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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S04 E05: “Lockup”

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With Ghost Rider and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the same side, will they be able to find the Darkhold before it’s too late, or does fate have other threats in store for them at Eli Morrow’s prison? Things get tense in jail and the new Director makes a startling announcement on live television, all this and more, after the jump, in my thoughts on “Lockup.”

Bookkeeping

We open on a flashback, the time is set only by the word ‘then.’ Lucy Bauer and her husband are looking for ‘the book,’ but we know they’re talking about the Darkhold. They find it and when they open it, they discover that they are each reading it in their first language as if it knows. In the present we see Joe die in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, and before that, him telling her that the book was buried where they found it. Lucy is back there, finds it again, but when she opens it – the pages are blank. It will not speak to her, perhaps because she is dead?

That guy on the motorcycle looks familiar...

That guy on the motorcycle looks familiar…

That’s not the cool part though. In the past, they were in an old warehouse and on the wall are circus posters. One is of Voltara, a woman with seemingly electrical powers – I do not recognize her, but the one of the Quentin Carnival I do know. This is where Johnny Blaze worked as a stunt biker when he sold his soul to the Devil and became Ghost Rider. Quentin also was attacked by several super-villains as well as creating a few too, perhaps we’ll see one or two in the future.

It’s All in the Eyes

Robbie Reyes is having a hard time being part of a team, and especially following orders, but agrees to stay on board the Zephyr One when Coulson and May go down to the prison to take his Uncle Eli into custody as ‘an asset.’ Seriously I thought Robbie was going to lose it by staying, almost like someone with fear of flying having a panic attack. One wonders how much control he actually has over his flaming dark passenger, to use Dexter terminology.

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Once on the ground, there seems to be something wrong with the warden and the guards. May sees it right away, but surprisingly does not tip off Coulson. What is that about? Anyway, they have all been infected by the touch of the ghosts, and at least we get to see some of that holographic shield action from Coulson. With a ghost antidote in hand, Mack preps a plan and a team to extract not only Coulson and may, but Morrow as well. With Ghost Rider along, we may get to see just how much self control he has, especially going into a prison, where everyone there ‘deserves’ vengeance.

Secrets and Lies

Meanwhile, we finally get that lie detector test that Simmons (and all of us) have been sweating for a few weeks. Will she crack and reveal all that she knows about Quake, and Ghost Rider, and Aida? The lie detector seems to be a red herring to the real subplot afoot. Before she has a chance to suffer the consequences, Director Jeffrey Mace pulls her aside for a special mission. He needs her in his ear while he debates Senator Ellen Nadeer on live television with George Stephanopoulos.

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The subject of the debate is the Inhuman War on Humans, with Nadeer representing the group called Humans First. We learn a very important piece of information. We had been told that Mace was a public hero, and now we learn from where. He had saved civilians in the Vienna bombing when King T’Chaka of Wakanda was killed in Captain America: Civil War.

We know that Nadeer is motivated by hate due to her brother dying in terrigenesis, but her rudeness still seems outrageous until you compare it to what is going on in the current political climate in the United States. Has it come to that, is it about theatrics now, rather than the issues? All bets are off however when Mace confesses to his own Inhumanity. I am sure we will see further backlash on that, but in the meantime, Simmons mananges to leverage her way out of further lie detectors by saying she’ll tell what really happened in Vienna. Mace relents.

Vengeance Restrained

Ghost Rider in a prison full of people who deserve vengeance is a hard call, but for the most part, he holds it in. Robbie seems to be able to tap into some of the Ghost Rider power without fully transforming. He likes his chains, and fills them with fire as a weapon. He can’t control himself though with one gang leader, who he transforms and incinerates. I had to laugh that the other prisoners run and hide in their cells after that. However, Robbie loses his uncle while doing this, and Lucy gets him – planning to make him read from the Darkhold so she can finish what she started.

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Lucy also traps S.H.I.E.L.D. in a cellblock full of Watchdogs and releases them. The Agents handle themselves well against the mad dogs. Daisy puts up a good fight without using her Quake powers, noting that she was good before she was an Inhuman, and that’s good to see she hasn’t forgotten her skills. Despite losing Eli, Robbie is coming around as a ‘team member,’ and Mack only made two Ghostbusters jokes. It could have been easy, and worse, to make more.

Life After Death

Coulson wants to know what May saw when she was dead. It is the conversation they had when they first arrived at the prison, until interrupted by the infected. When things get hot later, he asks again – she says that she saw him, “but don’t let it go to your head.” In May’s pep talk to Daisy later, she tells her that Coulson loves her, and that Lincoln wouldn’t want her killing herself over him. Good advice, but I have to wonder if there is more to this.

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The whole season so far has been about the supernatural, the afterlife, and things coming back from the dead. Is there more here? May jokes that she didn’t see Tahiti. I equally have to wonder if the afterlife is perhaps different for aliens and artificial intelligences? Could this be where the Aida subplot is also going? Why does anyone see what they see when they die? What did Lucy see? What did Lincoln see? Have we seen the last of him? That would be an interesting way for Daisy to find closure…

Conclusion

Our stinger ending has Nadeer meeting secretly with Mace. She has footage of S.H.I.E.L.D. working not only with Quake, but also a fire headed murderer, that we know is Ghost Rider. This of course is news to the Director. She threatens to release it to the news, which would damage S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new status quo and Mace’s recent upgrade in the polls – all stuff important to him and the new S.H.I.E.L.D. He folds like origami, and asks what she wants, roll credits.

Again, this episode proves two things that have been consistent throughout the whole series, episodes with a single focused plot and those with the agents working as a team are the best. We had to wait more than a few to get the team back together, and now that we’re here, the show is great. More of this please.

Next: The Origin of Ghost Rider!

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About Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker is a professional writer, and editor-in-chief and contributing writer at Biff Bam Pop!. A blogger, podcaster, and reviewer of pop culture in all its forms, he's done stints in radio, journalism and video retail. Ask him anything about movies, television, music, or especially comics or French fries, and you’ll be hard pressed to stump him or shut him up.

Posted on October 28, 2016, in agents of shield, Glenn Walker, Marvel, television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It just keeps getting better and better. 🙂

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