Sunday, February 9, 2014

View Log: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "Pilot"

Well, it's me, Newt. Remember me? I said I'd be doing guest posts on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Anyway, There's a little phrase that I went back and forth over whether or not I should use it when posting these View Logs: "In the comics."

I firmly believe that this show must work on its own merits. ...But I still think that over 60 years of publication history is important to at least touch upon. Besides, we've got the Artsy Core him?/her?/it?self for the non-comic reader's perspective. Still, I'll keep in mind that not everyone will know everything I know about the comic history.
Well, the title's accurate. Agents appeared, and they were members of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I went back and forth on whether or not to do my regular linear recaps, like on my own blog, but I eventually decided that I wouldn’t. Sorry if I disappointed anyone, but I can type almost 3,000 words on a half-hour show, and AoS is twice that. Sorry if this seems a little disjointed as a result of this new format for me. I’m writing this View Log with the assumption that you’ve actually seen the episode, or have at least read a synopsis. I’ll go over plot points linearly, but don’t expect a full recap. In fact, go watch the pilot. I’ll wait.

No, really, I’ll wait.

Seriously, waiting on you.

Okay, fine, you probably just skipped all that anyway. Let’s begin.
I appreciate a renewed focus on the plights of the little people on the ground, rather than the "gods and monsters" flying around in the skies. In fact, that's a huge part of the story. It's an interesting thing to explore, and explored it is. Quite well, in fact. We see that life does indeed go on for the people left below. Some embrace the new status quo, some fear it, others simply go about the 9-to-5.

"Yeah, the boss says that the Chitauri invasion isn't a suitable excuse for missing work. He's treating it as a sick day, but I can't let it happen again."

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the characters actually had that exact thing happen to them, as you'll see, but we’ll get there. The show presents a post-invasion world in a compromised way. By that, I mean it's generally less used to the weirdness of the Marvels, but not as hostile as the "real world" is usually shown to be. The theme song is like the Avengers theme if it tried to hide from us. Fits the show well.

The little references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe really make this world seem huge, populated, and real. The world seems tangible and... well, real. The people inhabiting this world add to that, as well. I've always thought that characterization was Whedon's greatest strength, and you know what? I haven't changed my mind. The scene with the truth serum cracked me up.

Now, in my first post, I was wrong about Coulson. Instead of the role of the protagonist, he's instead more like the Chief, taking more of a "Nick Fury" role. Look, I'm sorry, but there are spoilers ahead for The Avengers. Coulson was stabbed through the back by Loki and he died. Well, we think.... I'm wondering what actually happened to Coulson. Where did his mind, spirit, soul, whatever go after his death? What did he seeonce he shuffled off this mortal coil? Did he even really die? My theory is that he's an LMD. A "Life Model Decoy." In the comics, LMD's are perfect robot duplicates that can be used as decoys. I think Coulson's one, mainly because of this exchange:

"He doesn't know, does he?"
"He can never know."

And now, let’s discuss “The Hooded Hero." No, not the similarly-named protagonist from Arrow, but the guy from this show. Also known as “Not-Luke-Cage-But-Pretty-Much-Just-Luke-Cage.” I mean, he’s black, he’s superstrong, he has job issues… what's stopping him from becoming a guy who saves people for a living? A "Hero For Hire," if you will.

Skye: "With great power comes... a ton of weird crap that you are not prepared to deal with."

Good point, he should probably change his name to an alias. How about, “Luke Cage/Power Man, Hero for Hire”? But no, he’s really “Mike Perterson.” Wait…  Mike Peterson? The guy who hung out with Slapstick? No, actually, he’s an original character who happens to share his name with a minor supporting character for a Z-list hero. It’s not an uber-nerdy reference by Whedon.

Speaking of whom, my Whedon-Sense is tingling. Bad things are going to happen to Coulson. Because that's what Joss Whedon does. Heck, I've already written about his tendency to do that on my own blog. And regarding the same character, no less!

I did appreciate the reference into the "Journey Into Mystery" comic, which is notable for debuting Thor. I hope they throw a few more things like that in the series, because they make me giggle. Not that I giggle. I don't giggle. Why? What have you heard? There’s also an offhanded reference to “Project PEGASUS,” which, in the comics, is a government-sponsored lab for studying cosmic energy sources, and other whatnots. Hmmm....

The main bad-guy organization is some shadowy unknown force called Centipede. Is it an upgrade of Hydra, the villains from the Captain America film? Speaking of Centipede, let’s talk about the plot of the episode: Mike’s powers. Mike's plot with his power-giving-not-quite-Blue Beetle’s-Scarab reminds me of the comics, where there was a black market for MGH "Mutant Growth Hormone" which gave superpowers to the powerless and enhanced the powers of superhumans. The device itself is comprised entirely of references to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: alien metal (Avengers), gamma radiation (Hulk), Extremis (Iron Man 3), Super Soldier Serum (Captain America); it's all of the origins wrapped up into one. Instant superhero. Mix it all together and hope that at least one works. But it ends in explosions, so Mike has to be put down. (See Iron Man 3.) While I’m talking about the centipede-arm-thing, I have to say that the CGI looks nice, about on par with Doctor Who (good Doctor Who), and they use it sparingly, which helps the whole thing feel grounded in reality.

Agents Fitz and Simmons are adorable, by the way. I eagerly await the episode where something bad happens to one of them, the other doesn't know how to react, but it all works out. Unless it doesn't work out. Curse you, Whedon....

Back to the plot, Mike Peterson can only be cured by putting a bullet in his head, so they do just that. Somehow (I'm assuming with his new powers), Mike survives. Well, that's a good way to make the "put a bullet in his head cure" work. Wait, Joss isn't taking this opportunity to kill a man when he's down? There must be plans for Mike....

So… at the end of the episode, we are quite possibly still left with what is essentially Luke Cage. Then why not just make him Luke Cage? Coulson has an awesome car, by the way. I hate to brag, but I knew that Coulson's car would be able to fly at the end of the episode. Why? Because Back to the Future had a great ending. Where Coulson's going, we don't need... roads. You've got the theme going in your head now, don't you?

Final Thoughts
It wasn't spectacular, but it was quite solid, it was entertaining, and it kept me guessing. It got tense, it was funny, it was mysterious. Also, here's my thoughts on the rest of the main cast, before I forget.

Agent Ward is a good leading man, I await his character arc.
Agent May is... there. Hope she gets character development.
Skye is bubbly without being annoying. Oh, Joss. Kaylee from Firefly, Armor from the X-Men comics, you just love you some energetic young ladies, don't you? I like Skye. Her past as a semi-anarchist will add a nice dynamic between her and the other team members.

Overall, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.... is good. Well, I think so.

And I'm excited to see what happens next week.
Clark Gregg himself left the hashtag #willblowminds.

Aw, yeah. See you then.

PS- I recognized Mike's boss from cell phone and wood varnish commercials. Is that weird?

(Originally posted 9/27/13)

No comments:

Post a Comment