The following recap, by the very definition of the word “recap,” contains massive spoilers from the fall finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It’s no secret that I was far from the No. 1 fan of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ghost Rider arc, which — and this is but one semi-nerdy person’s opinion — felt a bit shoehorned into this corner of the Marvel universe. It felt more in service of weaving in some Doctor Strange Easter eggs versus spinning a yarn organic to this particular team of heroes.
But coming out of Tuesday night’s fall finale, I am feeling more optimistic about the next stretch of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4.
With Eli Morrow on the loose and creating things out of carbon like, well, a mad man, “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics” set the stage for the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to ally with both Robbie Reyes (who of course boasts a very particular set of skills) and former team member Daisy. In addition to giving Ghost Rider and Quake his begrudging blessing, Director Mace also had this to swallow: Coulson disclosed that AIDA — the science whiz whom Jeffrey is “mildly attracted to” — is an android. (“Doesn’t anyone remember Ultron?!”)
Uncle Eli’s grand plan is to entrap a massive amount of quantum energy — and frighteningly adjacent to a very precarious plutonium trigger of sorts! — in the name of creating life after he destroys some. (If you came to this recap for well-relayed science terminology, you’re very much in the wrong place.) When the team locates Eli, Robbie makes the first approach, yet even his stone-cold, hot-headed self is no match for his uncle and randomly appearing carbon spikes. Fortunately, Robbie’s body cam offers Jemma and Fitz enough information for them to ascertain the potentially explosive situation at hand — one that could wipe out a serious chunk of Los Angeles if “matchstick” meets plutonium.
With help from Aida and her “cat’s cradle”-type engineering, the team develops a supermagnet to position inside a room beneath the energy-filled cube that Eli created. For the team’s final offensive, it was all hands on deck — from Yo-Yo (busting out a bit of Quicksilver-like, gun-adjusting trickery) to Director Mace in his nifty Patriot armor, lobbing goons left and right as if they were sacks of M&Ms. Outfitted with new gauntlets, Quake meanwhile did her best to absorb the growing tremors caused by Eli’s creation of matter, until she couldn’t take it any more and had to dart outside for an explosing “release,” propelling her high into the sky.
When all was said and done, Yo-Yo’s dash into the room had planted another magnet on Eli, which immediately pinned the baddie to the floor. Robbie then overcame the many carbon spikes perforating his torso to break free and wrestle Eli into the cube, consuming them both in fire and shutting the cover on the plutonium trigger to set off a chain of reactions that… again, the rest is wholly lost on me. (Um, science!) But Robbie and Eli eventually vanished with a flash, as did the entire “fail safe” contraption, though Coulson later told Daisy he senses they have not seen the last of (a) Ghost Rider.
As the “team that trusts” decompressed from their latest saving of countless lives, Coulson and May got a bit cozy over a finally-opened bottle of whiskey, while Mace told Radcliffe that, thanks to Aida’s latest derring-do (during which she took a bullet and ably mimicked sensations of “pain”), the professor may proceed with his LMD program — but under S.H.I.E.L.D.’s oversight, in their labs. To that end, Mace sent Nathanson to Radcliffe’s lab to round up his research, though the agent found, to his detriment, a whole lot more. Accidentally triggering open a secret room, he was shocked by what he saw — until Aida sneaked up behind him and very politely snapped his neck. Inside said room was an unconscious Agent May, as we realize that the Melinda sipping Haig with Phil is actually Aida’s first handmade LMD! “I’m right where I belong,” LMayD smiled, clinking glasses with her colleague.
Elsewhere in the episode:
* Mack sent Elena (who is getting her own hiatus web series) mixed signals again and again, especially when he spoke up against her being used to retrieve the plutonium from Eli’s contraption. Elena finally confronted Mack about their many talks and dinners that lead to, well, nothing, only to have her complaint interrupted by an impetuous kiss from “Turtleman.”
* Confronted by Coulson about kowtowing to the metahuman-hating Senator Nadeer, Mace explained that she had leverage over S.H.I.E.L.D., in the form of photos showing them in cahoots with “domestic terrorist” Quake and “murderer” Robbie Reyes.
* When Daisy landed on a public street following her aforementioned “release,” Director Mace covered for her by touting Quake as a hero who had been covertly working for S.H.I.E.L.D. this whole time. As such, she was (involuntarily) “welcomed” back to the team, lanyard and all.