Television: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "Laws of Nature"

It seems like the team managing this show decided they'd better start Season 3 with clear issues rather than the utter muddle of last season. The result is a season premiere that at least makes some kind of sense and establishes stakes.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is looking for more "Inhumans," those who carry the alien gene and are affected by whatever has been unleashed into the environment (namely the oceanic environment, meaning people who take fish oil supplements are at risk if they harbor the gene).

Fitz is still trying to figure out the monolith so he can save Simmons. Everyone keeps telling him to channel his inner Elsa (that is, let it go), but he refuses.

Bobbi and Hunter are . . . whatever. Flirting but not really or something.

And Coulson has been tracking a mercenary black ops group that seems also to be targeting Inhumans. The result is a meeting with Rosalind (you recognize her from Entourage), leader of said group. After "cagey" discussions, the two of them realize there is a third something-or-other hunting Inhumans . . . and killing them. We get a glimpse of this thing, which is sort of like an alien porcupine? ::shrug::

Meanwhile, out in the world, presidents and other leaders are trying to determine how to handle this influx of Mutants Inhumans. (Let's not pretend this isn't the exact same fight as from X-Men, okay? Regulate them? Kill them? Embrace them? Send them to a special school? When does Patrick Stewart show up?)

Oh, and we get a glimpse of Simmons in . . . some other world? Is the monolith a doorway to an alien planet?

We do still have Ward to contend with at some point, which seems to be Bobbi and Hunter's key focus: revenge. But this premiere had enough to be getting on with, and as I mentioned, at least they set things up relatively clearly, giving me hopes this season will be better than the last.

Television: Limitless, "Pilot"

I tried to watch the movie but couldn't make it through, so I wasn't sure I'd like the series either. But everyone said it was so good, I had to try it. And I'm glad I did.

Limitless the TV series is about Brian, a wanna-be musician who has done nothing much with his life and sustains himself by temping. To be fair, it seems Brian is at least dedicated to his music. But he admits to a friend he hasn't written a song in over a year, so maybe he's burnt out, or maybe being constantly pressured by family to grow up and get on with his life has squelched his creativity. In any case, when an ex-fellow musician offers Brian a drug, to Brian's credit he resists. But friend (Eli) insists it will help, and Brian is just desperate enough to succumb to peer pressure.

The drug is, of course, NZT, the same thing from the movie—it enhances brain function or whatever, temporarily rendering the user brilliant. Well, really it allows the user to access all the information his brain has stored. All that stuff you learned in school but forgot, it's in there somewhere, and NZT lets you grab it and use it as necessary. So . . . I guess if you never learned anything ever, NZT could not help you. But the assumption is everyone knows stuff, even if they don't know they know it?

Brian is motivated to help his dad, who is very sick but the doctor's can't figure out what is wrong with him. Brian solves that while on NZT then needs another hit when he discovers he needs to figure out how to get his dad a new liver. He goes to see Eli only to discover his friend has been murdered. And of course Brian is found by the FBI at the scene. But having taken Eli's last "secret stash" pill, Brian escapes.

Okay, but who called the FBI, I wonder? Like, if it were someone in the building calling the police because of a gunshot (though I believe a silencer was used), but . . . The FBI? What brought them in? Why aren't the police there first?

Whatever, the show is too good to quibble much over these points.

Long story short (too late!), Brian gets FBI agent Rebecca Harris on his side. She trusts him, though she's not sure why. But in the end they figure out who killed Eli and another NZT-taking colleague, and Brian gets recruited by the FBI as a consultant. Because it turns out he's immune to the usually fatal side effects of NZT.

Except that's not quite the whole story. Bradley Cooper shows up as Senator Eddie Morra in this episode to also recruit Brian. And he (Morra) is the reason Brian is immune; there is a special shot Brian can take to keep the side effects from occurring? Though it's not clear yet (or I missed) what Morra gets from having Brian dependent on him. Is Brian supposed to report to Morra about the FBI? ::shrug::

It's a really well-done show. The characters are interesting and likable. They're complex and feel fleshed out. And the situation promises eventual tension as Brian's loyalty is tested from every side. I look forward to watching more.