The Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 premiere titled “The Ghost”, found the team split up and in unfamiliar roles. As the team struggled to reconnect and fill the audience in on what has been happening since season 3, a certain hotheaded character was introduced. That’s right, good ol’ Ghost Rider has blazed a trail to the small screen. However, this version of Ghost Rider may not exactly be one that casual fans are familiar with. The episode raised some interesting questions about the team that we’ve all come to know and love over the past 3 years.
For those who don’t remember, last seasons finale ended with a 6 month time jump that found Daisy going rogue and Coulson ousted from his position as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Picking up from there, it was fun seeing Coulson slumming it with the rank and file agents. Having him partnered with Mack provided some entertaining insight into a character that was formerly everyone’s boss. Without the weight and responsibility of running all the aspects of S.H.I.E.L.D., the audience was able to see a more relaxed version Coulson. It was like running into your teacher or boss at the supermarket, only more pleasant.
It seems as if Daisy has grown to her full potential and has nearly mastered her powers. My only gripe with her is that the amount of dark eye makeup was a little distracting. Yeah, Daisy is edgy now. We get it.
John Hannah reprised his role as Doctor Radcliffe and spent a significant amount of screen time defending his position to Fitz. The side plot between him and Fitz could have been explored a little more, but overall it was okay. The scenes they shared mostly worked, however, it is difficult to differentiate Hannah’s Radcliffe from the character he played in 1999’s The Mummy. Another question raised is just what is the importance of Radcliffe’s invention? It touches on some themes the audience has already seen addressed in Avenger’s: Age of Ultron, so the relevance of the invention remains in question.
Speaking of Fitz, he and Simmons’ relationship looks to be fine and well since we last saw them. Knowing the show like we do though, its a good bet that it won’t last. Cracks are already starting to show from Fitz deciding to keep a fairly large secret from Simmons. Conversely, Simmons’ newly found position within S.H.I.E.L.D. is already putting her in a position against her peers that will definitely come to a head at some point down the road.
As for Ghost Rider, the introduction was ably handled. However, this is not the Ghost Rider from the previous movies. There is no motorcycle. There is no Johnny Blaze. There is no fiery chain whipping around everywhere. Also, there is no Nicolas Cage. Instead, the audience is treated to Robbie Reyes as the Rider, portrayed by Gabriel Luna. This version of the Rider tools around town in a black, tricked out, classic Dodge Charger, whose wheels catch on fire and burn when he manifests the iconic flaming skull. The origin of Ghost Rider was not really touched on in this episode, with the exception of Reyes making a comment about the devil being in Daisy too, after she used her powers. Going with the less well known version of Ghost Rider allows Marvel to fully flesh out and build an essentially new character from scratch.
One of the mysteries raised by the season premiere is the contents of the mysterious box. While we don’t know what it contains, we do know that the thing is bad juju for anyone who gets near it. We also know that the box had an effect on the usually stoic May.
It’s also worth noting that a couple of references were made to Captain America: Civil War. Early on, Coulson made a throw away comment about the Sokovia Accords. Later on, Mack brought them up again while he was talking to YoYo. YoYo is another character who seemed a little off this episode. Perhaps it was how she dealt with seeing Mack again, but that whole interaction felt out of character for her. Mack’s reaction to her behavior also seemed strangely un-Macklike. Mack has always been a strong character who usually knows what to do. This time, he felt off balance and unnecessarily defensive.
Overall, the episode was a solid endeavor. The team was scattered, but started making their way back to each other. Some of the characters will take longer than others. The introduction of Ghost Rider was a nice addition to the show. So long as they provide some more details about his origins and backstory, the Rider should be entertaining to watch. At present, one can’t help but make some comparisons between Ghost Rider and the Punisher. Both made appearances as lone killers with questionable motivations. Here’s hoping that Ghost Rider will be handled as expertly as Punisher was.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on Tuesdays at 10\9 CT.