‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: “T.A.H.I.T.I.”
Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ assembles its latest installment in “T.A.H.I.T.I.,” as the race to save Skye brings Coulson and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton) to the unknown facility responsible for Coulson's resurrection, deepening the mystery of its origins even further.
Previous ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ episode “T.R.A.C.K.S.” saw an undercover mission aboard a train proving to have deadly consequences tied to the fate of the surviving Mike Peterson, while Skye made a deadly sacrifice in pursuit of Ian Quinn., so how does ABC’s ‘Avengers‘-adjacent series keep us marveling at its inaugural season?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s fourteenth episode, “T.A.H.I.T.I.!”
Coulson and the team rush Skye to a S.H.I.E.L.D. medical facility for treatment, after which Coulson attempts to get Nick Fury on the phone, to no avail. May urges the angry team to blame Quinn, rather than themselves, before the doctor updates them that they can only make Skye comfortable for the end. May responds by taking out her frustrations on the still-captive Quinn, before Coulson pulls her off, and suggests they track down the doctors that brought him back from the dead.
Skye’s medical pod is transferred to the plane, as Coulson updates Ward on the true circumstances of his resurrection, adding that he intends to disobey orders to turn over Quinn. Coulson similarly turns over files of his resurrection to Fitz and Simmons, telling them to find Dr. Streiten as they fly to Bethesda for Skye’s treatment. Upstairs in the cockpit, Ward wonders if he would have made the same choice in trying to save Skye, as several fighter planes catch up with the plane for breaking orders.
As a plane docks with the team’s in midair, Coulson finds himself greeted by Agent John Garrett, a former associate and Ward’s last commanding officer. Garrett sends his underling Anton Tripplett to secure the prisoner, as Coulson proposes an agreement for the moment to keep Quinn in their mutual custody. Downstairs, Fitz and Simmons marvel at the unusual methods and chemicals used to treat Coulson, but Dr. Streiten’s call brings some surprising news; namely that the doctor has gone off the grid, while records of Coulson’s operations have been falsified with facilities that don’t exist.
Garrett asks Quinn about the Deathlok project, but when Coulson presses about Skye, Quinn admits he shot the girl on orders of the Clairvoyant. The Clairvoyant has successfully seen and aided in every operation they’ve had, though it remains a mystery how Coulson survived, hence Quinn was ordered to shoot Skye so Coulson would uncover the real truth of his resurrection for himself. Coulson learns of the falsities from Fitz and Simmons, tasking them to find anything of value in the reports, even as May acknowledges the danger of giving the Clairvoyant what he wants.
Simmons identifies a “GH-325” chemical in the report that healed Coulson’s tissue damage and could potentially save Skye, for which Fitz uses a contact in the Triskelion to search through all the travel records from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s recent history. Piecing together various paper trails, the duo work out that Coulson was treated at a secret facility called the “Guest House,” which only Director Fury has access to, though Fitz manages to piece together the bunker’s location on a map.
Arriving to the mountainside base, the team of Coulson, Garrett, Fitz and Ward approach the exterior, though the two guards inside the installation only speak the code question “how was the drive from Istanbul,” repeating the question when Coulson explains they’re in search of medical treatment. With Garrett and Fitz’s help, the four manage to break into the base, for which the two guards arm up and prepare to engage. Fitz wires their way further into the installation, though the guards soon open fire, forcing Ward and Garrett to fight back. Garrett kills one and Ward wounds the other, who then warns of a timer that will destroy the base in ten minutes, before slipping away.
Coulson and Fitz search the base for the GH-325, while Ward and Garrett set about disabling the bomb, before Fitz finally locates the mysterious chemical. Ward informs them they won’t be able to disarm the bomb, though they might be able to escape, though Coulson sends them away as he spies a door marked “T.A.H.I.T.I.” Meanwhile on the plane, Skye begins coding again, for which Simmons, May and Triplett begin crash procedures.
