Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back, and it’s glorious!
Lets recap where we are this season: After the death of her boyfriend Dr. Lincoln Campbell, the seismic vibration-controlling Inhuman Agent Daisy Johnson has left S.H.I.E.L.D. and become a vigilante known as Quake, hellbent on taking down the anti-Inhuman hate group known as the Watchdogs. On her crusade, she has teamed up with another vigilante – an invincible murderer with a flaming skull named Ghost Rider, who is mechanic Roberto “Robbie” Reyes by day and claims to have sold his soul to the devil to protect his younger brother Gabriel, or “Gabe”. Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. has become a legitimate government organization again, forcing presumed-dead Director Phil Coulson to step down, and replacing him with the mysterious and intense super-strong Inhuman Director Jeffrey Mace, who has appointed Agent Dr. Jemma Simmons as his right hand and deals largely in classified information – such as the recent classified mission for his blackmailer, the corrupt anti-Inhuman Senator Ellen Nadeer, which he maliciously sent Simmons on for also blackmailing him. Coulson and Daisy’s former partner Agent Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie continue their unsanctioned search for Daisy, while Simmons’ boyfriend Agent Dr. Leopold “Leo” Fitz has been secretly helping S.H.I.E.L.D. ally Dr. Holden Radcliffe build Aida, an android called a Life Model Decoy. Quake and Ghost Rider’s paths cross with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s when they discover that the Watchdogs are linked to the madness-inducing ghosts that killed (now-revived) S.T.R.I.K.E. team leader Agent Melinda May, and they team up to take down the ghosts, who are after an evil ancient magical tome known as the Darkhold. After the ghost of Dr. Lucy Bauer kidnaps her former co-worker, Robbie’s uncle Elias “Eli” Morrow, forcing him to recreate the original experiment that turned her into a ghost, Robbie kills the ghosts and Eli reveals his sinister intentions – admitting that he caused the scientists to become ghosts, and uses the Darkhold to perform an experiment granting him the ability to generate and control matter. The shockwave from the experiment is so intense that it vaporizes everyone else in the building: Robbie, Coulson and Fitz.
Following so far? On the this week’s episode!
After the blast, May and Mack run into the building, confused as to what happened and unable to locate Robbie, Coulson or Fitz or reach them on comms devices. A member of May’s S.T.R.I.K.E. team informs them that Eli Morrow has been spotted in the hallway. As the S.T.R.I.K.E. team approaches, Eli transforms the air itself into a crude dagger of carbon. An agent orders him to put down the weapon, and Eli obliges – before impaling the four S.T.R.I.K.E. team members with carbon spears. Mack and May discover the deceased agents and find themselves unable to follow Eli, who has blocked the passageway with a wall of carbon.
Aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane Zephyr One, May, Daisy, Mack, Gabe and Mace watch the security footage in horror as Fitz, Robbie and Coulson are hit by the shockwave and dematerialize. Mace starts preparing to inform their families, but Daisy refuses to accept that they are dead, insisting they call Simmons to help identify what happened. Mace agrees, but Mack and May think that Simmons should be notified of Fitz’ death and they should stop Eli from killing more people instead. Mace instructs Mack and May not to follow Eli, saying that he will kill them until they understand how to stop him. May and Mack realize Eli was connected to the Chinatown mob and decide to research, while Mace leaves to notify Simmons.
In a lab in an unknown location, the bag is removed from Simmons’ head and a doctor leads her into the chamber with a hazmat suit on. In the center of the room is an Inhuman Terrigenesis cocoon in progress – presumably the cocoon of Senator Nadeer’s un-transformed brother. Simmons is fascinated by the cocoon, as the transformation only lasts moments; but the doctor informs her that this one has been gestating for seven months. He tells her that his identity is classified, and they are worried about what he will become.
