This is it – the fourth Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mid-season finale!
Building off of last week’s post, 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 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. After Simmons blackmails the new director with the unfortunate truth about his heroic past, he sends her on a classified mission to aid the Inhuman Terrigenesis transformation of the brother of his other blackmailer – Senator Ellen Nadeer, a politician with an anti-Inhuman agenda.
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 (LMD). Mack also continues his rocky “will-they-won’t-they” relationship with on-call agent Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, a member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Inhuman team The Secret Warriors known as “Slingshot” for her limited super-speed that always returns her back to her origin spot. 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 Dr. 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 phases Fitz, Robbie and Coulson into a mirror dimension. Unable to affect the real world, the Spirit of Vengeance leaves Robbie and possesses the tortured Mack, who goes on a rampage looking for Eli and his hired gang, the Chinatown Crew. Using the Darkhold, Aida is able to build a “sling ring” portal and pull Coulson and Fitz from the alternate dimension, while Robbie renews his deal with the Spirit to settle his last score.
Here we go!
In the warehouse that serves as the base of the Chinatown Crew, a gang member warns Eli that the police and S.H.I.E.L.D. are coming. Eli tells them to keep them busy, but the mobster refuses to go at war for S.H.I.E.L.D. since he hasn’t been paid yet. Eli uses his new powers to fill the member’s lungs with diamonds, killing him, and returns to his task – building a larger version of a quantum battery – the cubes filled with interdimensional energy used for the last experiments.
Outside, the crime scene is being barricaded off and the news are reporting on the situation, believing it to be Quake as earthquakes have been reported. With the assistance of his head of PR Agent Burrows, Mace appears on the news via call to assure the public that the fugitive they are tracking is not Quake or a fugitive, and promises to hold a press conference once it resolves. Clearing the room of unnecessary agents, he discusses the situation with Coulson and May. They recommend sending in superhuman agents Quake, Ghost Rider and Slingshot, and Mace inquires about Aida. Coulson reveals to Mace that Aida is an android, to his surprise and dismay, expressing his former attraction to her and citing the Sokovia Accords and Ultron as reasons why this isn’t okay. He decides to bring her in for the mission and dismantle her after, and dismisses the pair. May asks Coulson why he told Mace about Aida, and Coulson admits that he hopes Mace will now reveal why he is secretly working with Senator Nadeer in return. May leaves to get Aida, and Coulson says that when she returns they will have their promised bottle of Haig.
Preparing for the mission, Robbie and Mack discuss topics such as wearing masks, director Mace and the Spirit of Vengeance. Coulson approaches and Robbie leaves to meet Daisy and Yo-Yo, so Coulson informs Fitz and Simmons via comms that everyone is in position. Aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. jet Zephyr One, the couple wonder how Eli is generating matter, refusing to believe he is breaking the laws of thermodynamics. Simmons suggests it is magic, and Fitz claims he hates magic (and clowns with knives in the dark). They read another earthquake on the scales, and Daisy claims it wasn’t her. Robbie meets with her and Yo-Yo and they reach the warehouse. Yo-Yo uses her powers to speed ahead and do some recon, but she accidentally ignites an explosion in the place rigged to blow, and she runs from the blast in a great slow-motion sequence. She bursts out of the building on fire, and Robbie enters the building as Daisy helps smother the flames.
At the S.H.I.E.L.D. base The Playground, Mace discusses Aida with Radcliffe. Radcliffe admits that he has a spotty past and that he should have asked for clearance in building Aida, but tells Mace that they are free to use his data as they please. Mace notes that Aida used the Darkhold to bring Coulson and Fitz back from the dimension they were trapped in, and asks what the Darkhold is. Radcliffe explains the book and asks what Mace plans to do with Aida, and he informs him that it depends on how she performs on this mission.
In the field, Mack insists that Yo-Yo report to Simmons for medical assistance, but she refuses. Coulson and Daisy watch via Robbie’s bodycam as he makes his way through the warehouse, fighting off goons. Robbie sees the large quantum battery and approaches it, not hearing Fitz and Simmons’ warnings as his comms are fried. As Robbie enters the cube, Fitz notices an unusual core in the battery, originally thinking it to be cesium before realizing otherwise. As Robbie examines it, Eli arrives and confronts his nephew. Robbie promises to kill Eli and starts to flame on, so Eli impales him with a spear of carbon, breaking his bodycam. Daisy leaves to assist Robbie, before the monitoring van is rocked by another earthquake that is not of her doing. Simmons radios them and mentions that there is something they need to see.
