On the newest Agents of SHIELD, we finally get to do what they were hinting at in the season premier, as we “Meet the New Boss.” In the opening, it’s what seems to be a typical “kid having a nightmare” scene. Except the kid’s father ends up seeing the ghost that’s troubling the boy, and then Dad ends up seeing visions much like the Asian gangsters and even Agent May did last episode. Clearly, there’s more going on than a child’s bad dream.
The show moves back and forth between SHIELD’s Headquarters (and we still don’t know where that is) and Los Angeles. HQ has the majority of the show’s cast, and Los Angeles, at least to start, is Robbie the Ghost Rider and Quake the ex-SHIELD agent. Daisy-Quake (that name is growing on me) spends a lot of the early episode following Robbie around.
Back at Headquarters, Fitz and Simmons are examining the mysterious box May and company captured last episode. As far as they can tell, it’s an empty box. Then Fitz gets clever and uses some different gadgets to reveal a lot more than emptiness. As they examine this, Mac comes in and reports a family having symptoms like the gangsters– our luckless father from the opening. Mac also shows some footage from the gang’s garage showing there might be something to this particular ghost story.
Up in the administration area, Coulson and May are waiting. And waiting. And May isn’t happy about it. Coulson is being a lot more understanding about it, having been in the Director’s shoes. To hear him tell it, Coulson is just as happy to be back in the field, which is something he’s been good at since first popping up back in Iron Man. May grouses that the Director’s job would still be Coulson’s if he’d put up a fight.
In Los Angeles, Robbie fixes a car for one of the customers. He sees Daisy’s van again, and storms out to confront her. She’s not there, because she’s inside, spinning her cover story about being an old friend of Robbie’s. It’s amusing watching Daisy and Robbie swap comments with multiple meanings. Robbie is definitely not happy with her, and she’s just as clearly not going anywhere.
Coulson and May finally get their meeting, after May has a staredown with what I guess is the Director’s security agent. The new Director is listed in the credits as Jeffrey Mace. I knew I knew that name, but I wanted to look it up to be sure. Jeffrey Mace was a World War II character who was originally the costumed hero known as the Patriot, who later became
the third Captain America. Jeffrey is actually a lot more understanding than you’d expect. He’s not a bad guy, not a boring bureaucrat, and he’s actually fairly likable. As the new Director, Jeffrey is understandably worried about image, since SHIELD is about to become an official agency again in the wake of the Sokovia Accords that played such a big part of Captain America: Civil War. Speaking of how things look, May is continuing to have her disturbing visions. She gets sent away so Jeffrey can talk to Coulson in private, both hinting at how Jeffrey got Coulson’s job and a special assignment for Coulson.
Down in the lab, the team of Simmons, Fitz, and Mac are trying to figure out what’s going on with the box, the visions, and the people acting so weirdly. They don’t really have a handle on what’s actually happening, but they are starting to be able to trace it to certain locations. The family from the beginning is near one of the locations. Mac allows for the possibility of it actually being a ghost, which Fitz and Simmons aren’t as willing to accept, or even entertain the possibility of.
In a weird high-tech bunker, the ghost woman from the opening is messing around with some machines, which just looks weird. She frees some fellow ghosts from what looks like more of the boxes that SHIELD currently has. They are fading in and out, and sounding weird. To me, this is a lot like the effect of the Zero Energy in second season of the sadly cancelled Agent Carter. The ghosts, for lack of a better term, are swearing revenge against someone or other.
Robbie and Daisy have a conversation that covers the Watchdogs, Inhumans, Robbie’s brother, and selling your soul. Like the rest of SHIELD except for Mac, Daisy isn’t really buying the supernatural aspect of what’s happening. Robbie tells her he’s not an Inhuman, and she doesn’t really believe him. They end up having a fight that goes about as well for Daisy as the last one did.
Hijinks ensue back at the base. May and Piper have an awkward scene about what Piper is supposed to call May (“Ma’am” is not appreciated). Coulson’s special assignment ends up being conducting a tour of visiting Congressmen around the base. There are a lot of references to Agent Carter, and at least one line that sounds like a swipe about that show being cancelled. May confronts the prisoner about the visions they both are having. The prisoner doesn’t react well, which gets Simmons’ attention, and then reroutes the tour. Jeffrey is actually very helpful about this.
Having figured out that the phenomenon they are looking into is tied to a few places, Mac and Fitz are on a quinjet to go check things out. They reminisce about the way things have changed, and they agree they both miss Daisy. Where they are going, the ghosts talk about the Darkhold. The Darkhold is a very powerful magic artefact in the Marvel Comics Universe, a dark spell book that is never a good thing.
After the fight, Daisy is tied up, literally. Robbie has his own insights about her that are very on track. He’s going through her stuff, not being nosy, but researching her. Robbie is very careful about who he goes after as Ghost Rider. He’s not sure he agrees with her claim about deserving to die. Daisy suggests they work together to find out who is arming the gangs. Robbie disagrees and leaves. Daisy frees herself and they have a sort of part car chase and part “person clings to roof” sequence which ends in a unique way.
Mac and Fitz arrive at the weird ghost bunker. Mac comments they never get to check out well lit places filled with friendly people. That would make for a kind of boring show, however much Mac might like it. They find the bunker, and the ghosts, and Mac comments he hates disappearing guys.
May has been bearing up under the visions better than anyone else, but she finally gets overwhelmed. She snaps, and takes out her own specially trained squad. Coulson doesn’t do much better. How she finally gets subdued is another big surprise, which leads to Coulson having a really interesting discussion with someone. After May is gotten under control, the Director politely, but firmly, tells Coulson that he’s not in charge any more by his own choice and Jeffrey will handle it.
Back at the bunker, Mac gets trapped inside the big glowing chamber by the ghost. Fitz can’t do anything to the ghost, and can’t get Mac out. Things are looking bad, and then Ghost Rider shows up. The Rider shows the ghost that he’s not immune to everything, and shocks both Mac and Fitz, which isn’t easy to do at this point. Daisy shows up at the end of the chaos, just in time to see the Rider grab a clue about this weird lab they’re in and stalk off. She has a nice scene with Mac and Fitz but tells them she’s not coming back. Mac comes to an unpleasant realization about some of the help Daisy-Quake’s been getting.
After a few wrap up scenes at SHIELD HQ (which still needs a cool name like Avengers Mansion or the Justice League Watchtower or something), we cut back to Los Angeles. Daisy’s van won’t start. I’m amused she’s back to basing herself out of a van, just like she was before Coulson found her back in the first episode. Robbie, in his human, not on fire version, finds her, and offers to show her how some of what’s going on is connected.
What I liked: The effects for Ghost Rider are nicely done. Daisy’s determination comes through strongly. Mac and Fitz make an amusing team. The tour was handled well. I wanted to end up disliking the new director, but he’s actually a decent guy as far as I can tell so far. The Darkhold is a very interesting mention. They seem to be linking to both the Agent Carter series and the upcoming Doctor Strange movie.
What I didn’t: It seemed to me that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was doing its best to pretend there was no such thing as magic in Marvel Comics (nice trick when you have a Thunder God with an enchanted hammer). Even now, with a Ghost Rider and the Darkhold, they had all the equipment in the lab. Are they still trying to do the “science and magic are the same thing” nonsense they mentioned in Thor? I also feel bad for May. And all the big lead up they did with Radcliff last episode seems to have been forgotten.
It was a good episode with some nice surprises. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.