Sara Crocco ’19 / Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer
Talk about a new beginning. After “The Ghost”, the Season 4 premiere episode of Agents of Shield, one thing is for sure: this show is always evolving and growing with every season. Notably, it’s had its up and downs in ratings midway through, but this might be the storyline that saves the show. If you had your doubts that this season wouldn’t bring anything new to the table, allow them to fly out of the nearest window, because Ghost Rider is in town and you won’t want to miss out on what he’s up to.
With the new 10 PM time slot announced this past May, ABC essentially confirmed the direction in which this show is headed. When you look back and compare the jokiness of Season 1 to the gradually darker content with the debut of every new season, it’s safe to say that Agents of SHIELD is no longer a ‘happy-go-lucky’ family show. If anything, it seems more like Netflix’s Daredevil, which is a pretty good example of MCU grittiness done right. It’s a Marvel show so, of course, there will always be funny moments, but much less so than we were first introduced to years ago through the pilot episode. The situations are grittier and more gruesome with characters to match, and the switch in time definitely holds a light to that.
Picking up six months after the agents fought Hive at the end of Season 3, it’s clear to see that much has changed since we last saw everyone. First off, the SHIELD dream-team is no longer together. Mack (Henry Simmons) and Coulson (Clark Gregg), who is no longer Director of SHIELD, are out in the field while everyone else is back at HQ. Immediately, viewers can infer that something big happened during the break that they never saw, even when they don’t know why. Too much new information at once could stifle the viewers or make them feel like they know too much to continue watching, and while they are only telling a little bit in this episode, it may be just enough for the time being.
Although, from what the viewers have been given, a good amount can still be concluded: Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) has been promoted, even outranking May (Ming-Na Wen), and has a bit more tenacity when it comes to speaking her mind in front of other agents; Elena ‘Yo-Yo’ Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) and Mack’s relationship may be more than meets the eye; and Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) made a completely functional, “near perfect” LMD, or Life Model Decoy, and used his processing system as a base — like Tony Stark’s Jarvis, but in a female human body (and not an Infinity Stone-powered superhuman body).
That leads to another new and interesting occurrence: Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), encounters the LMD, Aida (Mallory Jansen), by accident. Eventually, this leads to Dr. Radcliffe asking for Fitz’ involvement in making her “perfect,” and he agrees, but when asked to notify Simmons, he opposes Radcliffe’s request, so he never ends up telling Simmons. This sets it up could eventually end up creating a massive breach of trust in their relationship.
Outside of SHIELD, there is the infamously stubborn rogue agent, Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet). She seems to have a vendetta of her own and is out for serious blood. On top of that, she still blames herself for the death of Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) and most of the tragic events or deaths she was in proximity to last season. She’s been overexerting her powers to the point where she needs medication. This overexertion essentially seems to be a form of self-punishment and watching her try to balance her agenda alongside her mental and physical health is equally fascinating as it is heartbreaking.
Even after all of that, the episode doesn’t stop there; viewers are briefly introduced to another new problem and it comes in the form of a ghastly figure. Not much can be said about it yet since it only got a minute or two of screen time, but what viewers have seen does not seem safe. It may have been a bit much for the show to have this story fragment in since there are already so many other events going on, but hopefully, it leads into the main storyline and doesn’t just serve to try to combat the fear of mid-season staleness.
And, the perfect remedy for that fear might just be the introduction of Ghost Rider. As it can be seen in the opening sequence, Ghost Rider — or, Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) — is a force to be reckoned with. He is mercilessly ferocious in his attacks and does so with confidence, which foreshadows a later moment where he reveals to Daisy that he only kills those who deserve it and then, despite her begging for him to kill her, spares her life. Towards the end, viewers also get a more humanized view of the fiery powerhouse when he meets up with his disabled younger brother and exchanges some sibling banter. All-in-all, Ghost Rider seems to be an exceedingly promising character for this new season.
Overall Episode Grade: A-