of forensics that some might find annoying but I enjoyed very much so throughout the episode (though there’s a good chance they’re going to become incredibly annoying by episode four). And then there’s the legendary Melinda May, who Agent Coulson had to convince to come on a mission as simply the bus driver, which fooled no one.
Even though the episode concentrated on the inevitable explosion of Mike Peterson because of the centipede technology, the main story-line zoned in on Skye (Chloe Bennet), a computer hacker who supports the terrorist group Rising Tide and opposes what S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to do. Chloe Bennet brings a refreshing face to this series of geeks, super-marines, and men in suits talking in code. Skye is a lively, young face who reacts to these sort of phenomenons like we would, with our eyes popping out of our sockets and our jaws dropping to the ground.
S.H.I.E.L.D., particularly Agent Coulson, is intrigued by Skye’s expertise so much that she’s invited to join them. Not much of a cliffhanger because we know she will. I really believe that the show will live or die by Chloe Bennet’s performance on this series (and if the writers can continue to keep this as light-hearted as possible).
While the pilot was good, it wasn’t great. It’s going to be a challenge to see if audiences will be invested in the drama of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team rather than the action and superpowers that the movies offer. How procedural will the series become? I can’t stop thinking of how the first handful of episodes were for Dollhouse until the studio executives loosened its reign and allowed Whedon to just go with it. Is it the same for S.H.I.E.L.D.? We’ll find out.