In the hangar, May reveals to Mack that she is starting to believe Daisy; that their fellow agents are not dead. May suggests using the Darkhold, believing it to be their only hope, but Mack refuses to let her use such a dangerous book. Mace approaches, and Mack informs him that he has a lead on Eli Morrow: the Chinatown mob boss hired by the Watchdogs to transport the container holding the ghosts was close with Eli. Mace refuses to let him follow the lead, to Mack and May’s exasperation, believing they need to prepare for what they are up against first. He tells them that the four dead agents need to be prepped for the ride, and that they are about to take off. He tells May that Simmons asked that Radcliffe work on discovering the science behind the ghost boxes instead of her, though he seems like he is lying. Gabe confesses to Daisy that he feels he didn’t know his family at all – his uncle was evil, and his brother was a tortured vigilante. Daisy reiterates her belief that Robbie is alive, when the hangar door opens. An angry Mack straps his shotgun-axe on to his back, gets on his motorcycle, punches a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent out of the way and rides off the plane.
In the Roxxon lab, Fitz runs from the control room and finds Coulson in the laboratory, discussing what happened. May and Mack run into the building, confused as to what happened and unable to locate Robbie, Coulson or Fitz or reach them on comms devices – much to the confusion of Coulson and Fitz, who realize they can walk right through them. Fitz realizes the blast must have altered their state, pushing them into what may or may not be The Mirror Dimension (you all saw Doctor Strange, right?). As the S.T.R.I.K.E. team approaches, a pissed off Robbie punches through his uncle Eli, who transforms the air itself into a crude dagger of carbon. The confused Robbie pleads with Eli not to do anything stupid, and an agent orders him to put down the weapon, to which Eli obliges – before impaling the four S.T.R.I.K.E. team members with carbon spears. Robbie apologiez that he couldn’t save the agents as Mack and May discover the deceased agents and find themselves unable to follow Eli, who has blocked the passageway with a wall of carbon. Coulson and Fitz approach, revealing they can see Robbie.
Aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane Zephyr One, May, Daisy, Mack, Gabe, Fitz, Robbie, Coulson and Mace watch the security footage in horror as Fitz, Robbie and Coulson are hit by the shockwave and dematerialize. Robbie states that he doesn’t believe they are dead, as he feels sick and his stomach hurts. As the team discusses what to do, Fitz notes the lights are darker and the voices are harder to hear, and realizes that the ghosts were partially out of phase with our reality, while they are trapped between dimensions, being sucked into another dimension. Hearing preparations to inform Simmons, Fitz starts worrying what she will think. May and Mack realize Eli was connected to the Chinatown mob and decide to research, while Robbie realizes he can’t “flame on” to help. Fitz watches sadly as Mace leaves to notify Simmons, and decides to follow him.
Agent Burrows informs Mace that Simmons’ phone was confiscated and they couldn’t reach her, but Senator Nadeer is on the line. In pain, Robbie approaches and asks Fitz if he’s a doctor, while Fitz listens in on Mace’s private conversation. He realizes Nadeer is blackmailing Mace, and that she refuses to return Simmons or disclose her location. Robbie collapses starts complaining that he is freezing, so Fitz rushes to his aid.
In the hangar, Coulson is begging May to hear him, trying to tell her that he isn’t dead. May wishes out loud that Coulson isn’t dead, and promises to split a bottle of Haig with him if he returns – they said they would if they had a mission more dangerous than Glasgow, and they’ve had ten since then. She approaches the Darkhold, while Coulson tries to tell her not to use it. May reveals to Mack that she is starting to believe Daisy; that their fellow agents are not dead. As Coulson tries ordering Mack to keep her away from the book, May suggests using the Darkhold, believing it to be their only hope – but Mack refuses to let her use such a dangerous book. Robbie screams in pain, and Coulson runs to his aid. Robbie claims that they are being dragged to hell and the Spirit of Vengeance inside of him refuses to go. The fiery spirit bursts out of Robbie’s body and enters Mack’s. As they watchin shock, an angry Mack straps his shotgun-axe on to his back, gets on his motorcycle, punches a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent out of the way and rides off the plane.
