Agents of SHIELD is heating up as the inclusion of Robbie Reyes goes into full effect with references to the greater MCU and an origin story for our Ghost Rider in tonight’s episode aptly titled “The Good Samaritan.” Four years ago when Agents of SHIELD first graced our small screens, who would’ve thought that we would be seeing Ghost Rider blaze across the highway or Inhumans playing such a large role in the overarching story?
One of the best parts of the season so far, in my opinion, is the inclusion of Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes a.k.a. Ghost Rider. I sat in on the panel at San Diego Comic Con this year when it was (officially) revealed that Ghost Rider would be making an appearance in the show this season and the reaction from the crowd was incredible. At that time, I didn’t know a single thing about Robbie Reyes – the only Ghost Rider I knew of was Johnny Blaze from the Ghost Rider films from back in the day. For the most part, I wanted to remain unspoiled about the character going into the season, so I only read a little bit about his origin online. I know that there were some minor changes to his origin for tonight’s episode, but I feel like those minor changes make for a more cinematic experience. Luna brings such an emotional gravitas to the character of Robbie Reyes that I never expected to see – quickly making Reyes one of my favorite characters in the MCU at the moment.
In terms of the episode, I sensed a tonal shift – one from that of urgency to that which was slower but not any less exciting. The slower speed of tonight’s episode allowed all of the events and revelations of the past five episodes to simmer. Tonight, SHIELD came charging in to arrest Coulson and his team for harboring a known fugitive (Daisy) and a murderer (Robbie). That moment when Director Mace walked in to arrest Coulson reminded me of the conversation between Captain America and former Director Fury in Captain America: The Winter Solider, when Cap, referring to the helicarriers, mentions that SHIELD is being more fearful than caring about freedom. It makes one wonder whether SHIELD will be stepping into that “Big Brother” role again that it once was earlier in the MCU.
Another big moment for the episode was the reveal of Robbie’s origin as the Ghost Rider. The origin was told through Robbie to his brother Gabe with flashbacks and explained Robbie’s feeling responsible for Gabe’s current disability. In a shocking moment that I didn’t see coming – we see a short glimpse of another Ghost Rider, the Good Samaritan, seemingly passing on the mantle to Robbie after Robbie died (for a moment) in the accident that led to Gabe’s paralysis. I am not the most familiar with any of the Ghost Riders, but this appearance begs the questions: Which Ghost Rider was this? Will we be seeing more of him?
Other big reveals from the episode include the reveal of Robbie’s uncle Eli as being the cause of the fatalities of the original scientists working to figure out the secrets of the Darkhold. Eli came into possession of the book once again to recreate the original experiment at a Roxxon (hey, Roxxon) plant.
There was lots of cool connections to the greater MCU in tonight’s episode, including the mention of the Roxxon Corporation which has made appearances all across the MCU including minor references in feature films as well as large roles in the Netflix shows and Agent Carter. Speaking of our favorite feminist icon in the MCU, Agent Peggy Carter was name-dropped in tonight’s episode when Fitz discovered that the material Eli is trying to recreate is nothing other than Zero Matter/Dark Force – the same material that Agent Carter season two villain, Whitney Frost, tries to manipulate. As a fan of the show and the character, it’s nice to see that Agent Carter’s legacy continues to live on in the MCU.
In all, tonight’s episode was a solid one with Gabriel Luna truly shining as Robbie Reyes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Marvel nails their casting, and just like RDJ is Tony Stark/Iron Man, Gabriel Luna is Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider.