Saturday, July 13, 2024

Agents of SHIELD Raises The Stakes Beyond ROYGBIV Clearance

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No disrespect for Agents of SHIELD, but hot damn do I wish I were covering Supergirl. Granted, every instance of Maggie Sawyer would be replaced with Renee Montoya—that’s not Maggie; Fox owned the rights to Renee so they just used the other lesbian cop’s name and barely changed her character—but still. Great show over there. You guys should watch it if you aren’t already!

And, uhm, also Agents of SHIELD, because that’s what we’re here to talk about.

Super Science Is Super Cool And Super Dangerous!

This week, just like last week, we start off “The Good Samaritan” with a flashback to a time before ghosts weren’t all over the place. Somehow, our Pissed Off Scientist Ghosts—sans the ghost—have managed to create carbon by rearranging the atomic structure of, the air, I guess?

That wasn’t entirely clear to me, but in any case Eli Morrow is very skeptical of things that give the middle finger to physics. And also the universe. Thermodynamics. Playing God. Typical human things that a regular person would be concerned about. Also that book that apparently held some key to the universe and yet wasn’t published anywhere.

Which, to me, is a giant red flag. It’s one thing to hoard patents and research, but not to brag constantly that you unlocked the secrets of the cosmos? Pbbth, no one is that humble.

The goggles! They do nothing!
The goggles! They do nothing!

In any case, Jon and the rest of the team are excited about the humanitarian applications of this technology. Though, as we find out later, Eli Morrow wasn’t too keen on that plan. I’ll admit, I should have seen this coming, especially since his surname is Morrow and reminded me instantly of Dr. T. O. Morrow from DC Comics. He’s an old school super-villain and is probably best known for creating Red Tornado, among many other things.

As for what Eli Morrow did, and what he became, well, we’ll get to that.

Johnny Blaze, AAA Certified!

Digging into Robbie’s origin as the Ghost Rider was a fun aside, though for me it didn’t quite land emotionally. It’s not that the acting was flat or bad, but the writing itself was only so-so. The idea that Gabriel, who the show didn’t forget about, calls that dude on the motorcycle “The Good Samaritan” is more than a little cheesy and on the nose. Additionally, it felt like we saw the drive-by shooting scene play out one too many times. I know it was only twice, but something about the pacing wasn’t quite right.

You can't prove it's not Nic Cage under there. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
You can’t prove it’s not Nic Cage under there. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway, yes, Robbie made a deal with the devil. He died, the original Ghost Rider revved up and transferred his powers into Robbie. Pretty awesome scene, visually, but as I’ve said it lacked the emotional oomph that I think it was going for. Probably because they retroactively diffused some of that tension by having Gabriel assume that Robbie was a secret agent, and Daisy going along with that.

That dose of levity, while amusing and good moment for Daisy to claim that she is a SHIELD agent, undermined the rest of the sequence. It’s cute, but ultimately not the best choice. Also kind of weird that Gabriel jumps to secret agent rather than hitman or something.

This kid isn’t ten years old. Blood on his clothes, out late at night in a bad neighborhood…and he thinks secret agent? Hell, maybe he did think he was a hitman at first—he seems to all but suggest something along those lines—but when Daisy picks him up in a badass plane, well, he’s probably not a hitman.

Are We Sure Jeffrey Isn’t Batman?

Know it feels like I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but guys, c’mon. He whisks Simmons away to God knows where, thanks to her Spectrum of Security Clearance Level (huzzah!) and then personally heads to the Zephyr to take Daisy and Robbie into custody. Also known as: sent someone to the Batcave and continued on with his mission. Seriously, it’s getting weird. Especially the bits where he’s talking about Robbie getting a fair trial and agreeing to use him for the time being to save thousands of lives.

Anyway, Discount Bruce Wayne uses his masterful detective skills to deduce that the fugitives aren’t technically on the plane. He brings the containment module up into the cargo bay, everyone starts bickering, and we get a fun sequence of Robbie beating down the wall of the containment module. Now, we all knew he’d break out, but the way it was framed and executed still made it entertaining to watch. The fact that it took him some time to do it, and gave the rest of the cast a few moments to just sort of watch him punch a wall made it a lot more fun that it otherwise could have been.


Ghost Rider beats the snot out of Jeffrey, Gabriel manages to pull a “I Know You’re In There Somewhere” and calm Robbie down before he kills the new face of SHIELD. And then, right after, Robbie is just sort of standing outside the conference room while Phil and Jeffrey talk about how, yeah, hey, he’s a terrorist…but he’s our terrorist. Also he could kill everybody on this plane and we sort of can’t stop him whoops.

How much you wanna bet Jeffery figures out Ghost Rider’s “kryptonite”? If he puts it inside of a ring I’m calling shenanigans.

Fitz And The Colors Of Bureaucracy

While everything else is happening, Fitz is constantly trying to get into contact with Simmons, who has vanished off the face of the planet—again—while also attempting to decrypt some files that will hopefully lead them to where Lucy took Eli. That’s pretty much his entire everything for the first two acts, with May popping up as his eyes and ears in the field for a few bits before the third act comes into swing.

The idea that he’s been running from officer to officer, all around the Zephyr, while calling other people across the planet with a higher security clearance than him to systematically unencrypt some files about a defunct power station is hilarious. It’s the most mundane kind of information, but thanks to the Spectrum of Security, he needed somebody with a ROYGBIV clearance level to get access.

But, when he does get it, things really pick up, since he doesn’t take long to deduce that Lucy and Eli are trying to recreate, or possibly reverse, the experiment at an old pre-internet power plant. The Zephyr links up with May’s Quinjet, and they’re off to save the day.

Everything Goes Really Bad, Really Fast

Once our heroes enter the facility, comms go down very quickly. Mack and Fitz discover that Eli did something weird to the power plant’s control systems, since nothing they do can seem to shut it off. Meanwhile, Robbie learns the truth about his uncle’s intentions from Lucy who, hilariously, has no idea that she is about to be double-dead.

Phil and May make it to the central chamber, and in a moment that’s genuinely pretty scary, hands the Darkhold over to May and urges her to leave the facility so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Because she is the only one he can trust to not be swayed by its power.

And y’know what? She actually does the thing! Not that she wouldn’t, but that brief moment of recognition from May, that holy crap he’s not even close to kidding about this book, was poignant. And just before Mack can get one of those mini-EMPs down from the Zephyr, Eli shows up in the chamber to find Phil. But not the Darkhold.

Deus Ex Machina

As many of you know, that header translates to “God from the machine”. In the case of Eli Morrow, that appears to happen quite literally. He can rearrange matter at an atomic level, transmuting anything into anything else without using nearly as much energy as would typically be necessary. At least, that’s what it looks like.

It also feels extremely similar to DC’s Dr. Manhattan, who can also do the things I just talked about. Look, I know this is a Marvel show, but if they’re going to hand me this stuff on a silver platter, it’s a little hard not to see the parallels.

Don’t blame me, blame DC Rebirth.

Anyway, we wrap the episode with a Fitz, Robbie, and Phil having seemingly vanished. And we still have no idea where Simmons is. Well, damn, next week should be pretty interesting, shouldn’t it? I mean, if Eli Morrow really does have the power of a God, hooboy. How the hell are they supposed to fight that?

Probably with Ghost Rider, but hey, you never know.

Images courtesy of Marvel

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