After a quick break, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back with another very solid episode in the story of Ghost Rider, the Darkhold, and Ada-the-little-Life-Model-Decoy-who-could. Previously, Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie had been zapped into a ghostly dimension thanks to an experiment that granted Reyes’ uncle Eli super human abilities. Little did everyone realize that Eli was in fact the mastermind behind the original incident that left so many Roxxon employees wandering the world as haunting spirits. Needless to say, Eli begins reveling in his new found abilities by creating huge spikes in the bodies of some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that are unfortunate enough to get in his way. Whether or not Robbie’s evil cousin becomes something akin to Marvel’s lesser known character “The Molecule Man” is yet to be seen, but his powers certainly do seem close to them.
“Deals With Our Devils” uses the trope of replaying events from the same episode in succession, but manages to make it interesting by revealing that the actions happening in the “real world” are being witnessed, and sometimes influenced by, Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie in the ghost world. It’s a neat dynamic that keeps things fresh while retreading previous events, and heightens the urgency of the predicament that the two men and a Ghost Rider currently find themselves in. Before these events however, Daisy and the rest of the gang are witness to the “deaths” of their comrades on the security cameras. While most of the agents believe them to be dead, Daisy believes otherwise. This isn’t much of a shock considering Daisy’s character, but what is surprising revolves around May’s next proposed move, wherein she suggests to Mack that they use the Darkhold to “fix” things. Obviously, Mack immediately tries to put a kibosh on this idea by letting May know what Coulson had told him about the evil book in previous conversations, to which a ghostly Phil attempts to confirm (to humorous effect).
While the main thrust of this episode is a great one, the subplot involving Simmons encountering a new Inhuman wasn’t nearly as good. Swept away by some agents under the request of Director Mace, Simmons comes into contact with another Inhuman cocoon where a man is apparently trapped inside but unable to break free. There’s a one-sided conversation with Jemma trying to calm the Inhuman’s nerves, only to be dragged away again after making some progress when the stone wall begins cracking. I pray that this isn’t yet another scenario where Simmons falls in love with this new stranger only to give Fitz the run around once again. The Fitz-Simmons relationship was rightfully earned and we’ve barely cracked into the two of them as a fully functioning couple outside of the Ada problem and apartment hunting. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on this one.
Meanwhile, Mack seemingly becomes serious all of a sudden and hops onto a motorcycle, zooming out of the “Bus” to the surprise of everyone near him. What we don’t see the first time around is that Mack has been hijacked by the Spirit of Vengeance, with Ghost Rider deciding that Robbie is no longer a suitable host, as the trio of ghost refuges are seemingly finding that they are being dragged down to hell, much to their chagrin. With time now of the essence, Fitz attempts to make contact with Ada and Professor Radcliffe, as May does the same in the real world. Presenting Radcliffe with the Darkhold, May requests he give it a read to try to bring their comrades back, only for the Professor to become horrified by what he sees. I like the approach of treating the Darkhold as the Marvel Universe’s “Necronomicon” and the “show but don’t tell” approach here with Radcliffe reeling in horror after looking at the thing for a couple of seconds really runs that point home. Fitz luckily manages to put an idea into Ada’s head that she may be able to read the book as artificial intelligence with surely nothing going wrong down the line ….
With Ghost Rider Mack on the loose, attempting to settle the score Robbie previously had with the Triad, Daisy follows in hot pursuit with a humorous scene of Robbie riding shotgun as she nearly wrecks his car on numerous occasions. Robbie encounters the Spirit-fueled Mack and makes a bargain with the Rider that he’ll help the flamehead with his vengeance if he comes back to him. The Ghost Rider agrees and jumps back into Robbie, with Ada luckily beginning to figure out a solution to the trio’s problems with a really intricate light show. The Life Model Decoy manages to create a portal that Coulson and Fitz are able to leap through in order to return to the physical world, while Robbie makes a surprise appearance later on to be greeted with Mack, who having been possessed now wants to help Reyes with his path to vengeance. The final shot of the episode makes for a great one as Ada, apparently referencing the Darkhold, is stitching together an electronic brain from the same light she used to build the portal.
“Deals With Our Devils” was another extremely good episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as it managed to balance the many aspects of the supernatural and the artificial intelligence of Ada while giving us some nice character moments along the way. While S.H.I.E.L.D. never had a direct tie-in to Dr. Strange proper, it is doing a great job of exploring the mystical side of the MCU — almost more so than the good Doctor did in his solo outing.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– But seriously, please don’t create another love triangle for Fitz and Simmons.
– It will be interesting to see which spirit of Ghost Rider we’re actually interacting with here as there have actually been a few different spirits in the comics. Maybe the Noble Kale version, which was a medieval resident who found himself turned into a ghost? The spirit that Robbie was actually bonded to in the comics was his uncle Eli, and I doubt that’s the case here considering Eli is in the land of the living.
– While the CW currently is having their massive television crossover, I hope that we may see the Agents taking on some of the Netflix crew at some point. A guy can dream. [Editor’s Comment: Too bad they don’t all film in Vancouver!]
– Mack: “We’re in nightmare territory here.”
– Daisy: “Coulson came back from the dead, Fitz pulled Simmons from outer space, and Robbie’s head lights on fire.”
– Mack: “My axe is plenty sharp…AND A SHOTGUN.”
– Coulson: “Did what I think just happened happen?”
– Fitz: “Oh well Mack’s the Ghost Rider but you can’t hear me so…”
– Mace: “Driving off without orders? With no helmet??”
– Robbie: “Please be careful of my baby.”