Fitz manages to make it out of the base, but when Garrett finds Coulson wandering the halls in a daze, Coulson begs them not to use the drug on Skye. Garrett and Coulson just barely make it out of the exploding base and onto the plane, finding that Skye has already been given the drug, which quickly stabilizes her condition. Afterward, Garrett delivers Quinn the bad news that the Clairvoyant appears to have abandoned him, before Garrett says his goodbyes to Coulson (for the moment).
A while later, May asks Coulson why he asked them not to use the drug on Skye, as we see what the agent found in the T.A.H.I.T.I. room: an elaborate system of tubes and wires feeding into a stasis chamber marked “G.H.,” which Coulson opens to find the severed, decaying torso of an unidentifiable blue figure. Without telling May what he saw, Coulson covers by saying he was scared Skye might have suffered as he did, though she seems not to have.
Meanwhile, in Death Valley, California, a mysterious woman wanders through the desert, finding one half of a pair of newlyweds outside a motel. The mysterious woman asks the groom, Jimmy, to take her to a more bountiful land, apparently casting a spell on him to leave his new wife behind. The pair drive off, Jimmy swearing to protect and keep safe the new lady in his life, who identifies herself as Lorelei.
Fans of Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ might well have whiplash by now, considering the length of time in between its most monumental episodes to date, and the sheer amount of information we’ve amassed on episodes ahead in the meantime. Only a few short months ago, many fans and critics alike were ready to write off the series altogether for its failure to live up to potential, and now we have (somewhat) comprehensive answers to the mysteries of Coulson’s resurrection and Skye’s origins, compounded with honest-to-goodness Marvel characters in play, and a few worthwhile mysteries to explore.
In essence, it’s almost impossible to get a read on whether or not ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has any real sense of what it wants to be, or how much fans should invest in its ongoing storylines, but if nothing else, it continues to grab our attention. This time around, “T.A.H.I.T.I.” ditches the somewhat confusing (and frankly unnecessary) Rashomon aspects of the previous installment, instead offering much clearer point-and-shoot goals to rally the team behind for a straight-forward mission. And with Skye down, we even have a pair of new agents in the mix, one of whom brings the always-welcome talents of Bill Paxton, with relatively little comic book baggage to his character. What more could we ask for, right?
Honestly, we have no idea. It works as a twist that the ever-mysterious “Clairvoyant” had Quinn shoot Skye so Coulson would move heaven and earth to find the true secrets behind his resurrection (we can’t help but hear the ‘South Park’ exchange “or perhaps you’d like to know what was REALLY going on!”), though what we actually learned tonight is anyone’s guess. Director Fury had Coulson resurrected at a secret facility, even to S.H.I.E.L.D.! Said facility contains a miracle compound that healed both Skye and Coulson! Said compound is derived from the corpse of a mysterious blue man! Dissension within the ranks! ‘Winter Soldier’ foreshadowing, maybe! Attica! Attica! Attica!
As you can see, it all amounts to a great deal of noise being made, with very little explanation as to why. It certainly isn’t Skye’s failing health that drives the story of the hour, as the series hasn’t given its viewers nearly enough reasons to care for her survival, no matter how many times Clark Gregg or Ming-Na say as much with all the gravitas they can muster. Nor are any of the other more-established team dynamics really in play tonight, either, though we enjoyed seeing the team work together in relative unison, with everyone seeming appropriately competent at their jobs for that matter.
The closing tag doesn’t clear anything up either, impatiently jumping into its next Asgardian adventure instead, but if nothing else, we’re relieved to see ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ at least developing a true sense of momentum. Even if said momentum leads us to more corpses of various color, and half-answers layered underneath miles of S.H.I.E.L.D. red tape, all of which would seem to be buried by events of Marvel’s upcoming cinematic venture anyway, the so-called “Uprising” is easily the most exciting high we’ve seen the series riding to date.
Well, what say you? Did ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s latest outing “T.A.H.I.T.I.” finally deliver the Marvel-ous series we've been waiting for? What possible explanation could the mysterious blue body have? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next Tuesday for another all-new recap of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s latest episode "Yes Men," starring 'Thor''s Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) on ABC!