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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S1x11 “The Magical Place”

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The Magical Place sees the return of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So far, the show has been divisive amongst the fan base and has been rapidly losing viewers ever since the pilot episode. However, the show has distinctively improved since the early, weaker episodes – and while they have improved in strength, there are still a few remaining problems.

Coulson has been captured by Centipede following the midseason finale, and Skye, Ward, Fitz-Simmons and May are intent on rescuing him. Kicking off with a fun action sequence that featured the team working together to intercept smugglers of Chitauri tech in the midst of a deal, the pace is pretty fast right the way through, and doesn’t let up. I felt that some of the earlier Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D episodes were boring in certain places and can barely remember what happened in most of them – but The Magical Place on the whole is a pretty solid episode. The main plot of the episode focuses around finding Coulson, but what also helped was that we get a few scenes that tell his side of the story. I won’t spoil it for you but this was the first time I can say that I was truly rooting for the Agents to find Coulson, whereas before I never really could have been that bothered. So it’s safe to say that The Magical Place is a definite improvement over the episodes that have come before, and it’s certainly showing signs of slowly reaching its potential.

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Nap time for Coulson… ?

The key word here is slowly. It’ll still be a while yet before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D can reach the heights that Arrow is currently at – but I’m not going to spend the rest of the review comparing the two shows because they are, despite being comic book in origin, completely different. The episode itself features several other Agents join up on the plane with the original team and whilst they’re not fleshed out, it’s nice to see them here because one thing that the show seemed to lack so far is just how big S.H.I.E.L.D. is as an organisation, and how many different Agents operate across the globe. This episode helped in showing that, especially with the inclusion of Hand, who takes over from Coulson – providing a foil for the team, and it was good to see somebody take a different approach to Skye’s unorthodox schemes.

Speaking of Skye, she is still the most unlikeable member on the team, but she hasn’t become as annoying as she was in the previous episodes, and that in large was helped by having her operate on a solo mission without the help from the rest of the team. It’s clearly shown that she works best on her own; working without rules, and her operating on her own was one of the stronger parts of the episode. However, as much as I didn’t mind the thread with Skye, it couldn’t help feel like filler and felt that the more interesting parts were with FitzSimmons, May and Ward.

Even there, there are still problems though. Ward is starting to grow as a character but I still would like to see a shakeup in the regular cast – Ron Glass and J. Augustus Richards, as well as Cobie Smulders would make good additions to the team but sadly it doesn’t look like any of those actors will be cropping up as regulars on the show for the foreseeable future which is a shame, despite appearances from Ron Glass in this episode, which is always welcomed.

The best part of the series however continues to be Agent Coulson, and he gets some good scenes in this episode that were very well acted by Clark Gregg, and this was a very good episode for him as a character and as an actor, delivering some emotional scenes that helped go some way towards me actually rooting for the Agents to find him, with the interactions between him and Raina for me being the highlight of the episode.

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Agent Coulson, a little worse for wear.

A thing this show has also had a problem with in the past is making things not having the impact that they should. You find out how Coulson survived his death in the Avengers in this episode, but after waiting for what seemed like an age to find out, it felt underwhelming and disappointing. And there are of course questions raised, questions that I won’t touch on here as I want to keep this review spoiler free, but they should be plainly obvious to those who have seen the episode.

Overall then, The Magical Place is a decent return to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s starting to get to the point where this show is starting to improve and hopefully by the end of Season 1 it will be reaching its full potential – but it has to get rid of a few problems first, either make the lead characters more likeable and give them more depth or introduce old favourites to go with Coulson, who continues to steal the show, despite several questions needing to be answered. On the whole though, count me in for next week.

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