Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “The Magical Place”

I hope everybody enjoyed their holidays, because it’s time to ring in 2014 with a new episode of Agents of SHIELD.  Things were looking pretty dim when we last left our heroes; Coulson had been captured, everyone’s favorite guest star Mike Peterson had been blown up and our team had been left to fend for themselves.  Tonight’s episode picked up right where “The Bridge” left off, with Coulson’s Crew searching for him, while we learned some shocking new information about the show’s biggest mystery: Coulson’s resurrection.  Coulson’s absence allowed us to see how the team’s relationships have grown over the course of the show, now that he is not there to smooth things over.  Plus we got some action and a good helping of humor, plus some new information about Centipede.  But enough about all that, let’s jump to “The Magical Place”, written by Paul Zbyszewski and Brent Fletcher and directed by Kevin Hooks.

After a “Previously On…” that reminds of how we got here, tonight’s episode opens with a shady looking transaction.  A man named Vanchat is trying to sell a piece of Chitauri metal from the attack on New York to a lady.  She’s satisfied with the item’s authenticity and asks Vanchat to name his price, but before he can answer they’re interrupted by a small round disk that slides under the door and right up next to him.  She asks, “Is that a Roomba?” before it explodes in a flash and Melinda May and Ward charge in and start taking out the guards.  Vanchat flees down the hallway, but May radios FitzSimmons that he has escaped.  They sit with Skye watching the action, while Simmons complains that they’ve never done this before.  Fitz tells her to “embrace the change” and hits a button on his computer.

FitzSimmons’ Dwarfs (the flying robots) appear in the hallway in front of Vanchat and shine bright lights on him.  He fires his gun blindly at them before diving into a nearby elevator.  Now it’s Skye’s turn, as she hacks the elevator system and sends him speeding upwards.  He steps out onto the building’s roof to find himself face to face with a helicopter full armed SHIELD agents led by Agent Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows, last seen at the Hub).  May and Ward disarm Vanchat, and Hand tells him that he’s going to help them find a friend.

Onboard the Bus, Simmons is dismayed that Ward has managed to reopen all of his stitches as she patches him up.  The lab is full of people, and Fitz orders a technician away after being questioned about his decisions.  He complains that the Bus has far too many people on it for his liking, but before they can discuss it anymore they’re called to a briefing by Hand.  They arrive to find her discussing the site of Coulson’s capture, where all they found were some burnt human remains (moment of silence for Mike Peterson).  Vanchat is being interrogated and Hand is confident he will be able to lead them to Centipede.  “And to Coulson” the team reminds her, though she doesn’t seemed very interested in that.

Suddenly their display is hacked, but a quick trip down the hall reveals that it’s only Skye, hoping that Hand will remove her bracelet and let her trace Vanchat’s funds in order to find Centipede.  Hand has no patience for this and orders her off the Bus.  Ward objects and has clearly come to understand how useful Skye can be.  Hand asks May for her opinion as to whether Skye will be of any use to them on the Bus, and May coldly says “no”, earning looks of surprise from Ward and Skye.  So much for loyalty and the family they’ve built.  Hand orders the restrictions on Skye’s bracelet increased and her off the plane, and Ward offers to escort her.  FitzSimmons come out of the lab to say goodbye and offer her a paper bag.  Skye says thanks for the sandwich, but they reveal that it’s actually a phone that is shielded enough to allow her one emergency call to the Bus before her bracelet shuts it down.  She doesn’t see the point as she’s just going to be hauled off and debriefed, but Ward tells her that the agents coming to get her won’t arrive for twelve minutes, and they all turn and walk away.  She takes the opportunity to sneak out, but takes time to stop and tell a worker, “Don’t touch Lola.”

Meanwhile, Coulson is in Tahiti, where he’s getting a massage and being brought tropical drinks.  His nice memory is interrupted by Edison Po, the Centipede tactician who works with the Clairvoyant.  Po asks what memories Coulson is seeing, and Coulson confesses he was rewatching a particularly spectacular Michael Jordan game.  “So clutch.”  Po tells Coulson that he needs to stop fighting and must keep his mind open.  Coulson rebukes Po for killing Mike Peterson and leaving his son fatherless, but Po says that Peterson made that choice himself.  He reveals that he knows, through the Clairvoyant, that Coulson also lost his father as a boy, and that the Clairvoyant knows everything about him until his death, but can’t see anything after that.  “For some reason, you’re different,” he says.  Coulson refuses to cooperate, so Po tells him that they’ll have to do things the hard way as a guard arrives with an electrical shock device.

