TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4, Episode 5 "Lockup"
EPISODE 5: "Lockup"
SYNOPSIS: As Robbie Reyes struggles to control the Ghost Rider; S.H.I.E.L.D.infiltrates a high-security prison to unravel the secrets that haunt them all.
REVIEW: Who doesn't love a good prison break? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has told many types of stories over the years but tonight's incarcerated tale was one of the better hours in quite some time. Directly tied to the season story arc, "Lockup" managed to continue to tie together the elements of The Darkhold, Ghost Rider, the Watchdogs and the Inhumans into a thrilling hour of Marvel television. While the darker, edgier tone of this season may have lightened up just a bit, this is still a welcome refresh of the series. In fact, the added elements of mysticism and the supernatural are definitely working to set the introduction of DOCTOR STRANGE into the MCU in the coming weeks. Now, if they could just find a way to not drop entire subplots for weeks at a time and this show would be on a roll.
Following up on last week's story, Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. team has partnered with Robbie Reyes and Daisy to break Robbie's Uncle Eli out of prison so he can help them prevent Lucy and her ghostly colleagues from infecting anyone else with their deadly virus. Rejoined by a healed Melinda May, Coulson and the team make a plan to get Eli out of prison. Of course, things do not go as planned as the team quickly learns that the prison is populated by a large number of Watchdogs. Daisy deduces that those financing the Inhuman hate group are finding soldiers in the penal system. As Lucy begins shutting down and opening doors, Daisy barricades herself into the jail to fight the Watchdogs while May and Coulson have to find another way out. Daisy's death wish is starting to get a little tiresome, especially since she clearly doesn't have anything truly to atone for. I mean, yeah she made some mistakes and Lincoln died, but does she really need to go rogue like this?
Inside the prison, Mack gets some alone time with Robbie as they fight off some of Lucy's spirits and Robbie harnesses his supernatural abilities with another chain. They finally locate Eli and break him out, but Robbie notices something about one of the prisoners. Sending Mack and Eli to safety, Robbie questions the inmate who turns out to be the gangster who ordered the drive by that cost Robbie's brother the use of his legs. The gangster reveals it was actually a hit but cannot say who ordered it. Robbie transforms into Ghost Rider and burns the man to death, scaring the other prisoners back into their cells. As Robbie makes his way outside after enacting his revenge, the team is unable to locate Eli who has been taken prisoner by Lucy and escaped in an ambulance.
The use of Ghost Rider through this season so far has been very effective. While the special effects may leave a little something to be desired, the character of Robbie Reyes has worked within the confines of the show. The added darkness of the show this season has also allowed a little more gore to appear on screen. Yes, this is still a sanitized network TV series but one that is doing the character justice. Would I rather see Ghost Rider on Netflix? Absolutely, but this is still working out well. With the closing scene depicting Lucy needing Eli to decipher the Darkhold, I would expect to learn a lot more about just where Ghost Rider comes from and how his existence ties into the MCU at large in the near future.
The other big suplot involved Simmons helping Director Jeffrey Mace with Inhuman facts during a televised debate. Simmons clearly failed her polygraph test but Mace needed her expertise. Baited by the Inhuman hating Senator Nadeer, Mace reveals himself to be an Inhuman which sends his approval ratings through the roof. Mace also tries to get SImmons to retake her polygraph test and questions her honesty to which Simmons hints she knows the truth about Mace's involvement with the heroics he claims on his record. Mace lets her go untested and meets with Senator Nadeer who reveals video proof that Coulson is working with Daisy and Ghost Rider. Mace then begins to make a deal with the duplicitious senator but we will have to wait to find out what it is.
Once again, Ghost Rider is the most interesting part of this episode with everything else finishing a distant second. Does anyone care about Daisy's moral plight? I know I don't. I am much more interested in seeing Dr. Radcliffe and AIDA, the LMD. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been better when it has focused on a singular mission. Fractioning the characters into so many plots has just dragged down the flow of each episode and reduced interest in the main story. I am waiting to learn more about the Darkhold and exactly what it does, but I have a feeling we will have to wade through more of the Senator Nadeer/Watchdogs nonsense before we get to it. Hopefully the showrunners realize that Ghost Rider is the best part of this show and continue to put him front and center.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The Sokovia Accords and the bombing at the UN from CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR are name checked.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "The Good Samaritan" airs November 1st - Robbie’s shocking story on how he became Ghost Rider is finally discovered as Coulson and his team’s lives hang in the balance.