101 — Pilot

Rophy says: So Rophy are recapping a new show, how about that?! There have been many new shows we have watched and adored and been tempted to recap both before and after Glee and Skins nearly destroyed our faith in TV altogether. The reason SHIELD is getting that honour when others didn’t? Because we’re trusting this shit from episode 1. The reason for that? Joss Whedon.

Joss Whedon is the reason we love TV the way we do. He’s the reason we’re peas in a pod, or at least the reason we know it. He’s the reason this blog exists. Sure, Heather told us to make it. Sure she told us to do that on the basis of Skins recaps. But the thing is that without Joss Whedon’s work we would never have become overinvested fangirls in the first place. It all begins with him.

We have always and will always watch any new TV show Joss Whedon brings out, purely because it has his name attached to it. He has earned that loyalty and trust, multiple times over. So even where, say, Sophy is not a comic book movie fan, this show was still going to be watched religiously by both halves of Rophy. And there was always a high probability both halves were going to love it.

WE DID!!

So basically after watching and fangirling we ummed and ahhed about whether we had the time and the energy to recap the show. And then we realized the day we don’t have the time and the energy to recap Joss Whedon’s new show is the day we may as well close the blog. So here goes…

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YOUR FACE! YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACE!

CHARLES GUNN!



Rin says: I’m going to be the angriest person on the planet if he doesn’t become a regular. Or at least a recurring character. I was beyond excited that he was going to be in this, and besides the obvious ‘REUNION!! factor, it was really nice to see his face again.

By the way, if you don’t know what show he’s from I’m going to personally punch you in the neck. And then put you on the shame list until you rectify your wrongs.

Sophy says: J AUGUST. OH MY GOD. I NEED HIS FACE IN MY LIFE. Well, on my TV. I’m not expecting him to move to Australia and like, sit in my kitchen for an hour a day. (I’d feed him! Does he like pie?)

Rin and I were so excited we were almost hyperventilating when he came on screen. Or I was almost hyperventilating and I’m pretty sure Rin was judging by the spluttery keyboardmash stuff that was happening on yahoo. I mean, we knew he was going to be in the episode, but I guess neither of us was expecting him to just be right there right away, bam, opening scene, J August Richards’ face!

And yes, he had better continue to be a major player going forward. Like, I don’t mind other people having screentime and all, but so help me god…


&
SHEPHERD BOOK!


Rin says: I almost woke up the entire house when he appeared onscreen. It was the most pleasant surprise.

I can’t wait for who else Joss is going to pick out of his rolodex to make our fangirl hearts explode.

AMY ACKER AMY ACKER AMY ACKER :-w

Sophy says: Yeah, unlike Gunn, we had no idea Book was going to show up, so we got quite excited about it. And OH GOD YES AMY. I was already having painful Gunn/Fred feels during that scene in the diner with Mike and Skye. REMEMBER THEIR SECRET BREAKFASTS? I never had a Fred before.

OKAY WRONG SHOW, I’M STOPPING, I’M STOPPING.

Also Julie Benz k thx :-w

Rin says:  HOLY FUCK JULIE BENZ I WOULD DIE SO MANY OH MY GOD JUST BRING IN JAMES MARSTERS.

Sophy says:  OH MY GOD EMMA CAULFIELD THOUGH AND CHARISMA MAYBE.

Rin says: AMBER BENSON

Sophy says: OLIVIA WILLIAMS

Rin says: GINA TORRES

Sophy says: DAVID BOREANAZ

Rin says: FFFFFFFFFFFFF


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Pantless

Prettiest falling to death shot ever.


Rin says: This is one of those moments in a show or a movie where all that is going through my brain is ‘fffuuuuuuuuuu…..’ because it is that awesome. It’s things like this that make me appreciate Directors, DPs, Camera Operators etc. and the art of filmmaking, because it is an art. And this is the proof.

It’s the pudding.

Sophy says: It doesn’t make me appreciate the art of filmmaking so much as just go “Ooooh!”


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Best Reminder that Joss is back :’)

“You said if we worked hard, if we did right, we’d have a place. You said it was enough to be a man. But there’s better than man. There’s gods. And the rest of us, what are we? They’re giants, we’re what they step on.”



