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Agent Coulson returns to his ‘magical place’

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Agents of SHIELD episode 11

Rating:
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(This reviewer apologizes for neglecting to write a review about the previous episode).

The Marvel spy series’ biggest question—how did Agent Coulson live?—is answered in the latest episode. But it is an answer that leads to other questions.

Coulson’s team scrambles to locate him. Meanwhile, Centipede, under orders from the enigmatic “Clairvoyant,” probe Coulson’s mind to learn how he was resurrected.

Picking up where the previous episode left off with Coulson’s team rushing to find him. Unfortunately, SHIELD has other ideas. Victoria Hand, abrasive as always, arrives and takes charge of the situation. She immediately has Skye put in lockdown. May says she would be of no use on the plane. However, it was only a ruse to allow Skye to escape and follow Centipede’s money trail.

What follows in this “B” plot was an increasingly outlandish scheme by Skye. It went like this: she locates a banker in league with Centipede. She steals a car that belongs to him and wrecks it to get his house. Upon arrival, she makes a phone call posing as a police officer to get him to come home. She then intimidates him while posing as Agent May to get him to talk, taking out his rent-a-cop guards and locating Coulson.

Follow that?

It is a bit of a stretch, even for this show, to believe Skye, clever as she is, could formulate this entire plan, let alone make it work. It seemed a bit overcomplicated. One would think Skye could locate the banker’s address without stealing and wrecking his car. Surely that is on public record. But it did give her something to do and showed how she has grown as an agent. She has more than proved her worth.

The better “A” plot dealt with Coulson being interrogated by Centipede using a mind probing device. A little more is revealed about the clandestine organization and its preternatural leader. His mind reading ability is so powerful, he even knows what the President dreams at night. However, even he cannot see the gap in Coulson’s mind. He is also capable, it seems, of killing people over the phone as he did this to Edison. This was a needless death. Edison had neither failed Centipede nor made any moves against them. It served only as a show of the Clairvoyant’s power. Anyway, the organization’s plan was to learn how Coulson was resurrected so they could do the same with their own soldiers.

(SPOILER WARNING)

The biggest revelation came when Raina convinced Coulson to willingly use the machine to uncover his lost memories. He sees the same scene he saw before of Tahiti, the “magical place,” but the masseuse and waiter suddenly fade into a pair of doctors, one of whom was seen in the pilot. In the series’ darkest and creepiest moment, we see Coulson lying on the table begging to die while robotic instruments operate on his exposed, glowing brain. Surprisingly, if observed closely, viewers will spot Samuel L. Jackson making a second cameo as Nick Fury in Coulson’s memory montage.

Coulson is quickly rescued by SHIELD and Raina is incarcerated, but he tells no one about what he saw. He does, however, track down the surgeon from his memories. He tells Coulson the whole truth: Coulson was dead for months. Director Fury had scientists work around the clock to resurrect him, but the process was torturous. While successful, Coulson lost the will to live, so they fabricated the Tahiti memories.

The episode ended with a scene where Mike Peterson—who appeared to die in the previous episode—wakes up, having only one leg and receives instructions from the Clairvoyant. It seems Centipede learned how to cheat death.

(SPOILERS END)

So, after several months of intrigue and fan theories, the truth about Coulson seems rather ordinary. He is not an android or a clone. Many fans believed he was now the superhero Vision, which would have been an intriguing concept. Instead, Coulson’s resurrection story is more akin to Joss Whedon’s previous series, “Dollhouse.”

Regardless, this does raise a big question: why would Fury go to such trouble to save a common agent like Coulson? That could prove to be next mystery to solve. However, there is still the matter of Skye’s parents, which next week’s episode will deal with.

All in all, a solid, if imperfect, episode.

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