*Major Spoilers Ahead*
"The Magical Place" takes a darker turn than the previous episodes as it delves into how Coulson survived and the aftermath of the mid-season cliffhanger. Skye is given something to do in the episode and Victoria Hand is featured again in the series.
But let's get straight to what everyone wanted to know about, how Coulson survived. Well, we know he is not completely a robot and that he is not a clone either, but other than that, his resurrection is about as ambiguous as ever. According to Dr. Streiten, played well by Firefly vet Ron Glass, what they did to bring back Coulson was "wrong." Why was it wrong? What did they actually do other than multiple surgeries? Was it some dark other worldly science? Magic? What are the repercussions of being revived other than severe psychological trauma? But wow, that scene with that machine keeping his brain alive and altering his memory with Coulson pleading "Please let me die!" was perfect in a creepy sort of way. You really felt bad for Coulson in that scene. What I do like is that Coulson was actually dead for days, which still makes his death in The Avengers relevant because he was actually dead during the events of the film. Hopefully the series will not just drop how he was resurrected for the rest of the season because the way Dr. Streiten was talking he certainly implied there was more to it. Additionally, I hope that the show explains how bringing Coulson back from the dead was a one time thing that is incredibly difficult replicate. Otherwise, we would run into a Into Darkness sized plot hole about death.
As for the episode itself, it was fun and Skye actually got some good scenes. Seeing her impersonate May was humorous and watching her figure out how to get around her SHIELD security bracelet was fun. Agent May commenting "Nice jacket" to Skye was a nice nod as well.
Now, who is the Clairvoyant? My guess is that he is actually an advanced artificial intelligence and not a psychic since the show is trying really hard to state that they do not exist. Also an AI would indirectly setup Ultron in The Avengers sequel.
The cliffhanger whether or not Mike Peterson survived the explosion is revealed in the after credits final scene. "Wow, that was a surprise," said no one ever. The fact that J. August Richards' name was in the credits kind of gave away that he would be returning, however that is probably for the best since his character is one of the best in the series and I hope he returns as a regular next season. What was a surprise however was that he has lost his leg, suffered scaring, and is now under the control of Centipede.
On the acting side, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons continues to show that she is one of best parts of the series. Clark Gregg gives a very strong performance showing the trauma he endured. Ruth Negga as Raina was actually quite good for a change. Her character has finally turned into someone memorable.
For the most part, the episode was light on references however the phone thing that either killed or incapacitated Poe looked like the one used in the first Iron Man film.
Again Coulson's girlfriend, only known as "The Cellist," was mentioned during the episode. Considering how heavily she has been referenced in the last two episodes we will finally get a chance to see her. The original fan speculation that she is possibly the Scarlet Witch because she is the only notable cellist in the Marvel Universe have basically been dismissed for certain with the casting of the character in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Overall: 9.3/10- Overall, "The Magical Place" did not quite live up to the all answering episode that we expected, but it work excellently as a character piece with some fun spy work by Skye.
Note: My scoring for Agents of SHIELD episodes have been all over the place. Therefore, even though I might give one episode a 9.5 and another a 9.2 that does not necessarily mean that one episode definitely better than the other. After the season ends I will probably write a retrospective ranking my favorite episodes of the season.
For another opinion on the episode check out T.M. Hall's review of The Magical Place here.
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