After an odd few-week hiatus, the Agents of SHIELD return to “Deal With Our Devils.” Of course, with Ghost Rider running around, that might not be a figure of speech. What we do get is an interesting continuation of where things left off, and some pretty interesting story-telling techniques.
Mac and May lead the other agents in a desperate search through the power plant after the strange energy wave swept through it. Disturbingly, they can’t find any trace of Coulson, Fitz, or Robbie. They do find Eli Morrow, who is far from the victim he was assumed to be at one point. He now has powers and he isn’t shy on turning them on the poor agents of SHIELD. He kills some and leaves a barrier behind him so he can get away.
From the base, Director Mace watches the video of Phil, Fitz and Robbie disappearing. He assumes they’re dead, but Daisy refuses to give up on them, citing some of the truly unique things the agents have been through. Finally, Mace agrees and says he’ll go try and contact Simmons.
Speaking of, Simmons is in a mystery site surrounded by fabric walls and workers in hazmat suits. She’s been brought here to work on a man who is stuck in the statue-like cocoon phase of Terra-Genesis. Where this usually takes a few minutes, in this case it has lasted several months, which stuns Simmons. While Simmons wants to know who this is, they rest of them are more worried about what he will become.
May is giving in to desperation. She hopes Daisy is right that Coulson and Fitz are still alive, but isn’t sure what else to do. She wonders about using the Darkhold, which Mac reminds her Coulson told them not to even open. Then again, SHIELD has been getting miraculous results by taking chances. It doesn’t exactly encourage them to be cautious.
Gabe is stunned by the combination of learning his brother is Ghost Rider and then seeing him disappear. Daisy tries to reassure him, and then they get another surprise. Mac suddenly steals a bike, knocks out an agent, and takes off after the Chinatown crew that had the box that started all this ghost-chaos off. This isn’t like the usual calm and collected Mac, and everyone is surprised.
Now we get to see everything that’s happened from a different point of view. Fitz, Coulson, and Robbie are alive. But they’re not quite in the same reality as everyone else. They can see and hear things, but the others can’t see or hear them. They go through what we’ve already seen, getting surprises as they realize roughly what’s happened to them. The new insight we get from their point of view is that Mace is lying about talking to Simmons, and that Mac didn’t just flip out. The Rider knows what’s happening to Robbie, wants no part of it, and left, possessing Mac. Daisy grabs Robbie’s Charger and takes off in pursuit, unknowingly bringing Robbie along.
Dr. Radcliffe gets a lot of attention in the next few scenes. He’s been able to analyze the ghost boxes, and admits it’s beyond him. Mace, amusingly, seems most furious about Mac racing off without a helmet. May comes by next and tries to get Radcliffe to use the Darkhold to figure out what’s happened to Mac and Fitz. Radcliffe opens it and then slams it shut, saying it’s more than the human mind can bear. Unseen, Fitz urges him to use Aida, then urges Aida to do it. Whether she can perceive them somehow we’re not sure, but she suddenly volunteers to read the book… which means May and Coulson both end up learning her secret.
Simmons manages to make some progress with her problem, and clears everyone else out so she can work. Finally, the “statue” starts cracking. Just when she’s getting him free, the others swarm back in, put the hood on her again and take her away. What Fitz learns from intangibly eavesdropping on Mace is that Simmons was sent off as part of some secret deal. Personally, I’m fairly sure it’s the Senator’s brother we’ve seen before that Simmons was working on.
Mac finds the Chinatown gang, possibly with a bit of supernatural help. He delivers a beating and worse, to some of them. Daisy eventually catches up, also with some special help in the form of ghostly Robbie. Robbie himself is less than happy with Daisy’s driving.
Aida apparently can, in fact, use the Darkhold. I don’t really like that. It’s one of the things I guess I’m in the minority on, but I just don’t think science and magic should mix that easily, and it keeps happening in Marvel. Maybe I’m more from the Harry Dresden school of magic.
Robbie confronts the Ghost Rider, which is very different for him. Robbie points out that their deal was for Robbie to get Eli, and that this hasn’t happened yet. The Rider doesn’t want to go where Robbie, Coulson, and Fitz are being drawn. Finally, a desperate Robbie makes a new deal: going after the Rider’s scores left to settle. Mac is freed and very confused.
Aida builds a strange archway to rescue the others. What Fitz and Coulson see, and the others don’t, is the energy effects around her hands. It looks a whole lot like what we saw in the Dr. Strange movie recently. Eventually, the arch works and Coulson and Fitz manage to get back after Coulson is nearly devoured by some strange darkness.
Fitz starts what might be a career-ending fight with Mace, but gets happily stopped when Simmons returns. The two of them hugging instead of some passionate make out session fits them really well. Most of the team celebrates, but Mac is off alone, brooding, by the arch. Finally, it comes to life again and Robbie stumbles through. He and Mac plan to go after “one last score.” Aida is using the tools she used to make the portal to make what appears to be a brain. I hope she’s not going off some dark path because of the Darkhold.
What I liked: The back and forth of the scenes, first from one perspective then the other, could have been boring and repetitious, but they did it well. Robbie’s talking to Ghost Rider was nicely done. I loved the Dr. Strange nod in the energy around Aida’s hands.
What I didn’t: Mace is making too many backdoor deals. For someone who seemed so bright and shiny, he’s developing a dark side quickly. I don’t like the magic/tech mix as I discussed above. I’m a bit worried about Aida now.
Overall, I thought it was a good episode. They did a nice, subtle job of tying it to the larger Marvel Universe without being glaringly obvious about it. I’ll give them a 4 out of 5 for this one, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where Ghost Rider brings Robbie and Mac.