1. What is it?
Agents of SHIELD Season 1, episode 11, titled 'The Magical Place.'
2. Who's in it?
The series regulars, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda may, Brett Dalton as Agent Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons, and Iain De Caestecker as Fitz. Guest starring this week is Saffron Burrows as Veronica Hand; Ruth Negga as Raina; Cullen Douglas as Edison Po; Rob Huebel as Lloyd Rathman; Aiden Turner as Vanchat; Ron Glass as Dr. Streiten and J. August Richards as Mike Peterson.
3. Who made it?
The Magical Place was written by Paul Zbyszewski & Brent Fletcher; the episode was directed by Kevin Hooks.
4. What is it about? (**Spoilers Ahead**)
'The Magical Place' opens with a professional finder named Vanchat (Turner) trying to sell a piece of Chitauri armor to a collector and Agents Ward (Dalton) and May (Wen) showing up to stop it. In fact, all of Level 7 works in conjunction--as a team--to stop Vanchat from completing the sale and ultimately apprehend him to try and locate Centipede, the organization that kidnapped Coulson (Gregg) at the end of the midseason finale.
Victoria Hand (Burrows) is now in charge of Level 7, and her methods are disruptive to the team, but all members have one single-minded goal: get Coulson back. Hand expels Skye (Bennet) from The Bus (finally!), and May backs her up, knowing full well that Skye will be better served working outside SHIELD to locate Coulson.
Meanwhile, at a secret location, Po (Douglas) is interrogating Coulson with new tech, trying to pick his brain to find out how he came back from the dead. Coulson refuses to cooperate, which only infuriates Po to press harder.
Under the Centipede tech, Coulson sees Tahiti, but the two people waiting on his every need keep changing into surgeons; one being Dr. Streiten (Glass) who we last saw in the pilot.
Skye is unable to hack into a computer outside of SHIELD due to the bracelet on her wrist, so she devises a scheme to use a successful businessman named Rathman (Huebel) to help her get past the security measures. She steals his car and crashes it, and OnStar helps her find Rathman's home by finding her a tow service.
At the secret location, Coulson overpowers his guard and escapes his room, only to find that he is on a nuclear bomb testing site in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Skye calls into Rathman's office, posing as LAPD and that sends Rathman home, only to be confronted by Skye, wearing a leather jumpsuit, and calling herself SHIELD Agent May. She tricks Rathman into helping her trace some Centipede money in an offshore account.
At the secret location, Po and Raina (Negga) have a conversation about the Clairvoyant, and on cue, the Clairvoyant calls and asks to speak with Raina. After a brief conversation, she hands the phone back to Po, and the phone triggers something in Po's head, killing him. Raina is now in charge.
On the Bus, Ward and May have a conversation about Skye, and May admits that she sides with Hand to get Skye away from SHIELD because she works better "outside the system."
At Rathman's home, Skye is able to leverage Rathman and two lowly security guards to do all of her dirty work as she traces the accounts.
Raina and Coulson talk about the Clairvoyant, and Raina seduces--for lack of a better term--Coulson into seeking the truth about what really happened to him after the events of The Avengers.
Skye is able to figure out where Coulson is located by tracing Raina's spending. She fills Level 7 in on her findings and they ready to go get their leader. Unfortunately, Hand has her own plans and wants to send the team on another mission. May and Ward pull rank and they go check out the abandoned nuclear testing site.
Each member of Level 7 arrives at the site--including Skye--just as Coulson learns that he died and was dead for days until Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, in flashback) ordered that all SHIELD resources had to be used to bring him back to life. Coulson remembers the pain and terror of having his brain rebuilt by technology and begs to die, only to be denied by SHIELD surgeons. Dr. Streiten tries to end the suffering, only to be rebuked by the other surgeon.
Skye and May burst into the room and Skye knocks out Raina as May unplugs the machine. Coulson is saved.
On the Bus, Raina is taken into SHIELD custody and Coulson resumes command of his team from Hand. Hand says that Centipede labs have been taken out all across the globe. A big blow has been dealt to the enemy. Coulson thanks his team and all is hunky dory again. The last thing he does is remove the bracelet from Skye's wrist and the traitor is once again a full fledged member of the team.
As the episode ends, Coulson confronts Dr. Streiten in his car. Dr. Streiten explains that Coulson was dead for days, and that the techniques they used were inhumane. Streiten tells Coulson that he became something, different. That he had lost his will to live and they forced him to get it back. As Dr. Streiten apologizes and is about to reveal something else, Coulson leaves the car.
In the post SHIELD scene, Mike Peterson wakes up, alive and horribly burned. One of his legs is gone beneath the knee. He calls out to help and his eye activates, telling him that instructions will be forthcoming.
5. Any revelations, tie-ins, easter eggs, etc.?
The Chitauri artifact in the beginning. Surprisingly, it seems that SHIELD is getting away from the Marvel Studio films and actually referencing it's own past. Coulson's ex-girlfriend, the cellist from the Portland Symphony, is brought up.
6. Will we watch next week?
Only because we have to. Agents of SHIELD went on break and came back with an episode that continued and resolved the cliffhanger. The problem is, the resolution wasn't that great. Centipede is in shambles as Raina is in custody and Po is dead. The only interesting thing this show had going for it, the Coulson mystery, didn't pay off at all. So he was dead, and now he's not. It was cheap and ineffective, leaving some lingering questions as to what exactly he is given Fury "moved heaven and earth" to bring him back. With viewers dropping off in huge chunks, Agents of SHIELD may be in more trouble than even ABC is letting on. If something "comic book" doesn't happen soon, the show may be a one season, one shot.
- Jon Hueber