Considering I’ve begun my past few reviews complaining about the pointless AIDA plot, it seems only right that I begin this one addressing the last lingering thread of it: Simmons versus the Lie Detector. After the build up at the top of the episode during her and Fitz’s spat, it seemed like she was in some hot water. Once again, the show brought us to the brink of consequence (multiple times) only to sidestep the whole thing and move on to a new plot. I was all ready to furiously denounce the show again (though, I would have saved it for the One-Shots this time), but then the writers did what I normally praise them for – they flipped the trope. While I still think the whole side-plot has been a waste of multiple characters and our time, seeing Simmons take down Mace (reminiscent of her dressing-down May in the premier and her all time best moment, taking out Mockingbird) almost made the whole thing worth it. I’m never a fan of inflated tension just to pad the story, but I’m glad this whole “Simmons keeping secrets” thing is over and done with. What’s more, it provides us with the reveal that Mace’s heroic actions, only teased before but outright stated this episode as him saving lives during the UN bombing from Captain America: Civil War, may be a bit exaggerated. My theory is that someone high-up faked the whole thing to give him a PR boost ahead of taking over S.H.I.E.L.D., but hopefully it’s more tantalizing than that. Drawn-out character secret payoffs are one of this show’s weak points, whether it’s the agonizingly slow reveal of T.A.H.I.T.I., or Lincoln’s terrible, unforgivable, monstrously dark past.
Without the clutter that is the MCU’s handling of LMDs, this show can get back to doing what it does best, namely, lots of fight scenes, quips, and our hopefully episodic dose of flame chains. It makes sense that a show built around the idea of a spy organization would function best when there’s a mission. Whether it’s the mini-mission of Simmons helping Mace in the spin room against Senator “Make America Human Again” Nadeer, or the episode-long infiltration of the prison to get to Robbie’s uncle Eli. Quake’s powers are always fun to see, but it was neat to have her just use her combat training against the prisoners (any reason she didn’t have an icer though?), and thank god May is back as the ass-kicking voice of reason. Best of all, we got the Shotgun Axe/Flame Chain team-up I know you’ve all been waiting for as much as I have. I’ve never shipped before but I’m definitely writing some Flamegun Chaxe fanfic tonight.
I’m also never going to get tired of Ghost Rider being on this show. I know the producers said he’d just have an arc at the beginning, but I’d love for him to join the team. The effects continue to look amazing, and Luna is knocking it out of the park. While we still haven’t received the full backstory as to how he got his abilities, that looks to be coming next week. This episode, however, did give us some context for how it may have happened and what happened to Gabe. After Robbie’s pre-BBQ talk with the final Fifth Street Loco, we find out that someone ordered a hit on the Reyes boys (damn, who did they piss off?) which led to the Locos doing a drive by on Robbie and Gabe before lighting their car on fire. The attack left Gabe in a wheelchair and was likely the moment Robbie made his “deal with the devil;” probably safe to assume they were in the Charger, as well. Again, a twist on the origin from the comics, but I’m willing to wait and see where the show takes it. Speaking of comic books, we also got a major spotlight on the Darkhold, which not only reveals ancient quantum physics equations but comes equipped with some babblefish tech. Since we know the text appears in your native language, perhaps we can use that logic to give the ancient magical book a pass for having its title anachronistically written in English. At least it was done in a cool ambigram to make it look all mysterious and mystical. There’s been a lot of discussion about how Marvel plans to handle magic and the supernatural in the MCU, and it looks to all be leading up to a reveal next week in not only Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but in the premier of Doctor Strange as well. And of course, we can’t talk about the Darkhold and All-New Ghost Rider without mentioning those opening easter eggs. The poster of Voltara doesn’t ring any bells (or Google search results), but the carnival poster and motorcycle in that cellar either made you really happy (guilty) or really upset that Marvel is basically teasing Johnny Blaze while giving us Robbie Reyes. I made my thoughts on this clear in my first review, but I’d say given that the Ring Rejects mention the Darkhold has an Elder Wand-like bloody lineage and ended up in a basement full of those items, it could be Loeb and Co’s way of saying if we ever meet any other Ghost Riders, they could have been operating as such long before Robbie without anyone being aware. Either way, it did exactly what an easter egg should and helped distract from the fact that the show is spending a lot of time on these ghost people without bothering to make them interesting at all.
4.5 Docking Sequences out of 5. Seriously, that will never not be cool looking.
Three guesses what that Stephen King book was. Actually, that might count as a double pun since the burnt book could also be a Fahrenheit 451 reference.
“Unless your face also does that Clown Posse thing, I’m infected.” Even in the face of insanity, death, and a needle to the spine, Mack still has jokes.
So, George Stephanopoulos is straight-up doing pieces about the Inhumans, the director of a major government organization just revealed himself to be an Enhanced part-alien, and we’ll still never hear this brought up in any movie.
Crazy theory, though: Daisy is slowly being removed from SHIELD so Quake can join the Avengers! I know, never gonna happen. But wouldn’t it be amazing?