After a cliffhanger ending over a month ago featuring an epic showdown between Agent Coulson’s team and Project Centipede that left us wondering who was alive, who was dead, and what really happened to everyone’s favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent after the events of ‘The Avengers’, Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ returned last night with a brand new episode that finally answered some of those burning questions that fans (and even the cast) had since this show debuted.
In the episode titled ‘The Magical Place’, we pick up less than a couple of days after Coulson was abducted and Mike Peterson was presumed dead. Saffron Burrows’ Agent Victoria Hand has rejoined the team on the Bus to take the helm, along with a ton of other field agents, in the effort to find their comrade and take down Project Centipede along the way. But as Agent Hand and Skye (who has been kicked off the plane) each work on finding their colleague in their own way, Coulson is being tortured by Edison Po, an associate of the Clairvoyant tasked with the job of finding out how the agent lived after perishing at the hands of Loki during the Battle of New York. Later, when Po fails to please his master, the girl in the flower dress known as Raina steps in to show Coulson that they are working to find out the exact same thing: What happened to him in Tahiti?
Just as I said in my review of ‘The Bridge’, things are really starting to come together for this show. While the first half of the season seemed pretty random and moved slowly, the last two episodes have been full of fast-paced action and we’ve started to uncover the mystery of Agent Coulson’s resurrection. Not only that, but we’re finding out more about him in general as well. They even went into more detail about the cellist in Washington that he was involved with. It seems like we’ve waited far too long to get to this point. But now that we’re finally here, it feels pretty satisfying to get a taste of that secret at long last.
Of course, we didn’t get every single answer we were looking for. If we did, that would be the end of the season. Instead, we learned a good chunk of the Coulson mystery from the doctor played by ‘Firefly’ alum Ron Glass. While I won’t go spoiling it for those who haven’t caught up yet, I will say that it looks like those theories of Life Model Decoys or the Vision have been proven wrong. Also, I’m pretty sure that I said pretty loudly, “WHAT?!” in a sort of “OMG NO WAY!” sort of way when they finally got to the reveal and I started to form some all-new theories about what could have happened to Coulson.
While the whole Coulson part of the story was clearly the most interesting part of the episode, his team had some stand out moments as well. Overall, the group consisting of Ward, May, Skye, Fitz, and Simmons acted more like a team than they ever had. Just like the Avengers assembled because of Phil Coulson, so too did this crew of agents who were united to save their leader/mentor/friend. Each one showed their strengths and contributed to the effort and really meshed well like a well-oiled machine. I especially liked the part when Skye even borrowed an intimidating page out of Agent May’s playbook.
I feel like this season as a whole was set up like the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it’s a part of. Each member of the team was spotlighted first on their own, but then down the line, they were truly united for the good of a cause bestowed upon them by Agent Coulson. But since we were unfamiliar and in some cases uninterested in these unknown characters, it was harder for some viewers to keep following like they would during a Captain America or an Iron Man movie. Now that everyone has been established, the stories can move a lot faster and we can get into some juicier action while still continuing to solve the over-arching mysteries along the way.
For me, ‘The Magical Place’ was one of the best episodes of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ so far. So many things that came up in the past that seemed arbitrary came back and turned out to be important pieces of the puzzle. The action was pretty top notch and the plot of the episode was adequately enthralling, so it kept me hooked until the very last minute of the episode. This show has really hit it’s stride and I hope that it continues to deliver quality stories like this one throughout the rest of the season. To compare it to another show that often gets a lot of flack, I really feel like ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has finally hit that moment where Sophia comes out of the barn as a zombie. Up until that point, everything was excruciatingly slow and drawn out, but after that, it’s nonstop action that builds to something epic to go out on a high note. Hopefully this will follow the pattern that ‘The Walking Dead’ laid out and we keep getting reasons to come back to visit Agent Phil Coulson and his team.
‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ starring Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Chloe Bennet, and Clark Gregg airs on Tuesdays at 8:00pm on ABC.