This episode, being comprised of four Micro-Episodes, is naturally somewhat tough to review. Do I review it as a compilation, or as I would a normal episode? My answer: yes. I will be reviewing all the Micro-Episodes at once, when I finish them. But this episode aired on TV, all four parts put together into one whole, so I'm going to treat it the same way I'd treat any other standalone episode.
This, for all intents and purposes, is Iron Man's introduction. What we see is exactly who Iron Man is. Iron Man is repentant, to the point of self-destruction. To put it simply, he hates what he used to do. What he used to make. He can't undo what he's unleashed into the world, but that won't stop him from trying. It's apparent that he doesn't trust others, for many reasons. HYDRA, S.H.I.E.L.D., what's the difference? They're both illegally using tech he invented for their own ends. And Tony blames himself for anything done with his technology. He can only trust himself, and even then, he barely does.
Then our viewpoint in the final part shifts to Nick Fury, who was arguably an antagonist for most of the episode. This not only well rounds the character, but begins a very important series of events. The existence of a secret prison for super-criminals is the whole point of the series premiere. Fury's contrast with Maria Hill is shown well, too. Nick Fury focuses more on results while Hill does things by the book. It becomes instantly clear that without Fury in charge, superheroes would probably have some S.H.I.E.L.D. opposition. At the very least, there would be some friction, and it would probably end badly.
The big problem with this episode is that it airs after the premiere. This is a must-watch prequel to understand the premiere, but... why teach the class if they be already taken the test? Though I do get it from the perspective of the showmakers. "Breakout" parts 1 and 2 start the show with a bang. Still, there's some vital information in the prequel episodes.
I can only assume that they thought everyone would have watched the Micro-Episodes already, but that's a leap of faith. As such, I must recommend that people watch the series out of episodic order, to keep the events in chronological order.
Other than that, this was a great episode that begins several amazing story arcs. The action was great, and knew how to keep attention (unlike many fight scenes I've seen in other Marvel shows), and once we see the Vault, the mystery and intrigue is top-notch.
I highly recommend this episode to anyone interested in the series. This episode is the perfect starting point.