Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t yet watched “The Magical Place” episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., then be warned that spoilers follow. After teasing fans for ten episodes, Marvel’s Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally explained how Agent Coulson returned from the dead during the show’s eleventh episode...sort of.
During The Avengers, Loki stabbed Agent Coulson through the chest, seemingly killing him. Nick Fury used Agent Coulson’s death to pull together and motivate the Avengers. However, Agent Coulson mysteriously showed up alive again on ABC’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whenever anyone asked Coulson about his death, he would refer to recovering in Tahiti, a magical place.
In “The Magical Place” episode, Coulson saw a vision of what happened after he died, and it wasn’t Tahiti. He was surrounded by doctors, and some kind of advanced medical device was operating on his brain.
After Coulson’s team rescued him, Coulson went to see the doctor that he saw in the vision. When Agent Coulson tells the doctor that he wasn’t operating on his heart, the doctor says, “After New York, you weren’t dead for eight seconds or forty seconds or whatever they put in your files, you were dead for days.”
When Coulson points out that would be impossible, the doctor says, “It should be, but Director Fury moved heaven and earth. He had a team of scientist working around the clock, using procedures that no good doctor would ever allow.”
The doctor explained, “Fury brought me in after the seventh operation. We kept you conscious to monitor brain activity, but you were in extreme pain. The neurological damage...it was catastrophic.”
The doctor added, “The trauma you endured was ungodly.”
When Coulson asked why the machine was messing with his brain, the doctor said, “After what you had been through, we wanted to restore the man you had once been so we gave you a pleasant memory of a beautiful island. We didn’t want you to be that thing.”
When Coulson asks what he had become, the doctor said, “You had lost your will to live. We tried to give it back.”
The doctor apologies and is saying if Coulson only knew. But when the doctor turns around Coulson is gone.
Judging from the explanation, we now know that Nick Fury used some type of advanced technology to either save Coulson or bring him back from the dead. However, it's unclear if the technology was S.H.I.E.L.D., alien, or even Asgardian. The doctor's statements about Coulson becoming that "thing" could be a hint at his brain being transplanted into something else. Could it be that Coulson's brain was transplanted into either an android or alien body?