Joss Whedon's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered this week and the first question that sprang to mind was, 'Are non-hardcore comic fans are going to love it?' My immediate answer is: Yes.
The show opened up with the familiar Marvel flip-comic screen and then references were made to the Avengers movie. Flitting images of certain superheroes came across a screen - the arm of Thor, a quick look at a certain green behemoth. But then it quickly dove right into the story, and it didn't involve any big name people. The only recognizable people were Cobie Smulders, from The Avengers (and How I Met Your Mother, of course). The other two were Clark Gregg, who played Agent Coulson in all the recent Marvel movies and Ming-Na Wen, who has had a fairly steady acting career since appearing on E.R. in the '90s.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had its usual Whedon funny scenes, including Coulson's almost creepy reverence for his car and an unusual application of a truth serum. The story moved well, albeit a bit slower, since characters had to be introduced. There was some nifty CGI as well and some actors who have worked with Whedon before made an appearance (like Ron Glass, who played Shephard Book on Firefly).
There were some references to things in the Marvel Universe, but it never felt like one had have a stockpile of comics to understand what was going on. The premiere ended on what felt like an intriguing enough of cliffhanger to warrant a live-watching of the second episode (I'm definitely DVRing the entire season).
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So yes, I think this time Whedon's got enough material to rope in the hardcore and casual fans alike. There is also some question about whether Coulson is really what he thinks he. I just also hope Smulders stays on as a regular, especially since this is the last season of How I Met Your Mother. Unless she turns out to have been an extraterrestrial alien stalking Ted Mosby the whole time.
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There's nothing better than an episode of The Vampire Diaries featuring the best member of the original family, Elijah. Actually, that's not true: the best ones have flashback hair. But although "American Gothic" featured a modern-day eldest Original brother, it still managed to be an excellent episode — thanks in large part to the hour's many dynamic duos.
The race to find the cure isn't quite as interesting now that Elena's a vampire biyotch, but it got a lot more fun when she teamed up with Rebekah to hunt down Katherine. Ms. Pierce was holed up in a small town in Pennsylvania, where she'd compelled the natives to let her feed off of them and forget her immediately after. Elena and Rebekah managed to catch her and keep her hostage in a diner (thanks to a grisly fork-to-hand impalement situation), sending Elena to a mysterious meeting in her place.
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Who was that meeting with, you might ask. Who's "em," the person in Kat's calendar? Apparently, Katherine DGAF about punctuation, and those were the initials of one Elijah Mikaelson, general badass m-f'er and Katherine's boyfriend. HER BOYFRIEND. Which we found out when Elijah greeted Elena-as-Katherine with a kiss. The sight of Elijah and Elena kissing was both weird and amazing, probably because the idea of Elijah kissing anyone makes a gal all tingly inside. He figured it out, though, and then they kind of hung out while Katherine ran some game in the diner.
While all this was happening, Stefan and Damon had finally chased their runaway Carmen Sandiegos to the Pennsylvania wilds. Katherine promised to take them (and Rebekah) to the house where the cure was hidden. After Katherine pretended it was stolen, Damon realized the vial was actually sitting on the bottom of a vervain-laced fish tank. Through a series of super-fast vampire moves, Katherine ended up escaping as Rebekah caught the vial before it crashed to the floor. Without a second thought, the original vampire downed the shot and promptly fainted.
First of all, how was she so sure it would work? Second of all, wouldn't she want to consider her options now that she actually had the cure in her possession? She took that shot faster than a Disney girl on spring break (sprang break foreverrr). Unfortunately, because this is Katherine we're talking about, it was fake, and Rebekah was crushed when she woke up.
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In an interesting play, Katherine ended up returning to her boyf and giving him the actual cure (after he found out she lied to him, prompting Elena and everyone else's inner monologue to respond with a well-timed "DUH"). Is it because she actually loves him, or is she playing a long con? Personally, I'm really not sure that Katherine can be trusted. While some part of her probably does love Elijah, there's no way she gave him the real cure purely out of good will. Girlfriend's got something brewing. The question is what? And the follow-up question: what will Elijah do with the cure? Stefan and Damon, defeated once again, sat with Elena in the small town's diner and finally discussed their real wishes for her. Only Elena had some wishes of her own — she wanted them to quit it with their pesky meddling and let her live her emotion-free life. If they didn't stop sticking their noses in her business, she'd start killing innocents — starting with the diner waitress who happened to pass by their table at the wrong time. No Emotion Elena might be a killer, but she's also a badass. Will they listen to her reasoning?
The other part of the episode focused on Joseph Morgan shirtless, writing around on the floor. He enlisted Caroline's help in getting the white oak splinter out of his back, but the first time it wasn't actually Caroline, it was Silas disguised as Caroline. The second time, when it actually was Caroline, she managed to be super rightfully pissed off at him while still doing him a favor and digging into his back with garden shears (with some super gross sound effects to make it seem all the more real). It made sense, though, because if Klaus dies then the rest of our Mystic Falls vampires die too, and nobody wants that to happen.
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But the real twist (not the twisting of metal into Klaus' back) came when Caroline distracted Klaus from his pain enough to make him realize there was no splinter, it was all an illusion created by Silas. Klaus told Caroline that although he wouldn't call off his hunt for Tyler, he wasn't exactly scouring the ends of the Earth for him. It's probably safe to assume Tyler will be fine for the time being.
As for the other two main cast Mystic Falls residents, Bonnie wasn't in the episode at all (pro! She's not off my s*** list after that Silas/Shane nonsense.) — but neither was Matt (con! He's so cute.).
Lingering thoughts:-Do we really believe that Stefan will disappear from Elena's life when she turns her humanity back on?-Elijah!!!!!!(!!!!!) (Still exciting.)-This was one of Season 4's better episodes, Y/Y?-Why is it still so painful to relive Jeremy's death in the "previously on" segments? It's been, like, months.
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
[Photo Credit: The CW]
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