Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: Dead Reckoning

Agents of SHIELD Coulson Tahiti TruthTahiti is not just “a magical place,” it’s an imaginary one as well.

ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this Tuesday night finally shed some light — a surgical light, specifically — on what exactly happened to Agent Coulson after he died prior to The Battle of New York.

Held captive by the Centipede gang, Coulson learned from a grunt named Po that he was valuable to their organization because while The Clairvoyant had been able to see his death, he could not see what happened thereafter, that resulted in his improbable resurrection.

Raina herself later explained that while Centipede is poised for great things, outfitted as it is with an army of super-soldiers whom they can control ,the one nut that haven’t been able to crack is reviving them after death. That’s where Coulson’s secretive history comes into play.

Though Coulson resists, Raina emotionally manipulates him into subjecting himself further to a contraption they have to “open a window” into his mind and memories, noting that S.H.I.E.L.D. has already robbed him of so much, including great love — why let them have this secret, too?

Inside the gizmo, Coulson flashes back to the usual, idyllic “Tahiti” imagery… until it starts to crack apart, revealing the true nature of what he was being subject to. There was no pretty island masseuse, no genteel bus boy toting umbrella drinks, but a middle-aged nurse aside Dr. Streiten, while a spider-like robot poked and prodded at Coulson’s exposed noodle.

At episode’s end, after S.H.I.E.L.D. tracked down Centipede’s bomb-test town hideout and apprehended Raina — and after Coulson waved off Skye’s questions about his ordeal by saying, “They were just messing with my head” (ha!) — he slipped away to confront Dr. Streiten, saying: “I know about Tahiti.” Having obviously grappled with his begrudging role in it all for all this time, the good doc starts singing like a canary.

“You were dead for days,” Streiten reveals, dismissing the company line about it being mere hours. “But Director Fury moved Heaven and Earth, bringing in a team of scientists working around the clock using procedures that no good doctor would ever allow,” in the name of reviving him.

OK, but then what of the non-elective “brain surgery”? “We wanted to restore the man you’d once been,” Streiten explained, “So we gave you pleasant memories….. You lost your will to live, and we tried to give it back.” And with that additional intel imparted, Coulson vanished from the car, hopefully some, if not all, the wiser.

But does he still not have the full story? If not, what else might be being kept from him?

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51 Comments
  1. Alichat says:

    BOOK!!!!!! And a Firefly Crazy Ivan!!!

    That is all.

  2. TDS-Matt says:

    Are… there people who actually thought Coulson went to Tahiti? ‘Cause the ‘reveal’ in this episode is something that everybody sort assumed after the first week.

    • Khorrie says:

      Exactly. And they didn’t really explain anything, did they? The most important piece of the puzzle is WHY Fury went to all that trouble to bring a dead man back to life. I mean, it’s not like SHIELD never lost any agents before.

      • Pix says:

        I think we’re to assume he just likes Coulson, you know – his one good eye. Bros don’t let bros stay dead ;)

      • Zayne says:

        The most important part of that reveal to me is that he’s not an LMD and it’s actually Coulson. I’m still interested in the specifics but the most important reveal for me was “not a clone”.

    • taran63 says:

      Agreed. No real surprises here. About the only reveal is that this seems to eliminate the possibility that Coulson is a robot or Life Model Decoy. They seemed to be kind of pushing the robot option in the early episodes with some of the one-liners, but that never seemed like a real option.
      .
      From all the advanced tech it has, I’m continuing to believe that Centipede will end up being run by A.I.M. They’d be a good opponent for SHIELD, especially this version of them. And the Clairvoyant could end up being MODOK. His abilities would match what we’ve seen and been told about the Clairvoyant so far.
      .
      I enjoyed seeing a new episode again, and it will be interesting to see if next week they actually reveal anything about Skye, or if they just recap the mystery, but don’t actually give us anything. With differing levels of mysterious backstory for Coulson, Skye, May, and Ward, the show needs to start revealing at least parts of some of them.

      • Khorrie says:

        I’ve more or less guessed that her parents were supervillains who were killed by the SHIELD agent who took Skye in to authorities. Whether they turn out to be comic based villains I have no idea; my Marvel knowledge is not that great. It lines up with Coulson not wanting to tell her the whole truth and May wanting to distance herself from it.

        • taran63 says:

          That would match with what I’ve been guessing too. If it’s true, I hope she’s the daughter of at least one “named” supervillian, and not just generic evil henchman #1 and #2. At this point, I just hope they won’t say that May is Skye’s mother.

        • will says:

          I think May is close to the story because she was in fact that agent.

    • Alan says:

      no the reveal was the process of bringing him back to life. some people thought he was a life model decoy and others thought he was an android (which is different but similar to an LMD), we now know that it is the original coulson brought back to life not a replacement, that is the reveal.

    • Dj says:

      Yeah everyone knew he didn’t go to Tahiti, but out of all the outcomes that could have happened the LMDS/Magic what happen last night wasn’t anything people came up with. They FrankenCoulson him. If this was a movie it would be about science going wrong with Fury as Doctor Frankenstein.

