Agents of SHIELD: 114 “T.A.H.I.T.I.” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
After last week’s shocking events, things are looking bleak for Skye and the rest of the team and all that can save them is something game-changing. Fortunately, after a few hiccups, “T.A.H.I.T.I.” pulls just that out of the bag, and introduces a pair of fun new recurring characters.
The episode starts shortly after we left off last week, as the team gets Skye to a medical facility in Switzerland, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. doctors operate on her while the team argues about who is to blame: Fitz blames himself for letting Skye go into Ian Quinn’s mansion alone, Ward blames himself for letting Skye go into the field at all, but May insists that the only one to blame is Quinn. Eventually the doctor comes in and tells them that there’s nothing more to do, that all they can do is keep her comfortable: May reacts in an understandable way and beats the living hell out of Quinn, but Coulson stops her before she kills him. He tells her that they’re going to track down the doctors who brought him back from the dead, and get them to help Skye, so they head to the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility he was treated at.
Finally, Coulson reveals to the rest of the team what happened after the Battle of New York, and hands his medical files to Fitz and Simmons so they can identify the procedures used to bring him back. However, the whole team is distracted by another S.H.I.E.L.D. team who want to take Quinn off their hands: the other team boards the plane and their leader, Agent John Garrett (played by the wonderfully gruff Bill Paxton) informs Coulson of his orders. Coulson, in return, informs Garrett of their situation: he tells him that Quinn shot Skye and if she dies then they intend to kill Quinn, something which Garrett understands, having been tracking Quinn for a long time.
Anyway, after Ward, who previously worked with Garrett, and Agent Antoine Triplett, who took Ward’s place under Garrett, have a quick rumble over what happens to Quinn, Garrett informs them that they are going to interrogate Quinn on the plane, and Team Coulson gains a couple of temporary new members. So Garrett does some good tongue-pulling and beating of Quinn to try and gather information about Deathlok and Cybertek, all of which raises some interesting moral questions about the morality of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Quinn is an unarmed prisoner, and yet nobody seems to have a problem with beating him and threatening to throw him out of the plane is Skye dies. No matter how much of a horrible bastard Quinn is, presumably S.H.I.E.L.D. still operates somewhat within the Geneva Convention, which sort of frowns upon that kind of behaviour. So are S.H.I.E.L.D. really still the good guys?
But these are other questions for other times, and Quinn reveals that he was ordered to shoot Skye by the Clairvoyant so that Coulson would work to find out what happened to him, the one thing that the Clairvoyant can’t see. Fortunately, Fitz and Simmons soon figure out that the facility they are heading to doesn’t really exist, and Coulson was treated at a facility known as the ‘Guest House’ which houses a drug called GH 325, which caused rapid cellular regeneration in Coulson after he was stabbed. They track down the Guest House and Coulson takes a team in to find the drug: Coulson, Ward, Fitz and Garrett go in while Triplett flirts almost uncontrollably with Simmons back on the plane, and they are forced to shoot at some fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents charged with guarding the Guest House.
The shootout sequence is nowhere near as well-executed as it could have been: the lighting is poor and the action ultimately quite confusing, but the long and short of it is that Team Coulson take out the guards and find that the whole facility is rigged to explode in under ten minutes. So Garrett and Ward hang back to find a way out of the facility while Coulson and Fitz look for the GH 325: it takes them a while, and Coulson finds the room in which he was operated on, but they managed to find a phial of the wonder drug. Fitz runs the drug back to the plane, while Coulson tries to find out where it came from: he finds a door marked ‘T.A.H.I.T.I.’ and opens it to find something which causes him to rush back to the plane and plead with Simmons not to inject Skye with the drug, but too late. Simmons injects her, the wound heals and she shows signs of recovery, but Coulson is not exactly thrilled with what happened.
So Garrett takes Quinn off the plane and implies that further nastiness is going to happen to him when they get to the Fridge, and May asks Coulson what he found, and why it made him change his mind about the drug, but he waves it off and doesn’t really respond. However, we then see what he saw: the tubes filling phials up with various drugs were coming from the upper half of a blue-skinned, clearly alien corpse. What this creature is and how S.H.I.E.L.D. got their hands on it remain to be seen, but you only have to do a quick Google search to find a whole lot of speculation about what kind of creature this might be. Personally, my money is on a Kree, a blue-skinned alien race that is going to make an appearance in this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy and has a connection to several popular characters in the Marvel Universe.
Finally we get a tease towards next week’s episode, as a strange woman wanders through the desert of Death Valley and persuades a newly-married young man to abandon his wife and drive her to civilisation: she reveals herself to be an Asgardian named Lorelei, and although that may not mean much to the casual viewer, Lorelei is a recurring adversary of Thor and sometime romantic interest of the handsome trickster-god himself, Loki. So it looks like we’re dipping back into the mythology of Thor next week!
A somewhat uneven episode, but one rescued by the appearance of Bill Paxton, who seems to be having a blast as a grizzled field agent, as well as some major revelations about the world of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.