The following recap, by the very definition of the word “recap,” contains spoilers from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 finale.
ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was all fired up this Tuesday night as Ghost Rider joined the Framework arc, leading to an out-of-this-world peek at Season 5.
Indeed, Ghost Rider did not return quietly, immediately (and literally) lashing out at Aida in the name of seizing the Darkhold. And though Robbie was able to decapitate one of the LMD goons, Aida teleported away before he could give her anything more than a really nasty burn on her forearm.
Amid worrying what Elena has gotten herself into in the Framework, and unaware that Ivanov is busy framing Daisy for the (near-and-how-was-it-not-fatal) shooting of General Talbot), Coulson & Co. gleaned that Robbie was back on the scene. Meeting up with him, he explained that he was able to easily track Aida because in her new form, she is made of the same otherworldy muck as the Darkhold. He is probably able to vanquish her, he reckons, though he can never seem to get close enough, fast enough. Though he does get the chance to make quick work of a Daisy-bot, depriving us (and Aida) of seeing the Inhuman fight herself.
Meanwhile in the Framework, that world is deteriorating, thanks to a very scorned Aida. Rescued from Hydra by Radcliffe, Elena tracks down Mack and meets the (fake) daughter he can’t bring himself to abandon. As things and people vanish around them, they and others board a shuttle out of town, where Elena starts to state her case. “I would never want to take this away from you,” she says, “but I thought that if you looked into my eyes, you would remember us.” Their talk is interrupted by disappearing road before them, and then the vanishing of fellow passengers, until it’s just the four of them inside.
Arriving at Mack’s home/the location of the backdoor Daisy created for them to use as an exit, Hope overhears Elena say that Mack’s daughter isn’t real, a fear her dad quickly soothes over. He then hugs Hope for all she’s worth, prepared to wait out whatever awaits them in the Framework — and Elena stays by his side, not wanting to live in a world without him. But when Hope herself disappears, Elena and then eventually Mack return to the real world, where he assures her that “there is nothing to forgive,” that he relishes the time he got with the daughter he never had. Plus, it gave him a taste of the life he can have now, “with you.”
Aida, meanwhile, still is gunning to make Fitz hurt, and bad. Jemma tries to sneak up on Aida, only to have the scalpel in her hand used against her plunged into her chest. Aida makes Fitz beg for Jemma’s life, only to eventually proceed to kill her rival for his affections. ‘Cept, that wasnt really Jemma, Aida realizes, when the real one shows up to plug her full of bullets from a machine gun. Coulson then springs another surprise on Aida, by turning into the Ghost Rider and proceeding to incinerate her into ashes. Robbie then returns to his… whatever, but not before exchanging cryptic words with Coulson about why the Ghost Rider made the “deal” that allowed Coulson to serve as a temporary host. “I don’t envy you,” Robbie said to Phil before leaving, making May curious.
With Elena and Mack back, Aida destroyed, and guilt-ridden Fitz reassured that “we are all in this together,” that everyone made mistakes in the Framework, the team uses their last moments of freedom before getting corralled for Talbot’s shooting, Mace’s death, etc. to grab a bite at a diner — until, as excepted, men in black and toting guns arrive for them. But oddly, one of them uses a gizmo to “freeze” the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents where they sit, noting that a “two-minute window” is closing.
Afterward, in the bonus scene, Coulson is seen waking up inside a bunk of sorts, where he “pulls open the shades” to gaze out upon… the cosmos of outer space. “All right, Phil. Enough sight-seeing,” he says plainly, as if just another day at the quarry. “Get back to work.”
Where is Coulson, and why? Is he alone? (Are there any Guardians zooming around in that galaxy?) As executive producer Jeffrey Bell told TVLine, they have “something quite different” on tap for Season 5, which will air Fridays at 9/8c, when S.H.I.E.L.D. returns in late fall/early winter.