Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap – “The Magical Place”

     January 7, 2014


Previously on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Coulson has fallen into the nefarious of Centipede!  Mike Peterson, once foe now friend, has apparently been blown to smithereens! The gang is rudderless as they attempt to find their lost leader.  Will the agents be able to put an end to Centipede’s scheme?  Will Agent Coulson’s mysterious resurrection be explained in full?  Mysteries revealed in this episode, entitled “The Magical Place”. Hit the jump for our recap.

marvels-agents-of-shield-the-magical-placeOur episode begins with a neat little action scene featuring the agents taking down some smugglers of Chitauri (the alien antagonists from the Avengers) metal.  This was a good way to re-introduce the characters to the audience coming back from winter break, with every member of the team working in unison and having unique, yet essential, roles.  Well, almost essential anyway as Fitz and Simmons controlling a handful of tiny airplane flashlights was a tad odd, but I guess that’s a perfect analogy for Fitz and Simmons as part of the team anyway.  Cue the smuggler running into Victoria Hand on the roof with a battalion of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents armed to the teeth.  Right off the bat, it was nice to see two problems I’ve been having with the show overall addressed in that the gang is recognized as part of a large organization, not just handling missions on their own, and each member of the team is given something to do.

Simmons states at one point of the episode, as their airplane HQ is teeming with other agents, “I think its good that they’re here” which I completely agree with.  I think one thing that has been lacking from a lot of the episodes was a sense of energy that is gained by having the team seem like its a part of a cog in a much larger machine. It makes the stakes seem more real and more threatening than when you had just had a handful of agents who were constantly fish out of water.  Hand, acting leader of the team while Coulson is M.I.A., is a great foil for everyone in the group and I certainly smirked when she instantly discovered Skye’s usual shenanigans and instantly put a stop to them, ordering her off the plane.

Meanwhile, Agent Coulson is being interrogated by Centipede and their leader, Po.  I mentioned in my previous review that Po came across as something of a Hannibal Lector-esque character, but this go around, is just your typical megalomaniac, spouting off exposition.  This is later solved though by the Clairvoyant, Centipede’s enigmatic commander, surprisingly offing him and giving his duties to Raina, his former second in command.  Po does however go over a tiny nugget of Coulson’s back story before kicking the bucket as it’s revealed that Phil lost his father at a young age.  Man, having kids in superhero universes is just signing your own death warrant!

agents-of-shield-the-magical-placeOn the other end of town, Skye is attempting her own method of finding Coulson’s location.  This part of the episode is…painful.  It seems more like filler than anything else as Skye shuffles from set piece to set piece, going so far as to pass herself off as Agent May to the character Mr. Rathman, played by Human Giant’s Rob Huebel.  As I had stated in past reviews, you can really begin to see the line between the elements of the show that are holding their own and those that are sinking, with Skye and her plotlines slowly floating into the murky depths.

Coulson’s interactions with Raina, discussing his resurrection and the loss of his beloved cellist, were involving and the relationship between the two is hopefully something they can continue to expand upon in the future, as you can see a nice chemistry between the two developing.  The reveal of another aspect of Coulson’s resurrection had me pretty to shocked to be honest, not so much in that S.H.I.E.L.D. was responsible for his return, but how DARK the scene was that played out.  Coulson on a slab with his exposed brain being worked on a methodically by a creepy looking robot under Fury’s orders as he begged to die was a pretty horrific scene.  It’s strange that for a show that’s been pretty “clean” to this point that they’d create such a horrific display.  I’m not knocking it by any means, and I hope the show will reveal how the procedure took place and whether or not Coulson is in fact human anymore.  Hopefully this will lead to a confrontation between Coulson and Fury at some point in the future of the series, or perhaps in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.

The final stinger of Mike Peterson being alive, albeit missing a leg and having several horrific burns on his person was welcome, as I dug the actor and the character overall.

In summary, I think that it was a serviceable return to for the series.  I’ll let you in on a little secret, over the holiday break, I began really getting into Arrow and am wrapping up the first season of that.  That show really helps to demonstrate a lot of what S.H.I.E.L.D. could be doing and more importantly, SHOULD be doing to make itself better in future episodes.  As it stands, I find myself frustrated with a lot of aspects of the agents and I feel that with each episode for every one step forward, we get a step back without ever missing a beat.