Aboard the Zephyr, Fitz tells Coulson, Daisy and Mack that the cube is powered by the Demon Core, a dangerous critical mass of plutonium (which is real, look it up). They reveal that he is using the Core to power the battery, but has a thin beryllium shield in place. If Robbie were to touch the shield, it would collapse, causing the Core to go supercritical. (Note: this also happened in real life – twice!) Coulson decides that it is time to go to Plan B, and asks if anyone has a Plan B.
As Robbie is still impaled to the battery, Eli comments that Robbie must have a secret too – the plutonium radiation and carbon spear would have killed a normal person long ago. Robbie implores Eli to come closer, but Eli admits that he has deduced Robbie is the Ghost Rider. Robbie tells Eli that the mob hit resulting in his death and rebirth was intended for Eli, and tearfully asks why Eli betrayed him and Gabe when they trusted him. Eli angrily divulges how his whole life, he was never taken seriously – everyone thought he was cheating or not capable due to the color of his skin and upbringing. He says that now he is a god, and Robbie tells him that he better be, because the devil is coming for him. He begins to flame on again, when Eli impales him with a second carbon spike, telling him that he gave him a chance to leave.
Mace’s Quinjet docks on the Zephyr One, bringing May, Aida,and Radcliffe aboard with all of the equipment they used to create the interdimensional portal. Coulson expresses surprise that Mace came along, but Mace decides that it is time for him to enter the fray. Fitz examines Daisy’s gauntlets, deeming she is indeed not responsible for the earthquakes, and they approach the lab. Fitz sees the equipment for the transdimensional arch and deduces Aida has arrived with Mace. Fitz and Simmons complain about the director’s shadiness, to Daisy’s surprise, and she asks what he did wrong. They explain the secret mission for Senator Nadeer, but are interrupted by Daisy feeling an earthquake below. They realize that Eli is somehow causing the earthquakes.
In the hangar, Mace explains his plan of sending the injured Yo-Yo in to steal the Demon Core. Mack refuses on her behalf, but Yo-Yo insists she is fine. Mack argues with Mace, who claims it is not Mack’s call to make. Mack tells the director to stick to “optics” and let someone else handle “tactics”, so Coulson breaks up the argument and asks for a private audience with Mace. Mack tells Yo-Yo that he is trying to protect her, but she brushes him off again. He tells her that she knows how he feels about her, but she claims she can’t read minds. Mace and Coulson argue about the plan. Coulson accuses Mace of having a poor plan, while Mace accuses Coulson of using fugitives to do his dirty work, keeping secrets and acting like he is still director. Coulson and Daisy confront him about his secret mission for Simmons, and Mace reveals that Senator Nadeer was going to go public with photos of S.H.I.E.L.D. working with Ghost Rider and Quake, and Coulson realizes he was trying to protect the organization. Coulson asks why he didn’t tell them, and Mace feels like they aren’t a team – but Coulson says they are going to need to become one for this mission.
Eli tries impressing the impaled Robbie by creating water, revealing he can now create multi-element compounds, but Robbie doesn’t care. Eli says he is going to create life, but Coulson arrives with Chinatown Crew members and says that he isn’t a god, just a petty thief. The mobsters search Coulson and find he only has a chain on him. Eli is surprised to see Coulson alive after thinking he vaporized, and Coulson points out that Eli has no idea what he is doing. Below, Daisy takes out the remaining gang members as the science team sets up the gate and Aida displays her lack of understanding of common vernacular, and beams when Daisy sarcastically calls her “life-like”. Coulson expresses incredulity over Eli’s treatment of his nephew, and explains that Eli isn’t creating matter, he’s stealing it from other dimensions – and every time he does so, it creates a seismic rift, causing an earthquake and potentially dropping the beryllium shield, causing the plutonium to reach supercritical mass. Eli gets mad at Coulson’s accusations, and as Aida weaves another portal and Fitz fixes a magnet to the roof of it, another earthquake happens. Fitz explains that the quakes are getting stronger, and one more earthquake will result in the plutonium going nuclear. Daisy starts trying to absorb the quakes with her seismic powers. Coulson tries explaining that if he doesn’t stop they will all die including him, but Eli (believing he is a god) thinks that he is incapable of death and will continue to create life after death. Coulson comes to the realization that the explosion is Eli’s intention.