  3. meatwad says:

    i agree completely

  4. Rose says:

    I would love it so much if they used some of Captain America’s blood to keep Coulson alive, but I’m just a fangirl. I’m relieved that the LMD question seems to have been answered with about 95% certainty, but 5% of me still has some doubts. I really love Coulson, for Coulson, so the LMD thing would really have bothered me. I guess Director Fury has some ‘explaining’ to do — which I be an awesome thing to see.

    • I’m still leaning towards that he was given the Infinity Formula, which in the comics is why Nick Fury, a World War II vet, is still kicking butt and taking names. I’m thinking that much like how they changed how the Super Soldier Serum was administered, they also changed how the Infinity Formula is given. In the original Captain America comic he just drank it out of a glass. In the movie they put him in a huge chamber. Even in The Incredible Hulk, Emil Blonsky had it directly injected into his spine and bone tissue. In the SHIELD comics, the Infinity Formula was given in shot that Fury had to take on a regular basis to stay alive. So I can imagine that they would also update how it would be administered in the MCU as well. The big question is, why? My only guess is that Fury knows what is coming. He knows what SHIELD is capable of, and he knows what he is capable of, and he needs his one good eye there when things go down.

  5. I think another question around the resurrection is what method they used to bring Colsson back to life still. We know the surgery was to implant the false memories but only got vague explanations as to how they managed to get someone, who was dead for days, breathing. How could he function enough to even emote that he didn’t want to live?

    With the talk of ungodly things and moving heaven and earth, I almost wonder if there isn’t some connection to Mephisto and a deal there. I’d also wondered in Repairs, which highlighted some of Melinda’s backstory, if she hadn’t dispatched that cult by making a deal with Mephisto too — it would explain her sudden personality switch after the incident if she had sold her soul or some such thing.

    • I should also mention that I’m really happy to see that Mike Peterson made it out of the explosion alive. I liked the dynamic his character brought to the mid-season finale and Jay August Richards is an excellent addition to any cast. I hope he gets upped to a reoccurring character or series regular down the road. With that ending, he’ll definitely be back — I just hope they don’t kill him off since he’s being forced to work for the bad guys now. Despite Victoria Hand’s comments about Centipede being shut down, they are obviously still operational in some capacity. I am also waiting for the other shoe to drop with her, as I am pretty confident that she’ll turn out to be a double-agent.

  6. We were told there would be a definite answer and that was a lie.

  7. Michelle says:

    Yeah, I’m still confused about Coulson. He got stabbed in the heart with Loki’s Glowstick of Destiny. They said his heart was essentially shredded. So HOW did they get him breathing with a working heart? A transplant? All we really saw that crazy gizmo lasering his brain! And why on earth would Fury go to such lengths anyway? I suppose that last one could be an ongoing question, but STABBED IN THE HEART, PEOPLE. HOW DID THEY FIX THAT? Sigh, still no REAL answers.

  8. Pearl says:

    Well, they at least told us the guy really died and stayed dead, to know the whole mistery at once would be unrealistic.

    So, why Fury kept Coulson alive?
    We learned in this episode that Coulson lost his father early on, what if, coulson’s father is someone very important, somehow, and Fury kind of owns his dad, and thats why he keeps an eye in coulson?

  9. Fox says:

    After that last scene that revealed Mike Peterson to be alive I’m wondering if he’s going to become a MCU version of Deathlok. His injuries certainly match up with the comic character.

  10. DarkDefender says:

    I’m done speculating with this show.. And ready to just enjoy the ride. Tonight was really good. I am pleased that each episode is getting better… And will count myself among those who a year or two from now, will say I was watching S.H.I.E.L.D. From day one.

    Like the season 1 of Buffy, S.H.I.E.L.D. is finding its groove.

  11. I thought the episode was okay. Skye got some stuff to do, but still not enough about my two favorite characters FitzSimmons. They are probably the only reason why I’m hanging on with this program.

    The ending was disappointing because after ramping up the speculation and drama, they told us nothing that we didn’t already know. The writers should have already got past this point and we should be knee deep in the discovery of why by now.

  12. Steve says:

    Could the power of Loki’s scepter have kept him alive? Though his heart was pierced the magical power of the scepter could have kept him alive.

  13. B Garrett says:

    Coulson’s eyes glowed blue, like that tessarat thing from the scepter that pierced him. Ithink Fury used some alien tech from the experiments to bring him back. As far as his heart, I think that glass contraption that was shown is what they replaced his heart with. I think…well really I want Mae to be Skye’s mom……her dad could be a villian…double agent sorta thing….

  14. Drew says:

    the clairvoyant could be using an infinity gem i.e the mind gem

  15. Steve F. says:

    I really liked this episode – we got more answers (but still a couple questions), Skye got her inner Melinda May on (even down to the jacket!), and only did we get a Firefly alum that we haven’t seen since the pilot, we also got a Hands of Blue reference! The moment I heard the power-up noise from the phone, my first thought was, “Hands of Blue! Pretty nifty touch!”

    Also , good catch from an above poster regarding Mike Peterson (he’s alive! Yes!) possibly becoming Deathlok. Never thought about that until now.

