S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Season 4 Premiere Unveils a New Status Quo

Agents-of-SHIELD-Season-4-Ghost-Rider-Vengeance

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Premiere Plot Summary:

Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) tracks down a renegade Daisy (Chloe Bennet), who is hot on the heels of another, deadlier vigilante called Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna). Meanwhile, Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) proposes a new invention for S.H.I.E.L.D. to use in the field, the Life Model Decoy.

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Awhile since I last reviewed this show, awhile since we saw the team together. Well, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer for the latter, because Daisy is no longer working for S.H.I.E.L.D. I suppose I should start calling her Quake, since that’s what she’s going as now. It was one of the few details we knew about this new season at the end of previous season’s finale, along with Coulson’s demotion. So why is this happening? More on that later.

One thing that we didn’t know was that Ghost Rider would play a part in it. But since the summer he’s been featured in nearly all the promotional material. This part of season 4 even bears his name. This begs the question how much of it he’s going to be in. I predicted earlier that he could be in as many as 10 episodes, maybe more. Given the way his story is going so far, it could be a lot less. Maybe it’s not up to date, but IMDb only has him listed for this and the next episode. There’s not much point in guessing, but don’t be surprised if he’s gone before you know it.

(Photo Courtesy of ABC/Jennifer Clasen)
(Photo Courtesy of ABC/Jennifer Clasen)

As far as whether he’s a good addition to the show or not, the jury’s still out. Given the way that the last season ended, he’s honestly tacked onto the Daisy conflict. He has a few cool scenes and he’s making the show a little more brutal than I expected (the show is a relatively soft TV-14 now) but I’m just not feeling it yet. I doubt it has much to do with it being Robbie Reyes instead of the more popular Johnny Blaze. He’s just a generic vigilante right now, aside from his get-up and superpowers, admittedly. Hopefully he’ll become more interesting when we learn more about the Spirit of Vengeance and Robbie’s deal with the Devil.

What’s going on inside S.H.I.E.L.D. is far more interesting. We’re only given snippets of information, but I’m definitely intrigued. Something big happened after the President learned the location of S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. Could that have something to do with Daisy? Is she acting out at all because of Lincoln’s death? Does her new eye shadow mean she’s in mourning or bad to the bone, or is it just a fashion statement?

Whatever the case, it’s leading to some different interactions than we’re used to, particularly May (Ming-Na Wen) reporting to Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who’s close to the new director. We also might be seeing a budding bromance between Coulson and Mack (Henry Simmons) and I approve. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the sexual tension between Mack and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley). But she’s working with Quake too? What’s going on?

(Photo Courtesy of ABC/Matthias Clamer)
(Photo Courtesy of ABC/Matthias Clamer)

One development that I’m surprised to see touched on so early with everything else happening is Dr. Radcliffe’s Life Model Decoys. I told you Radcliffe would get in trouble, though I didn’t think this would necessarily be the reason. S.H.I.E.L.D. would not be so happy if they learned about his research. We’ll see where it goes but I must say the actress playing AIDA, Mallory Jenson, really does a fantastic job of moving and speaking slightly robotically. There’s also something about her make-up or the way she’s lit that makes her look ever so artificial. The sound design is also on point.

“We’ll see” is really my feeling on this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This premiere does a lot of set-up and mystery that I enjoyed but the show feels a bit directionless, if you’re talking about the long term. Sure, we’ve got Ghost Rider, the hunt for Quake, and internal politics in S.H.I.E.L.D., but who or what is the series’ central antagonist now that Hive and most of HYDRA is gone? Maybe it has to do with that box full of ghosts or whatever. We’ll learn all in due time, I suppose.

For now, let’s hope Ghost Rider can justify his inclusion in the coming weeks.

RATING: 7 OUT OF 10 (GOOD)

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Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky