Warning: spoilers from the latest episode of 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' are ahead!
At long last, the truth is out there, and now Agent Phil Coulson knows that Tahiti isn't the magical place he once thought it was.
On the latest episode of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," titled "The Magical Place," the steel-jawed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent finally learned the truth about how he's still alive. Of course, Coulson was killed in action by Loki during "Marvel's The Avengers," but is somehow still alive on TV — and now, both Coulson and the audience know how that's possible.
During the episode, Coulson learned that he wasn't dead for a handful of seconds or minutes, as he was previously led to believe. Instead, he was dead for days, and underwent numerous procedures and surgeries as ordered by Director Nick Fury himself. "He moved Heaven and Earth" to bring Coulson back to life, according to Doctor Streiten (played by "Firefly" veteran Ron Glass), one of the many surgeons who worked on Coulson.
After no fewer than seven operations that involved high-tech machines poking and prodding a conscious Coulson's exposed brain, everybody's favorite Phil somehow came back to life, albeit "without the will to live," according to Streitan. Hence why S.H.I.E.L.D. implanted false memories of Tahiti: They wanted to give Coulson something pleasant to hold onto, something that would make him want to live again.
So, that's it — or is it? Sure, we know more about Coulson's death and resurrection, but not everything. Some key questions remain:
1. Why does Fury need Coulson alive so badly? Sure, Coulson's awesome; why not resurrect him, if you have the means? But by all accounts, resurrection wasn't just a hard process, but an unethical and painful one, to the extent that Coulson repeatedly asked to die during the procedures. There must be some secret, some purpose, that Coulson himself isn't even aware of — something about him that makes him crucial to Fury's plans. Otherwise, why put the man through so much turmoil?
2. What if the procedures all failed? What if Streiten and the other doctors weren't able to bring Coulson back to life after all? What if we're just hearing about their failed attempts, and the real success was implanting Coulson's memories on a Life Model Decoy, or something similar? As a series, "S.H.I.E.L.D." has been far from forthcoming about its secrets, so there's something suspicious about last night's relatively straightforward explanation for Coulson's continued survival.
3. Can we rule out magic? I don't think so. I maintain my hunch that somehow, some way, Loki is involved in Coulson still being alive, even if not directly. Coulson doesn't keep describing Tahiti as a "magical" place without a reason. Plus, Streitan tells Coulson that the trauma he endured was "ungodly." Interesting choice of words, right? If any Marvel Studios movie star is game to log a meaningful appearance on "S.H.I.E.L.D.," Tom Hiddleston is the one. Loki was the one who killed Coulson; who's to say he's not the one who brought him back?
No matter what happens next with the Coulson mystery, at least we have our first major piece of the puzzle in quite a long while. The question of "how" Coulson survived is, for now, at least partially answered. The better question to ask now is this: Coulson's alive, but why? Who still needs him alive, and for what purpose?
Do you buy Marvel's explanation for Coulson's resurrection?