Saturday, January 11, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.11: "The Magical Place"

“You were killed. And now you’re here. We want to know how. Don’t you?”
- Raina

With a new year, comes a new bunch of episodes. Oh and I’m taking over coverage from Jen (because as she said in the mid-season finale recap, it wouldn’t be fair for one of us to get all the glory with a Joss show). It’s been 36 hours since Coulson got nabbed by Centipede and things aren’t going so well on the Bus. Sure, Ward and May manage to grab a guy named Vanchat who was trying to sell some alien tech but they’re no closer to finding Coulson and the Bus is so packed with agents, Fitz is starting to get super surly. Skye tries to start tracing Vanchat’s financials but Hand cuts her off and boots her from the plane. But the team isn’t really supportive of Skye getting the boot. Ward gives her a head start to get off the Bus before agent show up to take her to be debriefed and FitzSimmons gives her a damper-resistant sat phone that can make one call.

Somewhere, Coulson is being mind-probed by Centipede. They want to know what happened that brought him back to life because their Clairvoyants can’t see past his death. We see a scene from Tahiti with the masseuse and a cabana boy but Coulson isn’t spilling anything. We do learn that he lost his father at a very young age. Yay for some character development and backstory! After some more torture, Centipede goons usher Coulson back to his room and handcuff him to the bed. But being the resourceful agent he is, he picks the lock and almost gets free. We learn that he is being kept in a little town in the desert that was originally constructed in the ‘40s for bomb testing. It’s got creepy mannequins everywhere. Yuck. It turns out that Mr. Poe (the guy who got broken out of prison in the last episode) is not long for this world. Raina shows up and the Clairvoyant kills him over the phone. Coulson is skeptical of Raina’s intent when she brings him water is nice to him. She says that she just wants to uncover the secret that SHIELD has been keeping from Coulson so they can figure out how to resurrect their super soldiers. Coulson is still determined to withhold any information he remembers from her but he agrees to undergo the brain machine again (after Rain pushes his buttons about his dead mother and the cellist he’d been dating).

Back on the Bus, Ward goes in to interrogate Vanchat because Agent Hand’s guy is doing squat. With an assist from FitzSimmons, he gets Vanchat to give him the names of all his buyers (in alphabetical order). This leads to strike teams heading out on raids all over the world. The Bus is heading to Sydney where they have found a big warehouse. In the cockpit, Ward figures out that May wasn’t being a bitch when she told Hand that Skye was of no use to them on the plane. She wanted Skye out in the world so she could do her thing.

On the outside, Skye has to get a little old school to beat the bracelet that keeps locking her out of tech. She finds a guy who likely has financial ties to Vanchat, steals his car, crashes it and then impersonates Agent May to scare the crap out of him. She puts on her tough act and he starts sort of cooperating. He puts his info into the system to log into a Swiss bank account. I gotta hand it to her, she’s resourceful. Using someone who can touch a computer without it going on the fritz to get what she wants, good girl. With the help of one of the security guards, she learns where Raina is hiding and uses the sat phone to let the others know so they can converge and rescue their leader.

Coulson stops fighting the brain machine and the Tahiti memory falls away. We see a creepy machine messing with Coulson’s brain as Ron Glass’s doctor character (from the pilot) stands by objecting to what’s happening. And all the while, Coulson is yelling that he wants to die. He’s still yelling this in a somewhat delirious state when Skye and company rescue him. I have to say I didn’t really understand what happened when I watched it and I still don’t. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get a clearer answer. It’s obvious that Coulson is still very shaken by what happened even when they’re all back on the Bus and Raina is in custody. He and Skye have a bonding moment where he takes off the bracelet. I really feel like they’re starting to have a father/daughter type relationship which is good since she didn’t really have parents.

Things are not all settled though. Coulson still wants answers and clarification as to why SHIELD would hide the truth from him so he tracks down the doctor and we get a little bit of an explanation. Coulson wasn’t dead for mere seconds or hours. He was gone for days (which begs the question how did they get him to breathe and stuff). He apparently went through seven surgeries before the brain probing that was covered by the Tahiti memory. But he was so broken emotionally that they had to do some brain rewiring to try and get him back to the way he was. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they didn’t really succeed. Because Coulson hasn’t felt himself the whole length of the show. So now he knows a little about what happened and I have a feeling he may be going to a dark place as the season progresses before he deals with things.

And as a final tag, we see that Raina had been tending to another “subject” before taking over interrogating Coulson. This subject is none other than Mike Peterson. He’s a bit worse for wear (what with a lot of burns and a missing leg). So it won’t be the last we see of him but it’s the first he’s got one of those chips in his head that controls the super soldiers. Poor guy went from being a pawn of SHIELD to a pawn of Centipede. The good guys can’t really believe they wiped out the entire organization. I guess we’ll find out soon enough when the beast rears its ugly head again.

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