‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4.04 Recap: “You Had to See That Coming”

The ghosts and the Ghost Rider are both back on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ this week. I say this without much enthusiasm. Perhaps comic book fans can answer me this: Is Ghost Rider a ghost who rides, or does he ride ghosts? The latter sounds pretty kinky.

The plot this week: Jemma takes a vacation day to look for a new apartment. She and Fitz are planning to officially move in together. She’s drawn to one particular building by a sketchy “email offer” that sounds too good to be true. I bet it was sent by a Nigerian prince. I feel like Jemma should be a lot smarter than this. Nonetheless, she goes inside and… yup, it’s a setup. Fortunately, this just is the work of Daisy, who’s been injured again and needs Jemma’s help.

Robbie the Ghost Rider mentioned last week that his uncle Elias used to work at Momentum Labs but is now in prison. Coulson learns this and visits the man to question him about what really went down at the lab. Elias doesn’t trust the government and refuses to talk, but Coulson notes that he seems surprised to hear that some of his former colleagues are still alive.

Daisy tells Jemma that the Watchdogs have hacked S.H.I.E.L.D. and are using information from the Inhuman registry to hunt and murder Inhumans. She asks for Jemma’s help in also hacking the network so that she can determine their next target. Jemma says that she’s forced to take lie detector tests regularly and could never voluntarily help a wanted fugitive. (What’s she going to say about patching up Daisy’s wounds, then?) Daisy pulls a gun on her so that she’ll be able to say that her help was involuntary. I don’t think either of them understands how lie detectors work.

As Coulson leaves the prison, he and Mack spot Robbie pulling into the parking lot. Robbie sees them as well and speeds off. Coulson hops in his car Lola and insists on driving, which Mack finds annoying. They chase Robbie through a few blocks and then conveniently make a detour into that most clichéd of car chase locations, the L.A. River. As it looks like they won’t be able to catch up with him, Robbie’s car suddenly smashes head-on into a cloaked quinjet. Fortunately, both Robbie and the car are supernaturally powered and are relatively unharmed. Coulson quips: “We get his car now, right? That’s how this works?”

Daisy brings Jemma to spy on a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Elizabeth Albee who has access to the registry. She wants Jemma to swipe the woman’s access card and insert a flash drive into the computer, which will allow Daisy to hack it. Instead, Jemma just walks right up to Albee and hands her the flash drive. Daisy is confused and asks what happened. Jemma explains that she simply told Albee to put the drive in the computer – because she’s kind of Albee’s boss now. Daisy is impressed.

Agent May is recovering from her recent near-death experience. She’s a little disturbed to learn that Dr. Radcliffe had to kill her, however briefly. Radcliffe insists that she needs to stay bedbound for a while longer so that he can run some tests on her. In fact, what he’s really testing is how well his android assistant Aida passes for human while interacting with May. Fritz is very nervous about this and worries that they’ll get caught.

Daisy believes that the Watchdogs’ next target will be James, the Australian merc from last season. Although he’s no longer infected by Hive, he’s had a difficult time transitioning into civilian life. Currently, he works at a fireworks shop, which seems like a dangerous occupation for an Inhuman whose ability is to burst into flames. James equates the job to a former smoker who keeps one cigarette in sight to remind himself of what he doesn’t want to be anymore. He’s not exactly thrilled to see Daisy, but agrees to help her fight against the Watchdogs. He tells her that he has something that might be useful in a storage locker above the store and asks her to meet him there when he gets off work in a few hours. Jemma insists on going with Daisy.

Coulson brings both Robbie and his car onto the quinjet and locks Robbie in a containment pod. He and Mack debate what to do next. After talking to Robbie for a few minutes, Coulson muses that it may be time that he made his own deal with the devil, and releases him. They come to an agreement that it’s in both of their best interests that they work together temporarily.

Coulson asks Robbie to go visit his uncle Elias in prison and convince him to talk about the lab. He does so. What he learns is that the lab was building a “Quantum Particle Generator” machine that would basically make something out of nothing, using a combination of science and dark magic from an ancient text (the book we’ve heard called ‘The Darkhold’) that supposedly contains several millennia worth of mystical knowledge. (I assume this is all meant to tie the show in with the upcoming ‘Doctor Strange’ movie.) Elias had a falling out with the other scientists over this and assaulted one named Joseph, putting him into a coma. That’s what landed him in prison. Afterwards, the experiment went very badly and the device exploded. Elias believed that all the scientists were killed, but we know that they were actually turned into ghosts.

Robbie relays all this information to Coulson, who also asks him for help on a “detour” he needs to make.

Meanwhile, Ghost Lucy goes to the hospital and uses her ghost magic to wake up Joseph, then immediately demands that he tell her where the ‘Darkhold’ book is.

Daisy and Jemma wait at the storage locker. James arrives shortly. When he opens the locker, a bunch of armed Watchdogs spring out and take the girls captive. It was a trap. James is working with the Watchdogs. He says that he hates all Inhumans, including himself. Once he’s helped the Watchdogs kill all the other Inhumans, he’ll gladly be the last one to die.

Daisy and Jemma fight their way out. Well, Daisy does most of the fighting, but the more she uses her powers, the more harm it does to her body. She and Jemma hide in another locker and the Watchdogs run past, but James finds them. Daisy is too weak to fight him off. Fortunately, Robbie shows up in the nick of time to save them. He and James have comparable fire powers. They throw and smash each other through walls.

While the boys are fighting, Jemma and Daisy head for the exit. They run into Coulson and Mack, who take out most of the Watchdogs.

Robbie and James eventually both wind up in the middle of the fireworks shop, which isn’t a good place for two dudes on fire to be. The whole building explodes in a giant fireworks crescendo. Robbie drags James out, still alive.

Daisy and Robbie both board the plane with Coulson, who says that he has a more pressing threat to deal with than the Watchdogs. He explains to them just how dangerous the ‘Darkhold’ book is and asks for their help getting it. He says that he needs them on his team.

Coulson and crew next stop at Dr. Radcliffe’s to check on May, who has mostly recovered at this point. Coulson introduces himself to Aida, who is programmed not to lie, but (based on a talk she had with Radcliffe earlier) is selective in what facts she reveals about herself. Jemma pulls Fritz aside. She instantly recognized that Aida is an android. This presents a big problem, because she’s scheduled for a lie detector test in the morning.

Episode Verdict

I’m still uneasy about the introduction of the supernatural to this show (and the Marvel franchise in general), but I suppose I’ll have to get over it. That’s where Marvel has chosen to take it and there’s no stopping now.

I don’t have many specific objections to this episode, though the ghost stuff just all seems pretty silly to me. I have trouble taking that storyline seriously. I’m more interested in the Watchdogs. However, I did enjoy Ghost Rider’s fight with James. In particular, one slo-mo shot of Robbie catching a flaming chain swung by James looks like it was ripped directly out of a comic book panel. I appreciate little touches like that.

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