Bill Paxton as Agent John Garrett joins the cast on tonight’s episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” as the team try to find a way to help Skye, who nearly died in the last episode. Along the way, we learn more secrets of both Coulson’s past, resurrection, and the secrets of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Meet me after the jump for my review of tonight’s episode, “T.A.H.I.T.I.”
Death in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
As we open we’re told that Skye is going to die from the gunshot at the hands of baddie Ian Quinn. But is death really that big a deal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? It certainly isn’t in the standard comics Marvel Universe. One can almost quote Monty Python – “I got better” and “It’s just a flesh wound” – when talking about the permanence of death in comics, and in the Marvel movies, it’s not much different.
Spoiler alert here for folks not up to date on their movies, or their comics – just come back in a paragraph. I’ll still be here. Death isn’t permanent on the screen either, Captain America comes back, Loki comes back, and in this summer’s upcoming blockbuster Captain America The Winter Soldier (by the way, did you see the awesome commercial for it during the show?), Bucky comes back. It happens all the time. The most important example of dissing death however is right here in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – Agent Phil Coulson.
The Cost of Resuurrection
In Marvel’s The Avengers, and as chronicled in our TV series here, Coulson was murdered by Loki and subsequently (although we are still not sure how) brought back to life. He’s got to realize with Skye’s life not just on the line, but ebbing, that his superiors in S.H.I.E.L.D. have a way to save her and/or bring her back. And that’s where we come in. Coulson is frantically trying to get hold of Director Nick Fury, but as comics readers know all too well, nobody gets hold of Nick Fury (especially as played by Samuel L. Jackson) unless he wants them to.
What Coulson should be thinking about however is the cost. He has sufficiently blocked out any memory (and maybe even knowledge) of what happened to him to be resurrected. It was too painful, too freakish, too batshit crazy. Does he want to subject Skye, whom he terms all too correctly ‘family,’ to the same madness? Is it worth the cost?
The Truth Is Out There
Coulson tells the crew how he was brought back, gives his file to Fitz and Simmons, again in hopes if saving Skye. Fitz and Simmons try to get hold of Dr. Streiten but he’s gone off the grid. Everything else in that file turns out to be unverifiable or doesn’t exist.
Fitz and Simmons are determined to help Skye but keep hitting brick walls. By monitoring all SHIELD communication for the last few years and thinking in an out-of-the-box way that would make Skye proud, they locate The Guest House, a non-SHIELD facility where Coulson was revived. That’s their destination.
Besides the obvious complications of this episode, in their pursuit of a cure for Skye, Coulson has also refused to hand over Ian Quinn to his SHIELD superiors. Agent May does get in about a dozen good punches to the face on him though. Was I the only one who cheered then? I think not.
SHIELD sends agents after them and boards The Bus in mid-air. Enter Agent Jonathan Garrett played by Bill Paxton. In the comics a cybernetic loose cannon who ran afoul of Elektra, here he’s an a-hole from Coulson’s and Ward’s past. He’s accompanied by Agent Antoine Triplett, played by B.J.Britt, both join the cast as regulars this episode.
Family and Friends
The powers that be have finally brought this boat in. With Skye shot, the team has become family, bonded by closeness and caring. The audience also has come to love the groove the show and these characters have settled into. As someone who’s been here all along, I’m happy.
And that’s the problem. Those that hung with this show for thirteen episodes are content. We don’t need new blood. The network does, the viewers who left do, and those who’ve never watched before do. Sure, the series has not done as well as they’d hoped, but it’s still doing well. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Ian Quinn is still on board The Bus when Coulson and Garrett double team him with a good cop/bad cop routine for the ages. Ward is tough, May is very tough, but Garrett brings a whole new dimension to tough. Garrett wants a piece of Quinn for three dead agents under him, and for the Deathlok program.
Quinn won’t give, but blames it all on his superior, the big bad the agents have been chasing for most of the season, The Clairvoyant. He knows things before they happen. He sees everything, except, Quinn says, what happened to Coulson before the Battle of New York.
Cue Admiral Ackbar. As it turns out, it’s all about Coulson. The Clairvoyant still wants to know how he came back from the dead. Maybe he is clairvoyant, as he told Quinn to shoot Skye… only so Coulson would try to save her in the same way he himself was saved. And thus, The Clairvoyant gets what he wants, the answer. He planned this.
The Guest House
Coulson, Garrett, Ward, and Fitz force their way in to The Guest House, leading to a firefight with a crew of two, and the realization that the entire place, underneath a mountain, is set to blow up. The most troublesome part of the fight is seeing how redundant Ward is with Garrett around, not a good thing in a Joss Whedon show. Sometimes redundancies die first.
It’s also here in The Guest House that Coulson sees where he was operated on, and a room marked T.A.H.I.T.I. The drug that may help Skye is also there. Coulson however sees something in the room … what I’m still not sure (was it another Deathlok? was it Coulson’s real body? an alien?) but it makes him not want the drug used. He’s too late, and the drug works. Skye is recovering, but we don’t yet know at what cost.
Apparently, taking a cue from its comics source material, the show is having an event, a multi-part story with Lady Sif and Lorelei. That’s right, folks, real Marvel Comics characters. We get a sneak peek at Lorelei at the end of the episode. This should be interesting…