Warning: This post contains spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Proceed with caution, agents. If you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “Meet the New Boss”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.
After the buildup given to S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s new Director Jeffrey Mace in last week’s season 4 premiere, I, like many viewers, was expecting an obviously “heavy” performance from Jason O’Mara in the role. One reminiscent of Edward James Olmos as Phil Coulson’s rival Director in season 2, or perhaps even something akin to Adrian Pasdar’s Glenn Talbot. So it’s an unexpected breath of fresh air that the guy operates in the time-honored tradition of past Mutant Enemy antagonists by keeping his gravitas a safe distance below the surface.
Mace is best known to longtime comic book fans as The Patriot, a 1940s Golden Age Marvel superhero who was later retconned into an incarnation of Captain America, following his disappearance after World War II. Here, we’re told that he’s an Inhuman with super-strength and, like Cap (whom we’re told is still AWOL after Civil War), “a powered person the public can trust;” as recommended by Coulson when he stepped down from his former post. Of course there’s a dark side to all that shininess, and the first hint of it comes when we learn that his reputation is largely a result of the care and attention he pays to PR and “optics” — things that Phil Coulson never had much time for, and that May openly despises. Nevertheless, to humor his new boss, and maybe stroke his own ego, Coulson agrees to give a group of visiting politicians a tour of S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. Which momentarily diverts his attention away from May’s ongoing problem: The Cavalry is still seeing demonic ghosts in the faces of her friends and colleagues. But before Coulson can get to the bottom of things, she’s subdued by Mace, fitted for a straitjacket, and carted off by those sinister bureaucrat guests.
Meanwhile, Daisy’s investigation of the Ghost Rider’s activities leads to a cat and mouse game that winds up with her targeting his most vulnerable spot — his handicapped younger brother — and getting a fractured arm for her troubles. Fortunately, he’s after the same “ghosts” who corner Mack and Fitz while they’re investigating a reactor breach. The sight of one of these folks typing on a computer pretty much obliterates any sense of fear we might have from their Haunted Mansion-level spectral appearance. But at least they give Daisy an excuse to rescue Mack while the Rider saves Fitz, which leads to a reunion between Daisy and her big brother. Fitz confirms what we suspected last week — that she’s turned her back on them as part of her penance for Lincoln’s death. But its Robbie Reyes’ pronouncement that gives us real cause to worry, when he tells Daisy she has a death wish. For the moment, however, it’s a wish he has no intention of granting. Since he sees her value in carrying out his own mission. And hey, that season 4 makeover of her sure matches his look!
As for what the ghosts are after, we learn it’s the “Darkhold.” Also known in Marvel comics as “The Book of Sins,” it’s a demonic tome, a textbook of black magic that’s wreaked death and destruction for centuries, inspiring everything from cultists to werewolves to zombies. What do the ghosts want with it? And how is Mace connected to all this? How well S.H.I.E.L.D. answers these questions will determine whether or not Ghost Rider’s hellfire-and-brimstone can complement this show’s superspy hijinks for the remainder of this season.
— Is it just me or does Mace remind anyone else of a more sinister version of Disney and Pixar’s chief John Lasseter? He’s got that same twinkle in his eye that you just know masks something…else.
— “Maybe she’s just a ghost.” “That’s also a theory.” I’m not sure the folks who shot this scene considered how smug Simmons comes off even as she’s patronizing an African-American man twice her size.
— That shot where Quake propels herself atop Ghost Rider’s car is pretty cool. But oh how I wish this show had the Civil War-level budget to expand it into a full-fledged superhero chase scene.
— “Most people know the legend of Peggy Carter. But there are many stories that are unreported.” So tell us those stories already, ABC!
— “You’re an engineer, Mack. And a small tank.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Featured Image: Marvel/Disney/ABC
Images: Marvel, Disney, ABC