Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been on the decline since it originally aired. There have been spikes in the number of viewers - particularly with the Thor: The Dark World tie-in - but overall the show seems to have lost a lot of its original viewers. However, the mid-season premier promised to answer the question audiences have been dying for. Just how is Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) alive?
So we will start there first. It’s revealed that Coulson had been dead for days after his encounter with Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Although the name of the episode hints at a magical element being involved in Coulson’s resurrection that could not be further than the truth. As it turns out a robot (like something out of the Matrix) was used to poke and prod into Coulson’s brain not only reanimating him but reconstructing his will to live (sounds a little bit Star Wars Episode III to me). Clark Gregg said that the reveal would be worth the wait. Unfortunately, I would have to disagree. What it does is set up the show to deal with the larger theme of whether S.H.I.E.L.D. can be trusted, which is certainly in line with the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Solider, and managed to give the show a bit of a darker tone.
The mid-season premiere takes place 36 hours after the events of the mid-season finale, and sees S.H.I.E.L.D. scrambling to locate Coulson. But with Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) in command, Coulson’s ragtag team finds it difficult to work under S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol. Especially after Victoria has Skye (Chloe Bennet) removed from the team per Melinda May’s (Ming-Na Wen) recommendation. While S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to follow leads to Agent Coulson’s whereabouts, Skye is left to her own devices and has to operate outside of the system.
Edison Po (Cullen Douglas) tortures Coulson in an attempt to discover how S.H.I.E.L.D. revived him. Raina (Ruth Negga) comes in after checking on another prisoner hoping to talk it out of Coulson. The Clairvoyant decides that Raina is now his contact person before killing Po over the phone. It’s probably worth mentioning that Po’s cause of death is very similar to effect of the paralysis technology Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) used in the first Iron Man film, which suggest that the Clairvoyant might be more technological than supernatural. This is just speculation, but maybe it’s the Mandarin. There are parallels to Iron Man, Extremis, and there is also the one-shot on Thor: The Dark World rumored to feature Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley).
The episode closes with Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) alive in an undisclosed location with third degree burns and his right leg gone. A first person view shows that he has a camera in his eye just like the one in the episode “Eye Spy”, in which he receives instructions and is constantly being monitored.
Overall “The Magical Place” has the same old one dimensional bad guys from Project Centipede namely Raina, Po, and the Clairvoyant with a little bit of additional heart like when Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) opted to jump out of the plane in order to save her team mates. Writers Paul Zbszewski and Brent Fletcher wrote this episode, so that makes a lot of sense. Both writers each have previously written an episode for the series, with Fletcher writing episode 5 “Girl in the Flower Dress” which was alright, and Zbszewski writing episode 6 “F.Z.Z.T.” which was the turning point in the series. In my opinion, of course.
The group’s chemistry still is not working aside from Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons. The introduction to Fitz thinking more like a field agent is a nice contrast to Simmons’ naïve personality. Agents Malinda May and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) are just as stiff as the day they were introduced; the same thing can be said about Po and Raina. However, Skye proved she could be a more dynamic character than just a hacker (as cheesy as that is) becoming an adequate field agent. Coulson took center stage on this one showing another side of this character, but the less we knew about him, the better he was.
Sadly, this episode further proves that this show is going nowhere fast. The series is doing a good job tying up the loose ends, and if the series does get cancelled this could be proof that the first season will probably bring the stories and characters full circle.
So, how did you think they were going to bring him back? Are there any plot points that you are interested in seeing further develop in this show.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “Seeds” at 7PM CST.