Grade: C

agents-of-shield-posterAgents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.:

- “Is that a roomba?” Good Lord, even their bombs have to have the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo printed on them? To say nothing of the giant S.H.I.E.L.D. firewall that accesses a coffee shop full of computers when Skye is trying to break in.

- Glad to see the day was saved by ONSTAR! A little more subtle with the product placement guys.

- “We have something for you.”
“You made me a sandwich?”
“Yes. It. Is. That.”

- “So clutch.”

- “Ro-Sham-Bo you!”

- “Remember our safe word?”

-”What is it with the flowers?”
“Who doesn’t like flowers?”

Watch the promo for next week’s episode, “Seeds”:

  • Lance

    The (SPOILERS) brain surgery sequence was cool. But… I still came away feeling this whole “what happened to Coulson?” storyline was so unnecessary. Maybe now they can go into some more interesting mystery related to Coulson’s resurrection, but they still wasted far too much time on this, to no great end. I actually hope this episode gets the whole Coulson death thing out of the way, to make room for something more interesting.

    The fact we don’t even know what “The Clairvoyant” and CENTIPEDE even want yet is astounding. The creators of this show keep expecting us to be intrigued by little tidbits of information when they haven’t even set up the stakes for us. It’s a mess.

    Still hope the ship can be righted and the show can be all it should have been. There are glimpses of promising stuff here and there. But I don’t think they’ll get there by the end of their first season. This is more like a three seasons until it gets good (like a lot of the Star Trek shows) scenario. Hope AoS makes it that long.

    • Alex

      i was hoping to see if he finally became Vision as the Rumors on the avengers were… but no :(

  • Drew

    The clairvoyant could be using an infinity gem i.e. the mind gem

    • Prytanis

      This is my hypothesis too. Joss Whedon is a mad genius. I’m fairly certain that this series is going to feed the mind gem plotline into Avengers 3.
      Goes well with the “Aether” from Dark World, which I’m certain is either the Power Gem or Reality Gem.

  • ShroudedDay

    Agent Coulson has fallen into the nefarious of Centipede!

    • ShroudedDay

      How about the nefarious CLUTCHES of Centipede? I love this site but you guys should do a better job of proofreading.

  • Robby Richmond

    The show is really beginning to find its feet now. Getting quite macabre and dark.

    I thought the Brain scene was quite graphic for 8 pm on a tuesday!

  • Armond White is my master now

    Is this show still on air?

  • eternalozzie

    This show has more terrible moments than good one.

  • zengrrl

    For a secret agency, they really do have their logo on a lot of things.

    • Armond White is my master now

      CIA does the same in every opportunity. In fact, I have a lunchbox with the logo of the agency.

  • LEM

    I tried watching again after seeing some pre-episode hype but I checked out less than half way through. The cast and acting is so bad and cringe inducing I just can’t watch it. Clark Gregg is great in the show and is really the only watchable part which may be because he’s the only real tie in to the movies but mostly because the others are so awful.

    • cb

      Hes actually a pretty good actor. If you see the “To do list”, you’ll notice that he and Bill Hader are actually the only things worth watching. The fact that they both have a combined 10min of screentime makes the whole movie a joke. And not the good kind.

  • Doug_101

    The confrontation between Fury and Coulson has to take place long before A2 – that’s over a year a way at this point. I would seriously hope they aren’t considering dragging this storyline on THAT long. The episode was decent and I was happy we got at least some of the picture about Coulson’s resurrection. I remember back in the 90s reading Wolverine comics about Logan trying to unravel his past and then he fights some Russian guy who unlocks all his memories…and the reader learns none of them. It was one of the lazier issues and I’m glad AoS didn’t go that route with this episode.

  • Convoy

    I said this before, but they’re doing a Buffy season 6 on Coulson. I’m still going to watch the show, but I’ve come to accept that it’s just fluff. I’m all for slow reveals. I like a show that takes it’s time. I’m not going to compare AoS to Arrow, but I will compare it to Person of Interest. Person of Interest was pretty much just mission of the week for the first part of the season, but you could see that they were also weaving something bigger underneath that. Now while they were weaving that something bigger under the mission of the week episodes, the show had compelling characters that made you want to keep watching. The same goes for both NCIS shows. AoS doesn’t. They’re not only doing a slow reveal, but the characters aren’t all that interesting to keep you hooked while they do that slow reveal.