Rin says: It was this monologue that really saved, well not saved, but made it clear that this show wasn’t just going to be silly and fun — it was going to have real heart and a place in reality that will speak to us. It was going to be a real Joss show that is. It wasn’t just going to be a superhero movie that you can kind of forget about later. This can be another Buffy. It can be an Angel. It can.. okay you get the idea. And that’s the most exciting and promising aspect of what this scene showed. I think this scene really grounded the show in a reality where superheroes/villains existed. Most of the time when we’re dealing with a show that has a hero, they also have all of that secret identity stuff that comes with it. The world can never know.

It’s pretty refreshing to find ourselves in the situation where the world already knows. And what exactly would that look like?

What I really liked about the monologue was the way Mike addressed Coulson with you, you, you, when he really means all of us and the things we say about the proper way to live our lives. It was also pretty great in its undertones of unemployment and the frustrations of that.

I’m just really happy this scene happened. It basically setup everything that this show was going to be about, and I am ON BOARD WHERE DO I SIGN.

Also. 5 stars J August. Really great.

Sophy says: This is why I like SHIELD as opposed to, say, The Avengers. Perhaps this is partly because I hadn’t watched any of the previous films in the series and knew nothing about the franchise, but to me The Avengers felt like one big fight scene in which I was worried about exactly nobody. With SHIELD, however, Joss has set everything up so that I will care, without ever needing to engage with the previous films.

It was a genius move to center the first episode around this new character who is wholly external to the mythology of the films and comics (as far as I can tell). As much as I enjoyed the Coulson character in this episode and can see myself becoming very fond over time, if the pilot episode of this show had revolved around him there would have been a danger of me feeling much like I did after The Avengers – left out and mirthless and still wondering who these people are. But I guess the clever thing about this pilot is that there are multiple entry points, almost like there are multiple players you can choose to be in some computer game – Mike and Skye for those of us who aren’t already invested in the verse – Coulson and that chick from How I Met Your Mother for those who are.

But back to this scene and why it matters so much. I really enjoyed the whole pilot episode and bonded with every character easily. But it was J’s character who made me feel things.

Joss’ shows are always about the same lot of things, no matter how diverse the material he harnesses may be. They are always funny. They are always cute. They are always kickass. They always make you want to rip your own heart out at some point.

This scene was a nice taste of that – the Joss Whedon kick to the emotional shins that reminds you that this is not all fun and games, as funny and gamey as it may often be; that reminds you that he is writing about demons or dolls or superheroes or some kind of sing-a-long, but at the end of the day these are people. These are human beings he is writing about – sometimes even when they’re not quite anymore.

It is so typically, gloriously, wholly Joss Whedon to write a comic book movie and care so much about the little people he has to do a TV series about them. That’s what this scene reminds us: that the whole point isn’t troll hammers and cartoon quips, even if come on, at the end of the day, we all love troll hammers and cartoon quips, even me… This is about what drives us in our lives, in our relationships, in our day to day struggle. This is about what it means to be a hero when you have nothing left to be brave about.

Mike’s speech was perfect. It was rousing and haunting and bold and miserable, and J August sold it so well that I basically didn’t mind that he’d just murdered someone. All glowy anger-juice aside, I understood his rage. I understood his frustration. I have never been a single parent. I have never struggled for a job. I have never been a black person in a world that privileges white. I don’t pretend to feel all of the things Mike is feeling in this scene. But to some extent we all know what it is to be powerless, right? Or to know ourselves capable of making something beautiful if we could just get close enough to touch. To be held back. To be hopeless. And to want more for ourselves and for others.

It’s a testament to the writing here that I was wholly on Mike’s side and then the moment Coulson spoke I felt just as moved to stand with him. I love that guy. I love that he is good. I love that he doesn’t hurt people. I love that he doesn’t give up on them. I love that he can walk with superheroes and fangirl them with the baseball cards and then he can stand on the same earth as any of the rest of us and see the value in an ordinary man. And as much as I know he was talking about Thor and Captain America and whatnot when he spoke of the real deal who are not heroes because of what they have that regular people don’t, but because of what they do with it… you just know Joss was talking about Buffy Summers.

And another thing, I’m really excited for this plot to not be dropped. If there’s one thing Joss is better at than just about any show-runner ever it’s not dropping things. That’s one of the main reasons his shows stand out to me – because maybe there’s a monster of the week but there are also consequences from that monster. What happens in one episode matters in the next and the next and the next. Experience is woven into a character as surely as it is in life.

