The enjoyable-if-not-gripping series premiere of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD plays much like the first half hour of The Avengers did, kicking off with lots of setup—made more palatable by writer/director/producer Joss Whedon’s trademark witty dialogue—and team assembling. But while the hour-long pilot episode didn't blow me away the way The Avengers did last year (or okay, while no relationship grabbed me by the heart the way Black Widow/Hawkeye did), my past experience with Whedon projects is such that I have faith in the future of Agents of SHIELD and that the payoff will be well worth it.
Until then, here, have a list of my favorite parts of the episode (and please share yours with me):
— Phil Coulson: Agent Coulson's return from the dead was obviously a huge draw in the first episode. HOW is he back? Well, we didn't learn much except that Coulson believes he was merely resucitated by the medical team and then sent by Director Fury to Tahiti to recover. Maria Hill telling a team doctor that Coulson should “never know” what really happened was most intriguing, and will be fun to try to puzzle out this season.
— Melinda May: Pulled out from behind a desk by Coulson, “just the pilot” Agent May—who nevertheless shows off impressive combat skills—was a cool customer in the pilot, and I liked her. Sounds like she has some history with Coulson, too, if her immediate response to him (“No” and “I'm not going back in the field”) is any indication. Iiiiinteresting.
— FitzSimmons: I've revealed my not-so-secret-anymore habit of trying to predict my new 'ships, so you may already know that I'm hoping the Leo Fitz/Gemma Simmons relationship will play out a friends-to-lovers story on the show. The pilot didn't have time to flesh these two out as much as other characters, but we did get to see them finishing each other's sentences and calming each other down in times of stress, which was way cute. The question will be: Is their chemistry sibling-like, or are we going to be tortured for years by their UST (unresolved sexual tension)? I'm still undecided.
— Sky/Grant Ward: Sky was not my favorite character introduced in the pilot (Chloe Bennet's performance felt a little too rehearsed to me, and Sky herself hasn't yet caught my interest yet), but I did quite like the truth serum scene between her and Agent Grant Ward (who had a badass fight scene early in the episode). I saw some chemistry between them, and, well, it was funny!
—The tech: “The bus,” or SHIELD's jet and the team's new home base, reminds me a bit of Serenity, so that's awesome. And Extremis fascinated me in Iron Man 3, so I'm glad it's going to be addressed in SHIELD too. Coulson's car, Lola, though...that last scene of Coulson and Sky flying away in it was a bit too Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang for me, to be honest. Maybe it'll grow on me.
— Mike Peterson: The show's goal is to tell the stories of heroes who aren't necessarily super, but I hope Mike sticks around anyway. I liked seeing an ordinary guy struggle with new powers, and so much story and conflict could come from that. And what's with the “unregistered gifted” reference? Was that a throwaway line meant just to say that SHIELD didn't have him on their radar, or am I missing something and superheroes now need to be registered? (Didn't the heroes fight a civil war over that very thing in the comics?)
—The Avengers references: Look, I get that the show wants/needs to distinguish itself from the movie 'verse, but I'm not gonna lie, I loved every single reference to the Avengers, from statements about Ward's marks in espionage approaching Natasha Romanoff's to shots of their action figures in a store window. I eagerly await more of these easter eggs for MCU fans.
— The dialogue: This IS a Joss Whedon show, so I came away with several favorite lines (probably unsurprisingly, two of them are about hot bodies—thanks, Joss!), such as:
Dalton: “I don't think Thor is technically a god.”
Hill: “You haven't been near his arms.”
Sky: “Well, Just because you're reasonable and—firm...doesn't mean that you're not a...evil faceless government toolbag.“Mike: ”I could, you know. Be a hero.“Coulson: ”I'm counting on it.“
All of this is to say, I can already tell you I'm in this show for the long haul and have high hopes for it. Probably doesn't hurt that SHIELD's day-to-day showrunners, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen (Joss Whedon's brother and sister-in-law), wrote my all-time favorite episode of Dollhouse—Season 2's ”Belonging,” which was all about the secondary characters—and co-wrote Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The show's off to a good start, and I think it'll only getter better from here.
ETA: Updated with links because that might be helpful.
Heather Waters is the site manager of H&H, and a 24/7 fangirl. Tweet her @redline_