WARNING: Later episodes may contain unmarked spoilers.
Coulson not only calmly dodges a van door Matrix-style launched by an enraged Centipede/Extremis-powered Mike, but he also calmly negotiates with the man while he showcases that he's being affected by Extremis.
May taking out any and all mooks she comes across in short order. Pity she's only driving the bus and not in the field.
Ward's fight with the goons trying to get the Chitauri device.
The fact that, according to Fitz, among Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D collectibles include not only Lola, but also the world's first G.P.S and flamethrowers. PLURAL.
Skye has the ability to not only hack S.H.I.E.L.D from her van, she can keep her files encrypted so they can't get to them.
How awesome is Skye? S.H.I.E.L.D. knows nothing about her - something Coulson says never happens.
She insinuates she removed the data on herself (when she's speaking with Mike in the van about deleting his info, he asks how she knows what to do and she says quietly that she's done it before).
As pointed out by Skye, with her ordinary laptop (which she won in a bet, no less), she was able to hunt down a secret that S.H.I.E.L.D., with all its high-tech equipment, didn't know about.
Fitz and Simmons finding a third option to save Michael from dying and blowing up.
The team overcoming their differences and working together to foil Camilla's attempted hijacking.
And before that, there's May effortlessly dislocating her wrist to slip through of her bindings, Stealth Hi/Bye attack the mook guarding them, and then snapping her wrist back into place. And it all takes about thirty seconds.
When the rest of the team is arguing about what to do next.
May: You talk too much [drives car through a bulletproof door]
According to Coulson, S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to keep an anti-matter meteor eating away half of Miami from reaching public eyes & ears.
While Nick Fury has yet to actually do something in the series, the fact that he showed up at all has gotta be a Moment Of Awesome.
It's certainly a Crowning Moment for Samuel L. Jackson. Remember, he didn't have to make that cameo. He surely has bigger and more important projects on his plate, and he has enough professional clout in Hollywood that he probably could have said no. I doubt there was anything in his Avengers contract that mandated a cameo on this show. The fact that he agreed to do it anyway is pretty cool.
Not to mention, the show probably couldn't afford to pay him a whole lot for the cameo, lacking the kind of budgets of the Marvel films. He probably did it out of love for his character.
Skye getting Quinn to let her into his office so she can plant the device Fitz-Simmons gave her. The best part? She never actually lied to him. Every word she said was the truth: She's a hacker who works for Rising Tide and she infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. to work as The Mole.
Coulson stopping the gravitonium reactor by shooting a window Hall was standing on, causing him to fall into it.
Akela remaining completely calm when Fitz and Simmons operate on her cybernetic eye while she's conscious. In fact, she injects the anesthetic into her own eye, because Simmons's hand was shaking from nervousness about performing eye surgery.
The Girl in the Flower Dress
Coulson releasing the self-righteous hacker Miles... in Hong Kong. With a bracelet that keeps him from using electronics. He also donates the money Miles received from the Centipede organization to the family of the Chinese S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was killed during attempt to rescue Chan from Centipede.
Coulson's line at the beginning of the scene:
Coulson:[offers Miles a small box] You have a choice: You take what's in this box, or we put you in a slightly bigger one.
Simmons creates a cure for an alien virus by using alien DNA and she does it within hours. This is while she's racing against the clock because she herself is infected.
Fitz rushes into quarantine to help Simmons after their Eureka Moment, thus overcoming all the fear from this episode. When she did her Heroic Sacrifice, the only reason he didn't jump after her is because Ward grabbed the parachute from him.
Ward jumps out of the Bus and skydives after Simmons, who had jumped herself because she was infected with an alien virus which could destroy everyone aboard the plane. He's also able to catch her and cure her before they hit the water.
In The Stinger, Coulson standing up to Blake after being lectured for disobeying an order to dump the infected Simmons off the plane.
Blake: If you keep bending the rules like this, someone might take this dream team away from you. Coulson: I'd like to see them try. Blake: That doesn't sound like the Coulson I remember. Coulson: No, I guess it doesn't. Get used to it.
Fitz repurposing the core of the Overkill device, destroying the guns of the men attacking them to back up Ward, followed by him kicking one of the goons in the head hard enough to put the mook down.
When Coulson realizes there's no extraction plan for Ward and Fitz, he marches right up to Agent Hand and chews her out for it.
