TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4 Episode 2 "Meet the New Boss"
EPISODE 2: "Meet The New Boss"
SYNOPSIS: Daisy goes to battle Ghost Rider at a terrible cost, and Coulson faces the new Director, and his bold agenda surprises them all.
REVIEW: Well, the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. has debuted and he is more than an empty suit. The second episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fourth season put a lot more plot elements in play that will setup the first half of this season's episodes with a mysterious villain, a new hero (or two), and a plight for Coulson and his team to save the world from. Last week, I felt a bit underwhelmed but this hour of the show has definitely picked things up and promises a lot more potential cool stuff for this run of Marvel's flagship series. But, I still have reservations about this "darker and sexier" Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., namely a villain that can hold a candle to the massive story arcs from seasons past.
This week's episode finds Daisy once again on the trail of Robbie Reyes. This time, Daisy takes her investigation right to the auto shop where Robbie works as she confronts him about his demonic alter ego. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the trained former-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to take such a risky move by confronting Robbie, but it does set up a good back and forth between the two as they look at their doomed future as a way for paying penance for past misdeeds. We have yet to hear how and why Robbie Reyes accepted the mantle of the Ghost Rider, but it seems like it may follow the Ultimate version of the character from the pages of Marvel Comics. Either way, while the special effects may not be up to par with the feature film version, this take on Ghost Rider is the best one Marvel has produced to date.
And the Rider may have more in common with the events of this season than previous expected. The ghost woman seen in the premiere episode is back. We learn this week that she is one of many similar spirits whom have been trapped in technologically advanced cubes for years. The lead ghost, named Lucy, seems to have been involved in a botched experiment and vows revenge against the man who put them all in their spiritual prison. Could this person be the spirit inhabiting Robbie Reyes? That remains to be seen, but the ghosts reveal that Lucy used a supernatural book called The Darkhold which she needs to try and turn them human again. For those not versed in their Marvel, The Darkhold is a tome that has connections to Johnny Blaze as well as Doctor Strange himself. I would venture to guess the book is being introduced to connect to DOCTOR STRANGE later this year, so stay tuned for more.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson and May meet with the new director of the agency. While we have known that Jason O'Mara would play the character, we didn't know who he would be. Now we know that the new director is in fact an Inhuman and a character well known to Marvel fans: Jeffrey Mace. Known as The Patriot, Mace once took over for Captain America while he was frozen during the 1940s. Here, Mace was selected as Coulson's replacement since he is an enhanced person as well as a hero. O'Mara plays Mace as a cross between Steve Rogers and a politician. It is a little off-putting at first, but there is a lot more potential here than we have seen from S.H.I.E.L.D. leadership in prior seasons. It remains to be seen just how long he will stay in power, but this episode does a great job of delivering on a S.H.I.E.L.D. more structured than we have seen before.
The plots have been a bit disconnected over these first two hours, but they come together during the final act of this episode as the ghosts, S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy and Ghost Rider converge. As Fitz and Mack descend on the source of the ghostly apparitions, they are confronted by a reactor in meltdown. Mack gets stuck inside the machine just as Daisy and Ghost Rider arrive to rescue them. Daisy helps get Mack out of the containment unit while Fitz shuts down the self-destruct. That leaves the Rider to kill the spirit/ghost once and for all. Mack then puts together that Yo-Yo has been helping Daisy, but they let her go. Daisy then meets with Robbie who admits he may be the connection for all of these supernatural events. While Daisy and Robbie drive off into the distance, we return to S.H.I.E.L.D. where May's exposure to the ghost named Lucy has driven her mad. Director Mace then tells Coulson that he is invaluable to the new S.H.I.E.L.D., but his closeness to Daisy and May makes him a liability. The episode ends as a raving May in a straight jacket is flown to an unknown destination.
The second episode of this season is superior to the premiere which seems to be par for the course. Ghost Rider continues to be a bright spot as a character even though he may not be the traditional Johnny Blaze version. The new later timeslot has afforded the show to give us some creepier visuals than we have seen in the past which lends the show a vibe very much like The X-Files. It doesn't seem like some of the characters have as much to do as they have in past years which impacts the pacing of the series, but it is still early in the going. I am not convinced these ghosts are a strong enough adversary to keep a season long arc going, but we shall see wha the writers have up their sleeves.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The Sokovia Accords are once again name-checked. A reference to Captain America going rogue at the end of CIVIL WAR is mentioned. Coulson mentions Peggy Carter when leading a tour of the S.H.I.E.L.D. base.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Uprising" airs October 11th - As Coulson, Mack and Fitz attempt to track down and neutralize a rogue group looking to end Inhuman Registration worldwide, Simmons and Dr. Radcliffe only have hours to save May before she succumbs forever to her mysterious illness.