TV Review: “Agents of SHIELD” Episode 11 – “The Magical Place”

Written by Alex Bowman January 08, 2014

We are officially back to work, fellow Agents. After a nice and quiet Christmas break we return to the quirky action of “Agents of SHIELD.” I was very skeptical as to how the return from the mid-season break was going to turn out. I am not a fan of the obvious cash grab that a mid-season break is and I have witnessed firsthand the god-awful attempts that certain T.V. shows have tried to do to regain your attention after their break. But have no fear, “Agents of SHIELD” is still firing on all cylinders and has returned with a really impressive episode that not only creates a plethora of interesting moments but also some dark ones as well.

This week’s episode deals with the team pulling together all their resources in order to save Coulson after his kidnapping at the hands of CENTIPEDE in the previous episode. Skye is still technologically handicapped due to her bracelet and must come up with some answers on her own by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Coulson is being manipulated by Raina at the behest of The Clairvoyant so they can determine exactly how he came back to life. The clock is ticking and the team must find Coulson before he gets passed the mental defenses and discover the truth about what really happened.

Embrace the Change

This episode was a spectacle from beginning to end. It gets uncomfortably dark around the climax of the show but I will share my thoughts on that shortly. What impressed me the most about this episode was how well the characters were handled, especially Fitz and Skye. Fitz has started to grow a bit of a spine and I think I may like this because we are now getting a sense of professionalism from his character and not just the quirky nerd with the goofy accent. Skye also kicked ass in this episode; it was really nice to see her character improve by actually doing something proactive and reminding us that she is someone who can think on her feet and keep the action going.

Coulson is handled really well in this episode as well; his character arc is something that I have been wanting to see more developed upon with every episode and it is so incredibly refreshing to see Clark Gregg put on all these different masks and show us how incredibly strong he is as an actor. He competently displays a plethora of different emotions all within one scene and it just breaks your heart to see the state he is put into when he finally discovers the truth about his rebirth. Gregg and company are complimented by stellar writing which offers great twists (where can I get that kill-someone-with-a-cell-phone app?) and impeccable directing that offers great stunt work that provides both intrigue and laughs (Silly Whedon, planes can’t do that). Needless to say, this show takes a very, VERY dark turn towards the end.

“Please, just let me die.”

Spoiler alert: abandon all hope, ye who read onward. We finally get to discover what happened when Coulson died and it is revealed through a device that helps him break his mental blocks and discover the truth. It turns out S.H.I.E.L.D. basically Million-Dollar-Man’d him and by using the power of SCIENCE they bring him back to life. But it turns out that Coulson is conscious during the procedures and we are treated to a graphically squeamish scene of a robot picking at Coulson’s exposed brain while he screams for the doctors to let him die. This scene looks like something out of “Hellraiser” and Gregg’s screams of anguish will leave you feeling really uncomfortable. However, despite its graphic content, it serves its purpose of making you feel sorry for Coulson, and I want to keep watching to see how he bounces back from this.

I am, once again, completely hooked on “Agents of SHIELD.” Despite a really weird direction the episode takes around the climax, it still gives you everything you want out of the show overall. You get your main cast maintaining their entertainment value while also improving thanks to stellar writing and excellent direction, you get secrets being revealed while still keeping us guessing and we get Clark Gregg being fucking amazing. The cliffhanger is also enough to get you motivated to check out next week’s episode as well, so don’t miss it.

My Rating: 9/10

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