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TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4 Episode 1 "The Ghost"

09.20.2016

EPISODE 1: "The Ghost"

SYNOPSIS: S.H.I.E.L.D. is again legitimized and gets a new director as Coulson falls back into a role as an agent and teams up with Mack to track Inhumans. Also: Agent May trains specialist strike teams and Fitz and Simmons take a step forward in their relationship.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., TV Series, Marvel Studios, Superhero, Comic Book, TV Review, Ghost Rider

REVIEW: When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. concluded last season, everyone was heading in a new direction: Coulson was demoted from director to agent, Fitz and Simmons were working with a pardoned Dr. Radcliffe, and Skye had adopted her superhero persona of Quake as she tried to atone for her actions with Hive. In the wake of the death of Grant Ward (for the second time) and Skye's love interest Lincoln, she feels indebted to stop the Watchdogs and anyone who stands in the way of freeing the Inhumans that S.H.I.E.L.D. is tasked with taking down. So, basically, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back to where season one started. Some may think that it is more of the same, but getting rid of the long-running HYDRA story arc actually frees the series up to try some new things.

Which is why ABC has been so heavily pushing Ghost Rider. Since the unveil of the flaming skull of the iconic anti-hero at San Diego Comic Con, fans have been split on the decision for the character to be Robbie Reyes rather than the better known Johnny Blaze. But, I can tell you that this Ghost Rider is actually a pretty cool take on the character that is more in line with the Netflix street level heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. While not quite the main story of the premiere episode, Ghost Rider/Robbie Reyes is front and center from the very beginning in an opening sequence that is not short on the blood while keeping the reveal of the Rider in the shadows, helping to build his mystery. Some may criticize the character choice as a last ditch effort to save the mediocrity of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and that may be so, but it works pretty well.

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Those of you who are not fans of the series as of late, there isn't anything here that will change your mind. The dialogue is still a bit cheesy and the production values still seem to be lower than the Marvel/Netflix shows, but it still manages to keep the characters interesting enough to see what comes next. After investing three years watching this series, I am still willing to go along for the ride and see what comes next even if it still makes virtually no sense that The Avengers still haven't discovered that Coulson is alive. This plothole becomes even larger as the Sokovia Accords, the superhero McGuffin from this summer's CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, have legitimized S.H.I.E.L.D. once again, making our characters official agents of the United Nations as they search for and catalog all enhanced beings. So, again, just like it was back in season one, but with more superpowers.

With S.H.I.E.L.D. back in control, we have a new director on our hands, but the mysterious man in charge is not seen. The team dynamic has shifted as well with Mack and Coulson in the field, May teaching recruits hand to hand combat, Fitz and Simmons trying to find relationship balance while working with almost no free time to themselves, and then there is Dr. Radcliffe. Last season concluded with the tease of Marvel's comics creation, life Model Decoys, and we finally get to see the first one on screen in the form of Radcliffe's computer assistant AIDA. What is in store for the LMDs remains to be seen, but it could hold repercussions for the MCU's big screen universe and this could just be a tease of what is to come.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., TV Series, Marvel Studios, Superhero, Comic Book, TV Review, Ghost Rider

The biggest problem with this season premiere is the same problem the last two premieres have had: it just doesn't deliver. The second and third episodes of the previous runs of the show were much more exciting and did a better job of universe building than the premieres did so here is to hoping that the tease of next week's hour having a lot more Ghost Rider will hold up. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been following the pattern of having two story arc each season, each comprising about 10-12 episodes. I would venture to guess that Ghost Rider will only last until the halfway point of the season but it would definitely be cool to see if he is worthy of his own series. So far, though, his existence on this show doesn't quite feel like an organic fit but rather an attempt to maintain relevance for a show that doesn't really fit into the big picture any longer.

With DOCTOR STRANGE opening in just a couple of months from now, I would anticipate a tie-in with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but it may not be as direct as we have seen in previous seasons. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the potential to tie into anything, it would be with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, or The Punisher, but I don't see that happening either. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still a welcome diversion and enjoyable pulp series but it is still barely clinging on. If Jed Whedon and crew cannot get us to care more for these characters or give them some stakes that are bigger than finding a flaming demonic spirit, we may be seeing the final season of the show. With these main characters being so interesting and with so much potential, that would be a shame to see.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The Sokovia Accords play a major part in explaining why S.H.I.E.L.D. is legitimate once again. Ultron is referenced in regards to AIDA, the Life Model Decoy.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Meet The New Boss" airs September 27th - Daisy goes to battle Ghost Rider at a terrible cost, and Coulsonfaces the new Director, and his bold agenda surprises them all.

Source: JoBlo.com

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