Agents of SHIELD – Welcome to Level 7


ABC premiered the much anticipated ‘Agents of SHIELD.’ Did the latest project from Marvel and Joss Whedon live up to the hype?


Unlike most new pilots, ABC and Marvel decided not to provide the press with a screener of the highly anticipated Agents of SHIELD. They did screen the episode a couple times this summer, but most of us were left on the outside of Marvel’s cone of secrecy (Though I’m still not sure I understand the point of restricting access to the pilot once it has been screened publicly). Regardless, SHIELD arrived in fine form tonight, reminding us that Joss Whedon was kicking ass on television long before Marvel came knocking on his door.

The smartest thing Team Whedon did was bring Phil Coulson back from the dead.
The smartest thing Team Whedon did was bring Phil Coulson back from the dead … even if we don’t yet know how our favorite agent survived. Since the announcement, my theory is that the “current” Coulson is a Life Model Decoy, a robot used by SHIELD in the comic books. It’s the most logical explanation (science over magic), but it will also lead to an interesting arc if (read: when) Coulson ever figures out his origin. Sure, an android questioning his humanity is a story we’ve seen before (Star Trek’s Data and soon this season on FOX’s Almost Human), but I’d really like to see Clark Gregg’s take on the trope.

A decision that I wasn’t quite sure about was the casting of Ming Na as Melinda May. Despite Na’s underappreciated work on Stargate: Universe, I still have difficulty disassociating her with her work on ER. But those fears were unfounded. While Coulson was definitely the featured player in the pilot, there was something about Na’s performance that sticks out. Coulson brings May along as a way of starting some kind of redemptive arc for the character … even though we don’t know yet what in her past caused her current state of “brokenness.”

One of my biggest problems with the third Iron Man film this summer was that it nearly ignored the events of The Avengers. While Tony Stark suffered from PTSD, we saw very little of how the Chitauri invasion changed the greater world. Thankfully, SHIELD seems determined to fill that gap. From the Avengers “Heroes of New York” to the alien technology left behind by the invaders. I’m looking forward to how the show explores a post-Avengers world. A great deal was revealed to the world during the attack; from aliens to monsters to gods, the game has definitely changed.

Agents of SHIELD represents some of that change. This isn’t the first time a movie franchise has found its way to the small screen, but it might be the first time both mediums have been part of a continuing story in such an elaborate way. Whether or not SHIELD will be as successful as the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains to be seen; the show has some pretty stiff competition, including television’s most watched show in NCIS. Despite going head to head with Agent Gibbs and his team, I have a feeling that Agent Coulson will hold his own.

Notes & Quotes

  • I attributed tonight’s episode to Joss, but it is really his uber-talented brother and sister-in-law Jed and Mo Tancharoen that will be handling the showrunning duties.
  • It’s not lost on me that Shannon Lucio has been saved from death from George O’Malley on Grey’s Anatomy and now here on SHIELD.
  • “What does SHIELD stand for, Agent Ward?” – Maria Hill
    “Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.” – Grant Ward
    “And what does that mean to you?” – Hill
    “It means someone really wanted our initials to spell out SHIELD.” – Ward
  • “I don’t think Thor is technically a god.” – Ward
    “Well, you haven’t been near his arms.” – Hill
  • “With great power comes … a ton of weird crap that you are not prepared to deal with.” – Skye
  • Project Pegasus?
  • “She might as well be one of those sweaty cosplay girls crowding around Stark Tower.” – Ward
    “What?!? I would … one time.” – Skye
  • “Don’t ever tell me there’s no way! It’s on you; get it done.” – Agent Coulson does not screw around
  • It’s not just that SHIELD explores a post-Avengers world, its that it is grounded in the MCU (with all the easter eggs) in ways that Iron Man 3 seemed to want to distance itself from.
  • J. August Richards and Cobie Smulders got all of the hype this summer, but the news that Ron Glass (Firefly’s Sheppard Book) has a role stayed oddly under the radar.


Photo Credit: ABC/Justin Lubin

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