Welcome back to my weekly review and recap coverage of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD! To catch up on previous review/recaps click here.
We are finally back! That break came out of nowhere for me (apologies for not telling you), and it took way too long to get through (thanks ABC). But the show has returned, so let’s dig in and unpack the fallout of the post-Doctor Strange release episode.
At the end of the last episode, it was revealed that Eli Morrow was the grand mastermind behind the use of the Darkhold book, and that he was using the resources of his old job to run the crazy experiments the book revealed to him. The blast that emanated from the machine caused Coulson, Fitz and Robbie to disappear, and last night we found out where. They were in an alternate dimension from the real world. The three had become ghosts like the now-deceased Lucy, only they’ve gone a bit further in that they cannot interact with anyone in the real world. That is why May and Mack couldn’t see Coulson and Fitz in the chamber room. The reveals were layered between showing us the real world vision and then going back to show us the ghost world vision, which I thought worked well on a number of occasions. Before that, though, we were able to get a brief glimpse of Eli Morrow’s new powers. He can wield pure carbon by shaping it into most likely anything he wants to. We only saw the crags and the full wall in this episode to give us a tease for the future, so I’m curious to see what else he can do.
I picked out three major things from this episode as I continued to think about it that really stood out to me. The first is the obvious one, where MACK BRIEFLY BECAME GHOST RIDER! It was a very short-lived moment, but it was exciting to see Henry Simmons having to play with that enhanced aggression. We also got some hints that Mack is dealing with some internal, emotional pain; more than he lets on anyway. Could Mack have other family out there that he is worried about? We see him flirt with Yo-yo when she pops onto the show, but could Mack have had a previous significant other, even a family? I’m going to be keeping a close eye on that as we move forward. In terms of the Ghost Rider swap, the dual structure of the episode really worked to create some added tension and remain unpredictable. When Mack first took the motorcycle, ready to run after Morrow, I thought it was just Mack being Mack. But when he defended himself against that SHIELD agent one-handed, I began to doubt it. When we flip to Robbie’s perspective, we see how much the Rider affects his life. Whatever dimension he was in, the Rider wanted no part of, to the point that he would abandon Robbie in the process. That leads me to believe that the dimension we saw was not hell, but something else. Something that could come back, especially in connection with my second big aspect of this episode.
That second aspect is Aida’s true identity as an Android being revealed to the large majority of the cast. Because they were faced with a dire situation and improbable odds, I think everyone was more than willing to let that small detail slide for the time being. However, I think the true nature of Aida’s identity will grind on the moral compasses of both May and Coulson in the weeks to come. That makes particular sense considering the final tag scene of this episode, where Aida was using the knowledge she gained from the Darkhold to design and create her own functioning brain. Very scary scenario if she can implant that brain, as she would have the ability to take and use the Darkhold for herself. Thanks Dr. Radcliffe for creating an Android that works and wants to become self-autonomous, you did your job only too well.
The final big aspect of this episode is where Gemma ended up. Four weeks ago, we saw her get carted off to who knows where on Director Mace’s orders. Well, it turns out that she was to investigate the mysterious longevity of an individual’s Terrigenesis process. The identity of the individual of the cocoon was kept secret from Simmons, but I can tell that it has to be the brother of Senator Ellen Nadeer, the same senator that Director Mace was forced to make a deal with about Daisy. Right now, the cost of that deal does not seem so high, but Nadeer always came across as manipulative, so we may see her try to exploit Mace’s predicament regarding Daisy a bit further.
Overall, this was a solid episode that kept me guessing the whole way through. I was half convinced that Coulson was going to get swallowed by the dark dimension thing, so good job writers, you tricked me for half a second. The dual dynamic even helped to create some comedic moments that I always appreciate. And now with Robbie firmly connected with the Rider going forward, I’m hoping the pacing of the larger conflict begins to quicken. With the DCTV shows having their big crossover event this week, I can’t help but feel a little jealous of seeing the larger scale story unfold. Recently, I’ve liked it when SHIELD hits the go big or go home button, so here’s hoping they take some greater risks starting with next week.