Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 11: “The Magical Place” Review

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In “The Magical Place” the team searches for Agent Coulson after he’s kidnapped by Centipede. Meanwhile, Coulson finds out how he was resurrected.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 11.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back. After several weeks off the air how many viewers care enough about the show to tune in or will the promise of finally finding out what happened to Coulson spike the ratings?

By the time mid-season episodes are produced, the writing team can respond to viewer feedback and address the areas that require much-needed improvement. This episode will be a good indication if the producers are listening or not. I won’t be recapping every plot point so feel free to sound off in the comments and I’ll be happy to discuss with you in more detail.

Let’s Discuss What Happened!

• You Don’t Have To Assume The Worst Of Me: Got to hand it to Melinda May for calling Skye annoying and booting her off the bus. Turns out it was May’s hidden agenda. I’m not a Skye hater per se, I just like how May feels real compare to some of the other characters.

There’s a consistency to how May is portrayed yet she can still surprise us like hooking up with Ward. It makes total sense for her to want to put some distance between Skye & Ward but her decision is not based on emotions. May has the mission to save Coulson as her priority and puts her trust in Skye’s abilities to get the job done. Well played May.

• Coulson & Raina: First off, Po wasn’t incredibly engaging as a villain. I’m not surprised he got iced. On the other hand, Raina’s got a charming disposition about her. She has great persuasive skills that can find the unspoken truth, that deep desire within a person and use it to her benefit. This is a far out theory but did Po’s clairvoyant abilities get passed on to Raina?

My favourite part of the episode is the excellent chemistry between Coulson and Raina.  In particular, it’s a strong moment when Raina describes the normal life Coulson lost due to his resurrection and how his death shattered his girlfriend’s heart. I liked how Coulson couldn’t deny the truth any more about how S.H.I.E.L.D. is lying to him. Maybe the Nuketown filled with fake people is supposed to represent his memories of Tahiti and who knows what else are not real?

There’s still a lot to be uncovered and I would like a clearer picture of what happened during the operations and how it affects Coulson. That said, the machine operating on the brain is a cool effect.

If you’ve watched Buffy Season 6, you’ll probably notice the similarities about how Coulson lost his will to live after his death experience. I guess it’s kind of dark to have the lead character literally screaming “please let me die”. Where is this is all going? To be honest I’m not that invested.

Mikey’s Back: It wasn’t a surprise reveal since it was hinted at throughout the episode. But I like the character as well as the actor and hope the writers can find a good way to utilize Mike for the remainder of the season. Pulling back the bed sheet to see the amputated leg is straight out of Bionic Woman (other shows and movies have done it too). Nice creep factor with the message scrolling across his vision.

Ouch, the Dialogue: I get irked when I read reviews that use words like ham-fisted and clunky, just because of the images it conjures in my mind. But in this case those words apply. I have to point out some of the dialogue in this episode is jarringly bad. In an interview, the executives joked that they wanted at some point to purposely give Clark Gregg a terrible line and see if he can pull it off. “I’ve gone surfing … that’s definitely not like surfing.” I think that’s the line they were talking about and you know what, Gregg made it passable.

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• Skye Pretending To Be Melinda: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but there is nothing flattering about Skye’s scenes. It was just one giant, uncomfortable, unnecessary hurdle to find out where Coulson is kidnapped. Can’t she just do a quick hack job off-screen like usual? Her scenes are supposed to show how far Skye has progressed as an agent and dare I say make her more likeable. Did her storyline work for you?

At least, the loose end from The Hub where Simmons zapped Agent Sitwell is brought up by Victoria Hand. Even if there are no major consequences for their actions, it would have still been good to see Agent Sitwell square off with Simmons on the bus. Another missed opportunity for genuine comic relief.

The Wrap Up

By Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s standard this is a watchable episode that finally gave some tidbits on what happened to Coulson after his death. This could have been a turning point for the series to take a bold new direction or begin an engaging long story arc. However, instead of these events re-energizing the show I’m actually less invested in what happens next with Coulson and company. Looks like we are back to one-off case of the week episodes which may be fine for a casual viewer but to get me hooked I wanted a strong sense of where the rest of the season is headed.