I would like to see the story of Mike’s struggle between ordinary and extraordinary explored further. And I will particularly enjoy that as a kind of cross-character continuation of what I suspect might have been Gunn’s greater storyline if Angel had continued past season 5. There is no doubt that the themes here are similar: an ordinary person, frustrated by his inability to get ahead, seeks artificial enhancement to become extraordinary, disaster ensues… let’s hope he doesn’t sign off on any sarcophagi this time around, mmkay?

Rin says: HAhahaah holy crap. When we were talking about how we should recap SHIELD, we were all, “They’ll just be short :-j” .. and it’s already happening. I CAN FEEL IT.

BUT IT CANNOT BE HELPED. IT IS A JOSS WHEDON TELEVISION SHOW. DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU MEAN TO ME???

But my heart started aching when reading about Gunn’s storyline. Oh man. If we could also kind of live vicariously through Mike I don’t mind. :)



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Best Reminder that Joss is LOL

“And does your grandmother know about these things?”
“Gramsy?”



Rin says: I really liked hacker girl and thought she was pretty funny throughout. She reminds me SO much of Eliza Dushku/Faith, and then Sophy said she’s like a Faith/Summer Glau cross over and yes yes yes. But of course she’s her own character too and that is important.

I kept wanting to shout VERITASERUM during this scene :D But I thought it was a really good way to bring down Ward down a peg or two and make him a part of the group. Making a fool of yourself is key.

Sophy says: I JUST. This is one of those ways Joss’s TV shows are better than other TV shows. Because as funny as this is it isn’t just the kind of light-in-the-dark stuff that nobody does like Joss. It isn’t just the set-up for a possible OTP either… it’s telling us everything we need to know about who Coulson is and how SHIELD works. Sure, they are naughty, but they are also nice, and nice people just don’t truth serum guests when they could truth serum one of their own. It’s all about honour, basically, and operating on trust, and not opting for the easiest solution when there’s a nobler one on the table. And I’m sure there some kind of dark underbelly going on as well, but for now this organization looks cute as a button to me.



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Cutest of the Scoobies

“Fitz.”
“Simmons.”


Rin says: I MEAN. FITZSIMMONS. BEING TWO PEOPLE.

Come on.

That’s classic Joss.

Sophy says: THEIR NAMES MAKE A SUPERNAME. WITHOUT EVEN TRYING. IT’S LIKE IF ROPHY NEVER HAD TO MAKE AN EFFORT.

WHAT ROPHY IS A NAME.


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Please sir, we’d like some more. MORE???

This badass.


Rin says: Out of all the characters I think I am most interested in Melinda’s backstory.

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT TRAGEDIES LED YOU TO BE BEHIND A DESK AND SO RELUCTANT TO GET BACK INTO THE FIELD.

TELL ME YOUR SECRETS.

Sophy says: Yes, yes, yes. She is so good at beating people up in style. Why would she even be scared of anything ever? I get the impression she could beat up a whale. In style.

Also very interested in Coulson and the things he doesn’t know about how he’s still here. DO THEY HAVE MONKS IN TAHITI?


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Head In Hands

All of their scenes?


Rin says: I’m not going to lie. These two were hands down the best part of the pilot for me. I don’t know why but they just felt like a really nice surprise, despite me knowing hardly anything about anything.

When I first saw that we were getting another of these geek types I immediately thought ‘Topher’. And so many of those that have come before him. Same with the girl. BUT THEY’RE NOT. YOU KNOW? THEY’RE JUST NOT.

They have an adorable youthful innocence about them that I love, and I can’t wait for that to be truly shaken. You all know it’ll happen.

ALSO CHRIST ALMIGHTY. I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO THE BIT WHERE… IT’S FUCKING IAIN DE CAESTECKER FROM THE FADES. I CANNOT. I AM SO HAPPY. AND PROUD. AND ALL THINGS SALT AND BUTTER.

And he was all HI HO HI HO when the robots went to work. AND THEN THE ROBOTS ARE NAMED AFTER THE SEVEN DWARFS. AND WHEN SHE ASKED WHICH ONE FOUND THE CAMERA HE WAS ALL ‘BASHFUL’ AND SHE AWWWW’D. SHE FUCKING AWWW’D LIKE A PROUD MOTHER.

They are the cutest. I need more of them forever.

Sophy says: THEY. ARE. ADORABLE. AND THEY ARE BETTER THAN TOPHER. I’M SORRY BUT THEY JUST ARE.

These two sort of feel like something out of Alice in Wonderland. They’re just kind of batty, in the cutest possible way, and really do seem to work together like they kind of magicked (no, scienced!) their way into a functioning unit that nobody should even pretend to understand.

