Agents of SHIELD just dropped the biggest bombshell on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It wasn’t the agency’s new director – it was the book!
Sorry for the delay guys, I’ve been kinda busy with a new gig writing lists for Ranker’s Total Nerd department. Fun stuff, and there’s always more geeky trivia to count down.
But hey, thanks to all of the presidential politics (man, what a year), Agents of SHIELD was delayed a week, so before they return tonight, let’s get a run down of what happened last time.
The biggest deal? The book! They didn’t show it, but it was mentioned, and unless this turns out to be some sort of red herring (which, y’know, it could), this is the first time true (non-Asgardian) magic has appeared in the MCU! What a coup that would be for the show on the eve of the Doctor Strange movie? Who knows, maybe he’ll get his hands on the book in the film (unlikely, but it could happen).
The Story Thus Far: Daisy broke from SHIELD after the traumatic last year, but she’s latched on to the mysterious all-new Ghost Rider terrorizing Los Angeles. Back at base, the team is adjusting to the new SHIELD hierarchy and May is adjusting to some kind of ghost curse. What’s up with that?
Comic Connections from “Meet the New Boss”
We open where we left off: there’s a ghost loose in Los Angeles. She immediately haunts the Pasadena home of an innocent boy and his father – presumably her home years earlier – and following her MO from last episode, immediately messes the father’s mind. She keeps calling for “Joseph” or “Joe,” but he’s not hear anymore. Obviously ghosts have been part of comics (and Marvel) since as long as comic books have been a thing, though they were most common in the 1950s during the horror comics boom, and almost non-existent during the 60s as references to the undead were forbidden by the Comics Code of the time.
The strange ghost woman came from what appears to be an empty box, though by going outside the visible spectrum, Fitz is able to detect what seems to be some kind of technology far beyond anything SHIELD understands. Simmons immediately makes the connection to Tobias Ford, a villain they fought in season one (who is all-but the Iron Man villain Ghost), and they theorize the box may connect to other dimensions. They also figure out, pretty quickly, that the madness spreads via “touch” (even if the toucher is incorporeal). Interestingly, “Ghost Boxes” appeared in various X-Men stories, not as means of locking up ghosts, but as conduits to other realities.
While this is happening May (who had previously been infected by the ghost woman) and Coulson meet up with new director, cryptically called Jeffery, just Jeffery. Although he seems to need a big guy for security and seems ultra-paranoid about safety, we learn through the course of the episode that Jeffery is an Inhuman who is superstrong and essentially invulnerable, and that he was hand-picked by Coulson because Steve Rogers was not available (some kind of Civil War or something). Of course, outside the show (and in the subtitles) it’s been revealed that Jeffery is Jeff Mace, the former 1940s hero Patriot, and long-time replacement Captain America. Obviously he isn’t the Jeff Mace from WWII, but Marvel has revealed a modern version of the classic hero with super strength and invulnerability, so who knows? Either way, it’s important to have an upstanding superpowered person at the helm of the revitalized SHIELD, because the agency plans to go public again soon.
Quick sidenote: When May and Phil walk in on their director, he’s instructing his agents on what should be the “headline” and what the “sidebar.” This is newspaper talk. Is SHIELD in the habit of deciding what is printed and how? Damn…
Anyway, to the Ghost Rider portion of our show. There’s a tense back and forth between Daisy and Robbie Reyes as she reveals she knows his past, and that he’s the Ghost Rider. For example, she knows he went to Garfield High and Crandall Elementary, that he used to hang out at Moonraker Arcade in Little Tokyo, and that his uncle used to pick him up, but is not around anymore. While the school names don’t match those of Robbie’s comic counterpart, the uncle bit is telling, as in the comic, Robbie’s parents told him to avoid his uncle Elias, as he was bad, bad news. Robbie continually claims he sold his soul to the devil, but it isn’t yet clear if he’s being literal (as with the classic Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider) or figurative (as with the comic book Robbie Reyes). Robbie claims he seeks “vengeance” (which is a thing for Ghost Riders), while Daisy wants “penance.” Hey, neither here nor there, but can you believe there have been not one but two Marvel characters with the name “Penance?” Weird.
Robbie claims he only kills those who have “spilled innocent blood.” That’s the catch phrase of 90s Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch. He would transform whenever innocent blood was spilled. It seems TV Robbie transforms when angry, very much like TV Hulk. Interestingly, when Daisy reveals she traced the activity from last episode to Momentum Alternative Energy Labs, Robbie freaks out and takes off towards the site.
Over at Momentum Labs, we learn more about the ghost woman and her “friends.” Seems her name is Lucy, and her co-workers were likewise trapped in ghost boxes, including Hugo (who is missing his wife), Vincent (who can’t talk), and an unnamed guy (who is called Frederick in the credits). More importantly, they claim a “backstabber” betrayed them, and that they got this way because Lucy wanted power from the Darkhold. Holy heckfire! The Darkhold is for the Marvel Universe what the Necronomicon is for Ash vs. Evil Dead or the Enchiridion is for Adventure Time! This is the most powerful book of evil that exists, written by the elder god Chthon before humans even existed. Its pages cannot be destroyed, and it corrupts all who touch it. If Marvel ever wanted to make a straight-up horror movie, this is the item to use! The ghosts claim the Darkhold made them this way, and that would make sense, as people who read from the pages often have their wishes granted in horrible ways.
Coulson doesn’t learn any of this, as he’s too busy helping the director babysit visiting senators ahead of SHIELD’s unveiling. It seems the Playground base was built in 1949 under the supervision of Agent Carter, and Phil is quick to point out, “there were so many stories that were never recorded.” That’s a sad way of pointing out that the Agent Carter series-within-a-series didn’t get picked up for a third season, but who knows? We left Agent Carter in 1946, maybe we’ll get a mini-series in a few years showing the founding of SHIELD and the base? It could happen! (Right?)
Jeffery takes the tour to see Quinjets while Coulson and Simmons deal with May, who is finally giving in to the ghost infection. She battles Piper and the other SHIELD elite agents, but she’s no match for the superpowered Jeffery. Although Coulson wants to be involved with May’s treatment, Jeffery points out that there’s too much conflict of interest, and has May taken away in a straightjacket on the same Quinjet carrying the senators. Can we just acknowledge how odd this is? Nevermind that the most qualified person to treat May right now is Simmons, just a few scenes earlier the senators were super excited to see a Quinjet, but now it seems clear they were traveling on one anyway. Also, the director made a big point of everything needing to go smooth in front of the visitors, then he shows them his top agent as a raving lunatic. Odd.
While this is happening, Mack and Fitz head off to Momentum Labs following the ghost box lead, and find Frederick, who isn’t threatened by Mack’s shotgunaxe in the least. The pair might’ve died (or at least been ghost infected) if Ghost Rider hadn’t shown up. With a fiery blast from his hand, Ghost Rider fries the ghost to ethereal ashes, then takes a photo of the Momentum scientists (including the “ghosts”) before leaving. Classic 70s Ghost Rider shot hellfire blasts all the time. They didn’t burn most things, but had a searing cold fire that could burn the soul. Ow.
Before it’s all over, Mack and Fitz reunite with Daisy, but just long enough to feel betrayed by her, and by the revelation that Yo-Yo has been stealing from SHIELD right under Mack’s nose. Emotional ow.
As the show ends, we learn Ghost Rider may be the key to all this ghost business. (How much you wanna bet Robbie’s uncle is in that photo?!)
See you in a few days!