The show opens with Whedonverse veteran J. August Richards (Gunn from “Angel”) as Michael Peterson, a down-on-his-luck dad trying to make a better life for his pre-K son. They are downtown when an explosion rocks a nearby building. Chaos ensues and screams of ‘Help!’ can be heard coming from the burning building. Peterson, getting his son to safety, soon makes his way to the side of the building, where like Spider-Man, he begins to climb up the side, but using his obviously ‘super-human’ strength to punch out hand holds and footings in the brick. He enters the building and soon leaps out, several stories, to the ground with an injured woman in his arms. He is alarmed when he notices bystanders, including a young 20-something woman (Chloe Bennet’s Skye), witnessed the heroics. In a rush, he pulls the hood of his hoodie down, gathers his son… and disappears.
Cut to Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) being grilled by Hill (Cobie Smulders) back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. Soon after the questioning starts, from the shadow emerges a very alive Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). He’s forming a new team. His death is brushed aside as ‘faked.’ There is even a joke about how long he held his breath. He claims 40 seconds. Hill counters with eight, chiding him that it gets longer every time he tells the story.
We get a hint about Coulson’s condition when the S.H.I.E.L.D. doctor, played by another Whedon favorite Ron Glass (“Firefly,” “Serenity”), reports on Ward’s physical readiness to join the team. He is almost too fit, he quips. The doctor then remarks he was surprised that Coulson hadn’t taken more time to rest between the events in New York and this new initiative. I did, Coulson says. “Tahiti… It’s a magical place.”
After Coulson departs, the doc asks Hill… “He still doesn’t know?” Hill responds in the negative.
The rest of the story revolves around a rogue group of hackers called Rising Tide and their possible connection with Peterson. We also meet Agents Fitz and Simmons, a fast-talking British duo that get a lot of great Whedon-styled dialogue. Another team member recruited by Coulson is Melinda May. Happy with her bureaucratic role with S.H.I.E.L.D. (Coulson at one point quips… ‘This is the place they actually make the red tape, isn’t it?’), he has other plans for her. She very reluctantly joins in, but there is obviously something much more to her than meets the eye.
There also is a closer relationship between Peterson and the woman he saves than simply hero and rescuer, but that gets into spoiler territory… and a bit too hot to handle.
Lastly, I’ll hit on Lola. Yes, Coulson’s prized vintage Corvette is in the show… looking better than ever… and getting around better than ever. Ill leave it at that.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” premieres on September 24 on ABC. You can check out our earlier live blog of the panel here.