Initial Impressions on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has now shown 2 episodes and I have to say that I’m hooked. Immediately after the pilot episode aired, I wouldn’t have been so sure, but after watching “0-8-4” this week, I know they’ve got a sure fire formula for bringing me in.
“But Chris! You’re Marvel’s #1 proponent, even in times of trouble and turbulence you’ve stood your ground and never faltered.” That’s how I imagine people would react to my lackluster impression of the Pilot, but I found that I have been out of serialized television shows for so long I didn’t know how to react. My weekly watch list consists of Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Aqua TV Show Show now), Tosh.0, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and South Park. These shows aren’t known for keeping a narrative or portraying character growth over a season and that’s something I need to get into.
Similar to my distaste for the first season of Breaking Bad for its slow pace and lack of spectacle, SHIELD had a very slow pilot episode but was immediately followed by a stronger second helping. This is much to the fact that it focused on how this rag tag team, the Coulson Crew, needs to overcome differences and work together in order to tackle the ongoing super human dilemma in that universe. My core belief is that the Pilot and 0-8-4 are in fact the opening movie for the film and benefit from being watched together, as one episode alone was not enough to build the characters and how they need to tackle the Rising Tide (if you understand the vernacular). The first episode ended half heartedly and the second picked up almost immediately from there, however its ending was much more satisfying as whole and I can’t stress how much better I felt when it was over than the week prior.
SHIELD has captivated my imagination by not shying away from death, action, betrayal, and the most exciting part, underscoring how the bigger super heroes (and villains) from the cinematic offerings are affecting SHIELD and the everyday going-ons in the world. We get a reference to Coulson finding Thor’s hammer and it being the last 0-8-4, the recent Iron Man 3’s Extremis powering humans to meta-levels and then also causing adverse reactions, and lastly the cosmic cube powered Nazi weaponry that still exists in the world. With these factors in the background, it brings relevance to SHIELD and what the crew is up against in this show.
Mind you, my foremost concern (that will probably be quelled as the episodes go on) is that we still have some very unrelatable characters in the show right now and the biggest complaint I hear is about Skye, the non-SHIELD hacker who is added into the team in a haphazard way. She of course clashes with the one track minded Agent Ward who is the ultimate human soldier. Between him and Melinda May (great alliteration), they seem to be the Jason Bournes of the show, with one shrouded in mystery and the other with an ego that can’t fit on the plane. These are all flanked by the scientists, FitzSimmons (Fitz and Simmons, how clever). One focuses on biology and the other on technology, which has been really neat to see the quadrocopters bring forth personality in tech form, much like Iron Man’s dummy robot. Fun fact, they’re named after Snow White and the 7 Dwarves so far, so let’s see how far they take that Disney reference.
All of these distinct personalities and abilities are all shepherded by the one and only Agent Coulson. Yes, he ‘died’ in the Avengers. Yes, he apparently was in Tahiti for a while. No, not everything is as it seems. From the initial passing sentence by Maria Hill “He can never know,” to his super reflexes in the pilot, and more so the constant mentioning that he was in Tahiti, something seems up and they’re not going to reveal it to us just yet. I assume it’ll be a full season mystery to be revealed in the finale or perhaps a mid season cliff hanger to get us back next spring for the final episodes. Either way, that’s the biggest hook for me to see the show. Damn you, Joss Whedon and your sly ways.
On a side note, they have had one major cameo from the larger Marvel universe both episodes so far, but I don’t think that’s needed for the show to succeed and have fun at what it’s doing (but I’m not complaining at the small roles either, they seemed very appropriate). Seeing Maria Hill and Nick Fury give Coulson a hard time is rather humorous and the actors seem to be really relishing in their roles, something that’s gives the dire circumstances a lighter mood.
The point of this isn’t to rate the show on just two episodes, but encourage those who didn’t truly like the starting point to keep going for a few more. I found myself drawn back in to the great mixture of mystery and science that this show is throwing at us and I’m now ready to commit myself weekly for the season. If you’re ready to learn more about SHIELD and the B or C list characters from the comics, then I suggest you stick around as well.