When we last left Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., things were looking rather grim. Ghost Rider‘s uncle, Elias Morrow, had become a “god,” empowered by the Darkhold and able to create matter from thin air. With half the team missing, to quote Mack, “We’re in nightmare territory here, this is evil.” Meet me after the jump for my review of “Deals with Our Devils.”
The first four minutes of this episode are perfect. As what’s left of the team surveys the situation at the Roxxon facility with Morrow stalking its corridors like a god, they gel and solidify into what S.H.I.E.L.D. should be all about. This is the stuff that I, as a fan who appreciates the show at its best moments (and yes, its worst), love about this show – standing up against impossible odds.
In seconds, without hesitation, Daisy is one of the team again, her sulky Inhuman super-villain walkabout forgotten. May is in charge, more than Mace ever will be. Jeffrey Mace may have been the superhero Patriot in the comics, but here he’s an untried hero fraud, who coincidentally had his ass handed to him by Ghost Rider last episode. When Daisy rallies the team by saying impossible is what they do, I wanted to cheer.
We check in on Simmons on her secret mission, to which she was taken to wearing a bag on her head Mafia (or should that be Maggia?) style. Perhaps a dose of Bat-Sleep would have been less brutal. She’s brought to a lab containing a terrigenesis cocoon that has been gestating for seven months. Possibly Senator Nadeer’s brother?
Back on the Zephyr, May is tempted by the power of the Darkhold to help find her missing teammates. Mack stops her, as always wary of anything out of the realm of the ordinary. Later however, Mack goes solo to hunt Morrow, on a motorcycle. Hmmm… on a bike, like some sort of Ghost Rider? As you’ll see below, many of these scenes and more had to be shot multiple times from multiple angles, so this must’ve been a fun few days on the set.
Then there’s the bad news. We see the opening scene repeated, this time with Coulson and Fitz there, or more accurately not there. They’ve been ghosted by the event, just like Lucy and the others the first time it happened. Much the same has happened to Robbie as well, but he’s having trouble with it. He’s cold as if his inner demon has left him, or planning to.
One good thing about being a ghost is being privy to conversations behind closed doors. They learn that Mace is working with Senator Nadeer, it’s not a happy relationship, and Simmons is working for her on something. But that’s not the worst part. The demon has left Robbie. And taken, you guessed it, Mack. When Daisy takes the Ghost Charger in pursuit, Robbie tags along.
Inhumans and Demons
Maveth must have changed Simmons a great deal. She’s very comfortable now taking chances, taking charge, and disobeying orders. It’s stunning how Simmons gets alone with the cocoon and talks him through the transformation. Once he starts to open up however, she is bagged and spirited away back to the Zephyr. I’m sure there will be more to this, and guaranteed it will bite S.H.I.E.L.D. in the ass, with Simmons the only way out.
With Daisy, and Robbie, in pursuit in that “scientifically impossible self-healing car,” Mack tracks down the Chinese gangsters from a few episodes back for a clue as to Morrow’s location. Robbie learns he can influence the car in letting Daisy which way to go, so they catch up pretty quickly. The entity inside Mack is delighted to see Robbie face to face, and intimates that Mack might be a better host because of all his pain – and also maybe because he’s bigger, stronger, and his demon voice is really scary.
Science vs. Magic
May gets her wish with Radcliffe to use the Darkhold to save Coulson and Fitz. He agrees to look at the book, but once he does (and we all let out a deep breath), he decides it’s too dangerous and refuses to look further. Nathanson also gets dissed again – what do the showrunners have against this guy? Fitz demonstrates ability similar to Robbie and manages to make Aida hear him, and she suggests she try to read it. Of course it comes out that she is an android, but the ways override the means, and she tries to read the evil book.
I dug that she saw binary, as opposed to blank pages, which is what I thought she would see. The Darkhold always conjures the person’s first language. Quickly she builds a gateway, with energy looking quite similar to the portal spells from Doctor Strange. So were those gloves she created some sort of sling rings? The gateway works and Coulson and Fitz are saved, but as Radcliffe celebrates later, Aida seems to be building something holographically… could it be a brain?
There were lots of feels in this one. Not just the agony Fitz was in – not being able to say goodbye to Simmons, not knowing where she was, and that they had fought the last time they saw each other – but there was also their reunion, not a dry eye in the house. There was also the two fronts attacking Coulson for deserting his post as Director. It looks like he may get that back if Mace keeps doing such a great job. I have a feeling Patriot may just sacrifice himself to save everyone because he lied about it the first time that opportunity presented itself.
And then there’s Mack, who according to Ghost Rider had enough pain to sustain his possession. We know there’s something in Mack’s past, but who is Hope? That’s the name on the piece of paper he’s holding at the end of the episode. Is this what’s keeping him from a proper relationship with Yo-Yo? And if and when May and Phil open that bottle, I hope we see it, because I think that spark might become a fire…
I think it’s a real shame that we had a hiatus of several weeks here between this and the last episode. The momentum and suspense of the stories and characters was derailed and chilled in the time between. With only this episode and the next being the winter finale, I think they’ve made a mistake, because it will only happen again. Why could these two episodes have aired two weeks ago?
I really liked this one a lot, with the reshot scenes with and without the ghosts, and the other dimension getting darker the farther the ghosts drifted from our reality. And then there’s Mack as the Spirit of Vengeance, I wish we had had more of that. For now I suppose we wait to see what Aida is making, and what is up with the new Inhuman.
Next: The winter finale, with Ghost Rider’s last stand, in “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics!”