I avoided a lot of the pre-SHIELD hype because I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the big reveal. I think that was a wise choice. Many of the best aspects of the show were highlighted in the few promos I did see, so I’m glad I saved some surprise for the show itself.
After the first 7 minutes (yes, I checked) most of the bright, shiny, sheen of brand new excitement had worn off and I started actually watching the show. These first moments hit all my major buttons, the appearance of Maria Hill, J. August Richards, Shepard Book, and of course Agent Coulson – not to mention the cool loving shots of the ship (err…plane).
Truthfully, I didn’t spent most of the hour completely wrapped up in the Marvel-verse as I had hoped. A lot of the premiere was spent on introductions in more of a tell kind of way. Despite the flashy action, and my love for J. August Richards, there wasn’t much to the case of the week or to the aspects of world building that seem to be the most important, building relationships and characters were conspicuously missing.
As obvious as background of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is for many viewers, it’s quite clear that the pilot episode was very careful to fill in the gaps for the audience that is less aware of the background set up in the Marvel films, particularly, The Avengers (who are these people?)
But these are all common pilot problems, and nothing that I’m not ready to look past in hopes of improvements in episodes to come, SHIELD certainly boasts the kind of talent behind the scenes to have earned this trust.
My biggest beef with the pilot episode was Skye, who grated majorly. To me, she’s the Eliza Dushku character of the series. A brunette from the wrong side of the tracks, with no problems getting on the wrong side of the law, with a lot of sass. She’s also apparently super smart, but this is all delivered with a lot of telling without showing.
Next up is that I’m just not buying the Agent Ward as anything more than bland, for now. I interpreted the dig on the Tony Stark cosplay girls as a shorthand for explaining that this character isn’t a guy we’re supposed to like, but again, a case of a shortcut instead of showing us through more substantial actions, and in the meantime can be interpreted as insulting a significant portion of the fanbase. Also, those meaningful looks after the mission shared with Ward and the team, certainly didn’t feel emotionally earned.
I’ll counter that piece of negativity with my biggest point of intrigue. I want to know what’s up with Melinda May! Ming Na-Wen plays her with such reserved poise, even when the mystery is served with a heavy hand; I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. I want to know what’s behind her retreat to red tape and being “just the pilot”.
Problems aside, I’m still charmed, and optimistic for the outlook for the series as it grows into itself over the next few episodes. What did you think of the pilot – is it as Whedony as you expected?