Welcome back to my weekly review and recap coverage of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To catch up on previous reviews and articles, click here.
Welcome to television, Ghost Rider! For those that remember in my coverage of last season, I asked the question that, since the visual effects were getting better and better as the show continued, it might be a good idea to bring in a more marketable character like Ghost Rider in order to 1) reintroduce him as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and 2) give the show a little more legitimacy as far as its core comic characters are concerned. When I asked that question, and I guess made a prediction, I never thought in a million years that I’d be right. And I’m not gloating, but I am so happy to be right. Ghost Rider will be a great addition based on his own abilities (the super strength and the eternal flame offer great visuals and excellent action), but what makes Ghost Rider such a dynamic character is the internal struggle that he, Robbie Reyes in this iteration, shares with the ghost that bonds with him. I think this part of Reyes’s character could play into Daisy’s characterization right now in how she is distancing herself from any emotional attachments. She doesn’t want to be a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore, so that she can’t lose anyone because of her actions. I feel like that choice, along with the loss of Lincoln in the season three finale, is weighing heavily on her soul, and I have an early feeling that Ghost Rider will be involved with her character arc on that level this season.
The level of change of the core team has been pretty crazy. Most notable is the last minute demotion of Phil Coulson as the director. He is back to being a lead field agent, but clearly under the command of the new director. We still don’t have many clues as to who the character is, but we do know that Jason O’Mara will be playing him. Next week’s episode is titled “Meet the New Boss,” which could have some innocent occurrences, but with the comment by May that her trained operatives now have a shoot-to-kill order on Daisy/Quake when she gets hostile in the field, Coulson could have some ideological differences that will most certainly stir some tension. With that said, Mack and Coulson still took May’s tip and went to L.A. to search for any clues that could pertain to Daisy. They ended up tracking down a sale of a mysterious crate. Whatever is inside the crate causes a spirit to emerge, and those who encounter it have hallucinations and start attacking whatever they see out of fear. Due to her fight with Ghost Rider, Daisy never made it to the sale, so May ended up being the one affected by this spirit.
That was the most frustrating part of this episode to me. We never got a clear hint or clue as to who this season’s main villain will be. An argument could be made for Ghost Rider, but the efforts to humanize Robbie Reyes seem to go against that argument. I would have liked to get a better picture of what was in the crate that makes May’s situation so dire. Who is that spirit, and what can it do? I know we’ll get those answers, but last season worked so well for me, in no small part because the writing was direct in its revelations. The show didn’t hold back their reveals, they layered them and put them in a sequence that then made each one feel a bit more powerful when pieced together. This episode took a bit of step back from that approach and I hope that it does not become a consistent thing going forward.
Fitz and Simmons seem to be happy in their relationship, which in turn makes me really happy. Jemma’s new position as a sort of confidant to the new director showed signs of causing a rift between the two, but we’ll see if that becomes more prevalent in the future. What’s more interesting (and humorous) about Jemma’s new status is her promotion above Agent May. Jemma’s scolding of May for tipping Mack and Coulson to Daisy’s current whereabouts had me giggling through the whole sequence, but I couldn’t help but notice that Elizabeth Henstridge seemed a little bit awkward playing the superior of May. I know she is physically intimidated by May, but if that is the only thing between them, Jemma’s awkwardness seemed a bit overplayed. The humor was welcome, though.
Fitz already having to keep secrets from Jemma is quite cliche, but I’ll count my blessings that he isn’t holding the secret as a way of protecting her from harm. He is doing it more to protect Dr. Radcliffe. We do get an answer as to what that figure was in Radcliffe’s office at the end of season three, which I think is a neat idea, even if saying Ada’s purpose was to be a “shield” was a little on the nose. But the creation of these robots could have significant implications for the show going forward, both good and bad. Right now I’m just crossing my fingers that Fitz knows what he’s doing.
All in all this was a very solid start to the new season. The big pull is the arrival of Ghost Rider, and I must say that his visuals looked incredible. In fact, my roommate walked in during his full skull transformation and thought I was watching one of the movies, so props to you, visual effects team. Suffice to say I hope we get to see him in full skull mode a lot more.