Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Episode 1 Review: “The Ghost”

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 1: "The Ghost"

Agents of SHIELD finally made its way back to television last night with the kick off of the show’s fourth season. Two things happened in the off-season that set Agents of SHIELD up for a promising season. First, ABC decided to move the program back into the 10:00 p.m. time slot, which would allow the creative team to be a bit more edgy and adult with their stories and content, and second, they have decided to incorporate fan favorite character Ghost Rider. SHIELD has definitely been through its ups and downs, but with the show finally moving on from characters like Grant Ward, removing Coulson from the director position and including Ghost Rider, the fourth season seems very promising, and last night’s premiere episode came out very strong.

Daisy is still on the run and has started to become involved with Ghost Rider on accident, but given the circumstances she feels the need to step in and do something about this killer. The entire episode focuses on the themes of attachment with Quake literally repeating, “everyone’s attached to something,” as she still seems to be searching for and identity and purpose. The character feels like she cannot allow herself to get close with anyone because it will only end up being trouble, yet, Quake isn’t the only one trying to sort out her new role. Now that Agents of SHIELD has picked up after the Sokovia Accords and Civil War, things are a lot different. The team has been completely broken up; Coulson and Mack are partners always in the field, May is the teacher and head of a tactical squad of her own, Simmons is a special adviser to the new director and Fitz is feeling as disconnected to her as ever despite their solid relationship. The times they are a changin’, and all of the show’s main characters are still hanging onto their attachment to the team, but decide to handle it in their own individual ways. It’s definitely going to be a long road back to where things were, but SHIELD has set up an interesting broken dynamic for the time being that is fresh and interesting.

Meanwhile, “The Ghost,” spends a good amount of time introducing viewers to the titular character of Ghost Rider and how the operates. The Ghost has been on a killing spree getting vengeance even for the most unassuming people. The character gets off to a pretty brutal start when we hear how he pulls the spine out of a villains back, which basically informs viewers that there is no reasoning with Ghost Rider; once you’re burned, he’s got you. Agents of SHIELD really builds the character up nicely throughout the episode, only giving viewers teases of the character in his full form and getting them to become more familiar with the face of Robbie Reyes, played by Gabriel Luna. One would assume they are saving the character’s origin story for when he actually connects with Quake or SHIELD more, but for now the show has started slowly revealing more about Reyes as a person so viewers can get to know him and better relate to the character and his struggles. However, Agents of SHIELD doesn’t shortchange the viewers by not giving them a look at full-form Ghost Rider, they just hold their ace until the end portion of the episode. Quake finally tracks down Reyes at a junkyard where he has a full transformation followed by a fight with Daisy that is awesome. Ghost Rider really makes a great first impression in this episode and seems like the perfect type of character to feature on this show. There hasn’t been an on-screen Ghost Rider since the Nic Cage movies and this is a fresh and different version of the character that should work well within an already solid Agents of SHIELD cast. Gabriel Luna didn’t have too much to do in this first episode when it comes to dialogue or interaction, but the actor was solid in his premiere.

Despite Ghost Rider being made out as a conflict, at least to start, he wasn’t the only threat revealed in “The Ghost,” last night. When the operating agents go out on a mission, May leads her strike team in to clear out a group of gang members while their leader opens some box that frees a ghost and seems to infect all of them with some reality warping mind trick. The infection seems to cause those impacted to see everyone else with a eerie ghoul type face that could slowly send someone into paranoia. With the release of Doctor Strange being only around a month and a half away, this is a very calculated threat to include along with Ghost Rider. Both are unexplained supernatural powers that SHIELD has never explored before, and as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand into new realms, it is going to only make the show’s characters deal with tougher situations. In the end, it’s revealed that Agents May has been infected by the ghost as Coulson’s face quickly alters for a second. Who knows how long she will go before telling someone what is going on, and how will May handle an unknown threat that can mess with her whenever she least expects it?

Agents of SHIELD came out strong in its fourth season premiere and set up nice character development while also setting up the season’s threats. Ghost Rider was awesome and Gabriel Luna did fine for what viewers were given of him, but his story should be really interesting and touching when everything with his family is fully introduced. Despite the team being broken up right now, each member followed the episodes theme of attachment last night and seems to be working to fix things in their own way. Simmons confrontation with May was really nice because it shows that neither character is settling for this new SHIELD, but handling it in the ways they know how. There is a lot to look forward to after “The Ghost,” because it seems like it has Agents of SHIELD moving back towards being a cool spy show. The move to put Coulson back into the field was a smart one because pairing him with Mack is perfect and a ton of fun. Hopefully the rest of the team will slowly, one by one, be re-included with those two as they are sent out as a special task force to track down Quake, deal with Ghost Rider and figure out what the ghost in the box is. There’s a lot of fun potentially here for the show, and with the move to a later time slot it seems like the writers can really have fun and push the boundaries of how dark things will get. Although the episode still had its fair share of clunky dialogue, Agents of SHIELD didn’t let down in this season premiere and gives viewers a ton to be excited about moving forward.

Other Thoughts:

  • Pumped to see the Life Model Decoys already coming into play. Maybe we will see a Fury one down the line when Infinity War is closer. I just hope they don’t repeat the Ultron idea, especially after giving it a shout out in last night’s episode.
  • That Ghost Rider change scene was really, really cool. I’m hoping he gets his hands on chains sometime soon!!
  • Mack, as charming as ever with his exploding pen…. “what, you never wanted one?”
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