Okay, I’m sold on this Ghost Rider thing. Like many of you when I first heard there would be a major focus on the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider on Agents Of SHIELD season 4, I thought, “Man, I hope Marvel doesn’t sacrifice too much story time on Ghost Rider’s origins.” I was excited to see the character realised on TV in the mighty Marvel manner, but I didn’t want to see story time taken away from Daisy, Fitz, Simmons, May, and Mack.
Well, so far, so good as the series has balanced the intro of Ghost Rider with the ongoing stories of our favourite agents.
This week, Ghost Rider went from an intriguing thread of the Agents Of SHIELD tapestry to downright badass. It all happens when Coulson, May, Daisy, Mack and Reyes go to the prison Reyes’ uncle is currently incarcerated in. The agents know that to find the Darkhold, they will need Uncle Eli Morrow to help them find and read the ancient evil tome. You see, that mysterious ghost woman went after her comatose husband this week, the same husband that Eli Morrow assaulted years ago. The apparition is seeking the Darkhold, and Coulson knows that can only mean bad news for all involved, so of course he wants Morrow on the team to help find the book. Coulson wisely brings Reyes along because only the Spirit of Vengeance can affect the ghosts that are also after Morrow.
And it’s a good thing that Coulson did just that because almost instantly, Coulson and the recently-brought-back-from-the-dead May are attacked by ghost-controlled prison guards. And we are off on almost an hour of haunted prison action.
In truth, the whole episode is filler, but it’s fun filler. The entire A plot of this week’s episode is an action piece with not much character progression or story revelations, but we get to see the agents in action and we get to bear witness to the coolest Ghost Rider moment yet. Add to this equation the fact that one of the men responsible for crippling Reyes’ brother is incarcerated in the prison, and you have a recipe for violence.
Not The Walking Dead season 7 premiere levels of violence, but violence nonetheless. Violence like Daisy sacrificing her well-being to save Coulson and May from a gang of possessed prison guards, violence like the team facing down guards and prisoners alike as Mack goes to town with his axe gun (I love that weapon, love it!), violence like Reyes finally confronting the scumbag gangbanger that maimed his beloved sibling.
But it’s that rage that costs the agents the mission. Reyes succeeds in freeing his uncle but he is distracted by the Ghost Rider’s need for vengeance. Reyes confronts the man responsible for injuring his brother and goes full Ghost Rider on his sorry ass. It was quite a sight to see Reyes transform into Ghost Rider as prison inmates lock themselves back into their cells to get away from his fiery vengeance. It isn’t quite Frank Castle going nuts in prison on Daredevil level cool, but it is still pretty freakin’ potent. Let’s just say that the Rider’s target won’t be injuring any more innocent kids again. But, during this quest for vengeance, the mysterious ghost woman escapes with Uncle Eli and when she gets him outside the prison, she learns that Eli can in fact read the Darkhold. This will surely spell huge trouble moving forward.
While this Marvel supernatural tableau is unfolding, our human (and one Inhuman) agents have their hands full. May is still dealing with her brush with death and Coulson is super curious over what May saw when she died. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Coulson was also dead, but his memory was wiped, so he has no memory of any potential afterlife. While Coulson deals with this existential crisis, Daisy is still in the midst of her death wish. This week, during the riot, Quake is willing to sacrifice herself to keep her friends safe, and that’s the last thing her SHIELD pals want. May takes her to task for her recklessness as the episode does an excellent job in making Daisy look like the walking wounded. You can see every punch, bite, kick, abrasion, and fracture on Daisy’s weary body as living on the edge has clearly taken its toll on the former Skye. And SHIELD is going to need Quake at her fighting best now that the ghosts have Eli and access to the Darkhold.
Meanwhile at SHIELD HQ, Simmons has issues of her own. Remember, Simmons now knows about the AI AIDA and now must pass a lie detector test if she wants to continue in her position in the SHIELD high command. It turns out that Jeffrey Mace has other problems as well. Anti-Inhuman sentiment has spread so much that the new director of SHIELD decides to out himself as an Inhuman. The world stands shocked that a man in such a high potion of power is an Inhuman and somehow Simmons uses this as leverage to avoid a second lie detector test.
Now, I found this scene ambiguous because I wasn’t quite sure what Mace was lying about. Maybe I’m still shocked and not thinking straight because of The Walking Dead, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around what Simmons is talking about when she accuses Mace of dishonesty. I’m not sure if it is me or the show, but this plot thread could have been clearer, or maybe there’s a revelation still to be made. But it just all seems needlessly convoluted and muddled.
What is very clear is that with Eli gone, SHIELD is in trouble as the secrets of the Darkhold stand to be revealed, and it’s all because Robbie Reyes can’t control the Ghost Rider’s thirst for vengeance.
– I really dig that Mace was in Vienna during the events of Captain America: Civil War. Not only did we witness the birth of the Black Panther in Baron Zemo’s attack on the UN, we also saw the birth of Jeffrey Mace, director of SHIELD. I love when Marvel pulls in film moments to enhance its TV plots.
– Coulson and his faux Captain America energy shield… need I say more?
– I mentioned Ghost Rider going into beast mode during a prison riot reminds me of the Punisher taking out Wilson Fisk’s goons during a much bloodier riot on Daredevil. I guess Marvel’s go-to in order to make one of its characters look like an utter beat stick is the ol’ prison riot. And hey, we had plenty of prison fisticuffs in Luke Cage as well!