Synopsis of 4×04: Ghost Rider’s thirst for vengeance results in an explosive confrontation with S.H.I.E.L.D.; Coulson and Mack must depend on an unlikely ally in their time of need; a familiar face helps Daisy stop the Watchdogs.
After a meandering few episodes around a broken team, “Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire” brings both Daisy back into the fold and recruits Robbie Reyes, neither seem immediately excited, but regardless, the gang is sort of all back together again.
It’s Jemma’s rare day off and she goes apartment hunting for her and Fitz, being lured in by an ad for an apartment with a breakfast nook and finding Daisy in said empty apartment. She’s shot and injured from an encounter with the Watchdogs. She’s lured Jemma in an attempt to figure out where the inhumans are that are on SHIELD’s registry. I enjoyed seeing Jemma and Daisy working together again, seeing them work outside of the system and use their combined powers towards one goal. It had definite season one callbacks to their bad girl shenanigans and Jemma having to lie to Agent Sitwell at the Hub.
Their side mission leads them to James, aka Hellfire, aka convenient plot character. He’s circling the drain, working at a dead end job unironically in a fireworks shop with no real connection, while being monitored and tethered to SHIELD. Since he’s at risk to being hunted by the Watchdogs, Daisy offers him a chance to stand up to them and fight back alongside her. She also seems to be ready to accept that she might have to stoop down to the Watchdogs’ level and fight fire with fire (pun intended).
This all comes secondary, when James leads them into a storage facility where Watchdog goons are actually waiting for them. He reveals he’s been the leak and has let them hack into his surveillance device in order to track and kill all the inhumans. He seems to have some kind of weird death wish, one where he wants them all to die and then to die himself. It’s kind of out of character given what we knew about James, but it’s definitely not out of character for the show to rewrite someone’s personality to fit the story.
Anyways, while this is happening, Phil and Mack are trying to talk to Robbie’s uncle for answers regarding the whole Momentum Lab and ghost people situation. They aren’t able to get him to talk but they spot Robbie at the prison as they leave and a car chase ensues. For all of the severe issues I have with how Agents of SHIELD uses its money on bad CGI, I actually kind of enjoyed this car chase. The practical effects were great, and getting to see them have a car chase through the LA river was entertaining.
After catching Robbie and locking him into a pod, Coulson lets him out in order to work alongside him because they seem to be chasing the same suspects. He offers Robbie the chance to help, or get thrown out of the jet. (I’m sure he was joking, but then again, I never really know how extreme this show will go.)
They head back to the prison for an infodump after Robbie agrees to speak to his uncle for some answers. We learn that the scientists were being classic mad scientists, trying to defy the laws of physics and create a machine that can create matter from nothing, and of course, it went wrong. The female ghost we’ve been seeing, Lucy Bauer, was involved along with her husband, Joseph, who was put into a coma after he assumedly killed everyone. As infodumps go, this was extensive and unnecessary. We obviously haven’t seen the last of the Bauers, and they are definitely connected to the Darkhold book.
The three of them are called to James as Daisy destroyed his surveillance device, and come just in time to save Daisy and Jemma from the Watchdogs and a vengeful James. Hellfire and Ghost Rider face off, and if you know some things about comic book Hellfire you know that his ability is probably passed down in connection to a Ghost Rider, so this might have been a little Easter Egg. The face off isn’t even a fair fight as Robbie ends up hauling James into SHIELD wrapped in his own chains.
Coulson brings Robbie and Daisy along in the search for the Darkhold book, something that has been sought after by the likes of Daniel Whitehall and Nick Fury. Oh boy. It doesn’t help that while this whole thing has been going on, Lucy has gone to her husband and woken him up from his coma.
And finally, there’s that mini plot with Radcliffe, May, Fitz, and Aida. This might actually be the only plot of the episode that didn’t wear me out at any point. I do really enjoy seeing Mallory Jansen as Aida (especially when she’s not naked and silent in the background), and seeing her interaction with May actually made me like her a little more. Radcliffe uses this encounter with May as an essential Turing Test, while Fitz is freaking out a little on the side. There are a couple times when Aida almost gives herself away, but the cat’s still in the bag. However, there are some interesting questions posed to Aida and how sentient she is and how she might be able to override her own rules that Radcliffe put into her. He teaches her that it’s sometimes okay to lie to shield and protect someone, he’s right, but it doesn’t seem to settle with Aida as easily.
When May is cleared and the team meets up at Radcliffe’s house, Jemma instantly identifies Aida as an android. When she confronts Fitz, he admits he didn’t tell her because of her frequent lie detector tests. After a day of helping Daisy hack into SHIELD, and coming across this revelation, she’s going to have to start getting good at faking lie detector tests.