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 season 4 premiere, “The Ghost”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.
They’re back! Those wild, wacky, fun-loving, and…oh, hell—let’s just admit—often quite dour and brooding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have returned from their summer break. And how did they spend it? Well, they’ve had better vacations. Coulson and Mack are still partnered, after the former Director was demoted to field agent and sent after Quake, now a renegade battling evil on her own terms in a desperate bid for redemption after the deaths of Lincoln and Andrew. Unfortunately, the new Director thinks Coulson’s personal feelings towards his former protégée get in the way of his job, and wound up releasing him from his assignment. So his days have largely been spent losing money to Mack in backgammon.
Meanwhile, May is training a new team of rookie agents and taking orders from, of all people, Simmons, who’s decided that the best way to beat the new Director, whom she admits to distrusting, is to join him. But her new gig, which includes assigning “colors” of security clearance to her former teammates, earns her May’s ire and distances her from Fitz. All the while, her soulmate reluctantly allies himself with Dr. Radcliffe on a secret artificial intelligence project that, in the time-honored Marvel tradition, will most likely either save S.H.I.E.L.D. or destroy it.
Ah, but you didn’t come here to read about the show’s returning characters, did you? No sir, you came here to read about the secret weapon intended to boost Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s ratings even as the show moves to the dreaded 10 PM timeslot. To its credit, S.H.I.E.L.D. wastes no time in taking advantage of the move, packing more sex and violence into the teaser of season four’s premiere episode than it did in all of season three. It sees a half-naked Daisy suiting up for battle in lighting shamelessly reminiscent of a Victoria’s Secret commercial, while Ghost Rider tears after and slaughters his prey in a fiery Dodge Charger (replacing the character’s trademark motorcycle).
Gabriel Luna makes a strong first impression as Robbie Reyes, the latest incarnation of the fan-favorite antihero. After a tussle with Quake, we learn of his tragic nature when he admits he isn’t the one deciding who he kills. His vulnerable side is also revealed, through his devotion to his crippled brother, played by Fear the Walking Dead‘s Lorenzo James Henrie. (Who’s already a hundred times more likable in this role than he is in AMC’s zombie series.) Just in case Ghost Rider isn’t enough for fans, however, S.H.I.E.L.D. has stacked its season four deck by bringing back Natalia Cordova-Buckley’s Yo-Yo, who, unbeknownst to the new Director, is aiding her former teammate Quake. Also new is Galavant‘s Mallory Jansen as Radcliffe’s fetching Ex Machina-like science experiment AIDA.
But can any of the new characters win our hearts like those we lost last season? I’m not talking about the deceased, but rather Bobbi and Hunter, both of whom departed when Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood were awarded their own spinoff show… only to have it unceremoniously yanked away from them. As much as I’m looking forward to meeting Jason O’Mara’s new Director and whoever Parminder Nagra is playing, and of course to seeing more of Ghost Rider—even if his supernatural horror still seems like an unnatural fit for a spy show (however ostensibly S.H.I.E.L.D. handles its espionage)—I’m hoping against hope that there’s still some way we can get those perpetually squabbling lovebirds back off that bus. Yet with this season already emphasizing the danger of attachments, S.H.I.E.L.D. is probably the last place that any husband and wife should be.
— Kudos to Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen for writing a season premiere that really does serve as a perfect jumping-on point for new viewers. My wife hadn’t watched the show in two years, and had zero problems understanding the story.
— “Do you want a beer?” “It’s six o’clock in the morning. What are you, Hemingway?” Coulson is having a lot more fun playing operative than he did Director.
— Mack too looks more relaxed. Though hopefully his exploding pen won’t replace his shotgun axe.
— Any takers on how long it will be before Simmons catches Fitz and AIDA snogging each other?
— Speaking of AIDA… Is it just me or does Fitz and Radcliffe’s intention to show her to their new Director once she’s “perfect” strike anyone else like a particularly dark regional theater production of My Fair Lady?
— “You want tech like this, you should have cut off your own hand.”
— While I appreciate the need to see Gabriel Luna’s face, I’m hoping the rest of this season doesn’t skimp on the flaming skull. (It’s also the only thing I ask of my bartender.)
— How long must we wait until Fitz’s code name, Turbo, is made official?
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