Television: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "The Magical Place"

In which we finally learn (kind of) what really happened to Agent Coulson while he was dead—for days, as it turns out—after Loki stabbed him with the Chitauri scepter.

You'll recall (because they'd never, ever let us forget) that Coulson had been made to believe he'd gone to Tahiti. Every time someone mentioned Tahiti, Coulson would say in Pavlovian fashion, "It's a magical place." The truth turns out to be magical but far less pleasant.

But wait. Let's rewind to when we last saw Coulson. He'd been abducted by Centipede and whisked away via helicopter with Raina. Turns out they took him to the desert, to one of those fake towns set up for bomb testing, complete with creepy mannequins. There they stuck his head in a machine designed to help him remember the truth about how he came to be alive again.

Meanwhile, back on the airplane bus (leave it to the government not to know the difference), Agent Hand has taken over operations to find and shut down Centipede. Oh, and maybe find Coulson while they're at it. But she kicks Skye off the plane bus, God, whatever, leaving Skye free to conduct her own "operation" of following the money to figure out what Centipede is up to. I won't go into all the details; it's sufficient to say that Skye and our team reach the same conclusion about where Coulson is being held at approximately the same time and so meet up there to rescue him.

On the flip side of things, the Clairvoyant who runs Centipede fires Po (severance package is a killer) and puts Raina in charge of extracting information from Coulson's brain. She is surprisingly empathetic, and that's what makes her a good character and a good villain—she truly believes she's doing the right thing. She wants to help creates super soldiers to fight whatever else might come down from the cosmos, and she has real faith in the Clairvoyant. I'll be interested to see who this Clairvoyant is, assuming we ever meet him (or her . . . don't recall whether anyone has used a gendered pronoun for this character).

Anyway, Coulson does begin to remember. He recalls being on an operating table and having a machine (that looked like it came out of The Matrix) working on his brain. He kept asking the doctors to let him die. And he is voicing this wish as Skye and May bust in and save him from Raina.

Raina is taken into custody, so we'll see how that falls out. No more flowered dresses? (Raina was flattered Coulson had noticed.)

Oh, but poor Mike. Remember him? Blown up while trying to save Coulson? Well, he's not dead. He now has the same implant as Amador and other of Centipede's super soldiers: messages that appear in front of his eyes and, one presumes, a kill switch. Alas, he does not have one of his legs . . .

A solid episode. Fun to watch Simmons try to lie convincingly. On the whole I've found S.H.I.E.L.D. mildly entertaining. But it doesn't really require a lot of attention and much of it is pretty paint-by-numbers in terms of plotting. Even the mythology is not spectacular or particularly unique. I'd like to see some kind of twist, something that really surprises. As things stand, I'll probably keep watching. But if other, better things were to come on and I had to give up something . . . I'm not sure I'd miss S.H.I.E.L.D. And that's key to being a good show—you gotta make it something people don't want to miss.

No comments: