There is a dissonance between the hype around this season and its pedestrian opening episode. There were some good points – mostly odd pieces of dialogue or jokes – but the overall mix was pretty unengaging.
I’m a recent convert to the Whedonverse, so it’s not very long since I watched the opening episode of Buffy. And I couldn’t help comparing Whedon’s latest outing with the one that made his name. While on paper a lot less happens on the first trip to Sunnydale; it established a sense of forward narrative momentum, gave a strong sense of the key characters and ended on a cliffhanger. By contrast, Agents of SHIELD’s opening seemed rather limp: despite various mysteries being set up it didn’t feel like it was going anywhere, only Agent Coulson felt like a real character and that’s because he’d already been established in the films, and rather than a cliffhanger we got a corny conclusion with a flying car.
A difference between the two shows I’d particularly highlight was that while the action sequences in Buffy were surprisingly impressive for something on the small screen, the various fights and chases in Agents felt disposable. This matters because if action actually deflates tension stories are going to fizzle when they are supposed to be climaxing.
Still I’ll keep watching. Many good series had poor openings, and there is definitely the components of a decent program here if they are used right.