  16. GeoDiva says:

    The show is really coming along. For once Skye didn’t bug me and I am happy that Mike is still alive even in his current condition.

  17. Patrick Maloney says:

    Great, way to come back from your hiatus with your greatest episode to date! Now let’s hope that this puts down at least a fraction of the criticisms and talks of cancellation

    • I still laugh at the people who think this show is getting/should be cancelled. While the ratings have dropped considerably since the premiere, it’s still a huge draw for the network when you factor in DVR viewership. Not only that, it’s a direct promotional tool for Marvel movies, comics, merchandise and other licensed properties. Unlike Arrow on the CW, it plugs right into Marvel’s entire movie universe. Unless ratings drop to a ridiculously unjustifiable level, ABC would be insane to cancel the show.

      I also don’t get how people compare this show to Arrow. Yes, Arrow is doing a better job at mining the comic books for the series and has found its groove… but the show is also in its second season. It’s almost like fans have amnesia when it comes to that because it certainly had its fair share of detractors until this season started. That show really wasn’t “must watch” until close to the season one finale.

  18. Robbwith2bees says:

    Hmmm…. I never made the Deathlok connection. Nice call! I had always assumed Mike would become Luke Cage since the powers from his centipede implants were similar to LC’s. And especially at the end of the pilot, when they erased his identity. I thought that might be leading up to him getting a new name (“…call me Luke” sort of a thing). But I like the idea of Deathlok better. He’s a lesser known character, and one who probably wasn’t going to make it to the DCU on the big screen. So it makes a LOT of sense! :)

  19. Matt says:

    Anyone else think that Dr Streiten is the Clairvoyant? It would explain how he knows it intimate details of shield’ sinner workings and coulson’s life. Now we can see a motivation – dislike of shields methods. And it almost seemed as if Streiten was about to reveal something when Coulson disappeared “…if you only knew…”

  20. Mika02 says:

    So glad Mike Peterson is a hopefully they can get him back from the clairvoyant.

  21. KA77899 says:

    One thing I noticed is they have done some course correction with the characters. Fitz/Simmons were competent and authoritative rather than naive, excited, chattering (yet brilliant) young-uns. May spoke more. And Skye went out and capably got the job done. Her fighting lessons with Ward paid off and she kicked those 2 security guys butts!

    The show is still finding its true note. Last night’s show was evidence that TPTB are listening to viewers and are working to make this a must watch and stellar show.

  22. coucoucéline says:

    This was a mediocre episode in a bad show. I watched this one only because it was the “reveal” of what was foreshadow in EVERY SINGLE EPISODES since the beginning of this show.

    And it was just like the show, boring and badly done.

    The “big reveal” about Coulson’s survival is: “Oh we used a machine we found somewhere and it was so painful we had to create fake memories.”

    Ok… so the big reveal is Shield has a machine that can raise the dead ? Will the main plot be about this machine now or it’s just a stupid device to explain Coulson “mysterious” attitude ? If it’s the latter the show is basicaly admitting they have no idea what they are doing.

    This contribute nothing to Coulson’s character (he’s just traumatized, we get it) and wasn’t the clever answer to his weird attitude and personality change since the movies, it was just trying to push, again, things from Avengers.

    This show is on the wrong foot since the beginning, they should rethink it totaly or just cancelled it and start fresh.

    • Except that they performed nine surgeries on Colsson to get him back to life and don’t have a machine that can bring people back from the dead — just a way of inserting false memories. I thought it was pretty clear that they were vague in how Colsson was resurrected. The big reveal was that it is, in fact, him and that bringing him back was so traumatic they needed to implant false memories so he would want to live. I’m not sure how saying Nick Fury moved heaven and earth to bring Colsson back equates to S.H.I.E.L.D. having a machine that can bring back the dead.

      But yeah, let’s cancel a show that is bringing the network viewers because you don’t like or understand its story.

      • coucoucéline says:

        Then if it’s not the case, it’s even more disapointing. They can create false memories… not really a big deal in a world with nordic gods and hulks, don’t you think ? The doctor (Damn I miss Firefly) explains Coulson was dead for days so the “nine surgeries” are clearly something abnormal. I mean since when your main problem after multiple surgeries is the trauma ? They don’t have anesthesia in Marvel ?

        If the vilains wanted to give back Coulson his memories, it probably was to know the way to bring back someone dead for so long and not get a machine every decent hypno-therapist in Marvel Universe can do.

        Also “It was pretty clear they were vague” … do you mean they were vague because it’s gonna be important in the future or they were vague because they don’t want to explain a plot hole ?

        • Alan says:

          the only thing we saw coulson awake for was the brain surgery, and that commonly performed on patients who are awake so doctors can judge whether the procedure is working or not with only a local anesthetic to numb the pain.
          also raina didnt get to finish fishing around in his head so clearly that wasnt what she was looking for.

  23. Andrew says:

    Mike Peterson = Deathlok

  24. Mac says:

    “If not, what else might be being kept from him?”

    Badly written as the show is, I’m sure the writers themselves have no idea yet were they’re headed.

  25. Mikael says:

    I heard that the show is going to tie into the new Captain America movie, so I wonder if Fury used the technology that was used on the Winter Soldier.

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