‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ adds a new cast member this week with a proven track record of being death to TV shows. This may not be a wise decision, if he sticks around for long.
No disrespect to Jason O’Mara. It’s rarely the actor’s fault that the shows he’s in (‘Life on Mars’, ‘Terra Nova’, ‘Vegas’, ‘Complications’) get canceled quickly. Nonetheless, he seems to be cursed to starring in shows that get canceled quickly.
We’ve known since last season’s finale that Coulson is no longer the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., but we didn’t know how that happened or who the new Director is. That information gets parceled out in an episode appropriately enough titled ‘Meet the New Boss’. Coulson and May are called to a meeting with Director Jeffrey Mace (O’Mara). He’s a smarmy, glad-handing politician type, not a hard-nosed leader like Nick Fury or an agent who rose through the ranks like Coulson. He’s overly concerned with the “optics” of what it looks like to have a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent like Daisy running around as a wanted fugitive. He also spends most of the episode kowtowing to the members of a Congressional committee he’s trying to butter up before a budget hearing. He orders Coulson to give them a tour of the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, which doesn’t seem like the most productive use of his time.
The ghostly figure that drove the Chinese gangsters mad last week is back. She appears in a random house and terrifies a little boy, screaming about how they’re intruding in her home, even though the family has lived there for years. When the father tries to ward her off, she passes through his body and infects him with her madness.
At S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Mack has found security camera footage from the warehouse where the gangsters were captured. In one frame, the video catches an image of the ghost. This suggests that the gangsters weren’t just delusional. Fitz and Simmons analyze the mysterious box the gangsters were fighting over and believe it to be made out of alien technology.
The ghost next shows up at an abandoned laboratory called Momentum Alternative Energy. She becomes corporeal enough to physically interact with computers, and she acts like a scientist. In the room are several other mystery boxes. She opens them and lets out other scientist ghosts. They have no concept of how long they were trapped, and believe it was just hours. The original ghost, whose name is Lucy, informs that them that they’ve been gone for years. They all have serious rage issues.
Meanwhile, Daisy continues to stalk Robbie Reyes, the Ghost Rider. She turns up at the auto garage where he works pretending to be an old friend from grade school, and puts on a show of knowing all about him to let him know that she’s dug into his life. She thinks he’s an Inhuman like her, but he insists that’s not what he is. He says that he sold his soul to the Devil for vengeance. When Robbie’s boss and other coworkers leave for the day, he stops playing along with Daisy and attacks her. She tries to fight him off with her powers, but he punches her in the face and knocks her out. (Ouch!)
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., May is succumbing to her own encounter with the ghost lady. Everyone she looks at has a zombie face. She goes to talk to one of the imprisoned Chinese gangsters and says something about seeing what people really are. He goes nuts again and smashes his own head into the window until alarms go off and Simmons has to sedate him with knock-out gas. May runs off.
At the energy lab, the ghosts yammer about a magical book called the “Darkhold” and about being upset at a man (unidentified so far) who apparently tricked them, turned them into ghosts, and locked them in the boxes. They want revenge, but have a dispute amongst themselves about how to get it.
When Daisy wakes up, Robbie has tied her up. He says that he knows she has a death wish. Daisy tries to talk some sense to him and says that she thinks he may have some connection to strange events happening at the Momentum Alternative Energy Lab. At hearing that name, Robbie hops in his car and races off. Daisy frees herself from her bonds and leaps onto the roof of the car, but he eventually shakes her off.
S.H.I.E.L.D. sends Mack and Fitz to investigate the very spooky, dimly-lit energy lab. Mack makes a hilarious quip about, “You ever notice we never get to check out a brightly lit place?” That line could equally apply to a lot of shows I watch. They find that a reactor in the lab has been set to meltdown. One ghost is still there. As both Mack and Fitz try to avoid being touched by it, the ghost locks Mack in the reactor core.
