UPDATE: Apparently, I was right. Who knew? The second episode was supposed to be .... that way. Why? Because while we all remember that this is a Joss Whedon show, some of us (me included) have quite deliberately forgotten that Jeph Loeb is involved. Who's Loeb? Does anyone remember Heroes? That was him. We're lucky AoS hasn't turned into a complete train wreck by now.
Loeb in an interview with TV Line states that "Certainly the second episode was intended to be very much like ‘The Pilot, Part 2,’ because it was really the first time [the characters] could all work together and see who they are. Very much in the same kind of way that the audience is getting to know these characters, these characters are getting to know each other as well. That is the mission. “I think the show is absolutely getting better as we go — and we hope the audience feels that way as well,” he continues. “We’ve absolutely found the show; the idea is to keep watching. It’s very much like a roller coaster. You’ve got to go up the hill before you start coming down the hill at 100 miles-per-hour.”
As I said below .... tell it to Arrow.
So, where does one begin with Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Should one say “Coulson lives!” and move on? Does one give it a strange look, cross some fingers and toes, and hope it all comes together? Perhaps one just believes in Joss Whedon as nerd deity and move on.
First: do I really have to say *spoiler alert*?
Then, how about we really start with the difference between criticism, and being a trolling / hipster douchebag? For criticisms of MAOS, start with my colleague Matt Bowman, over at Novel Ninja, as he looks at the first and second episodes. Then, you can look at my favorite punching bag, Tor, whine over every little line (actually, the article had been far worse; the original title mentioned "nerd shaming" and implied that it was insulting their target audience... nerds). Or, one better, we can look at "screen rants" talk about already killing off characters -- and that was written around the second episode!
Me? Well, to start with, I follow the three-episode rule followed by TV guide reviewers. Never judge a show by one episode, wait until the show hits its stride. Obviously, we can't all follow the rule, no matter how hard we try. The new Ironside show, for example, took the original tv show with Raymond Burr (known to my generation as an aging Perry Mason) as a cop confined to a wheelchair, and updated it with Blair Underwood, making Ironside a nickname, and turning him into House with a badge … as I didn't like House in the first place, I was turned off in short order.
So, SHIELD … to start with, I like some of the dynamics they've got going. They've got Ming-Na Wen playing Agent Melinda May – former field operative, and now “just the pilot.” There is “Fitz-Simmons,” two scientists who are obligatorily young, perky, adorably socially inept, and accents so thick you can cut them with a machete. There is the obligatory Agent Ward – loner field agent, good-looking, stoic, and doesn't play well with others. And since we have Ward, we must have – Skye! Hackerchist (hacker anarchist) who has no problems blowing classified operations in progress because The People Must Know (no matter who gets killed).
And then, there's Phil Coulson, badass. He is the little man who wasn't there, you never saw him, never noticed him, until he cracks you over the head and whips out his boogeyman gun. He loves his classic cards, his classic car, and indulges in a lot of lateral thinking. How can you hate Coulson? I can't.
Of the first three episodes, we had a solid pilot, an episode that felt like it was cut off from the first draft of the pilot, and episode three, The Asset, which felt like someone said "enough setup, let's get us a plot." It's got a nice, stable foundation for an ensemble cast.
Is it perfect? No, I've got some problems...