‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Midseason Finale Recap: “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics”

     December 6, 2016

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Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie returned from the “ghost dimension” after Ghost Rider jumped into Mack’s body, and Ada the android discovered more of her humanity through the Darkhold. This week marks the fourth season’s winter finale, and has Robbie and Eli fighting one another for what seems to be the final time. The most interesting thing about this finale is that it almost seems like it should have been the season finale rather than the halfway point, as all the events seem to be pointing at a very different crescendo for the adventures of the agents for this year. Is this a bad thing for the upcoming installments, or will the showrunners be able to leverage the goodwill built up by the supernatural escapades that the Ghost Rider brought with him in his television introduction? We’ll have to wait and see.

For now, in “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics” (cute title), Eli has hired a number of men to finish his experiments that may very well, inadvertently, bring about the end of the world. In a nice scene, one of the Triad under Eli’s employ demands money for their protection to which Eli uses his newfound abilities to fill him full of diamonds, which the goon painfully spits out and dies from. While Eli’s powers are never really fully developed or gone into, they’re serviceable, and his modus operandi works because of how against the grain it is. The villain of this season isn’t in it for world domination or to get revenge but to merely earn respect, as Eli grew up in the same rough neighborhood that his nephews, Gabe and Robbie, had. Never being granted the same adulation as his co-workers who may have been seen differently as products of wealth or privilege, Eli snaps for a very real and thoughtful reason. In this, he makes for an interesting villain with an understandable reason for why he chose to walk on the dark side.

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Image via ABC

The episode itself was wall-to-wall action, delivering a cool segment with the strike team of Daisy, Yo-Yo, and Robbie going after Eli in full force. Yo-Yo is taken out somewhat early in the game, only to return later — with a fantastic ‘Quicksilver-esque’ demonstration no less — after using her powers to try to learn more about what Eli is up to, but discovering a wall of fire and explosions instead. Robbie takes her place, seeing as how his split personality gives him a certain edge with fire, and waltzes past a number of guards to encounter his uncle, who unfortunately gets the drop on him by creating spikes that puncture right through his chest as he’s transforming into the spirit of vengeance. Gabriel Lunas and Jose Zuniga have a well-acted tete-a-tete here with Eli delving into his backstory, and Robbie feeling betrayed over the whole affair.

Meanwhile, this episode also finally brought us something of a conclusion to the Yo-Yo and Mack relationship build that’s been teased since her first appearance. After dancing around the idea of “going steady,” Mack manages to reveal his feelings her with a long awaited kiss. I really have loved the character of Mack since his introduction to the show, as the somewhat gentle giant’s character is humorous, even though he can bring out the action when necessary. His shotgun axe is a great, albeit lovably goofy, extension of who he is, and his relationship with Yo-Yo feels real, even though the reason for their distance was laughable at best (as agents couldn’t “date field assets”). Also, giving Mack the Ghost Rider spirit last episode was another nice notch in his belt in giving him a closer relationship with Robbie, as he knows what Reyes is going through better than anyone. (For the record, the “balaclava” joke between the two of them absolutely killed me).

As the team attempts to capture Eli, they begin experiencing some earthquakes that are attributed to the use of Morrow’s powers. Coulson brings this fact up to Morrow himself, causing some uncertainty for the antagonist as Robbie manages to transform into the Ghost Rider, and Daisy, Mace, and Yo Yo hit the scene with well-choreographed action. With the Spirit of Vengeance still stuck to the wall from Eli’s carbon spikes, he is given the opportunity to break free of his prison thanks to Coulson and a chain, but turns it down to grab his uncle and drag him back into parts unknown when the experiment goes awry. Seemingly, both Morrow and Robbie are gone from the show, and who knows if they’ll be returning this season if at all. While that would certainly be a surprise, Coulson offhandedly remarks that the same thing happened to the “other Ghost Rider,” dropping a bomb in terms of continuity. Did S.H.I.E.L.D. have past interactions with another Ghost Rider in the form of Johnny Blaze (or Danny Ketch)? Hopefully this is something they can explore a little bit more even if Robbie is absent for the remainder of Season 4.

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Image via ABC

Our last hint of things to come for Season 4 was a good one in that Ada reveals she has the real Agent May held captive, while another LMD is seemingly becoming romantic with poor Phil. While shifting the tone from the supernatural to the mechanical would be quite the departure, I think that this season has earned enough goodwill to give the remainder a shot, Ghost Rider or no. A season dedicated to something along the lines of Battlestar Galactica in heightening the sense of paranoia may not be the worst thing in the world and Life Model Decoys have long been a S.H.I.E.L.D. staple. Ultimately, the finale was another very good episode from a series that has truly managed to turn itself around.

Rating:★★★★ Very good

Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A. 

– Coulson always seems funnier in the premieres and finales of the show, have you ever noticed that?

– The line delivery of those reporters was ROUGH in that last half.

– I really loved Director Mace’s “costume”. Simple and streamlined, lightyears ahead of what we saw with Deathlock (Where did he go??)

– Daisy’s crack about becoming the “face of S.H.I.E.L.D.” was ironic as in the Marvel comics, she is actually the director for a little bit of time. Nice easter egg there.

– Senator Nadeer has had somewhat of a distant presence in terms of this season so it should be interesting to see where her storyline goes.

– Eli: “May need to cut the rest out of his lungs.”

– Mace: “Doesn’t anyone remember Ultron??”

– May: “Meanwhile I’ll be playing chauffeur to a robot.”

– May: “You don’t have to twist my arm.”
Coulson: “I wouldn’t dare, you might kick my ass.”

– Coulson: “Time for Plan B. Anyone? Feel free to chime in.”

– Eli: “Not vengeance, RESPECT.”

– Coulson: “No one’s arguing with you, but you do have a nice smile.”

– Eli: “Creating life.”
Coulson: “Might want to get a girlfriend first.”

– Daisy: “Yeah right, maybe the comic book version.”

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