May totally freaks out about all the zombie faces she’s seeing. When Coulson tries to talk her down, she babbles about infiltrators compromising the base. Coulson convinces her to go with him to the science lab to see Jemma, but on the way she goes ballistic and attacks Coulson and a bunch of recruits in training. After she beats the hell out of all of them, she’s blocked from leaving by Director Mace. May tries to punch and kick him, but he remains still as a statue and nothing she does hurts him. Mace gives her one solid punch that sends May flying across the room and knocks her out. He’s clearly an Inhuman.
As the ghost in the energy lab comes after Fitz, the Ghost Rider, in full flaming head mode, shows up and grabs the ghost. He’s able to physically pull him away as if he were solid matter. Ghost Rider doesn’t hesitate at all and incinerates the ghost. Fitz is understandably freaked out, but Mack still needs to be rescued from the reactor. Daisy arrives and breaks open the door to get him out. Fitz stops the meltdown. Ghost Rider leaves.
After getting their reunion pleasantries out of the way, Mack tells Daisy that he wants her to come home with them. However, he gets upset when he realizes that Yo-Yo has been helping Daisy all along and lied to him. Daisy says she’s not ready to come back yet.
The Director wraps up his tour with the politicians. Coulson makes suggestions for how to treat May and what their next course of action should be. Mace stops him and puts Coulson in his place, reminding him that he resigned as Director because he didn’t want to be the public face of S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore. It turns out that Coulson recommended Mace for the job because he felt the new leader for the agency should be an Inhuman that people can trust. Coulson asks where May is, but Mace tells him it’s classified and he shouldn’t worry about it.
The last we see of May, she’s confined in a straightjacket, screaming her head off in a quinjet being flown away from S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. That can’t be good.
The episode ends when Daisy’s van won’t start. Undoubtedly, Robbie disabled it. He conveniently drives up and offers her a ride, then tells her that he believes he connects together the things she’s been investigating.
I’m still not thrilled with the introduction of supernatural elements to this show. Although the scientist ghosts will no doubt have a quasi-scientific explanation for why they’re non-corporeal, they uncomfortably remind me of the similarly asinine storyline on ‘Agent Carter’, which I hated. At present, Ghost Rider is still presumably totally supernatural. I can try to get over this and move past it, but it’s a strong prejudice I have and can’t help. I don’t like mixing ghosts and demons and magic with a sci-fi story. It doesn’t feel right.
Aside from that, this is a pretty decent episode. Despite the casting (and honestly, I don’t have anything against Jason O’Mara as an actor beyond his unfortunate record for TV failure), I’m interested to find out more about the new Director.
I don’t have the same supernatural issues you do and have really enjoyed the addition of Ghost Rider so far. With Dr. Strange coming up in November supernatural in Marvel is here to stay.
One note and I may be remembering it incorrectly but I thought it was Robbie that said he may be the link not Daisy that said it.
I think you’re right. I’ll edit that sentence. Thanks.
I guess my years of comic book reading have made me immune to any disconnect between science and supernatural elements. No matter what comic company a person prefers, the scientific, magical, mythical and supernatural characters are crossing paths all the time. When reveals about this season started over the summer, I never even considered that people might feel the way Josh does. Now that I’m aware and thinking about it, I see how that could be jarring.
I doubt this Agents of SHIELD: Ghost Rider event name will last much longer than when they rebranded as Uprising for six episodes after The Winter Soldier or Fallen Agent for the final four of last season. I don’t know if they plan to keep Ghost Rider sticking around long term, but, given the pieces that fell into place in this episode, I can’t imagine the ghosts and mysteries about Robbie’s past (or “mysteries” if you’re aware of his comic origin) will linger much past the next episode. Then maybe one or two more to mop it all up and find out how it connects to the Watchdogs and larger MCU. Doctor Strange will come out after the fifth or sixth episode is aired. After that, I think we may be back to more standard AoS action.
Near the end of last season I stated that I was giving up on this show. In fairness to my long term investment in this series I decided to give it one more chance. After two further episodes I am now dropping it from my DVR but I’ll be reading the reviews here just in case it does improve.
P.S. I’m like Josh. I like both sci-fi and the supernatural by themselves but not when they are brought together. Sci-fi relies on logic and supernatural/fantasy on the absence of the same. They don’t in my opinion ever work well in combo.