Just to provide the illusion that this is a fair and balanced review, here are the things that I didn't like about this episode:
- People kept using the word "tech" like it wasn't a filler word. "Quick, hand me the Unobtainium, Agent Nolastname!" Stop this.
- Idiotic line about "sweaty cosplay girls". Joss Whedon should know better.
- Uninteresting costume design. But I'm willing to excuse this because a) it's a pilot episode, and b) most of the characters are secret agents who have to look as boring as possible for work purposes. Clark Gregg looked amazing though, obviously. Although I doubt they've retained the Dolce & Gabbana product endorsement from the Avengers movies.
Honestly I think the Union Station showdown scene was played in the best possible way it could have been: with Coulson acting with self-awareness of his own role as an intimidating government drone. The reason why Coulson is so appealing isn't because he's "ordinary", but because his main characteristics are kindness, trustworthiness, compassion, and hope. Basically, Coulson is a Hufflepuff, which is pretty damn rare for the male lead in a genre show.
Hopefully we'll see more of Mike Peterson, not just because he's such a deliciously genre-savvy character ("This is an origin story!") but because he's more relatable than pretty much anyone I can think of in the entire Marvel movie universe. Unemployed, pissed off, and experimented on by some callous mad scientist douche? Honestly, he's already more interesting to me than Marvel's most well-known underdog/everyman hero, Peter Parker. This episode could've been ten times more ridiculous than it already was, and I still would've loved it. Just because the central story was about someone like Agent Coulson not dismissing someone like Mike Peterson, who has been screwed over by everyone and doesn't deserve to have his origin story turn him into a supervillain.
- The only costume I found remotely interesting was Simmons' blazer, which really seemed to fit in with her entertainingly posh, yah-girl voice, hair, and first name (Jenna).
- I love Lola. Sorry, but every time that car came onscreen, I started laughing. The revelation that it had hover-wheels was just too much for me to deal with. RIDICULOUS.
- IS "TAHITI" THE NEW "BUDAPEST"?? My immediate assumption was that "Tahiti" = Coulson's brain being put in a robot body or something, but to be honest I don't really care as long as Clark Gregg is still onscreen.
- I'm definitely hoping that the show builds upon the self-aware hints of SHIELD being ambiguous rather than straight-up "good guys". ie, most of the characters finding it ~acceptable to just shoot Mike Peterson rather than try to save him. As the audience of this type of show, we are way too used to absorbing media that clearly delineates between good guys (who always survive) and bad guys/acceptable casualties. More scenarios where problems aren't solved by using a gun, please.
- I just glanced at some of the viewer reactions on Tumblr, and wow, what a crock of shit. A LOT of people already dislike Skye, for reasons that I can only really describe as typical knee-jerk internalised misogyny. Yes, Skye is slightly annoying, but... that's kind of the point?? She's meant to be an embarrassingly overenthusiastic person who thinks she's in a spy novel. She is a fangirl. You are a fangirl. Female characters are not obliged to be cool, badass, or faultlessly adorable. They can also be brattish dweebs, and that's OK. As for the criticism that she seems too frivolous to be "smart enough" to hack SHIELD: please shut up.
- Also, people saying that the show is corny, cliched, and overly simple. Guys, it's a family-friendly superhero spinoff show, written by Joss Whedon and starring a bunch of people that nobody has ever heard of. What were you expecting, The Wire?
- Potential Coulson/Maria Hill chemistry: Was I the only person who picked up on it? I DON'T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS. I'd kind of enjoy it if he had a really ordinary middle-aged love interest rather than a six-foot-tall babe like Maria Hill... but who am I to criticize Hill's excellent taste in men?