Synopsis 4×22: Will the team be reunited in time to defeat Aida? And just how and why did Robbie Reyes and the Ghostrider return?

It took me a while to process my thoughts on the season finale of Agents of SHIELD. If you’ve been following along with the recaps this season, you know two things. One, I love Ghostrider, even though I wasn’t thrilled with the storyline during his portion of the season. Second, the second half of this season has been, in my opinion, some of the most compelling and best writing of the show, at least in a long while.

With those two ideas out there, let me address this finale. While I’m excited that the show has been renewed, this episode itself fell a little flat for me. (In much the same way as the penultimate episode.)

We enter the episode as Ghostrider’s car’s engine roars to life. He has a clear and aggressive agenda it would seem. With her own agenda, Yo-Yo awakens in the Framework, faced with a bleak and dangerous world. She is saved by Radcliffe, who was alerted to her arrival in the Framework by Daisy, who is working from outside the system. Jemma and Fitz argue over whether or not they must kill Aida in order to stop her.

Aida deals with the regret of her decisions, the full-force of her emotions controlling her more than she can control them. And just as she begins to explain her idea to her henchmen, Ghostrider arrives. The thing inside him will retrieve the Darkhold, and stop Aida. However, she temporarily escapes with the book, using her robots, including one that looks like Daisy, to attempt to end General Talbot. It was nice seeing you again, Nathan Petrelli.

In the Framework, the world is slowly disappearing. Yo-Yo worries that she won’t be able to remove Mack before the world ends. However, in trying to save him, she brings him pain, as his daughter fears her own virtual existence in the last few moments before the end.

As a last ditch effort (and honestly one that seems so random), the team utilizes that which is inside Robbie and the Darkhold to lure Aida out. With the team together, Fitz and Daisy are able to maintain Mack and Yo-Yo within the Framework temporarily, creating an exit that they must choose in order to leave.

Unfortunately, Aida finds them, killing Jemma as Fitz looks on. Luckily for viewers and the team, it was not in fact the real Jemma, who takes the opportunity to shoot Aida as a distraction, and a form of payback. Coulson, when Aida turns back to him, reveals that Ghostrider, or the thing that creates Ghostrider, has temporarily shifted into him. With a burst of flame and a whip of his chain, Aida disintegrates in one of the most horrifying deaths of the show. Aida is no more.

For one last time, we return to the Framework, where Mack and Yo-Yo sit. Mack will not leave Hope, and Yo-Yo will not leave Mack. In one of the few touching moments of this episode, we watch as Hope cries for fear of disappearing, and then as Mack holds a blank space where his daughter once stood. Awakening in the real world, the team is grateful, and Mack now gets to live with a few more memories of his daughter.

With the team fully reunited, they bid adieu to Ghostrider and prepare for their likely arrest in connection to the destruction of the SHIELD base and the shooting of Talbot. In a serendipitous moment, the team sits within a diner together. Enjoying a moment of peace. As a team. However, that is soon interrupted by a team of suit-clad gentlemen. Seems we’ll join our heroes in space next season?

Overall this episode fell flat. Where the emotions were exceptionally high for the most part and the storylines blended together during the LMD and Hydra portions of the season, this episode felt ancillary to that.

First, this episode faked the death of Mack once again. That’s three times we’ve said “goodbye” to the character in as many episodes. Second, it felt as if the only reason to bring Ghostrider back was to destroy Aida. They managed to create a villain, although somewhat annoying, who was unstoppable by the team. Or at least, they acted as if she was. I mean, they defeated Hive. Can’t they defeat an AI turned almost-human? Further, he seems to be there for a thinly veiled attempt at intriguing us about something to do with Coulson. “You know why he did it, right?” Somehow Ghostrider could enter Coulson. I suppose we’ll find out next season why.

Stray Thoughts:

It was odd to me that Jemma seemed sad that the Framework and its inhabitants were blinking out of existence. She was so opposed to admitting their existence and emotions as real when she and Daisy were trapped within it.

Was anyone else creeped out by the sexual murdering that Aida has taken a liking to?

As far as introducing magic into the Marvel universe, it truly seems that Dr. Strange is the only existence of that. Here, Ghostrider’s existence is explained away in much the same way as the magic of Thor, “where [he] comes from, magic and science are one and the same.” I’m honestly a little disappointed.

May with a robot head? Delightful.

Is it selfish of Yo-Yo to try to make Mack leave his daughter? Because I think so. He believes his daughter is alive. Ultimately, she chooses to stay by his side, but geez.

I like the Ghostrider/Daisy “unspoken thing.”

I honestly felt more emotional about Radcliffe’s end than anything else this season. He was problematic, but I’d really grown to like him. 

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