Ever since "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was announced over a year ago, fans have wracked their collective brains after every new announcement as they tried to solve the ever-growing web of mysteries surrounding the new Marvel TV show. Would any comic book characters pop up on the show? How many Easter eggs would Marvel mastermind Joss Whedon and fellow show runners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon sneak in? How closely tied will the show be to "Marvel's the Avengers"? And #&8212; the big one — how did Agent Coulson come back from the dead?
Thankfully, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." pilot didn't keep all of those mysteries in files marked "top secret." In last night's pilot episode, we got a few Easter eggs (a reference to long-running Marvel comic "Journey Into Mystery," a clever mangling of Spider-Man's motto), every Avenger except Hawkeye got a nod (Clint Barton gets no respect), and we even got an explanation for Coulson's return.
Well, we at least got what Coulson believes, just before we learned that there's more to his return than meets the eye. With that reveal, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." proved to have a bit more up its tailored suit sleeve.
The series' biggest mystery got a quaint answer —l for eight hot seconds before turning into the series' biggest mystery again. After recruiting Agent Ward for his special ops team, Agents Coulson and Hill (the returning Cobie Smulders, borrowed from "How I Met Your Mother) explained how Phil escaped death. He was technically dead for eight seconds — eight seconds that Nick Fury quickly used to trick the disparate Avengers into working together. Then Coulson woke up on medical leave in Tahiti, recovering from his wounds with copious drinks.
But just as Coulson left the room, Hill and a S.H.I.E.L.D. medic (played by "Firefly" alum Ron Glass) got incredibly cryptic, revealing that Coulson can never know how he was really resurrected. Is he a clone, or did some other Agent sacrifice themselves to give him life again? What price was paid, and when will Coulson get the receipt?
It Runs In Agent Ward's Family...
While vetting Agent Ward, Coulson read through his numerous test scores, complimenting him on his excellent espionage skills. The only area Ward failed in — or got a "little poop with knives in it" in — was in the people skills department, which made sense to all present considering "Grant's family history." With this one aside, the unrelenting and incredibly competent Grant Ward's entire character was called into question. Who is Agent Ward related to, and just how bad are they at dealing with people? Our guess would be that he's related to a nefarious Marvel supervillain, possibly someone we'll see later on in the season. Considering Ward's seemingly natural gift for hand-to-hand combat, our guess would be the Taskmaster, especially considering the skull-faced antihero's connection to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics.
Skye The Disappearer
After seeing a more grounded approach to the "disappearer" profession on Sunday night's "Breaking Bad," we got to see Marvel's version with the perky hacktivist Skye. After being abducted by Coulson and Ward and brought aboard the team's giant plane (nicknamed "the Bus"), we learn that Skye isn't this character's real name. We later watch Skye erase records of guest-superhero Michael Peterson's identity, where she says that she's done the deed before. Did Skye disappear... herself? Much like Agent Ward, it appears that Skye isn't exactly who we were led to believe, and this could be another way for "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." to covertly introduce Marvel characters into the show. Could she be one of Marvel's super sleuths, like Jessica Jones or Dakota North, in disguise?
What's On The Memory Card?
Skye deserves a second entry on this list thanks to a bit of sleight of hand she pulled off while returning to her van to retrieve a memory card with Agent Melinda May. While May wasn't looking, Skye stealthily grabbed an extra memory card and quickly hid it, leaving us to wonder what information is worth the cloak and dagger. Could the memory card contain the vestiges of her former life? And if so, did she take it to destroy it or to use it as a parachute back into a normal life, should she decide to get off the Bus?
Who Is Behind Caterpillar?
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s not the only super group in town, but who their opposition is remains a mystery. We learned that a rogue organization has gotten their hands on both a version of the super soldier serum (the juice that powers Captain America) and Extremis (previously seen in "Iron Man 3"), and they're not above mixing the two into a powerful — and explosive cocktail. The pilot sets this mystery group to possibly be the first season's Big Bad, like Wolfram & Hart were throughout much of Joss Whedon's "Angel." But who are they, and will they be pulled from the comics as well? We've already seen versions of HYDRA and A.I.M. in the Marvel movies, and either could make a return.