    • cb

      Um . . . surprised you left Arrow out, since its first season went exactly the way you described Person. At first, it was just random scumbag after random scumbag, until the undertaking was slowly revealed, the key players, the actual plan . . . they took their sweet time.

      • Convoy

        I left it out on purpose because it’s another comic book show and everyone is making comparisions to the two. So I wanted to use a different show.

  • Abracadaver

    I missed the brain surgery thing. Didn’t he get stabbed in the heart? Why did he need brain surgery?

    • Devin Reed

      Did you watch the episode? Maybe that would help.

    • cb

      No, you’re not mistaken. They’re referring to the scene where robotic hands are working on his brain while he’s begging to die. Some people thought it was pretty cool, but i’m right there with you: Wasn’t his heart the problem?
      According to the show, THAT whole sequence was about planting false memories into his mind because of whatever (yet unknown) procedure used to resurrect him left him a blubbering mess with no desire to live whatsoever. One brain operation later: Tahiti, its a magical place.

      • Lance

        Can’t believe I’m wading into this, but…

        In the episode they make it clear Coulson was dead for several days. That much time, your delicate brain matter is going to need some serious reconstruction. So the idea of him needing all that brain surgery actually makes sense, in a very Marvel Universe-y kind of way.

      • Guest

        . . . .ok . . . but does that explain how they actually ‘brought him back” ? How the hell did they fix his ‘exploded’ heart days after it stopped working.
        And if you’re saying that brain surgery was meant to reverse the tissue death his body experience from a lack of adequate blood flow, shouldn’t that also be true for his muscles? His skin? Intestines? Spleen? Liver? arteries & veins? etc etc.
        All that machine was doing was giving him the will to live by screwing up his mind. His resurrection still hasn’t been explained.

      • Petshop

        The giant robot that was messing with his brain is to implant the Fake Tahiti memory to him. They already did revive him prior to this surgery. But I Coulson was more like a zombie and has “lost his will to live” so they implanted him with a fake memory then that’s why they were messing with his brains

      • Petshop

        The giant robot that was messing with his brain is to implant the Fake Tahiti memory to him. They already did revive him prior to this surgery. But I Coulson was more like a zombie and has “lost his will to live” so they implanted him with a fake memory then that’s why they were messing with his brains

      • cb

        Jesus . . . . did you just repeat my post back to me?

  • scurvy

    I thought the show was much stronger than the first half of the season. The show is making slow by steady progress.

    What the hell happened to the Almost Human recap?


    I agree with the C grade. Can’t imagine anyone giving this show a higher grade at this point. They have a lot of work to do if they want to convince everyone they deserve a season 2.

    Thoughts of last night’s episode:

  • Btbcc12859

    I think we just saw Ultron?

  • ʝoe ßloggs

    It’s more exciting to read the review here and the comments than actually watching the show.

  • doc

    Let’s get this out of the way right now. Saffron Burrows can’t act her way out of a wet paper bag. The way she enunciates every single word is like she is reading it phonetically because she doesn’t understand English. It was the same in Deep Blue Sea, the only other thing I can remember her from. And Coulson’s non-reveal was also disappointing. Wow, he was dead and they brought him back and it gave him excruciating pain, so they blocked it out with happy thoughts. I would have been happier with a life model decoy or hell, Dr. Strange bringing him back with magic. That would have been a heck of an intro or at least another easter egg that would actually have been cool.

    Maybe Coulson’s death and resurrection is what brings on the Marvel Zombie Apocalypse. Anything to bring something outside the box and liven things up. I only watch this show each week because I’m a fan of the movies and hope the show will get better. And who didn’t see Emerson coming back? Of course he wasn’t dead. But I do admit, I liked the message in his eye at the end. That was a nice touch to an otherwise run of the mill autopilot episode.

  • Yocean

    My guess is that the Clairvoyant is Ultron core using mind gem (I guess) and also the AI inside Coulson, who becomes the body for Ultron.