SPOILER WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING REVIEW: This review will contain spoilers for the episode discussed, please make sure to watch the episode and then check out this recap, unless spoilers are your thing.
SHIELD is back for their fourth season and fans have now come to expect some things from a season premiere. Mostly that the show will reinvent itself in some way, character structures will shift and new dynamics will be abound. “The Ghost” lit the way for a stirring new season filled with colored coded security systems, magical ghosts in a box, Life Model Decoys, and everyone’s new favorite flaming skull head.
The show takes advantage of their new 10 o’clock time slot in the very first scene as Ghost Rider’s introduction, taken right from the pages of the Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider’s comic run. Butts, blood, and special effects are all on display, and right in the first 5 minutes. A group of Aryan brotherhood criminals are fleeing from something scary on the streets of Los Angeles. There to head them off is rouge Daisy, who has been busy making a name for herself robbing banks and taking down bridges as the Inhuman Quake. As one of the thugs begs Daisy to save him, a very sleek 1969 charger roars in the background. Mark Kopach the guy behind the special effects for the show has been doing great since the beginning, but hopefully he will get more of the recognition he deserves for the Ghost Rider sequences. The charger after taking a hit from a rocket launcher only seems to get annoyed by the hit and drives on, on fire. Daisy gets a distant look of the rider before she has to make her own getaway as the police approach.
Up in the sky Coulson and Mack are the dream team of field agents, jumping all over the globe on the Zephyr One. They get a call back to base, which breaks the Zephyr’s 6 weeks in the air streak. Calling them back home is May, who is now head of an elite strike squad (which I was glad to see featuring Piper from last season). May has called them back to give Coulson and Mack a head’s up about a possible Daisy sighting in Los Angeles, though it is connected to a gruesome set of murders. The looming presence of the new Director of SHIELD is felt throughout the episode, first here as May tells Coulson the Director is pulling them off the hunt for Quake. She’s slipped through their hands one too many times, and suspicions of whether this is being done on purpose are rising. Coulson and Mack need to get there before any more dead bodies show up and Daisy becomes the prime suspect. Luckily for them (especially Mack), there is a Inhuman asset in Los Angeles they can go make an early check up on.
FitzSimmons is found in their natural habitat; the lab. It appears if any of the old gang has climbed the ranks in this newly government oversighted S.H.I.E.L.D. it is Simmons. Her new duties has her working around the clock, and it appears it is leaving little time for our favorite science lovebirds to be together. I really enjoyed the back and forth with May and Jemma this episode. May is not taking too well to Jemma’s new rise in this new SHIELD, and a bit of it could be coming from a place of jealousy. I love the shift of dynamics here as coming from the first season, you would have never imagined Jemma giving May orders. May has some good points though. The team has been broken up and it appears to be done on purpose, and no one really knows much about or trusts the newly appointed director. Jemma among them. She has been playing along as best as she can to gain as much trust as possible to carve out a little bit of control within SHIELD as it is quickly shifting back into a overtly large, government run operation.
I was thoroughly excited to see the returning cast members in this premiere. Coulson and Mack land down in Los Angeles and are greeted by Elena, or Yo-Yo as Mack prefers to call her. Her English has gotten much better and she makes great use of it with her very forward flirting with Mack. I liked hearing that Elena has signed the Sokovia Accords, reminding us all of the lay of Marvel’s land now that this is law for enhanced powered individuals. Another returning face that was great to see again was Dr. Holden Radcliffe. I believe they have made this character a series regular which is very nice to hear because with the absence of Hunter, the show needs a good comedic relief character. Fitz comes over to watch a football (the European kind) final and even though Fitz couldn’t bring his date (Jemma had to work) Radcliffe has found himself one, she just doesn’t have any clothes. Making her debut is Aida, who was hinted at in the closer for last season’s finale. Aida is a beautiful brown haired woman, or robot woman. She takes Fitz off guard, maybe it was all the nudity, and the shocks keep coming as Radcliffe has to explain his very life like invention.
