Stick to the Basics
"T.A.H.I.T.I." (for real, all caps acronyms are so annoying to type) has a simple goal -- save Skye -- that reminds us where we left off and does little to confuse us by tossing around a bunch of new information. The larger mission is still to identify and find The Clairvoyant, but the episode rightly focuses on one thing at a time. Bigger fish to fry right now.
Then you toss in a kick-ass performance from Wyatt's older brother, admittedly not one of my favorite actors, and a disturbing and confusing reveal with an epic epilogue, and you've got a recipe for success. And a lifesaving serum.
Oh Yeah, Quinn Shot Skye
We pick things up two hours after we left them, with the team arriving at SHIELD Trauma Zentrum in Zurich. Skye is fading fast, and the doctor tells Coulson he'd better bring her family in because it's not looking good. But since she has no family, it's off to Bethesda to find the surgeons who resurrected him in the hopes they can do something for Skye. But first, May beats the crap out of Quinn in the Bus interrogation room.
HQ wants Quinn taken to the Fridge for questioning, but Coulson refuses. He orders FitzSimmons to search his Level 10 clearance file for helpful information, and while everyone ponders whether or not they should just let her go, the plane is air-boarded by the dude searching for the Titanic (Ward's former SO John Garrett) and Ward's replacement and Simmons love interest, Agent Tripp.
It turns out Big Love has been chasing Quinn too, losing three good men in the process, and he wants first crack at the guy. Coulson explains the Skye situation, and they reach an agreement for on-plane interrogation just quickly enough to stop Ward from incapacitating Tripp.
The Clairvoyant and the Guest House
While pouring over Coulson's file, FitzSimmons discovers that none of the places or medical procedures appear to exist, meaning this is all highly-classified secret stuff. They determine that an unknown substance called GH325 instantly regenerated Coulson's body, and they search the SHIELD database for its paper trail. They eventually track it to a place called the Guest House, last accessed by Nick Fury, and uncover a map of the mountainside location.
Meanwhile, the tornado chaser is basically torturing Quinn for information, grabbing his tongue and threatening to rip it out. He wants to know about the Cybertek Deathlok project, which is presumably what turned Mike Peterson into the latest incarnation of the supervillain Deathlok.
Coulson speculates that Quinn shot Skye because she saw it, but Quinn confirms he pulled the trigger on orders from the Clairvoyant, who has literally been overseeing all of this. He knows everything, except how Coulson survived his death, and all the events have purposefully led up to Quinn being in custody so that Coulson could uncover his past to save Skye (which the Clairvoyant would be able to see).
How is What Happens Next Okay?
Coulson, Ward, Fitz and the Apollo 13 astronaut not named Hanks or Bacon breach the mountain facility after not being able to haggle with the guards, because they couldn't answer the countersign question, "How was the driver from Istanbul?" If I had to guess, "Horrible?"
The pair of armed guards, apparently the only ones watching over things, ambush the team and eventually both get shot. The temporarily-surviving one recognizes Coulson and warns him about "the timer," because the whole place is rigged with explosives.
Fitz and Coulson search for the serum, finding the GH325 in the biohazard containment room, while Ward and Private Hudson set explosives to blast themselves to safety before everything blows. Just as they're about to make their escape, Coulson spots a door labeled T.A.H.I.T.I. and can't help but wander through.
Randall McCoy goes back for Coulson and finds him wandering the hallway like he saw a ghost and screaming not to administer the substance to Skye. They rush out and board the Bus at the exact moment the bomb goes off, burying the entire facility in a mountain-covered crater. More on this in a bit.
Okay, so she wasn't really dead, but she was close. The GH325 first stabilizes her, then she spikes, then stabilizes again. Whew. Tripp calls Simmons a miracle worker. Coconut Pete informs Quinn that his Clairvoyant has abandoned him after sending him on a fool's errand, then says peace out and heads for the Fridge with prisoner in tow.
May asks Coulson why he isn't happier about Skye's recovery and why he was raving like a lunatic not to save her, and he says he just didn't want her to suffer like he did. But then we get a glimpse of what he saw in the T.A.H.I.T.I. room -- vials and tubes full of every serum contained in the facility, all leading into a half disintegrated blue corpse contained in a water-filled chamber.
Are those the remains of Coulson's body? Is it some type of alien or creature from another world? I have no idea; all I know is that it's creepy.
Is It TV? Or a Marvel Blockbuster?
One of the things I noticed while watching this episode is that, like "T.R.A.C.K.S.," it feels more like what we'd see on the big screen as opposed to the very TV-ish feel of the first half of the season. It makes me trust that Agents of SHIELD is really finding its place in the Marvel Universe, which raises my expectations for the future of the series.
That sentiment is never more evident than in the epilogue, during which Thor villain and Asgardian Lorelei crash-lands in Death Valley and promptly steals a newlywed from his wife and makes him swear his allegiance in her quest for world domination. And that all means one thing is coming next week -- All hail Lady Sif.
What do you say we take a break from our current plot lines and themes for a week? No harm, no foul.
My One Complaint
If I have only one negative thing to say about this episode -- and surprisingly it has nothing to do with Bill Paxton -- it's that there never seems to be any consequences for the SHIELD team's actions. Either that, or we just don't get to see them.
This was first brought to my attention during the superstorm that Blizzard created at the SHIELD Academy. That thing was probably the biggest storm the planet has ever seen, with winds so strong they blew cars and houses around and almost made Ward not be able to close a door. But after May landed in the eye and flew everyone to safety, we never heard about it again. No damage report, no death toll. Just "SHIELD saves the day" and nothing more to say.
Likewise, to save Skye, Coulson and crew killed two guards who were seemingly not bad guys and buried an entire facility where SHIELD conducted vital operations and stored a plethora of technology and medicines under a literal mountain of rubble. And it's all okay, because everyone we cared about survived? No chance. But maybe this is just me being nitpicky.
All in all, Agents of SHIELD appears on its way to a monster closeout to the inaugural run, full of crossovers and supervillains and a number of plot line resolutions that have been building or lingering all season.
Were you worried whether or not things would get to this point? Do you think the series is finally hitting its stride? What did you think think of this episode? And are you excited for Jaimie Alexander?
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 8pm on ABC.