MACK IS GHOST RIDER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I DIDN’T KNOW I WANTED THIS UNTIL IT HAPPENED. FLAMING SHOTGUN-AXE!
Daisy tells Gabe not to tell Robbie, and drives the Hell Charger off the plane. Daisy chases Mack, who refuses to pull over, and she scrapes against the wall in a tight alley – reasoning that the car can heal itself. Mack gets away as Daisy gets caught in traffic. Mack bursts into the warehouse serving as the Chinatown mob headquarters, firing with his shotgun axe. He grabs a mob member and his eyes glow with hellfire. Daisy sees mob members fleeing from the warehouse, and realizes they are in the right place. Inside the warehouse, she takes out several mob members, looking for clues. Daisy follows the voice of Mack, who is talking to himself. The Spirit of Vengeance states that Mack has a lot of pain that he could feed off of for years, and says he will not be dragged down to hell again. Daisy asks him to come with her, and he states he is never going back, before flaming on as the newest Ghost Rider.
At the headquarters The Playground, Mace is upset that Mack drove off without wearing a helmet. He enters the lab with May and approaches Radcliffe, asking if there has been any progress. Aida explains that the ghost cubes are not empty, but instead contain energy – however, it is far past her or Radcliffe’s understanding. May reveals that they were constructed using the Darkhold, and produces the book from her bag. As Mace leaves to inform the fallen agents families, May gives Radcliffe the book – warning him that it worried Coulson immensely. Radcliffe opens the book, and closes it immediately, refusing to read it and claiming it is too much for a human mind to bear. May tries read the book instead, but Radcliffe refuses to let her. Aida offers to read the book, and Radcliffe deems it a bad idea, revealing to May that Aida is an android built by him, Fitz and Simmons. After a brief moment of shock, May decides that Aida the technology they need to save Coulson.
In the remote lab, Simmons measures the Inhuman cocoon’s heartbeat, and notices he is nervous. She orders everyone out of the lab, and takes off her pressurized hazmat suit. She introduces herself to the cocoon, and informs him that she has friends that went through this. She touches his hand and tells him it’s okay, and that they will get through this together. The cocoon starts to crack and Simmons starts helping it peel away. His face revealed, the man inside thanks her and begins to introduce himself, before a bag is put over Simmons head and she is dragged away. The doctor thanks her as she is escorted out, saying they are finished.
Radcliffe opens the book, and closes it immediately, refusing to read it and claiming it is too much for a human mind to bear – and Coulson agrees with him. Fitz disagrees, saying that if a human mind can’t bear it, Aida can. Fitz reveals to Coulson that Aida is an android, and starts trying to tell Aida to read the book, believing he may be able to contact her as she isn’t human. Aida offers to read the book, and Radcliffe deems it a bad idea, revealing to May that Aida is an android built by him, Fitz and Simmons. Coulson scolds Fitz for making an illegal android with Radcliffe, stating it wasn’t his call to make. Fitz points out that Coulson isn’t the director anymore, getting angry that Coulson stepped down. He screams at Coulson, becoming apparent that he is just scared for Simmons. Aida flips through the book and Fitz sees the pages as blank, but Coulson realizes that Aida can see the text (in binary, no less).
