Spoilers ahead: The following recap contains spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., episode 4.02, “Meet the New Boss.”
Things got even more mystical this episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the team dealt with the fallout of the mystery box opening in last week’s premiere.
As May begins to lose it -- because she’s infected with a ghosty flu that makes everyone look like something from J-Horror -- that lady specter from the last episode is busy terrifying kids, and unleashing fellow scientist ghosts. Meanwhile, Daisy and Robbie Reyes have an extended session of wordplay and puns (well, mainly Daisy delivers those), and they have their second Quake v. Ghost Rider showdown. By comparison, Coulson’s week is pretty chill other than dealing with bureaucracy, giving a tour of the S.H.I.E.L.D. base and hanging out with his new Director “Jeffrey” before the agency goes public.
Oh, and there was a pretty big friggin’ name drop that may connect S.H.I.E.L.D. to Doctor Strange.
Aaron: Overall I enjoyed watching a demoted Coulson face the red tape and bureaucracy of the newly legit S.H.I.E.L.D. He seems uncomfortable with the current state of the agency, and it’s “Suspect it? Report it” mentality.
I also happen to quite enjoy Jason O’Mara as the new Director. He is disarming and likable. We still don’t know Jeffrey’s last name, or his connection to the larger Marvel Universe, but we are told he is an Inhuman, and a hero to the country. I have suspected Coulson stepped down from his position willingly, and that is confirmed here. He told the president the agency needed a leader the world could trust, and since Captain America has gone AWOL, Jeffrey is who S.H.I.E.L.D. got.
I really hope that the show doesn’t then reveal Director Jeffrey to be a bad seed. That is a bit of a tired trope, and while dispatching the crazed May to a secret location appears nefarious, for now, more of what the Director said to Coulson is reasonable.
Daisy’s fight scenes with Robbie, and her Quake-launch on top of his car were top notch, but Ghost Rider’s takedown of the ghosts was a highlight for the episode. I just really enjoy watching Ghost Rider. I feared MAoS would wait a bit before showing off their new toy again after his debut last week, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the hothead return.
The part that garnered an audible reaction from me was mention of the Darkhold. The grimoire, a dark magic counterpart to Doctor Stephen Strange’s Book of Vishanti, is connected somehow to the ghost scientists and to Ghost Rider. But the introduction of the Darkhold into S.H.I.E.L.D. potentially opens the door for a connection to the Doctor Strange movie. (Read more about Vishanti and the Darkhold in our article about evil books within pop culture.)
Trent: After establishing a fair share of disparate (but interesting) threads in the season premiere, this episode quickly started weaving them together in a way that has me much more excited for the season as whole. We’ve seen the old S.H.I.E.L.D. team divided under the new regime, and we saw Daisy off dealing with Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider while on her vigilante crusade. It turns out, these two stories became related a whole lot quicker than expected. The premiere introduced these mysterious ghosts, which Mack and Fitz are having a hard time taking down this week, but it seems the Ghost Rider is also tracking these creatures — and accidentally puts himself right on the S.H.I.E.L.D. radar in the process.
The post-credit scene with Daisy symbolically (and literally) getting onboard with Robbie was also a nice touch. Putting the Ghost Rider at the heart of this mystical, new story is a great way to make him relevant to the narrative. We also get some name drops for the Darkhold, a mystical book that has been a stalwart in Doctor Strange lore. We already knew the MCU was getting more magical this year, and it seems there will certainly be some connective tissue to Marvel’s next blockbuster. Now we just have to see exactly how it all ties together, and hope it does so in a satisfying way. Last but not least: Daisy’s car chase with Ghost Rider was epic, along with the Ghost Rider vs. ghosts fight. Standout moments.
Aaron: The pre-credits scene of a ghost arriving in a child’s bedroom, and then infecting his father was a nice creep-out moment for this show. It wasn’t terrifying, but it makes me want to see more of an occasional horror tinge in some episodes (the Darkhold and Ghost Rider certainly offer up material to do that with). Unfortunately, thus far, the rest of the ghost scientists at Momentum felt rather uninspired, and their look struck me as unfinished. And there was nothing was particularly scary about them standing around yammering. Maybe that Ghost Rider soul-eating thing he did eats up the effects budget.
The Mack and Fitz team-up scenes left me cold. I quite enjoy Henry Simmons as Mack, and appreciate the betrayal he feels from both Daisy, and then Yo-Yo. But the episode just belonged to Robbie and Daisy.
Trent: As much as I like Jason O’Mara, I wasn’t crazy about his introduction here as the new S.H.I.E.L.D. director “Jeffrey” (possibly a version to classic hero Jeffrey Mace). O’Mara played it almost too bland — though the big reveal that he’s actually a super-strong Inhuman was nice, not to mention the twist that he’s shipping off an insane Agent May (though who’s to say he’s not just sending her off for help this point). O’Mara came off like a PR hack for S.H.I.E.L.D., not the director. After all the build-up, I just expected a bit more. Here’s hoping he gets more interesting soon. Not terrible by any stretch, but still a letdown.
Aaron: The Darkhold! What does it mean for the S.H.I.E.L.D.-verse, and how does it tie into Doctor Strange?
Who is the “He” the ghost scientists are referring to, and how/why are they infecting mortals, like May?
How is Robbie connected to the ghost scientists? He definitely knows more about it than anyone else, and looks to tell Daisy.
Who is Director Jeffrey, really? Hopefully this won’t be strung along for too long, but we know he identifies as an Inhuman and is very strong. (And I don't buy that those members of Congress would clamor a picture with just an ol' director of S.H.I.E.L.D., so he must have a notable past.)
Robbie mentioned selling his soul to the devil, because he was the only one buying. Just a thought, but what if that devil is a literal character? If so, might Mephisto be introduced in the MCU soon?
Will we ever get more of those Agent Peggy Carter stories Coulson said the world doesn't know?
Trent: What’s the deal with the ghosts, the Darkhold, Ghost Rider and all the other magical twists hitting this season? S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting better at connecting to the films in meaningful, but not overly-dependent, ways. I’d like to see this evolve into its own story that is complemented by Doctor Strange, not dependent on it. Having May be affected is also a clever way to drive it all home, and tie that story back to the team in a meaningful way.
Another biggie to watch: Apparently S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the verge of once again becoming a legitimate agency, and considering how important the group has been in the wider MCU, that’s certainly a plot point that could reverberate into the film universe down the line. There hasn’t been a lot of TV-to-movie effects up this point, and this is certainly the type of story where it could be feasible and believable.
“Maybe she’s just a ghost.” -Mack
“…That’s also a theory” – Simmons
“You’re enhanced, and you just said we’re not that different. I’m sorry but you just said that, like, 10 seconds ago.” - Daisy
Up next: There’s a global blackout, and bad stuff is about to go down.