Hello, welcome to the recap of a superhero show by someone cares very little for and knows very little about superheroes. This will go really well for all of us. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered last night, and the bottom line is, even though it’s full of cliches and inside jokes, at least it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I didn’t actively enjoy watching it because comic books aren’t a passion of mine, but even if they’re not totally your thing, you should be able to get through this with merely a small force of trusty eye rolls.
The first cliche we encounter is a voiceover as a kid looks at superhero action figures in the window of a store. Then BANG! The building blows up behind him! And there are people trapped! So the dad leaves his kid, runs around the corner of the building and then — gasp! — punches his way through the brick to make himself some handholds, which he uses to spider up the wall and save a lady inside. Then he jumps out the window with her in his arms, only to be caught on the camera phone of that girl from Nashville (Chloe Bennet), whose name here is Skye. Good for you being on primetime shows two nights in a row, girl.
Cut to Paris, where Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) is being told to abort a mission, interrupting his perfect French and use of fancy spy equipment, like scanning a guy’s fingerprints off his glass using the napkin on his tray. We get to see three cliches in quick succession: a room behind a fireplace, a woman in a dressing gown, and an extended kitchen fight, then cut to main headquarters.
Where we come face to face with Cobie Smulders, who plays Agent Hill. She gives Ward (aka the audience) the requisite back story about S.H.I.E.L.D., that they ‘Protect people from news they aren’t ready to hear. And when we can’t do that, we keep people safe.’ But you couldn’t keep Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) safe! He died in The Avengers! But then there he comes from a darkened corner, not dead at all, and Ward is boosted to security level seven.
First task? What to do about this ‘unregistered Gifted’, aka the guy who rescued the woman out of that building. Coulson assigns Ward the task of making contact with him, which he’s not into. Which is probably why Skye beats him to it. She wants him to go public so S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t get to him, and also pickpockets his ID off him on his way out the door.
Oh hello actress Ming-Na Wen. We haven’t seen each other since your ER days. Now I’m supposed to call you Melinda May and hope that you come out of retirement like Coulson asks so you can ‘drive the bus’. Which turns out to be a fancy black plane.
We also have a set of Hogwarts nerds that go by Fitzsimons. A Scottish dude named Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and a British girl named Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). They’re very genius and VERY poor with social skills. Because of course.
Coulson goes to Skye’s magical wi-fi van where she’s making voiceovers for her group The Rising Tide, and kidnaps her back to the plane, where he and Ward begin to interrogate her and she makes the first reference to Project Centipede.
Back in the real world, the unregistered superhero guy, Michael, is having an altercation with his boss, who won’t hire him back after he sustained an injury on-site. Apparently after he got hurt, Michael took some kind of product from a doctor that gave him this super-strength, and it comes from a weird centipede shaped thing on his arm. When he can’t get his job back, Michael throws his boss down, saying, “You’re the bad guy, and I’m the hero,”…and then murders him in the face with a metal canister.
At the old crime scene, Fitzsimmons look at evidence and remind us that they are antisocial smart people. Inside references for days.
And this is where I stop understanding things, because back at the interrogation, Coulson prepares a truth serum to use on Skye, theoretically, but then stabs Ward with it, and has Skye start interrogating him. It makes no sense to me.
And then it turns out that the woman Michael saved from the building is actually the doctor who made him this way. And he exposed the program! It’s a disaster! “No,” he says, “it’s an origin story.” He did everything but wink at the camera, I swear to god.
Rebuilding the crime scene before the moment of the blast somehow, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is able to see that the reason the building exploded is that there was another guy with a centipede arm, and he himself exploded. So Michael will too, and everybody wants to kill him so that doesn’t happen. Except Coulson, who wants to find a way to do it without robbing the guy’s son of a father. How sweet. Better hurry and find a way to do that, geniuses!
Meanwhile, Michael appears at Skye’s van to rescue her from Melinda. He makes Skye delete him from the internet, and she sends her coordinates to S.H.I.E.L.D. so they can come rescue her. Everyone convenes on a train station, and there’s a bunch of altercations as multiple groups try to take down Michael. Coulson gets him in a standoff by telling him what happened to the other guy, the other test subject. Just a big ‘ol speech about being the underdog. I wrote down, “Let’s bond, buddy.” And then, in the crucial moment, someone takes a shot with a magical non-killing bullet, and the day is saved! Good thing we figured that out! Cue the smile, thumbs-up, and high five montage.
And lest you think they ended the first episode without introducing a flying car, DON’T WORRY THEY FOUND THE TIME. Right after Coulson asks Skye to be on the team, it turns out his car can fly. ‘Because of course.’ Which should probably be the tagline of this series.
Sigh. Maybe it only felt convoluted and annoying to me, because of my aforementioned bias against superhero stuff, so if you like, you can see for yourself, here. It’s the whole episode. Godspeed.