Major spoilers ahead
The answer was not all it was cracked up to be, but the fact that there is closure (mostly) with Coulson's experience in Tahiti is a big step for "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." The show, which airs on Tuesdays, returned with a new episode entitled "A Magical Place," as it looks to kick its second half into high gear.
"S.H.I.E.L.D." left quite a bit hanging at the end of last month's midseason break, including the capture of Agent Coulson. Raina, the secretive woman who always sports flowers on her attire, leads the villainous outfit Centipede's attempt to crack Coulson's mind. How exactly did Coulson survive the events of New York? The ability to "come back from the dead" obviously is enticing to Centipede and the Clairvoyant one, the apparent mastermind behind everything.
While Coulson's loyalty to "S.H.I.E.L.D." is admirable, Akela eventually tempts Coulson enough to dig deeper into his survival. Turns out, Coulson was dead for several days and actually was begging for death. He needed seven operations, and doctors decided to implant pleasant images of Coulson on Tahiti to breed positivity in hopes of encouraging him to push through and survive (there are some graphic scenes as the doctors try to keep him alive). Coulson must be very valuable for Nick Fury himself to ensure SHIELD do anything necessary to keep Coulson alive. That, or there is more to this resurrection ability than what has been let on so far.
Coulson always has defended S.H.I.E.L.D. and its methods, hiding behind the notion that everything they all do is for the greater good, no matter the expense. But now, Coulson is aware of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s tampering with his mind, and it'll be interesting to see how his loyalties hold up.
Initially, it didn't appear like Agent May had much loyalty. Agent Hand, one of the newer mission point leaders, feels compelled to remove Skye altogether, and Agent May simply agrees, tossing any feelings of friendship out the window with no remorse. But as the episode unfolds, Agent May knew that getting Skye off the plane base—and out of restricted, monitored areas—would allow her to track down Coulson's location as the team of agents works to rescue its leader.
It was cool, even without Coulson, to watch the team work together. In the beginning of the episode, everyone played their part in the apprehension of some bad guy who might have information on Coulson's whereabouts. Ward and May break into a place and start busting up bad guys, Fitz and Simmons use their tech gear while Skye uses her hacking skills to steer the runner where they want him to go. While not nearly as cool or well-shot, it reminded me of that scene in "Avengers" when all six of the superheroes fed off each other's power, such as Ironman shooting his laser beam off Captain America's shield.
There were plenty of other cool moments. When the runner is being interrogated, the tactic that gets him to talk involves the random opening of the roof of the plane, like it was a convertible. There were a couple light comedic lines, the best of which involved the reference to Michael Jordan's iconic game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz to win the NBA Finals.
Mike Peterson, the good-guy-turned-traitor who set up Coulson's capture in the first place, is still alive after the explosion in the previous episode. But he might wish he wasn't, since he's being controlled by a still-unknown villainous mastermind.
"A Magical Place" was a packed episode that turns up the propeller jets for the second half of the season. Hopefully, it doesn't sputter out and drift with little movement down the stretch.