Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD continued building its momentum from last week’s Season 4 debut, shedding light on the new director and bringing more depth to Robbie Reyes and Ghost Rider.
The mysterious new director of SHIELD was first mentioned at the end of Season 3 after a time hop put Coulson back in the field and someone else in charge of the spy organisation itself. With the sophomore episode of Season 4, we finally get to put a face to that nebulous director that broke up the ensemble of agents we know and love. The new director, known simply as Jeffery, is played by Jason O’Mara. There is a certain amount of mystery surrounding this new director and his motives, but he seems genuinely likeable, which is a giant red flag in the world of spies. Compared to everyone else in SHIELD’s employ, his budding optimism and charm is definitely off putting.
While they don’t say it out loud, the general consensus is that the director is an iteration of a former Captain America, Jeffery Mace. Mace debuted way back in 1941 in Human Torch #4 under the Timely Comics imprint, aka Marvel Comics before the name change. Now since this is, allegedly, a modern version of the character, some things have changed. I doubt he will be Thaddeus Ross’ uncle, for instance. As seen later in the episode, the director stands up to a probably possessed Agent May without flinching. He reveals himself to be Inhuman, and his goals are to bring SHIELD back into the eyes of the public as an official agency for the UN.
Speaking of Agent May, her visions of the people around her with burnt out eye sockets are continuing to haunt her. Coulson picks up on the fact that something is wrong with May, and tried to get her to see Simmons so they can figure out what is wrong with her. That’s when May goes berserk and tries to fight her way out of SHIELD HQ, fearful of the demons haunting her mind. In the last episode, after a mysterious crate was opened, a spirit of some sort escaped and started driving people crazy with visions. Mack happens to get a picture of this spirit from security cameras, but only for a single frame, and Mack and Fitz track the origin of the box that contained the ghost to a energy plant in Pasadena.
As all of this is going on, Daisy is trying to find out more about Robbie Reyes. Reyes continues to be the anchor to each episode, with Daisy trying to figure him out and find out what he knows about the haunted box. Daisy faces Reyes in broad daylight, as to not incur the wrath of vengeance, and probes him about his abilities, even mistakenly taking him for an Inhuman. Shortly after a small tussle, Daisy is then interrogated by Reyes. This leads Reyes to find out that the haunted box, owned by the gangsters he was killing, was from the same energy plant Mack and Fitz decided to investigate.
The entire episode is sprinkled with moments of the ghost that cursed May freeing other tortured spirits from more haunted boxes. While it isn’t revealed as to why there is a small contingent of ghosts just sitting in an energy plant, the ghosts do spout out some nebulous exposition about an accident and a book. This book is probably the Book of Sins, a relic from the mythic corner of Marvel Universe. If it is the Book of Sins, expect some elder god mumbo jumbo in upcoming episodes.
In the climax at the energy lab, Fitz is almost touched by one of the freed ghosts, until Ghost Rider shows up and vaporizes the ghost with a single touch. Ghost Rider then storms out of the building having saved Fitz and Mack, but not without ripping a picture off a cork board in the lab. Daisy urges Mack to not go after Ghost Rider, and she joins up with Reyes after she gets lectured by Mack for turning her back on SHIELD.
Watch It! While not as explosive and brutal as last week’s premiere, the story is progressing and moving into new territory for the MCU. With the coming slate of mystic based properties like Doctor Strange and Iron Fist on the horizon, I’m glad we’re seeing the usually scientific grounded Agents of SHIELD start to mess with the ideas of magic before the episode that will tie-in with Doctor Strange. It’s nice to see these ideas explored beyond a single episode that feels forced, and with the Book of Sins and more answers about what Ghost Rider is up to coming around the corner, it looks to be an engaging season of mystery and intrigue, but without SHIELD constantly getting in its own way.