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About Eddie@Jaccendo

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on January 7, 2014, in Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Television and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I liked the episode for Raina & Coulson’s conversation. That was interesting. Raina creeps me out. “what’s with the flowers?” She has some kind of mutant power, I think. She is persuasive and intuitive. maybe. I don’t know. And that’s my problem with the show. They don’t really let you know anything. Even the Coulson reveal doesn’t give any answers just more questions. That’s not good. Why are they working on his brain? Why are they not working on his heart. Did the doctor reveal something and I missed it? I wish watching it again helped, it doesn’t. I liked the effects shots in the episode. The power turn the bus makes was a great shot. And the machine operating on Coulson’s brain looked other-worldly. Skye trying to get around her anti-tech bracelet was cool, I think. I like the way May answered the question about her, because she answers it truthfully. And even broader, I feel Skye in general would be a better served character off of the bus. Her hands have been (almost literally) tied. And when Agent Coulson is saying “Let me die.” over and over again, it felt to me like the show itself was talking. They need to answer more questions or they will lose more viewers.

    • That conversation was the highlight for me too. The actress playing Raina adds a lot to her character that might not be on the page. She knows things that she shouldn’t but did she always have that ability or only after talking to the clairvoyant?

      I agree the Coulson reveal doesn’t give much answers and leads to more questions. That’s a shame because it could have been a big wow moment to get fans excited about the show again.

      Maybe it’s just me but I didn’t enjoy how Skye worked around her bracelet. Haha, the show is calling for an end to itself eh? It still has potential and there are some good episodes sometimes. I wish there was a reset button for this show to fix its flaws. If this episode delivered it could have helped stop the decline in ratings.

  2. Is it safe for me to come back yet?

  3. Afternoon sir, great write-up yo! I think again we’re on the same page, it seems like you always highlight the extra points in your reviews that I forget to put in mine which makes for more conversation points. 🙂

    I too loved May’s cold attitude towards Skye, even if it was tactical, I thought it was effectively hateful and I liked it because of my internal hate for the character. And speaking of Skye, most people hate on Ward because he’s bland as hell and to a degree that guy’s grown on me, where as Skye’s become more and more infuriating to watch. Such a turn around haha.

    As for Po, I was kind of annoyed he got taken out so quickly, how’re are audiences meant to get attached to people if they keep getting killed? But like you said he wasn’t as interesting as Raina and I’d prefer to see more of her due to her powers of persuasion. Indeed her conversation with Coulson was one of the best points of the episode due to how calm and yet insightful it was.

    If the next episode doesn’t sway me, then it won’t matter about the new agents that will be brought onto the team but episode 14, no one will be watching by that point and that’ll suck. Those creators and writers at AoS better pull out the good stuff soon or it’ll be dead before the end of the season.

    • Good day to you too sir! Nice too see there are some fans out there that are still interested in conversing about the show, the good points and the not so good points. 🙂

      Of all the characters May has grown on me the most. She’s not a warm and friendly person but she’s very likeable to me haha. I’m not a Skye hater but I do dislike how the writers try too hard in manipulating me into liking her if that makes any sense. I can see why being a homeless orphan should earn some sympathy points and her compassion can be a great asset but it’s not connecting with me despite all the screen time. I don’t hate Ward either, he has a specific function on the team, but he’s expendable if the writer want to make changes.

      Raina is interesting and I would l also like to see more of her. There still needs a big bad for the season though. Coulson’s conversation with Raina shows that taking time to give character insight should be a stronger focus and hopefully we’ll see more of that.

      I hope the writers don’t hold back the story until the end of the season or pump out filler until the new agents arrive. If the show gets picked up for Season 2, maybe it would be best to do a 13 episode run like Sleepy Hollow where every episode pushes the story and characters forward.