Daisy tells Gabe not to tell Robbie, and drives the Hell Charger off the plane with Robbie in the passenger seat. Daisy chases Mack, who refuses to pull over, and she scrapes against the wall in a tight alley, to Robbie’s dismay – reasoning that the car can heal itself, not realizing Robbie isn’t Ghost Rider anymore. Mack gets away as Daisy gets caught in traffic, and Robbie demands she doesn’t let Mack get away. She does an 180-degree turn and goes the other way. She stops to listen to the police radio, and Robbie screams at her to go left, where the warehouse is. Frustrated, he hits the left signal and it turns on in the real world. Daisy realizes that is is somehow Robbie’s doing and goes left. Inside the warehouse, she takes out several mob members, looking for clues. Robbie leaves to look for Mack, and finds him about to kill mob member. He calls out to him, and the possessed Mack hears him. Robbie says that he isn’t finished and there are more scores for him to settle, but the Spirit doesn’t want to help him find Eli. Daisy follows the voice of Mack, who is talking to Robbie. The Spirit of Vengeance states that Mack has a lot of pain that he could feed off of for years, and says he will not be dragged down to hell again. Daisy asks him to come with her, and he states he is never going back, before flaming on as the newest Ghost Rider.
Coulson and Fitz watch as Aida builts a large arching machine with the help of May and Radcliffe. May is skeptical as Aida starts weaving nothing in midair, but Aida promises that they are there, as Fitz and Coulson see Aida weaving a Sling Ring portal out of light (Also from Doctor Strange. If you haven’t watched that yet, you really should). The dimension they are in starts fragmenting, and Coulson starts getting pulled to Hell through fractals that really do look like the Mirror Dimension. Fitz tries pulling him out, as Aida weaves the portal. She signals that she is ready and Radcliffe hits the switch, opening the portal. May sees Coulson being pulled to Hell and rushes to save him, but Radcliffe won’t let her. Coulson and Fitz pull from the dimension and make their way through the portal. Emotional, May tells Coulson she knew he wasn’t gone. The Philinda feels are strong.
Sidenote, I think this scene is a really cool way to expand the universe. Magic is explained in Doctor Strange as energy drawn from other dimensions; it just doesn’t matter how this energy is drawn. In Thor, Loki uses trickery magic as a natural ability. In Doctor Strange, they can open interdimensional portals with a simple enchanted artifact, a Sling Ring. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. however, they have to painstakingly build the exact same portal using science. In Agent Carter, they accidentally discovered magic by a failed atomic test. It’s like comparing airplane to the Cloak of Levitation – two distinctly different methods of achieving the same end result.
The menacing Ghost Rider starts pacing towards Daisy, and Robbie steps in the way, reminding him that they had deal. He makes a new one: he says that if the Spirit of Vengeance helps him get revenge on Eli, he will do it’s bidding, settling “all it’s scores”. The spirit leaves Mack and enters Robbie, and Daisy runs to console him. He states it was a rough day, but refuses to talk about it aside from saying that Robbie took the spirit back to Hell.
In the Playground, Fitz yells at Mace, demanding to know where Simmons is. Simmons runs in the room looking for Fitz, and they embrace. Meanwhile, Coulson confronts May about opening the Darkhold. She is unapologetic, and Coulson tells her they have a bottle of Haig to open. Philinda! Daisy enters the hangar and tells them that Mack needs some time alone. May asks where Robbie is, and Daisy says he pulled the Rider out of Mack, but is gone. Daisy says they have a leave on Eli, and Coulson promises to follow it. In the portal room, a tortured Mack tearfully stares at a note that says “HOPE 4/18/06”. The portal flares up and Robbie falls out. He stands up and asks Mack if he will help settling his last score.
At his home, Radcliffe is sitting in an armchair, playing guitar and singing an ode to Aida. In the next room, Aida is using her light-gloves to weave a brain. That can’t end well.
This episode is one of the best of the season, and has a really interesting mechanic of viewing the same scenes twice through different eyes. I’d give it a 9.5/10.
I’m interested to see where we will go with Mace, and especially the increasingly worrying Aida. With his last score to settle, I feel our Ghost Rider arc is coming to an end. However, there are rumors of a show following Robbie. Mark me as interested!
Crackpot theories and speculation
– What is the paper Mack is holding? Is Hope referring to a name? Did Mack have a daughter?
– It goes without saying, but Aida is gonna be the Big Bad of the season. I bet Eli is caught next episode.