Review: “The Magical Place”

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This week, on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Coulson uncovers vital information about the mystery of his death, but, with Centipede out for blood, this knowledge may come at the cost of one of the team.

General Thoughts

Diego: Hum. It’s a weird episode to tackle. I found the action serviceable, and the plot okay. The team finally was working as a team, and a good one at that. But I felt this episode marks a strong difference between the show the showrunners think they are making to the one we’re watching. My previous pet peeves are still strong:

  • SHIELD loses credibility by the episode. Skye is my favorite character, and yet I couldn’t believe she would talk to Agent Hand like that. In this show universe, Skye is no one compared to Hand. It’s like, I don’t know, Fitz or Simmons speaking up to Director Fury. Also, Skye is better than *all* the hackers SHIELD has? If it’s true, I pity SHIELD. I wouldn’t trust them to defend this Earth.
  • The over-expository dialog. Ward and May conversation on the plane, for example. “You wanted her off the plane.” Yes, I realized that from context and action.
  • Plots that doesn’t seem well thought out. Centipede rescued Po because they wanted a “tactical genius”. Yet he resorts to simple beatings to get information out of Coulson. So they kill him. A couple days after sending supersoldiers to get him out of prison. Wha–?

And finally, what I guess was in everyone’s mind, Coulson’s resurrection. Which…answered practically nothing. I mean, it’s nice to get confirmation of things we already knew, I guess. We know Tahiti was a lie, we knew he had been dead longer, we knew that he had been brought back by Fury’s orders. So… we were right, I guess. If anything, I would highlight what Ron Glass’ character said: “Director Fury moved heaven and earth.” That, coupled with the brief shot of deep space that Coulson saw, hints at something more, but… I find myself not caring.

Sure, the show pays lipservice to the idea of the “why” being more important than the “how”, yet does nothing with it. It also mentions Hand’s curiosity about the amount of SHIELD resources dedicated to Coulson, yet does not pursue that line of inquiry.

On a bright note, I loved Elizabeth Henstridge line reading of: “Yes, it is that.”

Matt: Hahahahahahahahahaha. I don’t know what else to say. Was Skye good? Yes. But she shouldn’t be better than SHIELD. The Coulson thing was a joke. Did the showrunners talk to Damon Lindelof? He sucks with answers too. The showrunners are trying to make it appeal to non-nerds. I can respect that, but what shouldn’t happen is that they alienate the nerds. Which is happening. Such a shame. Whedon + Marvel gave me such high hopes which are now almost completely gone. The only other thing is Coulson saying “Let Me Die”. Marvelites are so DESPERATE for something that we are grasping at straws that “Let Me Die” and “Life Model Decoy” start with the same letters….. Heh.

I wish I could say more, but:

I’ve lost the will to write.

Laura: There were a few good things in this episode. The team actually working together, the entire conversation between Raina and Coulson was a little cliche-ly written but well acted, Skye was fantastic as always, but this just isn’t good enough. Like we’ve said before and a million times, this version of SHIELD just isn’t right. They aren’t good enough. It’s just not plausible for the universe the movies have built up.

Here’s the difference between Lost and Agents of SHIELD, Matt: inside the show, Lost never actually promised answers. SHIELD on the other hand is built entirely around this one “mystery” and made it clear from the start that it would be revealed. Then on top of that, they marketed this episode as the one that would reveal it. Well…that didn’t actually reveal anything. We knew Coulson had died for real. We knew they’d messed with his brain, because otherwise how would he keep saying the same phrase over and over without realizing it? We knew it had to be something freaky, whether magic or science or what not. So I’m not really sure what the point of this episode was.

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Replies

Diego: I knew Laura would pickup the Lost bait, Matt, so I saved my answer for here: although the final answers of Lost are disappointing to some, you are forgetting the dozens of answers we got throughout the show, from “What Kate Did”, to the Others, to Jacob, etc, etc, etc. And it did so while being a fun, entertaining show with a lot of character development.

At this point, I don’t know if it is the showrunners trying to appeal to non-nerds, or is it the combined weight of Disney, Marvel, and ABC keeping this show down.

And as Laura points out, the ABC marketing department hyped this episode… and it makes it harder, for me, to know if the cast and crew know that what they are doing isn’t ideal.

Matt: Yeah it seems they aren’t on the same page. “It’s just not plausible for the universe the movies have built up.” – This is perfect Laura. It’s like this show is bad fan fiction loosely based off of a few movies that someone had seen. Also, I second your brain comment. Someone has been messing with the showrunners brain too.

Laura: Diego, I definitely agree the most intriguing line of the episode was Victoria Hand’s confusion as to why everyone thinks Coulson is worth all of the time and energy in the world. In a way, it’s a cheeky acknowledgment of the fans love of him, but would be a really great road to go down for the show, because CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. But I don’t think this show really knows what those two words mean. Oh well.

Parting Thoughts

Diego: Just adding to my previous point: I know that the cast, crew, and creative team must be positive, and tweet excitedly about the show, and have interviews saying they are liking what they are doing. Its their job, and I don’t begrudge them doing it at all. My problem lies with them actually believing all they are saying about the show. If they’re still happy, cool! Good for them. They like different shows than I do. I just happen to like good shows. (Sorry, I was trying not to be snarky. Until that last sentence. Oops.)

Matt: I feel this relationship will not end well. Unless they pull out an absolute, out-of-the-park, face-melting MIRACLE with the Captain America episode, they should just cut their losses after one season and save a little face.

Arrow comes back this week. I suggest you watch it if you want to see a show based off of comics done correctly.

Laura: I have moments where I care about the characters, but I’m not remotely invested in the show. Even in this episode, where the stakes were supposed to be higher than ever before, it felt like there was nothing actually at stake. I’m slowly starting to lose hope there ever will be.

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