Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns from its winter break swinging, as the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. organization is mobilized to recover agent Coulson, who was abducted by Centipede at the tail end of the last episode. The prickly Agent Hand commandeers The Bus during the search, which has the team on edge. Meanwhile, Coulson's memories are being probed by Edison Po and Raina as they dig deep into his psyche to discover what makes Tahiti so darn magical.
Everyone's on deck for this mission — except for Skye, since agent Hand threw her off the jet — but that's not going to stop the world's foremost technogeek from tracking down Coulson and Centipede in her own way, with or without S.H.I.E.L.D.'s resources.
Skye escapes her debriefing and manages to track down Centipede through the alien artifact black market, and follows their money trail to a settlement that the organization had purchased in the Nevada desert. She tells her team where Coulson is while the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. incompetently follows other leads elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, Raina, under the guiding hand of the Clairvoyant, continues to teem Coulson's brain for answers. The Clairvoyant sees almost everything, but one of the few things out of his/her field of view is just how Coulson is still alive after being stabbed through the heart. Centipede wishes to use that answer and apply it to its own Extremis-powered soldiers, but Agent Coulson would rather die than let them get the secret ... until curiosity gets the better of him. Raina works her charms on the agent, and suddenly Coulson really wants to know some answers himself, but he isn't too thrilled with what he finds.
It turns out that Coulson's Tahiti memories were fabricated (shocker) and Coulson was really being given a series of incredibly traumatic and creepy operations to bring him back to life. The operation was so painful and unbearable that S.H.I.E.L.D. created magical Tahiti memories and slapped them on top of his memories of the operation like a pretty slipcover masking up an unsightly sofa. The team reaches Coulson and rescues him just in the knick of time and the day is saved, but Coulson is seriously unsettled by the truth. He makes a visit to the doctor who operated on him, and finds out all the gory details of his various operations. It turns out that he had lost his will to live, and was begging to die. I dont think Coulson will "trust the system" as fully as he once did.
- Mike Peterson is alive! But he's missing a leg, half his body is burned, and he has one of those cybernetic eye bombs that Centipede is so fond of. But he's alive. So that's good, right?
- It's just a little ridiculous how preposterously good Skye and her team are at their jobs while the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. is just wildly inept at just everything involved with their daily routines.
- "Is that a Roomba?" No... no it isn't.