Image credit: Justin Lubin/ABC
WELCOME TO LEVEL 7 Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) mysteriously returns in order to form a special unit in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Coulson tasks FitzSimmons with determining a third option to neutralize Mike without killing him or putting others in danger. Skye uses her hacker skills to lead the team to L.A.'s Union Station, where Mike plans on leaving with his son and Skye in tow. Action ensues as Mike makes a break for it as the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and other law enforcement converge on him. (Did you notice Coulson dodging the van door as Mike pushed it out? His reflexes seemed a bit superhuman — or gifted — to me.) To make matters worse, the doctor sics an unknown, unexplained man dressed as a police officer to off Mike. Agent May is not going to let any "third party" interference fly. All future unexplained baddies beware —
Mulan Melinda May is on the team. I would say she kick ass and takes names but the bad guy didn't provide any identification. Nor is there any indication of who or what he and the doctor are working for. (Aldrich Killian? The return of HYDRA?) Those are questions for another day, so moving on: Coulson and Mike stand off in the station.
In an unlikely pairing of Iron Man 3 and Pursuit of Happyness, Mike issues pleas of frustration over his dire situation, stating "It matters who I am, inside, if I'm a good person — if I'm strong." He rails against the societal pressures that have put him, the little guy, into a desperate position. (I empathize with his position, but is this really the best avenue to take on socio-economic inequality? I'm not so sure.) Coulson manages to calm Mike down and defuse the situation. That means it's the perfect time to shoot Mike in the head! Whaaat? Oh don't worry, silly viewer, it was the Night-Night gun. Mike is still alive and his powers have been safely disabled. Oh okay, good -- that's not to say that seeing a man get shot in the head still isn't a horrific image especially when the next sequence features the main characters smiling and nodding at each other for a job well done.
Coulson and Skye drop off Mike's son at his aunt's home, promising that his father will meet him soon. He offers her a spot on his not-exactly-a-team team, which she of course accepts since there wouldn't be a show without her on the team. The episode ends as they drive off in Lola, which serves as a slick update to the Back to the Future hovercar. (Why you may ask? Because gadgets and '80s movie references are cool, that's why!)
Many questions remain unanswered. What really happened to Coulson after The Avengers? Who is the real Agent Coulson? What happened to Melinda — and Grant and Skye — in their pasts? What is an 0-8-4? What other Whedon regulars will pop up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (*cough* James Marsters, anybody? *cough*)? Will there be any Marvel superheroes on the show?
I have my reservations, but I see potential for the series — as long as it establishes a consistent tone and mood. In any case, you can be damn well sure I'll be watching next week.