Two episodes in, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." shows promise. But now it has to live up to it.
The sophomore episode starts with Skye abandoning her van to climb on the "Bus." The team has a few objections, but they quickly stow them as they fly to Peru for an 0-8-4, unknown object.
The team arrives and investigates a pre-Mayan ruin that might have alien tech in it. Agents Grant and Ward needle each other until Peruvian soldiers arrive. It turns out the Comandante of the troops knows Coulson, who is able calm things down. The team starts to pack up as rebels attack, ripping the object out of said ruin wall. Ward then busts out the stick Simon used in the beginning of "Serenity" to floor several rebels, and everyone runs for the runway.
Once back on the bus, science nerd Fitz reveals that the device is WWII Hydra tech, the kind of fuel cell used to power weapons in "Captain America: The First Avenger." Everyone snips at each other while they analyze it until Coulson insists they "work it out." Everyone manages to try, until it turns out the stowaway soldiers are playing possum. They take Fitz hostage and gas Grant, restraining the rest of the team in the cargo bay.
The team manages to break free (natch), and uses their tiny drones to trigger the 084, blowing a hole in the hull. The bad guys start getting sucked out, and the team retakes the plane. The Agents gather for a beer as the 084 goes into space, and Skye sends a cryptic text. Plus Nick Fury appears to chew Coulson out.
Two episodes in, and I'm still not sure what to think of this series. The ancillary characters (re: everyone but Agent Coulson) are starting to get fleshed out, but they're slightly cliched. People have secrets, people are attracted to each other. I want to put my faith in Joss Whedon, He Who Gave Us "Buffy" and "Firefly," but he also gave us "Dollhouse." Too early to tell yet if these can become great characters.
The one standout I see is Agent Grant, AKA The Cavalry AKA Don't Call me The Cavalry. She's the "Secret Past' character; apparently she was one of the most badass SHIELD agents ever, but now would prefer to fly the plane or a desk. And when she has to be, she's a total wrecking ball. This is why we watch shows like "SHIELD;" if we watch enough, we can see what's coming, but a few good one-liners and some action and we smile.