Fitz shorts out the electricity of a building with a mini-EMP just so he can fix it and win the trust of the people present. Keep in mind these were Russian mobsters who were very close to killing them both just to prove a point.
Agent Coulson deducing the Berserker's identity with only the slightest of clues.
Randolph acting completely calm and nonchalant throughout the entire thing. Starting by shrugging off a cultist attack with a simple "I messed up." and culminating with casually catching Agent Ward's knife and bending it, with a look on his face that says 'Oh, come on, how did they figure it out? Now I've got to explain myself, so tedious.'
May assembling and wielding the completed Berserker Staff and kicking ass, and also holding onto her sanity because she's dealt with her pain rather than repressed it.
Ward also becomes a One-Man Army using two staff pieces like batons, dispatching a few dozen crazed cultists single-handedly.
After Randolph gets impaled with the staff, Simmons is panicking that she doesn't know how to help someone with Asgardean physiology. Coulson takes the matters into his own hands (literally) by shoving his hand into the gaping chest wound, feeling around for his heart and then clamping down on a laceration on it while helping it pump long enough that the Asgardian rapid healing takes care of the rest.
Tobias shutting down The Bus and capturing all but one member of a SHIELD team with teleportation and a wrench.
The prison break at the beginning. Edison Po just calmly sits there eating his lunch the entire time, completely unfazed by the fight, and corrects a solider with "Time to go, sir." Despite the fact that this soldier had super abilities.
Skye gets kicked off the bus because she's no use there then follows the money all the way back to Centipede to locate Coulson with none of SHIELD's resources... except for the Walking Techbane bracelet that shuts down every computer she touches. Including GPS. She successfully uses the disarming techniques Ward had been teaching her, while channelling Melinda May.
May tricks Victoria Hand into booting Skye off of The Bus, thus allowing her to work outside the box, which is where she operates best. Even Hand seemed impressed.
The Bus gets one when May needs to quickly change directions. How often do you see a passenger jet do a complete 180 in-flight?
Villains can be awesome too. For example, Raina talking Coulson into cooperating with the Mind Probe. Despite his training to resist interrogation, despite him knowing how evil they are, despite being 5 minutes past the torture. Props to the writers too, for making every second convincing.
There's another one for Coulson in here too - even though he caves in to Raina's manipulation, he manages to hide what he's discovered about his resurrection from her, meaning the baddies are still in the dark how he survived, while he himself comes away with more information than he had before.
May flies The Bus in and out of the eye of giant, hail-spewing superstorm without batting an eye.
The students of the Science and Research Divison of the Academy transformed the school's boiler room into a night club. They supposedly did this without the faculty knowing or at least discreetly enough for Plausible Deniability.
Lola aids Coulson in capturing the missing SHIELD agent.
Simmons jumps on a grenade to save the rest of the team. Luckily it's non-lethal, but she didn't know that.
Stan Lee chastising what he thinks is a deadbeat dad, before heading to his train compartment with two sexy women.
Ward bursts into Ian Quinn's mansion Guns Akimbo and tranquilizes several of Quinn's bodyguards before they can as much as draw their own weapons. Quinn tries to slip away, but only walks into Coulson's gun. Check and Mate.
May beating the crap out of Quinn for shooting Skye.
Fitz and Simmons locating the facility where Coulson was resurrected, in only a few minutes, by following a paper trail in S.H.I.E.L.D's human resources documents.
When everyone is blaming themselves for what happened to Skye, May snaps them out of it and says that the only one to blame is the man who shot her.
Coulson, when asked by Agent Sitwell, "How was Tahiti?" We fully expect Coulson to repeat the old Catch Phrase "It's a magical place"—probably with a bitter and/or snarky tone. What does Coulson do? Puts on his sunglasses, CSI: Miami style...and says, "It sucked."
Coulson's Indy Ploy when realizing that Fitz has been compromised. What's awesome is that he somehow gets away with it!
You've really got to give it up to Brainwashed!Fitz too: Most people who are affected by Lorelei's power basically act like hopeless love slaves, making it fairly obvious that they are under her control. Fitz lures Sif into the interrogation room without ever tipping her off.
End of the Beginning
Coulson telling off The Clairoyant:
Clairvoyant: A force beyond your comprehension is coming for you. You and Skye. She has something we want and she will die giving it to us. I have seen it. Coulson: Go to hell!
