Originally published on Thursday, September 26th 2013
The pilot episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D opens on a world adapting to the events that unfolded during the Avengers. The general population knows that superpowers are real – and the heroes and villains that come with them.
The episode opens on a young, out of work father and his son. Almost immediately we find out that he is not just an ordinary guy, he has super strength and he uses it to rescue a woman out of a burning building – making him a superhero (or at least a potential superhero) in our minds.
Cut to the head quarters of SHIELD where we discover Agent Coulson didn’t actually die in the Battle of New York (Hooray!). How he survived however was completely glossed over – we’re simply told Nick Fury faked his death to unite the Avengers. I would have liked a little more, but maybe my clearance level isn’t high enough. Now that’s he’s back he’s assembling a team of highly skilled individuals to help him round up new superheroes and crack down on new threats. They’re the Black Ops of this brave new world.
Joss Whedon has assembled a pretty standard Joss Whedony group to make up this team.
First we have Grant Ward. He already works for SHIELD but he works alone, as he emphatically tells Coulson. He does things “his way” and doesn’t play well with others. Your standard tough guy – easy money that eventually he’ll soften up and become a team player.
Next up is Skye, an underground hacker who is mega talented. So talented in fact she is able to hack into SHIELD’s databases and encrypt her files so even their top specialists can’t track read them (and yet they still seem to have a pretty easy time finding her). I like Skye. She’s smart and spunky and she knows it. She’s that fantastic female character that shows up in so many Joss Whedon projects like Buffy, Black Widow, Echo/Caroline, Kaylee…If you liked all those characters and found yourself instantly drawn to them, you will like Skye as well.
And then there’s Fitz + Simmons (or FitzSimmons). Our lab geeks and easily my favourite of the bunch. A male-female team, they’re super smart and finish each other incredibly excited jargon-filled sentences. They are adorable and I can already tell I’m going to get super attached to them. Oh and did I mention one is Scottish and one is British? *Swoon*
Don’t get me wrong when I say they are your typical Whedon fare. I like all these characters and I love Joss Whedon’s work. They’re well written, likeable and genuine. And all of the actors are fabulous. But there is clearly a formula going on here and I hope as the show progresses Whedon breaks away from it a little bit. Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy Whedon! Your fans believe in you!
However that being said – I’m happy one Whedon standard remains. That is, well written characters of both genders! *\o/* It’s not filled with guys saving the day, and it’s not stock “Strong Female Characters.” These are detailed and seemingly layered (we’ll have to wait to see if they actually are) characters, regardless of what gender they are. Everyone gets equal treatment and for that it gets all the points.
This show has quite a bit of action – although not as much action as one might expect – but it has quite a bit of humour as well. Lines like “with great power comes a ton of weird stuff” and references to “sweaty cosplay girls hanging around Stark Towers” (FAKE GEEk GIRL REFERENCE!) it is clear that we’re going to be in for more than a few laughs and a lot of fun references.
This episode is fairly self contained – the man we meet at the beginning is reduced to nothing more than a “monster of the week” but there are hints at a larger scheme at play. I like this format and I hope it sticks to it, much like the early seasons of Fringe and The X-Files.
All in all Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was pretty much what I expected. Solid, if predictable characters, some humour, some action sequences and more Coulson. And what more could you want from Tuesday night television?