  4. I wasn’t able to watch this episode live, and I’ve since found out they’re now waiting a week to post the episodes on Hulu, instead of the next day like they did last year. 😦 I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Coulson, though, and I hope the show runners can up the ante in the second half of season 2.

    • That’s a bummer to have to wait a week. I hope you can avoid the spoilers. The build up to what happens to Coulson has been a long time in the making and I’d be interested to hear your reaction after you watch it. 🙂

      • Finally got a chance to watch this episode, good review! I also liked the chemistry between Raina and Coulson. Their conversation was intriguing, and I think it’s interesting how she is the first person who’s been able to introduce doubt in Coulson’s mind about SHIELD. I’m really curious about who she is and what her ultimate goal is.

        I’m a little surprised they revealed what happened the Coulson already, but I’m still wondering if maybe they haven’t really revealed the whole truth. This was a pretty good episode, but it still want more from the show overall.

        • Cool, you got a chance to watch this! The good news (I guess) is there isn’t a new episode this week so you can catch up before the next one airs. Raina somehow knows a lot of intimate details about Coulson’s background and love interest which helps her to get him to doubt or admit to himself the truth about SHIELD. I hope she eventually returns and we can find out more about her plans.

          The end conversation with the Doctor was a bit unclear to me but I get the impression there’s more to reveal as well. I hope so, because to be honest I wanted more with the reveal. I also want more from the show overall and the real good news is that the next episode is a stronger effort. Cheers!

  5. WOW, that’s a nice ride Skye 😀 Boy I have fallen out love w/ this one unfortunately, so I haven’t seen anything for the last 2 months. I did hear about the explanation of Coulson’s death and frankly I think it’s pretty lame. Anyway, I started watching Almost Human instead but I haven’t been able to watch that regularly either 😦

    • Haha, grand theft auto … way to go Skye! 😉 Yeah, the ratings have dropped in half after the pilot. I’m disappointed in the Coulson reveal too it could have been a game changer for the show and get fans excited again. I also started watching Almost Human but haven’t gotten past episode 5 – I love the inventive use of tech on that show. It’s hard for me to keep up with weekly shows, especially if there are more than a dozen episodes a season. Thanks so much for commenting on a show you don’t watch any more :).

  6. I was surprised that May got Skye off the team but at the same was hoping she just wanted Skye to do her thing without Victoria Hand’s agents breathing down her neck, so I was glad that’s how it turned out. As you said, May is consistently professional and that’s one of the things I like about her. I also enjoyed the moment when she was unapologetic when Hand grumbled that she realised she had been played into getting Skye off the investigation. I thought that was funny.

    Coulson is another character I continue to enjoy, as a dependable leader but at the same time has a vulnerable side. I thought it was compelling how Raina managed to get into his head about his previous life. I’m looking forward in seeing if he will confront Fury and whether he will seek to find out more about what they did to him.

    As for Mike, poor guy, his suffering just goes on and on with every episode he’s on! I’m glad his story is continuing, though.

    Great review, as always!

    • Everything about May, especially how she got Skye off the plane, is great to watch. It’s kind of funny that each time Victoria Hand makes a guest appearance on the show one or more of the agents get the upper hand on her and she let’s it slide. From what I understand, Victoria Hand is pretty devious herself so it’ll be interesting if she comes back with ulterior motives.

      I also thought it was compelling how Raina got inside Coulson’s head. That was my favorite part of this episode. The vulnerable side of Coulson adds a good dimension to his character. A scene between Fury and Coulson would be great to get some direct answers and find out what else might have happened to him. I saw a preview of an upcoming episode that gets me cautiously excited about where they might be going with Coulson.

      Mike is a sympathetic character, his heart is in the right place but unfortunate events happen to him. I look forward to his on-going story line and character development.

      Nice to discuss the show with you!

  1. Pingback: TV Review: Agents of SHIELD, “The Magical Place” (S1/EP11) – Is It Time to Give Up On This Show? | We Minored In Film

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