Synopsis of 4×05: Robbie Reyes attempts to control the Ghost Rider; S.H.I.E.L.D. breaks into a high-security prison to decipher the secrets.
Agents of SHIELD often has a problem with tackling too much too quickly, but this week’s episode set up a good preview for what we might see in the coming weeks without overreaching with what they could accomplish in an hour’s time.
The team is headed out to the prison where Elias Morrow, aka Robbie Reyes’s scientist uncle, is kept in order to keep him away from ghost Lucy’s grasp. The episode starts with a flashback to Lucy and her husband John finding the Darkhold book. It appears in whatever language the person reading it has learned in, so for Lucy it appears in English, while it appears in German for John. By the end of the episode, we still barely know anything about the book. It’s magic, and it has some kind of hold over the people who read it, and not even Nick Fury would mess with it, but it still remains shrouded in mystery.
John dies as he reveals, to a team that got there just a little too late, that he buried the Darkhold book where they found it, and it cuts to Lucy holding the book. Uh oh.
The team heads to the prison with Robbie and Daisy, with no intention of letting Robbie into the prison. But, of course, things don’t go as planned. Coulson and May head down to talk to the warden, hoping to get Eli into SHIELD custody, but it is immediately clear that Lucy is already here and has infected the guards and the warden. Stuck inside of the office, Fitz is left on the jet while Mack, Daisy, Robbie, and a group of SHIELD agents get into the prison to save Coulson and May and also pick up Eli before Lucy gets to him.
Mack and Robbie go for Eli as Daisy and the agents head for Coulson and May. There’s an interesting dynamic playing up with Mack and Robbie, especially with Mack trying to temper Robbie from using his abilities, especially when they meet a member of the gang that was responsible for injuring Robbie’s brother. Robbie seems to have control of his powers around the prisoners, but this guy is one that he isn’t willing to let go on. He even goes back on their way out and deals out his own justice on the guy after finding out that the attack on them wasn’t just a casual drive-by, it was a planned hit. Without any answers or closure, Ghost Rider comes out and he kills the prisoner before leaving.
Meanwhile, Daisy goes after her surrogate parents in a story arc that I like to call “Daisy’s teenage years”. Still not fully over Lincoln’s death and struggling to figure out how to live with people she cares about while thinking she’s a magnet for death, she locks herself in a room full of prisoner watchdog recruits, separating herself from Coulson and May. She fights them in a very well choreographed fight, but the numbers are way too much and she nearly gets killed before Coulson and May get rerouted to her and save her. I liked the way this episode played off of the character dynamics that we already know. Daisy with Coulson and May is very familiar, they three of them have their chemistry down pat and it’s organic. Same goes for Mack and Fitz, who have a little talk about quarterback and coaches and American football that feels genuine. The show benefits from character development, I only wish they did it more often.
Back at SHIELD HQ, Simmons is about to take her lie detector test but is luckily interrupted by Mace who needs her as he is about to face off on an inhuman vs human debate with a Senator Ellen Nadeer. We saw Nadeer in the last episode with some of the watchdogs so we know she’s up to no good. She seems to have sources inside the prison — which makes sense since they are recruiting from prisons — and manages to catch Mace off guard a couple of times in the episode. She’s more formidable than I thought.
Mace needs Simmons to be his mouthpiece during the televised debate, and basically give him the facts that Simmons knows and understands. We learn through Mace’s intro that he was a hero during the UN Bombings in Vienna (I liked that detail and tie back to Civil War way more than Sokovia Accord name drops, even if they did the latter as well). Nadeer and Mace spar for a bit before Mace decides to reveal his ace in the sleeve. He reveals on camera that he’s an inhuman to the world and basically drops the mic. His numbers go up and people love it.
He thanks Simmons before commenting on some interesting results from her lie detector test that means that she’ll have to retest. Because of all the secrets she’s been privy to — Aida, the secret missions, Daisy and Robbie — she’s been studying up on microexpressions and while helping Mace with the interview, she noticed a microexpression when the UN Bombings were mentioned, and she reveals this to Mace. It seems like he might not have been the hero that everyone claims he is, and this seems to be enough blackmail to get her out of the lie detector tests. Interesting.
Back in the prison, the team barely makes it out. Mack gets touched by a ghost, but thankfully Robbie is there to take him out and Fitz created the cure in the form of an EpiPen that he’s able to use immediately. They spring Eli, but with Robbie dealing with his gangster problem Eli is taken by Lucy and Robbie is caught on camera as Ghost Rider. Nadeer meets with Mace at the end of the episode to show evidence of Ghost Rider and Quake, and leverages this against him to get what she wants.
This episode tees up a couple things that we might be seeing in the upcoming weeks. I’ll be interested to see when Daisy’s goth phase ends, because the intense eyeliner and shadow is doing her no favors. May telling Phil that she saw him before she died was an intriguing bit of knowledge, seeing as the both of them have now had a death experience, it’ll be interesting to see how the show plays that (might we finally be seeing May and Coulson get together?) Now that Simmons has something on Mace, what does that mean for their relationship? Also, I got some mad season 1 feelings when we saw Simmons at that lie detector and when Fitz mentioned sticking a tack into her thumb to mess with the results (Grant Ward, anyone? No? Just me? Okay.)
But mainly, I’m guessing we’ll get some kind of conclusion to Ghost Rider at the end of the first half of the season. Will Robbie stick around after that? Will Ghost Rider graduate to season regular so he can continue to find convenient chains lying around to use as weapons? Will Mack patent shotgun axe? These are the real questions, people.