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- Episode: Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)
- Starring: Clark Gregg. Ming-Na Wen, Brett Walton, J. August Richards, Chloe Bennet, Cobie Smulders
- Written By: Joss Whedon
- Directed By: Joss Whedon
- Network: ABC
- Studio: ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy
Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode Review 1.1
The long awaited pilot arrives and conquers!
By Tim Janson
September 25, 2013
Do you know who I’d hate to be today? Dan DiDio, Publisher of DC Comics…or pretty much anyone who works at DC, from DiDio down to the janitor. After hundreds of episodes of Smallville, Arrow, The Adventures of Lois and Clark, Superboy, The Flash, and Birds of Prey, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. blew them all away in terms of live-action superhero TV in one fell swoop. While DC’s live-actions shows have often gone out of their way to ignore their comic book roots like turkeys avoiding the Thanksgiving carving knife, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. embraces its lineage from the opening scene, which gives us glimpses of the Avengers, and features a bushel full of comic book references, many of which only bona fide comic geeks will get. In fact if you were to feel compelled to level any criticism at the debut episode it is that you wonder if perhaps that creator/Director/Writer Joss Whedon might have tried to be too cute and too wry with the inside references…but we’re not going there!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. picks up shortly after the events in The Avengers as the world now knows that superheroes and Gods walk among us. S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), is working to try and track down the ever-growing number of people with special abilities. When one of these gifted people saves a woman from a burning building, S.H.I.E.L.D. leaps into action. Agent Phil Coulson, last seen dead in the Avengers, is back and leading the show, explaining that his death was faked in order to help galvanize and unite the Avengers against their enemies. Cobie Smulders also reprises her role from the Avengers in the pilot episode as Agent Maria Hill who hints at something more mysterious about Coulson’s resurrection and says that he must never know. Could Coulson actually be a Life Model Decoy (LMD), a lifelike android that S.H.I.E.L.D. is known to frequently utilize in the Marvel Universe?
Coulson promotes a brash, young agent Grant Ward (Brett Walton) to Level 7 to help track down and capture the mystery man along with a young computer hacker named Syke who is obsessed with superheroes and conspiracy theories. Joining them is Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), pilot and weapons experts who is put back in the field by Coulson against her wishes. Rounding out the main cast are Agents Leo Fitz who specializes in weapons technology, and Jemma Simmons, who specializes in life sciences and biology.
The comic book references come rapid fire with mentions of Professor Erskine’s Super Soldier formula; the mysterious Project Pegasus; Natasha Romanoff (AKA The Black Widow); Extremis, the Super Soldier/bio-electric device that instills super powers in people. It is the Extremis device that is found to give mystery man Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) his powers but at a deadly cost. There’s even a jab thrown out at “Arrow” when the media refers to Peterson as the “Hooded Hero” and Skye remarks to him that, “You’re not going to use THAT name are you?” Priceless! Near the end of the episode Coulson remarks about tracking down the organization responsible for fitting Peterson with the device and cutting off its head, a not so subtle hit at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s are-nemesis, HYDRA.
Gregg’s witty, deadpan humor, ultra-cool Agent Coulson drives the show (at least so far) keeping in check the rest of the frenetic members of his team. Agents Ward, Fitz, and Simmons will need more development to set them apart from stock characters but I like inclusion of Skye, however improbable, as a civilian member of the team. The best thing about the pilot is that it left you wanting more…you want to know more about Coulson, more about who is behind Extremis, and certainly more about the 0-8-4 alert! But for a debut episode, Whedon blasted this one out of the park and into the streets.