(Marvel Studios – 2016)
Ghost Rider Arc – Part 6
Summary: 6 months have past since the events of season 3. SHIELD has been reinstated as an official government agency, but it’s still rebuilding and has a long way to go before it returns to glory. The world, however, believes Coulson dead and so a new Director is in charge. Daisy has left SHIELD and is now a vigilante working to help others while fleeing authorities. All the while a new supernatural entity has entered the ring: the Ghost Rider. This season tells of a family broken a part in need of being pieced back together.
“The Good Samaritan”
Directed by Billy Gierhart; Written by Jeffrey Bell
Review: The MCU grows ever larger as another Ghost Rider finally makes his grand appearance in this episode. Whether it’s Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch is to be seen, but all signs point to Blaze – the original Ghost Rider. The Good Samaritan gives us Robbie Reyes’ origin story and man what a doozy it is. While in the comics Reyes’ origin is rather convoluted, it also differs greatly from the origins that most Ghost Riders tend to go through. In the comics he is not inhabited by the Spirit of Vengeance. In Agents of SHIELD he so clearly is and it’s wonderful.
While the majority of the episode bounces back and forth between present day and “back in the day” as the time stamp for the flashbacks tell us, the most exciting bits of the story definitely take place in the past – well, until the final 3rd act of the present day storyline. Then things get really good. For now though let’s talk about the past from the beginning.
Two different stories play out in the flashbacks. Eli Morrow’s growing frustration towards his colleagues for using the Darkhold to bend the laws of physics to their will while also keeping him out of the loop on what the Darkhold really is. This set of flashbacks is sparring but important because it shows Eli’s descent into madness while also giving us a lot of answers to how the ghosts became what they were.
Now, I definitely wish the ghosts would have played a larger role in this arc than what they did given how played up they were for the earlier episodes of the season but this is Agents of SHIELD we’re talking about and sadly one of their continued faults is teasing the importance of some players that aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of things (see Lash last season).
I mentioned Morrow’s descent into madness. One of the grand reveals of this episode is Morrow being the grand villain of what will probably be the first half of this season (the pre-winter break portion). A man who played the long con and waited for his chance to get a hold of the Darkhold and finally realize his plans. This reveal plays out parallel in his half of the flashbacks as well as present day and is set up quite well. So far it hasn’t been revealed that Morrow’s been manipulating things since “back in the day,” he just waited for his moment and took it. I hope this stays because I hate when it’s revealed that villains have been pulling the strings for years on events that really they only got lucky they happened the way they did.
Turns out the ghosts weren’t truly evil, but it was clear they too were descending into madness because of the book. This gray area allows for them to still go down as villains but at the very least give us the viewers to care for them in some way posthumously.
The other flashback and arguably the biggest is that of Robbie’s origin and how Gabe got put in a wheelchair. It was alluded to that the drive-by from the Fifth Street Locos was what brought about both brothers life-changing experiences and that is exactly what happened. We get to see the experience from both brother’s perspectives as Robbie recounts the events of that day to Gabe and Daisy as he finally explains what happened to him.
After being shot up by the Locos the car flipped and Robbie was ripped from his seat and sent flying into the air. He died. But before landing he prayed to anyone who would listen that Gabe be saved. Afterwards the titular Good Samaritan pulled up on his motorcycle and pulled Gabe from the car before going over to Robbie and breathing life into him while also passing on the abilities of the Ghost Rider. We see this Samaritan in full form too – blazing skull and all. And after all the nods to Johnny Blaze last episode there’s not doubt in my mind that this is Blaze we’re looking at.
This does raise some questions that I hope will be answered later in some fashion, like is there multiple Ghost Riders in the MCU now? Or did this guy give up the power completely? Among others. If these aren’t explored in SHIELD, I at least hope we get a Ghost Rider spin-off series that definitely explores all of this. – Speaking of that for a moment, I know people continue to clamor for a Johnny Blaze Netflix series but really I don’t think we need one anymore after the great showing we’re getting of Robbie in SHIELD. Just give us a Robbie Reyes driven ABC series airing at 10 while SHIELD goes back to a 9 pm time slot and I’ll be very happy.
Heading back into the present the first half of that storyline sees Director Mace going after Coulson and his crew in order to detain and arrest both Daisy and Robbie. After a fun cat and mouse chase the Director easily spots their location after noticing the e-vac containment unit is missing from Zephyr-1. After coming into contact with them we get a great display of Ghost Rider’s unhindered power as he decimates the containment unit which so far in the series proven impervious to all elements kept within in. He then beats up on Mace and gives the Inhuman with super strength a run for his money.
The final half of this storyline sees the group all being forced to work together after Fitz gets a huge lead on where Morrow and Lucy, the last of the ghosts, have gone. They storm the new lab and while Robbie and Lucy square off Coulson is forced to take on Morrow. Lucy is killed for good by Robbie but before Coulson can stop Morrow from enacting his plans to become a god who can create something from nothing, the device he’s created is activated and the episode ends with Fitz, Robbie and Coulson all being caught within the blast and disappearing. Morrow comes out unscathed and gets his wish by creating a piece of rock from thin air.
This a wonderful cliffhanger to leave us on as we must wait a few weeks for the next episode. Oh! I forgot something, this episode also sees Morrow’s experiments tie-into the Zero Matter experiments that we saw in season 2 of Agent Carter, going so far as to hear Fitz discuss similar tests being done in the 40s that were investigated by Peggy and Co. Though I have major issues with that season – one of them being the lack of any explanations for Zero Matter – I’m really glad to see Agents of SHIELD picking up the loose ends. It was on my wish list for this season so Christmas definitely came early.
We did not get any explanations for it so far, but knowing it’s now a part of this season’s narrative has me excited for what’s coming next as far as Zero Matter is concerned. This really was a great episode. #ItsAllConnected
Final Score: 5 Good Samaritans out of 5
Derrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.
You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net