After apparent reveals of how Coulson's resurrection took place, a revelation that barely answered anything, suddenly we get a proper answer. And it's a rather horrifying one. In an episode that seemed to be about something else much more pressing. It seems Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally getting itself sorted. But this all came about because after last month's (bloody hell, four weeks between episodes? Fox's schedulers just hate Whedon, don't they.) action packed revelation of Deathlok and Skye getting a couple of bullets in the stomach.
Skye was out of the picture, but did that even matter? I certainly didn't miss her, despite how much the characters kept reminding us that they do. Though one of those seriously backfired with Fitz and Simmons going “Skye would crack this encryption in no time... OH wait it's not encryption, it's an ASCII map. Because that's a genius way to actually hide something” (that comes across as snarky, but it really is. If someone's rummaging around your system looking for a map to your secret base, what better way to hide than in a text file. They're looking for an image, they'll probably just glide straight past it. Admittedly holo-technology makes it make a little more sense.)
Of course anyone watching knew that Skye was never going to bite the big one. For one, the execs think of her as the gateway character. Two, Coulson already came back from the dead, so as reviving Skye for a coma wasn't going to be too big of a deal. The journey was how we're going to get there.
Part of that journey involved the introduction of Bill Paxton, who as Agents John Garrett was a nice addition to the team. Someone with history with Coulson is always welcome, because I like we're getting to see just how kick-ass this guy was before he turned up bugging Tony Stark between press conferences. Garrett comes across as an old Cold War-era action spy, who's not afraid to twist rules when is needed, or to rack up a body count if pushed. In some ways I think he pulls off the role Ward is meant to, rough and ready action type, but Ward's too by-the-book, even though he seems to be loosening up. He might even have taken over Skye, leaving her as the most uninteresting character on the show.
The rest may not have had many outstanding moments, but all were served well. May's immediate reaction to the announcement that Skye wasn't going to make it was a nice touch, and a nice insight into the character that we've not had. Props to the director and make-up teams that showed just how medieval she went on Quinn with his face a bloody mess for the rest of the episode. Though the fact Ward got a a little turned on by it was slightly disturbing. While Fitz and Simmons were their usual awesome selves, and Fitz seems to be getting more and more comfortable heading out into the field. I expected Skye getting shot with him as a partner was going to dampen that, and while he did have a moment, he was fine on the actual mission. Though I guess when you're the junior with probably the three best Agents present it's easy to stay calm. The test will come if and when Ward or May aren't about.
But the main thing that made this episode was the final scene with Coulson. I was convinced that with this trip to the 'Guest House', where his resurrection took place we were going get a reveal that Coulson was a clone and the real Phil was languishing in a bacta tank like Luke in Empire Strikes Back. Not really alive, just suspended – to mirror what was happening with Skye. That scene of him walking down the corridor shell shocked struck me as a man who had just come face to face with the truth of his existence, and that truth made him less of a man. Which I suppose is true. Just not the way I imagined it. No, what actually was behind all the experimental technology, serums and medicine that brought Coulson back from the dead made a lot more sense, and it makes the name of the facility wonderfully ironic.
Everything that Coulson has to thank for being alive is the corpse of a Chitauri. Yes, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been using the dead remains of one the aliens from Avengers for experiments. That;s all inside of Coulson. And now Skye too. That is quite a reveal. It also makes ties both characters together in an intriguing way, and is a great follow through on the big events in New York, something I thought Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has avoided a bit too much.
I can't wait to see where this is going. The reappearance of Paxton's Garrett and his protege Triplett, who has possibly the worst name ever, and to my geeky mind immediately calls to mind the 3-D Man aka Triathlon who had the power of THREE MEN! (Man, that's a sucky power). Interestingly enough, his last name is Garrett too.
However, that's not what we're getting next episode, as the teaser at the end is possibly the longest yet, and reveals the Asgardian Lorelei appearing in Death Valley, doing some rather Enchantress type stuff, and sets up Sif's appearance next week. Which is another reason why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s second half a season is really shaping up a lot better than the first.