Agents of SHIELD
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 11: The Magical Place

Bob Chipman | 8 Jan 2014 12:25
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  • It's hard not to call this an anticlimax. In a world of gods and aliens the big reveal of Coulson's resurrection is "We put you back together with lots of science."? I get that it's a nested-mystery/fakeout thing, because this is television - the "how" question gives way to "why" and "who;" but I won't pretend that I wasn't hoping for something more... cool, I guess?
  • It's also hard not to question how much of my lukewarm response to much of the series - while still basically enjoying it - is a matter of letting marketing-hype get the best of me: The show is essentially "NCIS: Marvel Universe," and it's not really any worse than most other largely-disposable occupants of the "Quirky Ensemble Solves Mysteries" genre that rules network drama at the moment. On its own modest merits, it more or less succeeds. As the "street-level spine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe" that it was hyped as? Not so much. But how much of that was marketing versus fan-projection? I can't really say.
  • New information learned: Coulson's parents are both dead, his father having passed when he was very young. Not the most original angle for a steely hardass, but I like the dimension it gives to his hero-worship of Captain America; who is after all the ultimate surrogate dad to the entire Marvel Universe.
  • Also: "The Cellist" comes up again, something else The Clairvoyant already knows about. Evidently, not Coulson hasn't even been allowed to tell her that he's alive.
  • Skye deciding that emulating May will help her "work" as a field agent is a fun bit, but I really hope that it's not meant as a nod in the direction of May being Skye's mystery-mom. Teases for the next episode indicate that she (Skye) will be getting the not-good news about that from a newly secrecy-averse Coulson next episode, so we'll see.
  • Part of Coulson's flashback includes a classic near-death experience "go into the light" vision.
  • Okay. So Nick Fury was really sad that Coulson died, and "moved heaven and earth" to restore his friend to life. That makes sense. But to do it he has to put this guy he likes so much through days of awful torture, scramble his brain and (literally) deny his dying wish (to die?) That's messed up. I know this is mostly re-upping "S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fury are going to the dark side" in advance of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but this feels a little beyond just "Fury is sneaky." Unless...
  • ...if Winter Soldier really is going to be about S.H.I.E.L.D.-proper being corrupted into something evil, maybe yoinking Coulson back from limbo and letting him set up a breakaway mini-S.H.I.E.L.D. of his own is some kind of long-game action against that. That would make sense, and fit with Fury always being one step ahead of everything else.


Who's The Clairvoyant? Last column I said I really wanted it to be M.O.D.O.K. Still do, but after this episode I'm feeling like it's going to be more of an internal fake-out: Raina is The Clairvoyant, always has been, and this is misdirection to get her even closer to S.H.I.E.L.D than before.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet. Aside from his work at The Escapist, he wrote a book and does a videogame criticism show.

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