Can I just say something. It’s kind of really lame when a television show takes an entire month off, and then comes back for two whole episodes before it’s “Winter Break”. I was really hoping that with the break that Agents just came off of, we’d get another 4 episodes or so at least before it’s mid season cliff hanger.
There were a lot of fun twists an action in this episode for sure. Last episode left a cliffhanger where Robbie, Coulson and Fitz all vanished mysteriously. Simmons disappeared early in the episode to parts unknown. I’m rather glad they resolved the Coulson, Fitz, Robbie thing in one episode instead of dragging it out forever. Also, no solid connections to Doctor Strange here, which was disappointing. There’s some loose possible connections and definite parallels in some areas, but nothing super solid.
Anyway, enough pseudo spoilers, if you want that, you’ll have to keep reading, if not, then it’s time to stop and move on I guess. There may be some vague-ish references to Doctor Strange sprinkled in here, but I don’t plan to throw in anything super substantial.
So, Fitz, Coulson and Robbie. As expected, they were thrown into a sort of side dimension. It’s not entirely the same as the Mirror Dimension featured in Doctor Strange but it’s the same sort of idea. The people there can see and hear the “real world” but can’t interact with it or be seen in it. The major difference seems to be the odd creeping dark force trying to consume anyone inside the longer they are in this side dimension. It’s also somewhat similar in nature to the way the ghosts worked in Agent Carter Season 2, a trend that seems to be somewhat persistent here. Considering Carter is currently cancelled I’d love to see some connection and follow up to the events of Carter.
The episode handles the alternate dimension deal in an interesting way. Essentially we see some scenes in the real world, then the whole scene repeats (between commercial breaks in the TV version) where we see the same events plus a bit from the alternate dimension following Fitz, Coulson and Robbie around. The first round of this seems to more or less follow the entire set of scenes twice, thankfully the second set of real/mirror world views, things are truncated quite a bit in the mirror version. In the end, the trio are rescued through use a portal that is, once again, similar, but not quite the same as the Sling Ring effect in Doctor Strange.
Rescuing these guys is the core of the plot this episode, but it’s not really the meat of the events that happen.
Firstly, we find out where Simmons went. Something that apparently the new Director didn’t even really know, despite being the one sending her on the mission. She’s been sent to investigate an Inhuman in a cocoon, specifically, the Inhuman whom is apparently the Senate lady’s brother we saw earlier. Apparently he has been in his shell for months, which is considerably longer than the seconds to minutes that is usually involved in Terrigenesis. She’s also specifically told she doesn’t get to know who he is, mostly, she is there to figure out why he hasn’t, hatched.
Simmons succeeds at this rather quickly and manages to get the guy out of his shell. He seems to recognize her though she still doesn’t find out who he is because she gets a hood slapped on her and dragged away almost immediately. I’m sure this plot point will continue on, though likely after the Winter break.
The true meat here comes with the Ghost Rider plot line, which seems to be winding down. Whatever the Spirit of Vengeance is, it doesn’t like being stuck with Robbie in the mirror dimension. Robbie comments early on that he’s feeling ill, and his condition starts to worsen the longer he spends in the mirror dimension. He mentions that the Rider doesn’t like being there and is fighting to get out, which he, the Rider does. In a pretty interesting twist, Ghost Rider leaves Robbie and merges with Mack.
It’s kind of interesting, this happens during a repeat sequence viewed from the Mirror Dimension. In the first viewing in the Real World, we just see Mack sort of freak out, mount up on a motorcycle and speed off from the SHIELD plane. My first thought was “That Bike, he’s going all Ghost Rider on his own now.” Then it was later shown that he was in fact the Ghost Rider now, which was pretty nice.
Shortly after Mack speeds off, Daisy jumps in Robbie’s Charger and chases after him. The pair end up at a warehouse where the Chinese gang members that appeared in the first episode are hiding out. Daisy takes down several gang members after bursting in the garage in the car and find Mack working on interrogating one of them in a back room. At this point, Daisy learns the reality as Mach transforms into the Ghost Rider with a flaming skull head of his own.
What Daisy isn’t seeing, is that Robbie was ridding with her and is present in the room. Ghost Rider is able to see Robbie in the Mirror Dimension and they have already been having a conversation for a bit where Robbie I begging Ghost Rider to come back to him. Robbie essentially makes a deal that if Ghost Rider helps him get his vengeance on his Uncle, he, Robbie, will help Ghost Rider get vengeance of his own, forever. Ghost Rider leaves Mack and goes back into Robbie. After some other events, Robbie eventually emerges from the portal back in the SHIELD base to a waiting Mack. They make a plan to team up together to deal with Eli, together.
Speaking of the portal, this brings up the other main plotline present here, and what is almost certainly a set up for the second half of the season. May realizes that the Darkhold book is the only way to save Coulson and crew, where ever they are. She brings it to Doctor Radcliffe for help using it. Radcliffe opens it and quickly shuts it after a few seconds proclaiming essentially, he can’t read it or he’ll end up going mad because it’s too much data for any human mind to handle. After some argument, Radcliff reveals to May (and incidentally to a Mirror Dimension Coulson), that his assistant Aida isn’t a human but is in fact an android. They decide she is the perfect person to read the Darkhold since she can’t be driven mad like a human and in the event that something awful happens, they can just wiper her memory and re-upload her with a fresh one.
Aida reads through the book, which in a very clever bit is written in binary from her view point. It’s touched on in an earlier episode that the book reads in the reader’s native language. Two of the original scientists are looking at it, one see it in English, another in German. She then proceeds to build a portal device which, when activated opens up a way for Fitz and Coulson, and later Robbie to return to the real world.
Robbie returns considerably later than Fitz and Coulson, which implies that the portal has been left just sitting open, which seems like a really awful idea.
One last note, I really love the line “My axe is sharp, and a shotgun,” uttered by Mack, in response to the Director telling him to hold off on chasing down Eli Morrow and “sharpening the axe”.
So what’s next.
I suspect AIDA will end up being the villain after the Winter Break. The show ends with her building some sort of human brain model and the power of the Darkhold seems like a good way to create an evil super genius robot.
The next episode is likely going to see the end of Eli Morrow. The promo is already pushing it as the final episode for Ghost Rider. Without Ghost Rider, there isn’t any need for Eli. Now, what happens to Robbie and Ghost Rider? That’s pretty up in the air. He may simply part ways with SHIELD and continue his quest for vengeance. He may get killed stopping Eli. There’s apparently plans for a Netflix Ghost Rider series, maybe he’ll continue on in that series, since it’s not clear if that series will follow Robbie Reyes or Johnny Blaze.