It is good to see that the Secret Warriors stick together as we find Daisy meeting Elena very sneaky like on a bus. Elena with her super speed was able to steal some medication for Daisy. A rapid muscle growth pill to help Daisy heal in between being a bad ass with his powers. Every time Daisy quakes, which has been a lot, it has been taking it’s toll on her joints. Daisy tells Elena about a possible serial killer loose on the streets and Elena asks if she can help, which Daisy quickly dismisses. Elena warns that Coulson will stop at nothing to find her, and while Daisy may want only nothing to lose, Elena warns her that everyone gets attached to something eventually. This comes in handy as Daisy remembers the rider and his sweet 1969 charger getaway car.
Coulson and Mack arrive on the scene to search the truck that was hailing the stolen goods that the Aryan Brotherhood gang guys were after before Ghost Rider got to them. Coulson’s little lists of hand gadgets is growing as he puts to use his new handheld x-ray app that Fitz installed for him. He discovers two beaten to death guys in matching work uniforms inside. The insignia found on the uniform brings them to the location where Triad gang members are awaiting their package. Not too happy to be informed that two of group were dead and not disposed of properly, they assume the two must have taken a peek inside the mysterious and hi-tech looking box that seems to be getting all the LA gang’s attention nowadays. The Triad boss says this box holds the answer to fighting the new Inhuman threat and like a little kid on Christmas morning he can’t wait to open the box and play with what’s inside. Too bad for him, and everyone else it seems, what’s inside seems to want to play with them too. Emerging from the box is a very cool (and slightly Doctor Strange-y) looking mist that expands out and escapes into the room. Within that mist appears a ghostly woman that doesn’t seem like she wants to make friends with anybody any time soon. Coulson and Mack watch the surveillance of the scene from the safety of outside and were just as confused as I was as the Triad members begin to viciously attack each other. Thinking they should call in backup in case things get messy, which this is SHIELD, you know things are going to get messy, May arrives just in time with her well trained and operational strike team. Luckily for them Jemma had no other choice but to call May in to get Coulson and Mack out of the field, which turned out nicely. As May surveys the scene she doesn’t notice when the ghostly apparition pass on by her. Which left May and I both with a foreboding feeling.
As Daisy gets turned in the direction of Canelo’s junkyard when she asks around for 1969 charger parts to find The Rider we get to the massive and much discussed Ghost Rider vs Quake fight scene. The effects truly look awesome and they impressively bring to life the character on screen. Quake puts up a good fight against Robbie who tells her that he is not a stone cold killer, it’s just all about the vengeance baby. Daisy ain’t feeling this story but maybe she’ll come around when she hears it from the other guy. How awesome was it to see that transformation as Robbie’s face literally burns away to reveal an almost Johnny Blaze, Robbie Reyes fusion of their comic adaptions of the classic flaming skull. Daisy can’t put up much of a fight for long against The Rider, and almost seconds from death begs for it from Ghost Rider believing she deserves it. This must have impressed him (he gets so tired of hearing people say they don’t deserve it) he decides to spare Daisy’s life.
The episode closes with May and Coulson having a long awaited little down time together but the relaxation doesn’t last long as May displays ghostly signs of distress by seeing Coulson’s eyes become dark, empty voids, just like the image the Triad members saw that drove them crazy. A great episode, if a bit heavy on exposition, to start of this fourth installment. Daisy will still be seeking penance for the death of Lincoln and what she has done under Hive’s sway; Radcliffe and Fitz will be working on Aida until she is perfect which I’m sure will turn out just fine with no trouble there; I’m very curious once we start investigating the whole ghost lady’s story where her mystical origins will take us with our team of scientists delving into the magical. I’m looking forward to seeing Ghost Rider’s charger return and can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for his story this season.
All photos credited to: ABCTV