Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 5:30pm

Agents of SHIELD: Meet The New Boss (S4, Ep. 2 | Spoilers)

“Meet the New Boss” was a somewhat more sedate episode than last week as it was more concerned with parcelling out information, connecting dots, and dropping Easter eggs. Don’t take that to mean it was boring, though, because it wasn’t.

For starters, we finally get to meet the new Director of SHIELD. In show they only introduce him as “Jeffrey,” but the subtitles (and/or five seconds of Googling) gave away that this is Jeffrey Mace, AKA The Patriot, AKA Captain America. The Patriot is a Marvel character from the 40s, part of Marvel’s old Hitler-punching brigade, and he briefly served as Captain America while Steve Rogers was on ice. He’s – obviously – been updated for the show.

Jeff’s courting senators while they get ready to relaunch SHIELD, so he keeps Phil around for the episode to run tours for the senate bunch. Meanwhile May, still suffering from Ghostface Disease or whatever’s going on with that, is basically having a gradual nervous breakdown.

Out in LA, Daisy has a fit of the stupid and tracks down Robbie Reyes again to try to squeeze him for more information. It works. Sort of. Y’know, if you consider ending up chained to chair with a mostly-broken arm while a dude who turns into a fiery skull-headed serial killer from time to time does a villain monologue at you as he goes through your stuff “working.” Daisy is so bad at her job, you guys.

Robbie does do us the kindness of calling Daisy out on her crap, so points for him on that one. Meanwhile, she tries to sweet talk him into giving up what information he has on the whole “ghost box, Asian gang, Watchdog” thing. She does squeeze a few dribbles of information out of him, and he clearly knows more, since he cottons on to something well before anyone else does and tears off to get his Ghost Rider on at some abandoned lab across town.

Back at the ranch, Fitz, Mack and Simmons have also stumbled over the abandoned lab, as it’s the former home of their confiscated ghost box. Fitz has been doing science at the box, and it has some sort of sparkly containment shield in it. Fitz and Mack decide to go check out the abandoned lab, too. Simmons can’t because she’s also on tour duty.

Over at our abandoned lab, we meet up with the golden ghost lady, Lucy, apparently, who’s playing with computers that still work, in front of some kind of giant nuclear-style meltdown jar. You know the kind I mean – they come standard in every Mad Science lab. Dr. Radcliffe probably has three. Also in the lab, several more ghost boxes, which are – you guessed it – holding more ghosts. And man, are they ever not happy when Lucy lets them out.

So it seems like some mysterious person and Lucy have been working with Dark Forces and Mad Science to accomplish… something. And of course, the something went wrong, as it so often does when one Meddles With Forces Man Was Not Meant To Know. Here’s where we get the Darkhold, Marvel’s version of the Necronomicon, name-dropped. Apparently Lucy was farting around with it, and now everyone involved is all ghostified.

Arguing happens, and all but one of the ghosts buggers off to do… stuff, in an effort to get back to normal. This is going to involve finding the mystery partner as well as one more missing possible ghost person named Joe. Our random ghost who stays behind is mad at everyone else and intends to burn the lab down for reasons. I mean, it’s not going to accomplish anything useful or anything. He’s just pissed.

Enter Fitz and Mack. And the shotgun axe! Because of course. If Ghost Rider doesn’t get his hands on that thing at least once this season I’m going to be a little disappointed, y’all. Anyway, Fitz and Mack begin investigating the abandoned lab, and our pissy ghost rando turns up to menace them. Turns out, he’s set… something… in the lab to “meltdown” or “overload” – look, I don’t know. Nothing about this lab is made terribly clear, and it seems unusually sciencey for a place where something went down with the Darkhold, but anyway, some shit is about to blow up and Fitz and Mack have to stop it. But they can’t, because they’re busy being menaced by a cranky ghost.

Mack gets locked in the meltdown chamber, as you do when things about to explode. Honestly, that’s the only purpose a meltdown chamber actually serves. They’re there for someone to get locked into, so they can be poisoned or radiated. They’re basically a massive OSHA violation. That’s how you know they’re only for Mad Science.

Fitz can’t get the meltdown chamber opened because of Casper the Cranky Ghost and his own weak, science nerd arms, but no worries, because Ghost Rider shows up, Fitz absolutely craps himself, and GR fries the ghost and then splits. Then Daisy shows up! Seriously, she shows up right after GR leaves. She must have waved at him in the hall on the way by. She gets Mack out, and everyone escapes.

Back in the quinnjet Mack slaps a splint on Daisy’s arm and blame is parcelled out appropriately on her shoulders for being a dummy and handling everything like a dummy. Fitz does most of the parcelling, which is sort of like when you mess with your puppy too much and he gives you that wounded, sad-eyed “why are you such an asshole when I love you soooo much” look and then you have to feel bad for all eternity.

Daisy slinks off to go retrieve her van but ends up hooking up with Ghost Rider instead, because I guess Robbie Reyes thinks he needs the help of a shabby, emotionally damaged, ex-SHIELD agent to sort out what’s going on with these ghosts.

Over at SHIELD HQ our tours are wrapping up and May’s finally got a minute to have her psychotic break. She kicks the entire ass of everyone in SHIELD before Jeffery finally turns up to stop her, which he totally can because in a shocking reveal, he’s an Inhuman brick. No, seriously, shocking. I honestly didn’t see that coming at all. Turns out, it was Phil’s idea they get a “trustworthy powered person” to run SHIELD instead of himself. Coulson wanted Cap, but then Civil War happened, so… yeah. We got the Patriot instead.

Phil wants to be involved with helping May, but Jeffery informs him it’s being handled and now that the tours are over, Phil should bugger off. Meanwhile, Jeffrey has apparently shipped May off with that bunch of senators that were hanging around, which just seems like a super weird thing to do, so clearly something is up with that.

The Good

  1. May’s whole psychotic breakdown and subsequent shipping off was excellent. We’re so used to seeing May in total control of herself and every situation that’s it really upsetting to see her lose her shit.
  2. The scene with Mack, Fitz and Daisy in the quinnjet was heart-wrenching. All these betrayals, Mack doing his kicked-puppy face, Fitz feeling angry and abandoned and kind of dumping it all on Daisy, Daisy’s obvious guilt over everything – it was nicely acted by everyone, and particularly Iain De Caestecker, who is basically a national treasure. That dude should get a lot of work. He’s good.
  3. The reveal of Jeffrey Mace as an Inhuman powerhouse was so much fun! Not a word of that had breathed out to anyone (that I know of), so that came as a total surprise.

The Bad

  1. This episode was kind of a mess. A lot of exposition and connection were handed out, but nothing was really made very clear. Like, everything involved in the ghost situation so far looks and is being talked about as if it’s scientific, but then again, they’re all ghosts and the Darkhold is involved, plus there’s a Ghost Rider connection floating around somewhere, so clearly it’s supernatural in nature. In trying to hold things back for later shocking reveals, things are left muddy and unexplained. Which, I suppose, is meant to be mysterious, but it’s just really a little confusing.
  2. Holy crap the makeup and effects for the ghosts looked so bad this episode, you guys. I mean, like, “high school play” bad. I get that Ghost Rider is an expensive effect, but jeez. I was doing better horror makeup for my childhood Halloween costumes.

Line of the Night Award

“That’s one theory.” – Jemma Simmons, at Mack’s suggestion that maybe they really are dealing with ghosts.

Other Reviews & Resources

Next Episode (10/11)

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