Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D SN4 EP01- ‘The Ghost’

Ghost rider made his fiery debut in a spectacular episode that flipped the status-quo yet again.
GABRIEL LUNA

Photo Credit: Marvel/ABC

Agents of Shield is back, and it’s back with a vengeance. After what felt like a very intimate Season 3, very much focused on threats the Agents had created for themselves, the opening episode for Season 4 makes its position known straight away. It’s going to be bigger, better and bolder.

The new direction the show is going in, is in no small part thanks to its later timeslot. Sure we all panicked when that move was initially announced, worrying it spelled doom for the show (it still could), but just from one episode you can tell the show has benefitted greatly from it. The brilliant opening scene said it all. The use of flames to shroud Ghost Rider’s initial appearance in mystery made him extremely menacing, a feeling amplified as blood spattered about the scene. This was just the first instance of the merits of the new timeslot. Increased gore, so long as it isn’t gratuitous, adds to the sense of gritty realism the show has been perfecting throughout its run. Somehow, the past has seen a multitude of melting and disintegrating bodies, as well as a character’s head being peeled open, but blood has been weirdly absent. I don’t know the specifics of what can be shown when on TV, but it’s nice to see the show lose some restraints.

What was most surprising about this episode was just how much it disturbed the status quo…again. We’ve seen this happen time and again, but the one constant was that the team was (usually) all together. Not now though. The team has splintered as a result of the meddling new Director, who’s no doubt going to be a thorn in our sides all season, and as such the relationships carefully crafted over 3 seasons are fracturing, secrecy and mistrust poisoning them. This is most clear with Simmons’ new position as ‘Scientific Advisor to the Director’. Though she says she’s trying to remain in control of things, her close position to a man clearly intent on keeping the old group apart makes her hard to trust. Neither May nor Fitz trust her with pretty big secrets, whilst I’m certain Coulson would’ve told Fitz about Daisy had Simmons not been with him. It’s a situation that will no doubt cause drama throughout the season, and it’s exciting because it’s not really something the show has done before. Coulson never had to deal with procedure so much with Nick Fury as his best friend, so to have someone so close to him instigating rules he doesn’t necessarily agree with will be a big issue for him.

The show did a lot of world building this episode, introducing us to several new characters, whilst providing tantalising updates on existing ones. After a full episode focusing on them last season, The Watchdogs sort of fizzled away until Hive used them as Guinea Pigs. Now it seems they’re controlling half the criminal underworld, possibly in line to be the season’s next big bad. I say possibly because there are several contenders for that position. Ghost Rider is clearly going to be a target for Shield, but probably the most exciting reveal to come from the episode was that SHIELD is going all in on the supernatural this season, with what looks to be an actual ghost. It’s still unclear exactly what she makes people do, but given she’s now on the loose, and the fact that May has been affected by her means it likely won’t be long before we find out.

The highlight of the episode though was the fight between Ghost Rider and Daisy. Before the two sussed one another out, there seemed to be a few sparks flying, specifically from Robbie, but this was soon eclipsed by the fight. The full reveal of Ghost Rider is something we’ve been waiting to see since he was announced. Many wider Marvel fans scoffed at the idea of Ghost Rider being one justice on a TV budget, but these are likely people who stopped watching close to the beginning when the VFX were still evolving with the show. Since then we’ve been subject to some real visual treats, such as the Hive reveal, and the aforementioned melting bodies. The visuals did an excellent job at conveying the pain behind Robbie’s transformation. His skin is burning right off, and the look in his eyes expertly signalled how painful the process was for him. With the transformation complete, it was impossible even for non-believers to scoff at what they had seen. Everything from the billowing flames to the movement of the skull was expert, and left me eager to see more. What’s nice is that he also posed a true danger to Daisy. Other than when she first received them, we’ve never really seen Daisy drained by her powers, so it being brought up here will likely factor into her return to Shield. However even with the injuries, Ghost Rider was presented as a truly formidable threat.

The look into Daisy’s psyche in general was good. There has been much speculation as to why she left Shield. It was clear it had something to do with Lincoln’s death, but to learn she severed all ties so that she had nothing else to lose was heart breaking. Shield is family to her, so for her to reach a point where she can no longer face them speaks to the effects of last season upon her. In fact, the effects of last season lingered throughout the episode. Not only the Sokovia Accords, but the deaths of Lincoln and Andrew have made such an impact, that the smartest guy on the team is risking everything to build an intelligence that is bound to go rogue. That being said, Shield does a brilliant job at subverting our expectations, so I’m confident that the Aida subplot won’t follow traditional AI story structure.

S.H.I.E.L.D Zephyr One Report Log_Events of Interest and Enquiry:

  • The chemistry between Mack and Yo-Yo has always been fun, but it really stood out this episode. It felt like Yo-Yo has become much more free spirited, whilst Mack has returned to his roots as a stickler for the rules.

  • The rapport between Fitz and Dr Radcliffe continues to be one of the strongest elements of the show.

  • Speaking of Dr Radcliffe and Yo-Yo, I hope their significant presence within the premiere is an indication that they will be around a lot for this season.

  • Agent Piper returned! No big ass gun this time, but hopefully we’ll see her more often as well.

  • Loved hearing Aida say she’d be a Shield. Given how alive she is no doubt that will ignite debates of morality.

  • Got a glimpse of the relationship between Robbie and his brother, but not enough on either of them yet really to justify what he’s doing. Which is fine, as at the moment the show is painting him to be more of a villain.

  • Have I seen the hula girl ornament that was on Daisy’s dashboard before? It rings a bell but I’m just not sure.

Overall this was a fantastic premiere episode for ‘Agents of Shield’s’ 4th season. Ghost Rider was the main concern going into this, but the visuals were stellar, making him a mix of awe inspiring and just plain formidable. After so long together it was somewhat jarring to see the team so splintered, but at the same time makes sense to push us and them into unfamiliar territory. It will be interesting to see how the team dynamics play out with this newfound level of secrecy amongst them all. With some unexpected surprises and tantalising teases displayed, you can bet that this season is gonna be on fire.

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  1. […] from the past with the Power Rangers.  ResonantReviews gets a bit spooked with the appearance of Ghostrider on Marvel’s Agents of Shield.  And heeeeeere’s LUCI!!  @Presh_81 recaps the return of Lucifer (introducing Mommy […]

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