'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' S4E1: The Ghost

★ ★ ★ ★

Captain America: Civil War rippled out into the Marvel universe and, as usual, S.H.I.E.L.D. skipped around the film and jumped straight into the consequences of it. So if you're just some casual viewer who only watches S.H.I.E.L.D. and nothing else, I wish you the best of luck trying to keep up. While S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ramifications are a bit more obvious than they would like to be, it's the characters' choices themselves that are stirring up conflict in an interesting way.

With the Civil War over and the consequences just being felt, there's a lot of narrative catch-up S.H.I.E.L.D. is having to play thanks to the time jump. It's a very awkward transition, reintroducing work situations and giving way to new conflicts just as tensions between team members are beginning to form. The changes are just as unwelcome to us as they are to the team, who are separated from one another and have different positions of power, the likes of which reflect the ending of Civil War, where Captain America creates a rogue team of superheroes while Stark's team are licensed agents.

Agents of SHIELD: S4E1

The Inhumans are feeling the weight of the Sokovia Accords as well, either having to play neutrality or become a fugitive like Daisy. With no middle ground, Quake's side of the game seems just as extreme as Yo-Yo's. Their storyline, which has been the focus for the past two seasons, is appearing to be taking a backseat to develop other characters such as Ghost Rider. There's still no Attilan, no Medusa, and no Black Bolt, which either means the likelihood of a movie is still a thing (which it shouldn't be) or the writers are saving the reveal for a later time.

Daisy's known to the public as Quake now. Comic readers have known about Daisy's alias for some time, but it's exciting to see it being used. More aimless than writers would probably like her to be, Daisy's having trouble finding a place in the world and the show. How does the Ghost Rider plot progress her storyline? As fun as Ghost Rider's entrance to the series is, it's a little difficult to see how he'll be figuring into the larger picture.

Jaime Reyes' appearance rules out any rumors that the original Ghost Rider (the one that is sadly best known for being played by Nicolas Cage) would be showing up in The Defenders. It didn't take long for the writers to start throwing him into the action and it was a difficult reveal to try and keep under wraps in the title sequence when every aspect of that character is so iconic. However, for viewers who aren't that familiar with the comics, a lot of the twists should have worked well enough.

The AIDA bot is an interesting turn of events. The last time anyone tried to create an AI in the MCU they wound up with Ultron, so there's no telling just how far this experiment is going to go. While last season explored Civil War in terms of sentiments toward superheroes, it's this season that seems genuinely interested in the corporate espionage we do not get to see the agents have. With Bobbi and Hunter gone, that general fieldwork portion of the series is needing to find a way to seep into the storylines of others, and it does, for the most part. Agent May took her own trainees and "stopped" one force (if anyone knows who/what that is, please say so in the comments below), Coulson and Mack go rogue for a little bit, and FitzSimmons are tasked with running an entire lab. It's a different show now, with very different interactions bound to happen. The only question is… what's coming next?

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UnknownfearContributor
Sep 23, 2016 12:20AM EDT

I can't believe you didn't mention once how floopin' awesome Ghost Rider was. Come on. They pulled that off so well. The CG, the reveal, the imposing aura. He was badass, and I can't wait to see more from him. Shield, as a show, always needed more super powers to make it work, and with Quake and Ghost Rider, I suspect it should have enough firepower now to give the people what they've always wanted to see from a TV series inside the MCU. Is the ridiculous Ghost Rider suffix after the series name, a Gotham-esque subtitle describing the season..? Or is this just in relation to the first couple of episodes. Having an entire season about Ghost Rider seems kind of lame. Why not just give him his own spinoff show, if they plan to do that.

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