Before becoming brutally incapacitated by Deathlok, Agent Blake managed to shoot him with the tracker devised by Fitz. When Coulson later realizes this he says to himself: "Nicely done, Blake."
Seeing May unhesitatingly and unflinchingly hunt Fitz down is equal parts Awesome and Nightmare Fuel.
Coulson stops her by drawing his gun on her. She tells him that the bullets in her gun are just icers; he counters by telling her that his are the real thing and he has no problem using them on her if she doesn't drop her gun. The message here? No one messes with a member of Coulson's team, not even one of his own agents.
Awesome moment for Skye too, as she backs up Coulson and pulls her own gun on May.
Turn, Turn, Turn
It turns out that the Mousehole, that lightsaber-esque cutting tool used by Fury and Hill in The Winter Soldier, was invented by Fitz. Fitz saved Fury and Hill's lives!
May echoes Black Widow by doing a hurricanrana on a mook.
Fitz, Cowardly Lion though he is, stammering defiance to the Clairvoyant's face through tears of fear and wishing the Clairvoyant pain. Pain that Fitz would like to play a central role in administering.
Not just that, he saved May's life by picking up a gun and shooting a mook that got the drop on her. Fitz's not even remotely cleared for combat, and, judging by the way he tossed away said gun after the deed was done and the floods of tears afterwards, that's probably the first time he's killed someone. Fitz is really stepping up to the plate, no matter how terrified and unwilling he might be.
The climactic fight between Coulson and John Garrett, a.k.a. The Clairvoyant, now outed as a top HYDRA operative.
Garrett's flying causing the two missiles chasing him to crash into each other. Then later, Coulson shooting down both the UAVs with his and Garrett's coordinated "playdead" maneuver.
Hand, pretending to be HYDRA in a Secret Test of Character, approaches Simmons and Trip and gives them the choice to either die or join HYDRA. Trip and Simmons share a small nod, and then Trip takes down the SHIELD agent closest to him and holds him at knifepoint using the knife tossed to him by Simmons. They'd rather die than join HYDRA, and if they're going down, they're taking at least one of them down with them.
Coulson's trust in Fury is sound: he and his team, although battered, demoralised and on the run, manage to find Fury's secret base, and Koenig confirms to Coulson that Fury is indeed alive.
The mole's explanation of their ongoing deception of Team Coulson is evilly awesome, involving a multifaceted Batman Gambit.
The Only Light in the Darkness
Ward beat a super-polygraph designed by Nick Fury so that even Black Widow wouldn't be able to beat it, albeit with difficulty, by giving technically factual but out of context responses.
Agent Koenig's steely-eyed interrogation of Ward, when the test nears the end—even holding the man at gunpoint when Ward starts evading. Note: He pulls a gun. On Ward. For all his nervous nerdiness in the previous episode, this one moment goes a long way towards making clear the man's a Hidden Badass. Too bad he caught the Idiot Ball soon afterwards.
After a few moments of totally breaking after finding out about Ward, Skye gets herself together, resets Ward's penny trap he'd set up to see if anyone had entered the room where he'd stashed the evidence, and completely and totally fools Ward into believing she's none the wiser. She managed to bluff a Hydra spy with Black Widow levels of spy training, despite having found out that the person she trusts most was a spy.
Also, she shows just how Properly Paranoid she really is: Not only is the hard drive with every secret from the show's run encrypted so only she can access it, but it's also GPS-locked to one location. And that's what we know so far, there may be more security.
Maria Hill easily identifying the surveillance agents on the street as she walks by.
And May neutralizing all of the surveillance agents so that she could speak to Hill without interference.
Skye's ability to keep her cool after finding out Ward is a HYDRA agent, and setting up several concurrent plans to wait him out and get help.
First, she managed to leave a note revealing Ward as a traitor using just the supplies in the bathroom.
Then she stalls Ward by giving him a false location for the hard drive to be encrypted, and tries to sneak a gun to the place just in case.
