Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 8:00am

Agents of SHIELD: The Ghost (S4, Ep.1 | Spoilers)

I fully expected Ghost Rider to be a last minute ride-in on last night’s premiere of season four of Agents of SHIELD. NOPE. Not only did he show up in the first five minutes, he showed up using the Hell Charger as a battering ram to bash a truck full of Aryan Brothers off the road so he could viciously murder the lot of them. And by “viciously murder,” I mean he pulled the spine out of one guy.

Okay, we don’t get to see GR actually pull the spine out of a guy. We hear about that later. I mean, this is ABC.

But still. The message was clear. “WE ARE NOT SCREWING AROUND HERE, PEOPLE,” says Agents of SHIELD.

I was a little surprised to see a character like Ghost Rider introduced on Agents of SHIELD. I’m mostly familiar with the Johnny Blaze version of the character, so unless Robbie Reyes’ version has been significantly depowered, Ghost Rider is the biggest, heaviest hitter AoS has ever brought out. GR can go toe-to-toe with Thor, no kidding. He’s tough. He might be the heaviest hitter in any of Marvel’s TV series, so far.

“The Ghost” was a busy, action-packed episode that laid a whole bunch of groundwork for the rest of the season. We’ve got a mysterious, paranoid, anal-retentive new Director, so Coulson’s back out in the field as an agent, partnered up with Mack. Daisy’s in the wind, suffering from a deeply emo and traumatized case of survivor’s guilt and busy hunting down the Watchdogs from last season. The Sokovia Accords are a thing now, so Yo-Yo’s in LA, benched, since she signed on. The team is all split up and heading up different departments, with May in charge of the STRIKE Teams, Fitz stuck in the lab, and Simmons buddying up to the new Director as his science liaison. Also, everyone’s favorite Scottish mad scientist, Holden Radcliffe, got a pardon and is hanging around with Fitz.

Daisy is now mostly known as Quake, a rogue Inhuman out knocking over banks and bringing down buildings and whatnot. She’s busy hunting down the remainders of last season’s Watchdogs, and while she’s tracking down leads on that, she bumps into Ghost Rider.

Meanwhile, Coulson and Mack are either avoiding the crap out of SHIELD headquarters or are getting sent out on increasingly longer missions to keep them out of the Director’s hair, not sure which. Either way, they’re not allowed to track down Daisy anymore because the new Director thinks they’re letting her get away, and she’s “kill on sight” according to the new boss.

Back at the ranch May’s pissy with Simmons because Simmons is playing buddy-buddy with the paranoid new Director. Meanwhile, everyone else is being kept so busy Fitz has no one to hang with except Doc Radcliffe, who’s gotten bored and started building Life Model Decoys on the downlow. This is sure to result in no trouble at all.

Agents of SHIELD/Dr. Strange Spooky Eyes

Surely not at all related.

And finally, Daisy, Ghost Rider, and now Coulson and Mack are sniffing around some sort of weird box full of ghosts that is driving people into a killing rage and makes them see spooOOooOOky Snapchat-filter eyeless face hallucinations when they look at people. I’m sure this in no way relates to Doctor Strange and Mads Mikkelson’s character. Anyway, May seems to have caught ghostface disease or whatever, so that should be entertaining.

Like I said, super busy episode, with a lot of groundwork to lay. There were a few good laughs but no real standouts. Every time Ghost Rider showed up it was awesome and looked way better than everyone expected it to. The Ghost Box is interesting and certain to be our Strange tie-in. Overall? Good start.

I do have some complaints.

  • Having the team separated and at some odds is tedious, so I hope they get that resolved soon.
  • The mysterious new Director is either ridiculously stupid or up to some sort of shenanigans because literally no one is that bad or paranoid of a boss. And I’m saying this as someone who’s worked for some pretty awful and paranoid bosses.
  • I get that Daisy’s suffering from survivor’s guilt but damn girl, overreact much? She doesn’t need a hug and a reunion, she needs medication. Also, a better make-up artist.

Line of the Night Award

You can usually count on Agents of SHIELD for a few good entries here, but nothing really stood out last night. Fitz’ reaction to nekkid AIDA was pretty priceless, though.

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