Fitz is obviously the cutest thing in the world because I’m sorry LOOK HOW CUTE HE IS, and I think in some ways he’s quite an interesting geek character for a Joss show mostly because he’s played by Iain de Castecker. As opposed to Topher or Xander or Andrew or any previous geeks, Iain plays Fitz as, well, very British and unaware of himself as a funny thing. With previous characters, as brilliant as they were, there was always a faint sense that they were playing to a gallery. With Fitz it seems like there is literally too much going on in his brain to even register himself as a person amongst people.

AND I LOVE HIM. AND HOW DID HE NOT GET A WELCOME FOR HIS FACE AT THE TOP OF THE RECAP HOW I DEMAND ANSWERS?

Also falling in love with Simmons far more quickly than is reasonable. I mean, even if she wasn’t going to go ahead and SPEAK HERMIONE GRANGER’S NAME OUT LOUD IN THE PILOT, she is basically a walking tribute to that character. She told Fitz to pretend it’s an exam! I nearly swooned.

WHY ARE YOU MAKING NONSENSE?

Rophy says: See you next week everybody. Here’s hoping we’re as giddy about episode 2 as we were about episode 1. OH WHO ARE WE KIDDING OF COURSE WE WILL BE.

9 Responses

  1. Tammy
    Tammy at · Reply

    I am actually watching the second episode now as I comment on this. I read this recap at work, when I should have been grading papers. Don’t tell on me. But I HAD TO. IT’S JOSS.

    I’m excited for this show. I love how Joss builds up these teams, and they don’t really function properly without each person serving as their own piece. I love how he always has that underlying message that with your family (blood or built), anything is possible.

    Not gonna lie…I’m already a little in love with Simmons. Who wouldn’t be?!? And the fact that they say FitzSimmons. As if that’s just the whole name. Spectacular.

    And I did. I screamed GUNN! as soon as his pretty face was on my screen. Am I allowed to stay? ;)

    Looking forward to this show and your recaps, ladies!

    1. Tammy
      Tammy at · Reply

      I had to come back and say also how much I loved what you had to say about the potential character growth of FitzSimmons. And then I started thinking about arcs like Willow and Cordelia and Fred, and I just…guh. No one else has quite the mastery of taking a character with plucky idealism (or narcissistic indifference…hi Cordelia) and slowly molding them into someone who has to face the realities of the world. Goosebumps thinking about what could happen with these two, you guys. Goosebumps.

      1. Sophy
        Sophy at · Reply

        WE LOVE YOU TAMMY. HAVE A ROPHITE CROWN. AND ALL THE JOSS YOU CAN EAT!!!! I mean watch. In an eaty way.

      2. Ned
        Ned at · Reply

        Not to be all Shippy McShipperton, but I can’t wait until a third party comes along and messes with them. Aaaaah can’t wait.

  2. Robyn
    Robyn at · Reply

    Thank you! I was wondering why Fitz looked so familiar, but hadn’t got around to imdbing him yet. This is the one new show I’ve been looking forward to this fall and the pilot did not disappoint. So happy you’re recapping this. I was not remotely interested until I saw joss’ name, then I couldn’t wait. So looking forward to seeing the Whedon companions show up from time to time.

  3. Ned
    Ned at · Reply

    Ahhhhh this was superb. I was always going to watch because Whedons. And I think Clark Gregg is astoundingly good, I love him to pieces. And then Shepherd Book! (Before he became a shepherd and let his hair grow out.)

    +1 to Amy Acker (for a fleeting moment I wondered if The Doctor actually was her… could have been… maybe she’ll get a later role…) +7 to Olivia Williams. I could have her in everything. +1 to the beautiful “death” scene.

    It matters who I am. Just glorious, as you said. I especially like how the whole episode was really about getting to that line, that dialogue, that scene. With Mike declaiming from the center of the stage, and then Coulson steps up, and we’re just watching everyone else watching. Gorgeously done.

    Very, very lolsy too. “With great power comes…” And a fun, intriguing set of characters. I like the teasing of Melinda’s past very much. And I was all Coulson Coulson Coulson until FitzSimmons started being adorable all over the place. “Bashful.” “Awwww.” That was lovely. They might be better than Topher? There are two of them, after all.

    Episode 2! Episode 2!

  4. Mad
    Mad at · Reply

    EVERYONE ON THIS SHOW IS SO CUTE I WANT TO FLY INTO THE SUN

    Srsly though I am loving it.

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