Wednesday, September 25, 2013

TV Recap - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1-1: Pilot

Hi.  I’m Mark, and I’m a hypocrite.

10-15 years ago, I was a big fan of Joss Whedon’s work - Buffy and Angel specifically.  Yes, that’s right, I’m the one person who watched Firefly who wasn’t taken with it.  But I noticed something – Joss is horrible about how he ends his series.  I hated the final episodes of Buffy and Angel, and Serenity ruined what little enjoyment I got from Firefly.

I swore I’d never watch another series of his again.

And yet here I am starting Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I’m doing it for two reasons.  First, I think Marvel/Disney will keep some of his tendencies to ruin a franchise in check.  After all, he is playing in their playground and not completely making things up on his own.  Second, I really enjoyed The Avengers.  It reminded me just how good he could be when he is on.

The episode itself was a typical pilot.  We met the characters.  We were teased with story to come over the course of the season.  And we were given a case of the week that brought everyone together.

Let’s start with the team.

First of all there’s the leader, Phil Coulson.  You know, the guy who died in the Avengers.  Don’t worry, that is explained.  They managed to revive him, but they didn’t tell the Avengers since his death would bring them together to fight the foe.  He was sent to Tahiti to recuperate, or at least that’s what he thinks.  It sounds like there was something else going on, but all we got was a hint.

Then there’s Grant Ward.  He’s a loner used to action and fighting.  In fact, when we first see him, he’s doing a Mission: Impossible style mission in Paris all by himself.  He’s not happy to be working with a team, at least on the surface.

Melinda May is their pilot.  She’s been happily working in a cubical for a while, and she is only working with this team as the pilot.  At one point, she does get in a fight, and isn’t happy about it.  Obviously, she was a field agent but lost the desire for that for some reason.  We just don’t know why yet.

Then there are the science twins.  Okay, they aren't really twins, but Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons do both speak with British accents and are obviously very smart.  They certainly bicker like siblings, too.  That’s pretty much all we know about them at this point.

Finally, there’s Sky.  She’s the outsider of the group for sure since when we first meet her, she is trying to help a man with abilities avoid S.H.I.E.L.D.  Now she’s been recruited to help them.  What her agenda is and how she relates to the group Rising Tide was a little unclear to me.  I think she is the entire group Rising Tide, but I could be wrong.  Either way, she will obviously be the computer hacker who questions the group when they go remotely off course.

The action centered around a man in Los Angeles.  He’s lost a job at a factory and is trying to find something new to support himself and his son.  When a building near him explodes, he climbs the side of the building and rushes in, saving a woman in the process.

There are several phone videos taken of the rescue, but none of them capture his face.  Sky is there, and she does see his face and is able to track him down.  She begs him to let her work with him to put him into hiding before S.H.I.E.L.D finds him, but he refuses.

Next, we see him trying to find a job.  He had been injured in a factory accident, and he even goes back to his old factory, but his old foreman refuses to hire him.  That’s when he loses his temper and starts shoving things around, even beating up the foreman (off screen).

And it’s then we learn he has an implant in his arm that sort of looks like a centipede.  It is what is giving him the powers.  And it was implanted by the woman who he rescued from the explosion.

With no other prospects, he and his son show up at Sky’s van and take her hostage to get the new identities.  Meanwhile, the S.H.I.E.L.D team has figured out the chemicals giving him his powers are also making him unstable.  He will blow, literally, if they don’t figure out a way to reverse it soon.  In fact, the only other person to have this procedure done to them is what caused the explosion that started the episode.

When S.H.I.E.L.D figures out that Sky is being held by this guy, they swoop in to try to help, leading to a stand off in LA’s train station.  They are hoping the scientists can figure out a way to reverse the chemicals running through his system.  They are ready to kill him before he explodes if they can’t.

And the leader is talking to him, calming him down.  Just as it looks like the crisis is averted, loaner shoots him.  But it’s okay.  It’s with the antidote.

As I said, it was a pilot.  Lots of exposition and set up and introducing the characters.  Still, the effects held up well and there were several one liners.  Looks like I will be giving Joss another chance.  I hope he doesn’t let me down again.

Of course, we’ll have to see how the ratings are opposite NCIS, too.

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