Seriously, though, before the episode ended, #AgentsofSHIELD and #Coulson were both trending worldwide on Twitter. I myself was live-tweeting as I watched the show, and checking out the tweets coming from several cast members as well as thousands of fans. I also engaged several friends in a dialogue about the premiere on Facebook. And there was no shortage of things to talk about...
Set shortly after The Avengers, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series takes place in a world beginning to be aware of superheroes. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s role in this, according to one of their agents, is: "We protect people from news they aren't ready to hear. And when we can't do that, we keep 'em safe." The pilot episode had the big job of showing us that role while simultaneously introducing us to several key characters, as well as some opposing organizations.
If you didn't happen to catch the premiere on ABC, I highly recommend you go watch it on their website here before reading any further.
Agent Phil Coulson
We all know him from The Avengers, plus appearances on the other Marvel movies leading up to it. In those, though, he seemed kind of a middle-management type guy, not necessarily a high-ranking agent. The only time I remember him being outstandingly awesome in the movies was when he tried to take on Loki, and that still seemed like a heroically brave but ultimately doomed and desperate attempt. However, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he comes across as pretty hardcore, and fairly high up in the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Level 7 clearance and seeming to be in charge of a lot of people on that level.
Remember how he died in The Avengers? Apparently he didn't... or did he? He's seemingly alive and well in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there's something fishy going on. He claims he's been in Tahiti, recovering, but this story doesn't sound quite right. There's clearly a secret he doesn't know (which Agent Maria Hill says "he can never know"). And he seems, like I said, a little more hardcore than before... For example, in one scene, he does a Matrix-style dodge to avoid a van door flying towards him. Could an ordinary human being do that? Could Coulson do that before The Avengers?
Theories about Coulson's secret abound, but the most popular seems to be that the Coulson who died in The Avengers was an LMD, or Life Model Decoy - a kind of android invented by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics. Another guess is that Coulson was injected with some of the super-soldier serum at some point, giving him powers that could be similar to Captain America's. It would be great to see something straight from the comic books, as a type of homage, but at the same time, I sort of hope the show surprises everybody with something completely different. Given who's writing it, I find that quite likely. (More on that later.)
Agent Melinda May
This femme fatale is one character who actually seems like a bit of a stereotype so far. "The beautiful Asian chick who knows martial arts." Not that that doesn't make for an awesome and fun-to-watch character, but I am hoping they'll add more depth to Agent May soon. I'd love to hear more about her backstory. For example, she's working a desk job when Coulson calls on her for this episode's mission, but when Agent Ward meets her, he's obviously impressed and a little intimidated by her presence. I'd love to find out what she did in her past career at S.H.I.E.L.D. that was so impressive, and what changed and led to her ending up filing papers. She and Coulson also seem to be fairly close friends, so I'm curious if there's more to that story as well.
Agent Grant Ward
Another seeming stereotype, Agent Ward is the good-looking, arrogant, slick super-spy. When we first see him, he's riding a motorcycle, using cool spy gadgets, and slugging it out with bad guys. But that just makes it a little ironic when he ends up as basically the "rookie" of Coulson's team. Initially Ward doesn't want to work with a team, and it may take a while for them to crack his tough exterior and get close to him, but Skye seems to have a head start on that, considering the chemistry already brewing between the pair.
Initially a member of the organization called "The Rising Tide," this blogger/hacker can hold her own in conversations and meetings with the Level 7 S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. By the end of the episode this earns her an invitation to join S.H.I.E.L.D. herself, which she will certainly accept. This character too could have an interesting past, considering her statement that she has experience erasing someone's identity, presumably her own. And could she be secretly still working for The Rising Tide?
Two characters, one description. Seems fitting, considering the way they're introduced with a hyphenated name and appear to be practically joined at the hip. Leo Fitz specializes in technology, while he describes his partner, Jemma Simmons, as "biochem" with a tone of disgust that makes it sound like a disease. Between the constant togetherness, the private conversations ignoring everyone else in the room, and the quick shoulder-squeeze Simmons gives Fitz in one scene, you might wonder if there's romance brewing between these two. However, I got more of a brother/sister vibe off the pair. I'll be interested to see how their relationship plays out throughout the series.
Though he seems to be a one-shot character, I wouldn't be surprised (or disappointed, for that matter) to see the "Hooded Hero" return later in the series. Gifted with super-strength by his use of a product called Centipede, Mike's struggle to become a true hero and his perspective on the issues faced by the less privileged quickly brought depth to this episode. I've heard some theorize that he might take on a new identity as Luke Cage (a Marvel comics character with superstrength), and I honestly hope this is the case, because I would definitely like to see more of this character.
Though Peterson is set up as a sort of episodic villain, his desire to be a hero allowed the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to prevent him hurting anyone, without hurting him. He was "defeated," if you can call it that, but it seems that the true villains remain: the other organizations.
The Rising Tide
We know very little about this organization that Skye so quickly turned her back on. My husband Billy likened them to Anonymous - a nameless, faceless group of hackers, but a formidable force not to be trifled with. Their goals seem to be in diametrical opposition to those of S.H.I.E.L.D.; they claim they want people to know the truth about superheroes. I'm not sure this is entirely a bad idea, but the Rising Tide does seem to have been set up as a villain, a force opposing S.H.I.E.L.D. So maybe their actions and motives will grow more sinister as we learn more about them. For now, I'm just wondering what they will do when they find out Skye has joined their enemies. It seemed to me that she was a low-ranking member, a newbie (if a promising one), but she surely has still drawn their ire for her betrayal.
A group of scientists working in a secret lab created the Centipede device that gave Mike Peterson his powers - and almost caused him to explode like a bomb. We've met one member of the team, a female doctor whose name was never given, and seen her send henchmen to kill Peterson before S.H.I.E.L.D. could get ahold of him. The group seems to have no remorse for what happens to their test subjects when the experiment goes wrong. What are their motives? And how far will they go to get S.H.I.E.L.D. out of their way?
Last but certainly not least, let's talk for a moment about the team that created Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
If you've considered yourself a geek for long, you've no doubt heard of Joss Whedon, and I would venture so far as to say you're probably already a fan. Joss's rise to geek-cult popularity began with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel, deepened through the prematurely cancelled Firefly series and its accompanying movie Serenity, endured the writers' strike of 2008 with the webseries Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and persisted through the cancellation of another genius TV series, Dollhouse. His most recent work, as you probably know, is The Avengers. After having such negative experiences with his shows being cancelled, though, he surprised many by agreeing to work in television again to create and write Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Joss has a very distinctive style, known and loved by his fans (Whedonites). Many of his trademarks are already showing up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For example Joss himself said in a recent interview that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is "basically a TV series of “The Zeppo” [an episode of Buffy]," which is an example of Whedon's tendency to focus on minor, seemingly unimportant characters. And he's stuck to his habit of recasting actors he worked with in previous projects, with J. August Richards (a.k.a. Charles Gunn, Angel) playing Mike Peterson, and a cameo from Ron Glass (Shepherd Derrial Book, Firefly/Serenity) as a S.H.I.E.L.D. doctor.
Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
Jed and his wife Maurissa have helped Joss (Jed's brother) on projects like Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse in the past. Beyond that, I don't really know much about them. But I'm looking forward to finding out with this new series. I think I'm going to like them.
What Do You Think?
Did you watch the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? What did you think? Whether you agree with my opinions on the show or disagree, drop me a line in the comments box below and let me know!
And make sure to catch the next new episode Tuesday night at 8/7 Central!