I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of the Marvel Universe but have seen all the Marvel Phase 1 films that led to The Avengers which begat this show. I enjoyed The Avengers and when I found out that a TV show that would focus on S.H.I.E.L.D and led by Coulson (Clark Gregg) had me intrigued mostly because I wanted to see how they would resurrect him considering he died in the film.
The pilot does explain how Coulson lives with a little help from Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill (once How I Met Your Mother ends, Smulders easily could come back).
Aside explaining how Coulson survived being kille by Loki, I wanted to see this show because of Ming-Na, an actress I’ve been a fan of since ER and the fact that she is the voice of Mulan, who here plays Agent Melinda May, a S.H.I.E.L.D agent relunctantly pulled back into the field by Coulson to help transport his team around (more on that later).
The “Pilot” opens up in Los Angeles and we see the effects of what happened in New York as we see a young African American boy peering at a shop window that features figurines of The Avengers. His father asks which is his favorite one but the boy doesn’t answer. This is Michael Petersen (J. August Richardson) and he is down on his luck as he has been laid off from his factory job and his wife has left him.
Soon a building explodes and Michael leaves his son with a friend to go and see if anybody needs help. We soon learn that Michael is super as he scaled the walls with his bare hands and saves a young woman and super jumps down to safety. When he does land, he is caught on camera phone by Skye (Chloe Benet), who runs, Rising Tide a website that wants to draw out SHIELD.
We switch our action to Paris where we are introduced to Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) who is on a mission to recover a Chitauri (the aliens that attacked New York in The Avengers) artifact and after completing it is summoned to the classified location of Agent Maria Hill (Smulders) who tells him that he is being placed on Agent Coulson’s team to help people understand that there is more out there like aliens and supers. Ward doesn’t believe her considering Coulson died but out of the shadow emerges Coulson who still has that tongue and cheekiness about him present in all the Marvel films. Coulson and Hill explain to Ward that Nick Fury (as played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel films) told the Avengers that he was dead to get them to rally together and fight Loki and the on coming aliens.
Ward is obviously the reluctant agent not wanting to be part of SHIELD and what they have to do. Other than Ward and May, we also have Fitz (Iain De Caesteker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who are collectively called FitzSimmons are kind of the Q of SHIELD. And they are pretty hilarious together and have some cool gadgets like the 7 probe droids (which names after the seven dwarves) that Fitz has to comb the building explosion that the realize was no accident.
Skye has tracked down Michael and tells him that he should reveal himself as the hero that saved the lady from the building. He is reluctant but Skye tells him he is in danger from SHIELD. Michael still doesn’t believe he should reveal himself and leaves.
Coulson and team go out to find the person behind the Rising Tide and pretty easily find Skye in her van. They take her in their awesome looking airplane to question her. She doesn’t yield under the interrogation she receives from Ward and Coulson but Coulson gains her trust when he tranqs Ward with truth serum so that Skye can ask him whatever she wants.
Skye finally cooperates when she sees that Michael goes crazy when he attacks his former factory foreman, seriously injuring him. Throughout the episode we hear things about someone behind some project called Centipede (Skye brings this up during her interrogation) and we see that Michael has a centipede like device on his arm.
And once Skye gives Michael’s name and using her audio combined with video found in the building we learn that the building was some sort of lab that used the serum that was used on Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger but jacked up and the bomb was one of the men who was experimented on. Coulson mentions the word Extremis and realizes that the man was the bomb. If you’ve seen Iron Man 3 you will know that the Extremis were super soldier of the Mandarin and did indeed overheat and explode. And Michael is on the verge of exploding. But before he does, he goes to see the woman he rescued but they actually know each other. She is the doctor that performed the experiments on him and he needs her help. She doesn’t want to because he has exposed them.
Michael leaves the hospital and with his son, goes to Skye (who SHIELD let go to retrieve the audio they needed) for help. Skye helps erase his identity but at the same time tips off Coulson, who tasks FitzSimmons to finds a cure for Michael.
At the LA train station, Coulson and Ward try to help Michael while the doctor and her henchman want to kill him. Coulson manages to calm Michael down but then Ward shoots him in the head but he has shot the antidote and Michael will be okay.
As Skye and Coulson visits Michael’s family, Coulson wants Skye to join SHIELD. Skye doesn’t know but when Ward mentions 084, this intrigues both of them and Coulson gives her 10 minutes to think of his offer and LOLA (his vintage car) converts to a flying car ala Back to the Future Part II.
Of course we know that Skye will be part of SHIELD and so ends the first episode.
What do I think of it? It was okay. I really did like FitzSimmons they were a funny team and you gotta love a show that gives a Harry Potter shout out. . I liked how the sprinkled a lot of the Marvel universe in the pilot from seeing an ad for Stark Industries on a bus to Ward mentioning Stark Tower and Hill being around God-like Thor. There was references to the Hulk, the Black Widow and Steve Rogers as well as Asgard and in a round about way Loki. It was good to have Hill in the episode but of course this would be her only appearance on the show for now. For a TV show, I thought it had pretty descent special effects.
The problem with the show is that you had to have watched The Avengers to understand what was going on in the pilot. So let us hope that future episodes are standalone enough that people don’t have to know the Marvel universe to like this show. I did like it but I am not quite sure what SHIELD wants to be and what is their storytelling. Is it helping supers deal with their powers, dealing with super villains or aliens on a weekly basis? Also is the show about peeling off the layers to truly find out what happened to Coulson as it seemed mysterious as to whether or not he recovered in Tahiti as Hill seemed to hint that he really didn’t. I will stick with this show to find out.