In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mid-season finale, Coulson was kidnapped by the people behind Centipede. Why would they want the somewhat mild-mannered Coulson? Oh, just because he happened to survive death.
Now that the first part of the season is over, it's time to start prognosticating on what really happened to Coulson after he was killed in the Avengers film. Throughout the first 10 episodes, there have been small hints that there's more to Coulson's survival than meets the eye, and now it looks like we're finally going to get the facts.
Having a character survive death isn't necessarily something that has to be made into a big deal on some TV shows. Just look at Supernatural, where the main characters have died multiple times. So Coulson's survival could simply have been explained away with a few lines and the show could have moved on from there. In fact, in the beginning it looked like that was exactly what had happened. But as the series continued, it became apparent that Coulson's trip to "Tahiti" held many secrets.
Perhaps the easiest explanation for how Coulson survived death is that he was rushed to a secret medical facility with the best physicians that money could buy. These people may have also had access to technology brought in from other planets and could easily have saved a man in his condition. In the world of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that wouldn't exactly be a revelation. So why all the secrecy and why does Centipede want to (most likely) torture the truth out of Coulson?
Could it be that Coulson's survival goes far beyond simply top-notch medical care? Maybe he was taken to a secret underground lab and pumped full of an experimental potion that brought him back to life. A potion that, if it got into the hands of the wrong people, would make an army that literally cannot be killed. Given the lengths that Centipede went to in order to get their hands on Coulson, this is a very likely explanation.
Or it could be that the real Coulson really is dead and the new guy is an android who was given his memories and programmed to act as human as possible? This is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., after all, so anything is possible.
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