It's the question of the series: How was Phil Coulson brought back to life after his violent death in Marvel's The Avengers? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will finally venture to answer that question now that the evil corporation Centipede has Coulson (Clark Gregg) in its clutches.
When last we saw him, Coulson was turned over to Raina (Ruth Negga) under orders from the mysterious Clairvoyant. What does Centipede really want with Coulson? And when will the truth about his resurrection come to light? Very soon, says Gregg, who dishes to TVGuide.com about what's in store for everyone's favorite company man.
What does Centipede really want from Coulson?
Clark Gregg: It's revealed at the end of Episode 110 that more than they even want to capture our stabilized super-solider Mike Peterson (J. August Richards), their master-villain the Clairvoyant knows about Coulson's resurrection — and seems to know more about Coulson's resurrection than Coulson knows — so Coulson ends up in the unenviable position of being captive in the hands of people who want and have the technology to extract the secrets of his resurrection. That is the same thing that he wants, but he wants that information without giving it to them.
Will we be seeing flashbacks to Coulson's apparent time in Tahiti?
Gregg: I wouldn't call them flashbacks. That doesn't seem like a term that does them justice. We know that these people are ruthless. We've already seen them kill many people. The one thing this Clairvoyant person wants is the one thing they can't see. The only thing the Clairvoyant doesn't know is this: there's a blank spot. They have technology that can reveal those memories, and it's not a pleasant experience for Coulson. Yet, if he can endure it, there is a possibility that he can get the truth, although to even go down that road endangers all the secrets of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Should we be worried about how all of this will affect him?
Gregg: I think so. This is a guy who has been in control even when he knows he's walking around with stuff that doesn't feel right; that's more traumatic than what's been described to him. He's got no team members, he's got no plane, he's got no powers and he's captive at the hands of the most ruthless people we've met who want the truth out of him. This is past the place where anyone can stay in control. It's all going to get stripped away. Whether they leave him with all his limbs or his heart is still beating is one thing, the psychic damage to going through this stuff that he's gone through changes a person, so who knows if the Coulson that will be left after this episode will bear any relationship to the one that we've known through these films and the first 10 episodes of the season.
Will we definitively get an answer to what happened to Coulson?
Gregg: As a fanboy, I thought, "How are they going to do this? They've been keeping this for 10 episodes." We know that there's something bogus about the magical place concept. He can't even say Tahiti without turning into a robot. Is he a robot? How did they bring him back? Is he some kind of Life Model Decoy, as all the Marvel fans think? Is he the Vision? There's all these theories. How do you do this for real and really pay it off? At the same time, you don't want them to go, "Well, I guess that's the finale of the show. There's really no need to continue after this. The bullet was in the chamber, now it's completely blown." When I read the script, I was blown away because it's completely satisfying to me as a fanboy, and, as probably the biggest fanboy in Phil Coulson in the Marvel Universe, because it's not a tease, it's: here's what happened! At the same time, what they've crafted not only opens up enough questions that are at the existential core of Phil Coulson and his relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D., but really set the direction for the back end of the season and the future of the series. I was very, very impressed with what they delivered here.
How will this change the dynamic of the SH.I.E.L.D. team once he is back with them?
Gregg: That will completely depend on how much he chooses to share with them about what he knows. To me, it's one of the richest parts of the material we have to work with. It's a world of secrets at a time when everyone is questioning why secrets are so important and what the cost is of having secrets and being in an organization that keeps secrets. I don't think Phil Coulson, the ultimate company man, can continue as a company man if his very existence is based on a bunch of secrets that don't seem especially benevolent.
Do you think Coulson is an LMD? Or do you think something else is afoot? Hit the comments!
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.