The jumping back and forth between time periods bit on tv shows is getting a bit old in my humble opinion. Yes, I admit I might be a bit sick of Flashback Theater on Arrow. But, credit where it’s due, Agents of SHIELD is at least being amusing with their titles. “Back In The Day,” and “Now,” are the settings. As makes more sense as the story goes on, this one is called “Good Samaritan.”
Back then, Uncle Eli is working at Momentum Labs, the source of most of our problems this season. He’s driving the familiar black Charger as he gets called in. The Bowers are moving up their plans for testing the big Device O’ Doom, which is a smaller prototype of the big chamber we’ve seen earlier in the season. They do have some good motives for starting what turns into this big nightmare, although they are very dismissive of Eli. Whether that’s because he’s “only” an engineer, or a Latino, I’m not sure.
In the now, SHIELD gets to Momentum to find the agents they left watching the place dead. Fitz, video-conferencing with May, figures out that portions of the device have been removed. Coulson says Lucy must be trying to “unghost.” While this is happening, Daisy goes to see Gabe and brings him to Robbie. Not a good time for “bring your brother to work day.”
Back at HQ, Director Mace is sending Simmons on a special assignment, making an exception to his color-coded security spectrum. There’s definitely some tension between these two after the recent news interview. Whatever it is, the mission involves Simmons’ expert knowledge of Inhumans, her leaving right that minute, and a hood. I guess she’s only partially exempt from the security spectrum. Mace tells her he’s got his own mission.
Gabe leaps to the understandable, but wrong, conclusion that Robbie is a secret agent with SHIELD. When Robbie hesitates, Daisy jumps in to reinforce the idea. Despite being an ex-agent on the run, Daisy is still on the nice side of things, so she tries to help Robbie out. Much less nice, Eli and Lucy are working on the new device. He cautions her that it could kill thousands, and she says she doesn’t care. That’s a point to remember later on.
Remember that mission of Mace’s? He meets up with the Zephyr and boards with a tac-team, coming after Daisy and “the Inhuman that can control fire.” Boy, is he in for a surprise. He and Phil do some mostly civilized verbal sparring, couching their debate in Star Wars terms (Han Solo vs. Admiral Ackbar). A bit surprisingly, Mace says he’s ok with Daisy, but “the other guy is a problem.” Meanwhile, Daisy, Gabe, and Robbie are hiding in the containment module, which is hanging under the Zephyr.
Condensing the scene switching a bit, we get two slightly different versions of Robbie’s origin. They’re alike for the beginning: Robbie has been doing illegal street racing in Eli’s Charger and found someone who, as far as he knows, is both a poor loser and has their own army of gun thugs. The car gets shot up and flips, which is what paralyzes Gabe. A mysterious stranger on a bike shows up, pulls Gabe from the wreckage, and goes to Robbie. What Gabe didn’t know is that this man offered Robbie a chance for revenge. Considering Robbie ends up as Ghost Rider (and has the same freakin’ jacket), I’d say it’s a good bet that the never-named, never really seen stranger is probably Johnny Blaze (known to most from the Nicholas Cage movies).
In the now, Fitz is trying to figure out what’s happening with Lucy and Eli. He gets interrupted by Mace’s tac-team as they search for their fugitives. Their research includes a very nice tip of the hat to the late, lamented Agent Carter series. Mace is too smart for everyone’s own good, and figures out the module trick. Coulson tries to argue that they need Robbie’s help to deal with Lucy, but Mace is being very inflexible on this.
Predictably, this goes badly. Fitz gets the shock of his life when he finds out that his high-tech, cutting edge containment module doesn’t fare so well against mystically powered threats. Then again, Fitz doesn’t believe in magic, so it’s doubly shocking for him. Ghost Rider bursts out, and Mace finds out that his powers most definitely have their limits. Ghost Rider’s merciless beating finally stops when Gabe appeals to him.
“Back in the day,” we see the ongoing breakdown of the Momentum team. Joseph gets very possessive of (or possessed by) the Darkhold. Joe is making a lot of changes in their device without consulting anyone, especially Eli the engineer. This devolves into a disagreement about where the book came from, God vs. the devil, and some pointed arguing.
The Zephyr, guided by Fitz’s investigation, gets to an old Roxxon power plant. Lucy and Eli’s plan needed a lot more power, and this is where they set up to do it. The team goes in, with some interesting personnel choices. The very powerful Mace isn’t with them, maybe sidelined by his fight with Ghost Rider. Daisy is also back on the ship, possibly because of the self-damaging nature of her powers. Coulson, Robbie, Fitz, Mac, May, and some agents go in and then split up with different objectives.
Lucy and Robbie meet up for a great scene. Lucy is cocky and dismissive. She mistakes Robbie for his brother, “Gabriel. Like the angel.” He responds, “No, I’m the other one,” as his eyes glow and he shifts to Ghost Rider. We also get something confirmed about the incident that cost Gabe his legs. Ghost Rider proves just as effective against Lucy as he was against the earlier ghosts.
Fitz, still denying magic, can’t figure out why he can’t power down the plant. Points to the writers, the next idea is using one of those EMP devices from the Watchdog attacks. While Mac is rushing off to do that, May is leaving as fast as she can, carrying out Coulson’s order to get the Darkhold away from Lucy and Eli. This leads to a series of surprises about the past of Momentum Labs, surprises in the present, and a pretty big cliffhanger. This is made even worse by the fact that Agents of SHIELD doesn’t come back until the end of the month, several weeks after this episode aired.
What I liked: Mace continues to be a likeable character, even though he ends up opposing the main characters so often. I’m glad they didn’t just make him a bad guy. The nod to Agent Carter was cool (I still keep hoping that show will come back somehow). I like the continuity that they went for the Watchdog EMP device. I’m really curious to see if we end up with Johnny Blaze showing up eventually. I’m also intrigued by Simmons’ secret mission. Fitz blindly refusing to accept magic is entertaining. The Lucy/Robbie scene was great.
What I didn’t: Not a lot. It was one of their better episodes. I’d like to have seen why Mace wasn’t with them at the end, and I’m hoping we don’t end up with angst and drama between Robbie and Gabe.
I thought this was one of their best episodes. I’ll give this a 4.5 out of 5. It’s going to be a long few weeks.