And when all else fails, she calls Ward out in the most epic fashion possible — while pretending to decrypt the hard drive, she starts pressing Ward on how he heroically killed Garrett, asking him what he might say to Garrett were he in the diner with them, and coldly offering a few suggestions. Ward is uncomfortable with this line of questioning, and with the police officers who are starting to clear the diner out. She finally turns her laptop towards him: she tipped off the police and presumably every U.S. government agency that Ward is a mole. And as the officers walk over to arrest Ward:
She runs out of the diner right after, as the police attempt (unsuccessfully) to apprehend Ward, and even manages to hijack a police car...but she doesn't get very far before Deathlok shows up and captures her.
Coulson chewing out Maria Hill, for her part in keeping him in the dark about his resurrection, leading the US military to Fury's secret base and selling out Coulson's team and preventing them from going after a known HYDRA agent.
Coulson and Hill's epic takedown of Talbot's troops, so they can go after Ward.
Coulson and Skye escaping Ward and Deathlok in Lola. Mid-air.
And that's after holding them off with the machine guns hidden in Lola's headlights.
He then ends up perfectly lined up in the only open parking spot in the immediate area as his landing.
Maria Hill telling Ward exactly what she thinks of him:
Ward: Maria Hill. I'd kind of hoped you had gone down with the Triskelion. Hill: And I'd kind of hoped that you weren't a duplicitous lowlife, but here we are.
Simmons snapping at Col. Talbot for going after the whole team when he knows full well who the HYDRA infiltrator was, where he's headed, and the fact that he has a hostage. Made more awesome by the fact that it's the first time in the series Simmons has managed to chew anyone out at length without losing her nerve midway through, and she looks appropriately pissed.
Fitz hits Garrett with a short-range EMP in an attempt to kill him, and brags about it to his face while still at his mercy. The Dog Bites Back, indeed.
Fitz is ready to sacrifice his own life to save Simmons. Simmons in turn basically goes "screw that" and hauls both of them 90 feet up through ocean water, with Fitz unconscious the whole time, and then keeps both of them treading at the surface long enough for Fury to play Big Damn Heroes and haul them out.
In both cases, the fact that they come up with workable plans in a short space of time and under incredible pressure just adds to the awesomeness of the execution, and there's a hint of Guile Hero at play for both of them. Fitz is able to fashion a breathing device and detonator out of whatever happens to be lying around a standard S.H.I.E.L.D. medical pod, simultaneously keeping Simmons in the dark as to the fact that he doesn't plan on going with her to ensure she continues to help him. Meanwhile, Simmons must have had to do some pretty quick planning on how to curtail Fitz's Heroic Sacrifice, even as she's breaking down completely listening to his Dying Declaration of Love.
Samuel L. Jackson appearing again as Nick Fury is as awesome as it comes, especially since this time, it's for a hell of a lot more than a cameo to lecture Coulson about wrecking a plane.
Once again, practically every word out of his mouth is both awesome and hilarious.
Fury delivers the Destroyer Gun and this time, Coulson knows what it does.
Garret begs Coulson to stop Mike from killing him. Coulson's response?
Especially great considering how Garret was right in the middle of an awesome "I Am Back!!!" moment.... and Coulson acts like he barely noticed anything.
The fact that Joss Whedon and company effectively teases the viewers with effectively giving Garret the equivalent of "hand springing up out of the grave"...only to pull the rug out with a big Mood Whiplash, courtesy of Coulson.
What did Fitz do after Ward ejected the pod from the plane? Strap both Simmons and him to one of the backboards to avoid impact of hitting the bottom of the ocean, calculated how deep they had sank and why, rig the wireless signals on the EKG to send distress call, checked and organized most of their inventory and did the math for every posibile way out of the pod. All of this with arm broken in two places, which he put in sling all by himself. No sign of panic, even when he understood that there's no way out. Quite impressive for someone who didn't pass their field assessment and was probably still very shaken by his friend trying to kill him.
Clark Gregg made such an impact in the MCU, despite playing a supporting role to colorful superheroes, that Coulson's death in The Avengers led to a fan campaign to somehow resurrect the character that actually worked.
Despite being put in the same time slot as the #1 show on network television, which could make one think this show had been Screwed by the Network, it did well enough to be renewed. That's right: Agent Philip J. Coulson (Team ABC) went 22 rounds with Special Agent Leroy J. Gibbs (Team CBS), and while Coulson lost on points, he managed to avoid a total knockout. note Season 2's timeslot is being pushed an hour forward, so they aren't on the same slot anymore, but it still counts.