Coulson realizes they need to leave immediately, and tells Robbie he needs to fight his way out of the battery. As Robbie flames on as Ghost Rider, Coulson gives the signal. May arrives and starts taking out mob members as Mack is killing them with his shotgun axe. Mace approaches, fully suited up as new hero Patriot, and starts helping take out guards. Slingshot runs in and assists the team in super-slow-motion, like that Quicksilver scene from the X-Men movies, setting up events in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s favor and affixing a magnet to Eli’s chest. She snaps back to her starting point, and watches the events play out, assisting the team in taking out all the mobsters and weighing Eli down to the floor before Robbie even flames on.
As Daisy struggles to contain the earthquakes, Aida’s portal opens. A mobster shoots Aida and she collapses bleeding (?), while Fitz and Simmons shoot him. Coulson throws the chain to Ghost Rider, pulling him off the spikes as May, Mack, Slingshot and Patriot take out more gangsters. Ghost Rider releases the chain, grabbing Eli instead of freeing himself, killing him as the beryllium shield closes. The bomb starts to go off and the team watches in astonishment as it disappears through the portal to Hell, taking Ghost Rider with it. Below, Aida reveals that the synthetic blood is for appearances and she won’t bleed out, but she can feel pain. As she bleeds on the floor, Daisy can’t take the earthquakes any longer and goes outside, blasting herself high in the air to clear her head before landing back on Earth. The news team quickly latches on to her and starts interviewing “Quake”. Patriot cuts in and says that while Quake was there the entire time, she was not responsible. He says that Agent Johnson saved them all, and shakes her hand.
Aboard the Zephyr, Daisy remarks that they need to return Ghost Rider’s Hell Charger to his brother Gabe. Coulson doesn’t believe that Robbie is dead, saying that the last Ghost Rider made it back from Hell, revealing he knows about Johnny Blaze. He claims that they have not seen the last of Robbie Reyes. They talk about Mace forcing Daisy to rejoin S.H.I.E.L.D., and she admits that she didn’t miss the rules, but she missed the team – and likes that the new director is Inhuman. Coulson tells her that he intended for her to be the director before she left, and Daisy jokingly retorts “Maybe the comic book version”. (Fun fact: Daisy Johnson was famously director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics.)
At the Playground, Yo-Yo starts to leave when Mack stops her, asking why. She says that she doesn’t understand him – they flirt, go out to eat, talk on the phone, and then nothing for weeks. Mack asks if they’re still friends, and Yo-Yo asks if they are “just friends”, and says she doesn’t know what he wants; so he kisses her, as Daisy and Coulson walk past smiling. (About time.) Daisy, Coulson, Mack and Yo-Yo join Fitz, May and Simmons, who are watching the news. On it, the reporter claims that Mace “revealed” that Quake was never a vigilante, but actually an undercover agent on an extensive mission to track the Watchdogs. Now that they are all gathered, Simmons presents “Agent Johnson” with her official S.H.I.E.L.D. badge, sadly remarking that it was a shame Koenig couldn’t be there. (We miss Patton Oswalt too, Simmons.) Daisy asks what Level Blue means, and Fitz tells her that they have no idea. Radcliffe and Mace watch the team celebrating, and Mace tells Radcliffe that he is keeping the LMD program alive, and has asked Agent Nathanson to escort Aida to the lab and retrieve her data – from now on, Radcliffe will be officially working on the LMD program with S.H.I.E.L.D. resources and supervision, which Radcliffe is excited about.
It’s nice seeing the quiet happy moments again, we haven’t seen these since season one.
At Radcliffe’s lab, Nathanson is packing up Radcliffe’s research when Aida’s charging chamber opens. Nathanson is horrified by what he sees, when Aida sneaks up behind him, apologizes, and snaps his neck. (Called it.) Aida brings a bowl of water and a washcloth into the charging chamber, and starts cleaning an unconscious May, who appears to be bleeding from the ears. What?
Back at the base, Coulson shares a glass of Haig with May…or what appears to be May. What!?
May is an LMD! You can’t leave us with that!
This episode is keeping up the recent streak of fantastic episodes with lots of twists and turns. I give it a solid 9.5/10. Some great Yo-Yo scenes, great twists, and fantastic acting from Gabriel (Robbie) and José (Eli). This isn’t the last we will see of Robbie!
I have to collect my thoughts and have no speculation or theories of what to come that I haven’t said. Stay tuned for next week, when I cover the new short web-series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot!