So far this season, one person has been brought back from the dead, two people who were presumed dead returned, and a fourth on the verge of death was brought back by a mysterious process. That describes what has happened on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, but if this was 15 years ago, it would also describe what happened to certain characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
In those shows, characters who die are not always gone or forgotten. They come back, somehow. This isn’t surprising since Joss Whedon, his brother Jed and his wife Maurissa Tanchareon are executive producers of Agents of SHIELD. While Joss is known for killing off beloved characters, he also can figure out a way to bring them back.
Buffy Summers was brought from the dead twice. Angel was shoved into Hell at the end of season two, then came back five months later by literally falling to Earth. Faith was put in a coma at the end of season three, then revived several months later. Spike “died” in Buffy’s final episode but was literally put back together when Angel started its final season. Before that, Wolfram and Hart used black magic to bring back someone from Angel’s past… Darla, the vampire who sired him. This happened three years after she died in the first season of Buffy.
While that all was due to supernatural forces, SHIELD, and its enemy Centipede, rely on advanced technology that almost rivals magic. Consider Phil Coulson, who was stabbed by Loki in The Avengers. He was revived by some very complicated and rather impossible procedures in a hidden facility that Nick Fury knows about… and maybe some others. It included the drug GH325, apparently made from an alien body.
Compare that to what Buffy’s friends had to do to bring her back from the dead in the sixth season opener “Bargaining.” Willow had to kill a deer, while a special vessel had to be bought to do the resurrection spell. It worked, but it traumatized Buffy because she was pulled out of Heaven. She would have rather stayed dead than be brought back to the living Hell that is part of being a Slayer. That also sounds familiar to Coulson, who said during his operation in T.A.H.I.T.I that he wanted to die.
When Skye was shot twice by Ian Quinn in “T.R.A.C.K.S.,” she fell into a coma because of her very serious wounds. While Faith eventually recovered because of her Slayer physiology, Skye recovered thanks to GH325. She doesn’t care if that drug was alien. Coulson got it, too, and he’s not sprouting a tail. Still, he’s worried about what GH325 can really do to them. That’s why he and Skye must secretly work alone to find out the truth about the drug… except their plans aren’t so secret.
Then there’s two people who were believed dead, until technology brought them back. Mike Peterson- the man who volunteered to be injected with Extremis- was recruited by SHIELD, then apparently died in an explosion in “The Bridge.” Then he wakes up at the end of “The Magical Place,” with a new prosthetic leg and an eye that gives him orders he must obey… or it will kill him. Since it’s implied they’ll target his son, he has no choice.
With Akela Amador, she was believed lost after a SHIELD mission that went wrong. She re-emerged in “Eye Spy,” working for Centipede because she also has no choice. She was given a new eye that also gives her orders that she must obey. However, she was convinced to go back to SHIELD after the kill switch was removed. Just like Faith at the end of “Sanctuary,” Akela was put in prison. If Peterson has to do a mission for Centipede as Deathlok, her status might change. After all, Akela was supposed to be a super-solider for Centipede, and she was the prototype. Peterson/Deathlok is stage two.
So, maybe it’s not so surprising that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has added the alternate title of “Uprising.” It’s supposed to suggest that the crew will challenge those who give them orders. It can also mean, however, the show has a connection with Buffy and Angel: all three shows have examples of people who may be gone but not forgotten, and they aren’t gone for long.