This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Episode 7
It’s quite literally a magical time to be a Marvel fan. Since Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD last aired, fans were introduced to a world of magic in the Doctor Strange movie (hey Marvel, isn’t it time to announce the sequel?). But Marvel TV has its fair share of magic as well, and it’s all on display this week as half the team is lost in a very dark magical dimension thanks to the machinations of Eli Morrow.
The last few season, Agents of SHIELD has been all about HYDRA and the Inhumans. Now, the series seems to be the place to explore the new Marvel world of magic. This week, we get to see more on the Darkhold, more fun with Ghost Rider, and a continuation of some of the metaphysical ideas presented in Doctor Strange. We also get to see some of the VFX created for Doctor Strange shunted over to Marvel TV, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
I have to admit, when it became evident that we were dealing with a dimensionally lost group of SHIELD agents, I had to do a bit of an eye roll. I mean, wasn’t it just a year ago that we kind of went through the same thing with Simmons trapped on an alien world? But “Deals With Our Devils” saves itself with breakneck pacing and deft characterization. The episode takes a bit of a chance by running through scenes of May, Daisy, and Mack discussing how to save their friends and then later, Coulson, Robbie, and Fitz get to witness those same conversations. So essentially, we get to see those scenes twice from two different POVs, but it never gets redundant or tiresome. Not when it is just so darn interesting to see all these new magical elements play out in this post-Doctor Strange world.
The trio of heroes being trapped in the magical dimension causes a number of things to happen in the real world. I guess I should say four heroes, because along with Reyes, Ghost Rider is trapped as well… and Ghost Rider wants out. Instead of waiting around to be saved, the Rider takes it upon himself to escape so it can avenge itself on Eli Morrow.
So get this sequence: While our agents are figuring out how to save their lost pals, Mack storms off on a motorcycle, all leather clad and hell bent on vengeance. Later, when we see things from a different POV, we learn that Ghost Rider frees itself from the limbo dimension and possesses Mack. So all that leather and chrome that evoke the image of the classic Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider isn’t an accident as Mack is actually possessed as he tracks down Morrow’s old gang and goes full skull vengeance face on them. Reyes ultimately agrees to become the Rider’s permanent vessel so the demon leaves Mack, mission incomplete for the moment, but it seems that the time as a vengeance obsessed demon has a profound effect on Mack.
Meanwhile, more magic is explored in a very unusual way. To save Coulson and Fitz, May decides to use the Darkhold and calls in Doctor Radcliffe to help examine the ancient tome of evil. Radcliffe’s brain cannot contain all the new and vile ideas that the Darkhold holds, so his android AIDA volunteers for the job. She reads the evil book, and yes folks, we now have a robot wizard on Agents of SHIELD. Take that Westworld. What would happen if you mixed Ultron with Dormammu? We might soon find out! Eeeep.
So AIDA saves Coulson and Fitz, but in the episode’s stinger. She is using her new found magic to construct a brain. Or something. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but it’s freakin’ ominous. I also have to say that I love how Agents of SHIELD is using the same visuals as Doctor Strange to present magic. It gives a cohesiveness to this new aspect of the MCU and it makes both the movie and the show seem even more important to the tapestry of the Cinematic Universe.
Even though we have this focus on magic, that doesn’t mean the Inhumans are forgotten. Since the Inhumans are getting their own TV series on ABC next year, I suspect more and more Inhuman involvement as we move forward, and maybe even the arrival of some members of the Inhuman royal family. This week, Simmons goes on a secret mission to try and remove a not seen before Inhuman from his Terrigenesis cocoon. I was hoping for a known Inhuman (and as far as I know, we may have been introduced to one), but before Simmons learns the name or powers of this recently created Inhuman, she is rudely and roughly removed from the premises. It seems there could be more than meets the eye to Director Mace’s interest in this Inhuman. Could this be the thread that leads to the Inhumans TV series? I guess time will tell.
So it is a packed week with Mack becoming and losing Ghost Rider, Reyes getting the demon back, AIDA becoming Doctor Strangebot, and the arrival of a new Inhuman that is very important to the new head of SHIELD. All that plus a kickass chase this week as Daisy ganks Robbie Reyes’ ride and chases the possessed Mack with a disembodied Reyes on board flinching as Daisy dings up his precious demon car. With all that going on, somehow “Deals With Our Devils” never feels bloated or crowded. Agents of SHIELD season 4 continues to be impressively adaptable and freewheeling.
– I mean, can you get more classic Ghost Rider than Mack this week? Mack had the cool motorcycle, the leather, and he even rocks his axe shotgun. Now that’s a lot of kickassittude.
Honestly, with the shotgun on his back, Mack reminds me off the Midnight Sons era Johnny Blaze. You see, backs in the ’90s, when Daniel Ketch became Ghost Rider, Blaze became a demon hunter who wielded a shotgun that blasted hellfire. Blaze would soon become a Rider again, but seeing Mack all hell bent for vengeance reminds me of that era of Ghost Rider history.
– So who was that Inhuman? He spoke, so it ain’t Black Bolt. It’s not a fish, so it isn’t Triton, and I didn’t get a Gorgon or Karnak vibe. Any ideas, you guys?