Skye’s managed to elude SHIELD (wow, that was easy) and goes to a cyber cafe to try to resume her hacking, but her bracelet not only kicks her out but locks down all of the computers in the place.  She sets off to find another way to get computer access, and stumbles across a news article about Lloyd Rathman, who is under investigation for tax evasion.  She smoothly steals his car (after buying a new outfit) but her bracelet won’t even let her use the car’s GPS.  So instead she crashes the car and uses his OnStar to call for a tow back to his house.  Once there she uses a golf club (to keep her bracelet away from the phone) to call Rathman’s office, claiming to be the police and asking for him to come home and make a statement about his stolen car.

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7 thoughts on “Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “The Magical Place”

  1. I was supremely disappointed by the first half of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it just felt really lazy and bored me. However, I am definitely going to watch the rest because I still want to see it pick up.

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  2. Bringing someone back against their will makes me think of both Buffy and also the current storyline for Sam in Supernatural. It’s a tough story for a tv show to do because on the one hand you want to show that it’s wrong (the real life equivalent being someone reviving you against your do-not-rescusitate order or keeping you on machines if you’re brain dead despite your wishes), but the show can’t go on without its main characters so… complicated!

    The what-happened-to-Coulson arc isn’t my favorite for the show anyways, but I’m curious to learn more about Skye’s background. Mostly I want more FitzSimmons and May character stuff. Skye/Simmons is an adorable friendship too and I’m trying really hard not to ship Skimmons. 😉

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  3. Pingback: Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Seeds” | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

  4. Grrrrrr. Arrrrrrgh!

    A half a month later I can finally watch it online without ABC’s (grrr argh) equivalent of the Skye bracelet forcing us to use a “TV provider” (mine’s a fifty foot antenna).

    Coulson continues to be a highly empathic and engaging character (odd, I usually like the Tom Hiddleston type… heh heh heh).

    Lots of character development in all quarters. I like May more and more, as she moves away from Yet Another Butt-Kicking Asian Crouching Tiger Woman to someone truly complex. I actually had an inkling when she helps Hand basically boot Skye off the plane that there was some ulterior motive favoring Skye and Team Coulson.

    Skye too is moving away from Archetypal Computer Hacker Girl to a character with… well… character. I particularly like her confrontation with Corporate Expletive Deleted Guy… and his Flying Monkeys, who turn out to be nice clueless guys who are useful.

    The Nuclear Town The Bomb Forgot has been seen in films before, it’s a nice creepy Non-Magical Place. The mannequins add a level of weird creep factor that cannot be explained. There was a lot of nifty film noir stuff too, with neatly filmed shadows on characters’ faces, and venetian blinds playing with light and shadow.

    The Girl in The Flowered Dress remains an enigma… and a striking villain. She comes off nearly empathetic, someone you’d like to trust. Clearly she is a master of the art of manipulation, (even better than Loki, whose ego and charisma tends to shout at rock concert levels).

    Any faceoff between Hand and May is priceless.

    At least one question is answered: is The Clairvoyant a schizophrenic alter-ego for Po. Apparently not.

    And turning the Bus around in mid-air is hilarious.

    ooooooooo ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh o . O

    And the subject of bringing a character back from the dead (every other episode of Supernatural), or of mortality vs immortality is one often best wrangled in the realm of sci-fi or fantasy. This episode has certainly wrangled it well.

    And I suspected they’d bring back Mike Peterson…

    And Clark Gregg rules… “grounding them on a human level”… Coulson especially does this for SHIELD and for the Marvel films he’s been in. In SF/fantasy, we need that grounding, or we cannot believe the fantastic. In Middle-earth, it’s Hobbits who are our entry point, our Ordinary Folk surrounded by a vast world of larger and more powerful beings. Here, in Marvel Land, these SHIELD agents, and Coulson in particular, ground the vast superpowered universe in a place we can all access.

    It’s a magical place.

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  5. Pingback: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Looking back at season 1 and forward at season 2 | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

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