TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 4, Episode 1: The Ghost [ABC]

Ghost Rider Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Ghost

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Ghost Review

ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 4, episode 1, ‘The Ghost,’ was an overall decent distraction. The formal MCU introduction of a broader source character, and a more title specific source resource, was neat enough. Giving Daisy/ Quake (Chloe Bennet) something worthwhile to do, since her going rogue, was also a nice touch. The massive shift to the cast dynamic, however, simply couldn’t go unnoticed – superpowered main event, or not.

It would be easy to accuse Daisy of going way too emo, for having lost Lincoln (and herself, for a while). Of course it would – it’s true – but in case anyone missed that point, an unhealthy dose of Raccoon eye makeup came with the character change. Maybe we should just call it warpaint.

Her new ‘tude was mission focused, though; so at least she was reintroduced too busy to be annoying. Unfortunately, she was also too busy to be professional about it, either.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s favorite repulser’s impulse issue has gotten worse. If her pursuit of the Watchdogs has been as heavy handed as her hospital follow-up visit, then I’d say she’s earned a standing kill order from the authorities. Supernatural singeing, or not, it was pretty convenient to have the witness die in her presence (making it clearly an execution, once the cops got back into the room); but I guess there was a bit of undue stress evoked by her entrance (the warpaint not helping).

One great way to take the focus off of Daisy (for  change) was having a de-Nick Cage’d Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) as her quarry – and right off the bat, this Rider established his no-nonsense, homicidal street cred in brutal (if off screen) fashion.

It’s always nice to see powered characters afforded a chance to cut loose. The Quake vs Ghost Rider match was actually pretty good; but it was really just an introductory skirmish. The Ghost Rider will be more than just a brand name cameo, after all. His alter ego, Robbie Reyes, also made for a decent foil, during the procedural portion of the plot; so it’s not like we had to sit through a lot of scenery chewing, before the main event, either.

Of course, not even the avatar to the Spirit of Vengeance is irredeemable (Ghost Rider being an anti-hero, after all); so it was nice to see Daisy’s attachment mantra actually go somewhere. In this case, it concerned sympathy points, in the form of Robbie’s paraplegic younger brother, Gabe (Lorenzo James Henrie).

There’s already speculation on where the Ghost Rider storyline is going, regarding Gabe; but I’ll tell you right now, it’s going to be hard to watch Lorenzo James Henrie do anything on Agents, without thinking about his unlikable turn on Fear the Walking Dead. Whatever his role winds up being, I’ll just add that issue to the get-used-to-it pile. Oh yeah, there’s a get-used-to-it pile.

Beyond the Quake vs Ghost Rider title card, the episode caught us up (to some degree) on what the team – and Agency – has become, since the S3 finale.

Coulson (Clark Gregg) is no longer the boss, he’s a colleague – and I don’t like it. Yes, the hardest working man in the MCU made his mark as a Field Agent; but he still worked solo, and gave orders. The noticeable loss of gravitas, to his current role as Mack’s (Henry Simmons) partner, might take some getting used to.

Mack still looks comfortable giving orders – no complaints, there. A reunion with Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), however, pretty much declared their ‘thing’ as pending. After all that chemical momentum, over the course of S3, the slow down will take some getting used to (gotta love that Yo-Yo’ggression, though).

May (Ming-Na Wen) has gone from Coulson’s right hand, and team Tiger Mom, to being the lead grunt on the resident assault team fringe. It was nice to see her team (hereby dubbed the May Flowers) blossomed beyond their Red Shirt roots; but the noticeable loss of gravitas, due to her more subordinate role, might take some getting used to. She seemed well aware of the state of affairs, however; so she could wind up making the most of the new order of things (I always liked monkey wrench May).

Next to Coulson, the biggest change came to Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge). Outside of the romantic item sense, there was no Fitz-Simmons, anymore. No awkward techno-babble, no more sexual tension, no more Wonder-Twin power. What we now have is a seasoned & confident Fitz, and Simmons playing Gatekeeper to the Great, and Terrible Director. All that confidence & authority, between the two, will definitely take some getting used to. Still, like May, Simmons also seemed aware of the state of affairs; and looks to be definitely making the most of the new order of things (I always liked short-circuit Simmons).

A quick aside, here. It’s been kind of a thing – Fitz giving Coulson a literal hand, every so often; but am I the only one who thought the new one looked mismatched, when Coulson used his given hands to high five it?

The awkward techie role seems to have gone to Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah). Hardly a substitute for Wonder-Twin banter; but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have provided a patch for that. While shooters, supers, and supernaturals duke it out, Radcliffe will be formally introducing the Life Model Decoy. Currently, it (“she”) goes by Aida (Mallory Jansen); and frankly, Fitz will need to get used to her more than I will. Lots of potential, there; but for now, a pretty flashy entrance.

Viewers won’t have to dig deep, to see elements of Age of Ultron to the Aida project; but considering the LMD predates Ultron’s more recent origins, I’d say it was a fairly organic way of bringing the LMD to both Agents, and the MCU.

Once the new teams caught a break, regarding one aspect to the Quake-Ghost Rider case, we got our first look at what some of these new dynamics could amount to.

Mack & Coulson always worked well together, and I was glad to see the amputation jokes still coming. May’s Flowers had some power to them – which was good. Anything less would’ve meant babysitting duty for the Cavalry. Probably best they not be dropped in over their heads, either, as they were with Hive (I actually should’ve figured that surviving him made them more than Red Shirts). Unfortunately, some stray supernatural shenanigans may have left May with a bad case of Munchausen by Proxy, and me with too many opportunities to use May-day puns.

That last bit, concerning May, was a not-so-fast to a meet-the-new-normal ending. A nice touch; but I think the show might have a larger issue with the new normal, itself.

As is typical, within a massive hierarchic organization, reassignments amount to continental drift. It would be unreasonable to expect everyone in the cast to remain at the same stations, for the duration of the show – particularly after all the above-and-beyond heroics they’ve each managed. Doesn’t mean that I have to like it, though.

To put it simply, the show’s original cast dynamic is gone.

That dynamic saw the series through its weakest moments, and held interest until the plots & scale ticked upwards significantly. Well, now that upscaling has made the show too big for a small family circle. I’m willing to suffer that price – so long as the plots & settings don’t overreach, and still gives the fan faves something worthwhile to do & be.

Radcliffe has a ways to go, to make up for the loss of Wonder-Twin awkward; the May Flowers aren’t the Daisy Cutters; Agent Coulson is no Director Coulson, and it’s likely the new Director will be even less. Well, at least the episode did a good job of hyping the new boss as the feared unknown.

We can now look forward to meeting the new boss.

Leave your thoughts on this Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ‘The Ghost’ review, and this episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in the comments section, below. Readers seeking more Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. coverage can visit our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Page. Readers seeking more TV show reviews can go to our TV Show Review Page, our TV Show Review Twitter Page,  our TV Show Review Facebook Page, and our TV Show Review Google+ Page. Want up-to-the-minute notification? FilmBook staff members publish  articles by Email, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook.


About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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