SHIELD attempts to find Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie while looking for clues as to what Eli is up to. The Spirit of Vengeance has other plans.
Spoilers for “Deals with Our Devils”
Picking up where Agents of SHIELD left things four weeks ago (!), May, Mack, and a team of field agents run into Momentum Labs looking for Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie. What they find is an empty chamber and a very dangerous Eli who kills four agents using the carbon within their bodies and creates a wall of carbon behind him as he leaves. Back at the Zephyr, the crew watches security video of Eli using his machine and Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie disappearing in the blast of energy. Mace and May assume they are gone, but Daisy knows their friends are still out there somewhere. They need Simmons to help them figure out what just happened, but unfortunately for them Senator Nadeer has her squirreled away dealing with her brother.
Finding Eli might lead to answers and the group wants to start with the Chinatown Crew. Eli served time with their leaders before his brain went all melty at the SHIELD lab. Mack wants to hunt down the Chinatown gang, but Mace puts the kibosh on running blindly into a situation they don’t have a handle on just yet. May suddenly comes around to Daisy’s idea of Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie being alive and thinks the Darkhold may have some answers and wants to read it. Mack may want to crush some skulls, but he knows the Darkhold is dangerous and shouldn’t be used. He gets May to shelve the book for the moment, but doesn’t completely quash the notion of using it to get her friends back.
Gabe is distraught over the loss of his brother and finding out his uncle, who raised him, was essentially evil. Daisy is there to comfort the lost kid and assures him she knows what it is like to lose someone important, “and this is not what it feels like.” Just as Gabe notes Robbie would go after Eli right about now, something becomes different about Mack. It is as if something inside him snaps as he sees his fellow agents zipped up in a body bag. The big man grabs his shotgun-axe and rides off on Robbie’s motorcycle, but not before knocking one of Mace’s lackeys across the Zephyr when he tries to stop Mack.
The episode takes on a sepia tone as we go back to the beginning and see what happened to Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie after the Eli activates the machine. They are still there, just shifted slightly from the reality everyone else exists in like Lucy and her friends, but worse. The ghosts were at least somewhat visible when they wanted to be. Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie can see their friends, but can’t touch or speak to them. We are treated to the same scenes, but this time from the perspective of the invisible men as the take stock as to what is happening around them. Robbie immediately feels sick as the group realizes they are being pulled down further into whatever dimension they have slipped into.
Fitz is distraught as to how Simmons is going to take the news and follows Mace as he goes to make the call to the scientist. In a scene we didn’t see before, Mace is blocked from talking to Simmons by Nadeer. Fitz and Coulson realize something might not be right about the new director and Fitz begins to panic. His last conversation with his love was an argument and now he may never see her again. Coulson seeks out May and tires to talk to her and it seems as if it is working. May’s change of heart is because she feels his presence, but doesn’t quite understand what is happening. She talks about the bottle of Haig they were supposed to open when they lived through their next crazy mission. They have survived so many death-defying missions since, but that bottle still sits unopened. When May shows the Darkhold to Mack, Coulson begs and pleas with her not to go down that path. The book only leads to darkness.
Robbie continues to feel sick as he feels the pull to the darkness more while Coulson and Fitz watch on. As Gabe reflects the loss of his brother, Robbie realizes what is happening. The Ghost Rider is not taking any chances to not fulfill his mission and escapes Robbie into Mack. After the Spirit enters Mack, he takes up his shotgun-axe and rides out of the Zephyr like a bat out of hell which explains his Jekyll/Hyde like transformation. Daisy takes Robbie’s car as ghost Robbie hops in with her to chase after Mack. Robbie is hoping to stop Mack from doing something dangerous in his mission to find Eli. When Daisy losses Rider Mack in traffic, she attempts to find another way around. Going back and seeing the scene with Robbie’s point of view, when Daisy losses him, Robbie attempts to tell her where to turn to get to the Chinatown gang’s hideout. He yells and pleas and finally slams his fists on his car, turning on the turn signal in the direction he needed Daisy to turn.
In the meantime, Radcliffe and AIDA arrive at the SHIELD base to ascertain a way to bring Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie back. May gives Radcliffe the Darkhold explaining book was how the rogue scientists came up with the boxes and the machine. Radcliffe opens the book and is frightened by what he sees inside. “If the internet is a garden hose, this book is Niagara Falls,” he tries to tell her. But May knows this book is the key to saving her friends and begs Radcliffe to try. AIDA volunteers to read the Darkhold. May thinks Radcliffe’s assistant is being brave, but the Scott has to let the android out of the bag.
Rewinding back, the scene plays again as Coulson and Fitz watch the two debate the use of the book. Coulson sides with Radcliffe, Fitz sides with May feeling like fear of the book is ridiculous. He knows science can solve the problem and realizes AIDA would be able to handle the knowledge of the book. Fitz begins to plea with AIDA to read the book and eventually she seemingly hears him and volunteers. Coulson is not happy when he hears Fitz, Radcliffe, and Simmons created an android behind his and the directors back. Fitz fires back Coulson stepped down from the position of director because he and Daisy gave up after the death of Lincoln and now the agency is in the hands of someone they can’t trust. Coulson assured Fitz Mace would never do anything to put Simmons in harm’s way as AIDA is reading the Darkhold (which wrote itself in binary code for her).
Mack makes it to the warehouse where the gang operates out of and finds the current man in charge. He questions the guy just as Daisy sees a man running from the fight and pulls into the building. Daisy fights off a group of henchman while Robbie looks for Mack. He finds the possessed SHIELD agent as he gets the information of Eli’s whereabouts from the gangster. Robbie attempts to reason with the spirit, Mack doesn’t have the hatred inside of him to carry Ghost Rider for a long period of time. But the Rider senses Mack’s pain and heart-break, “he lost hope” and the Rider can use the body to avoid the dimension Robbie is being pulled into. The Spirit has escaped it once and doesn’t want to go back.
Daisy comes upon the conversation just as Rider Mack is transitioning for the first time fully into the Rider. Robbie makes another deal with the Rider. If the Spirit comes back to Robbie and allows him to settle the score with Eli, Robbie will settle all of the Rider’s scores. It is too good of a deal to pass up, and the rider returns to Robbie as they both descend into hell. But they are not destined to stay long.
AIDA, Radcliffe, and May build a gate using the boxes which stored the interdimensional energy. Assuring May Coulson and Fitz are still alive, AIDA begins to create a portal by weaving the energy threads together. And not a moment too soon as the darkness starts to pull Coulson down. The android finishes binding the portal and Fitz and Coulson pull the former director out of the darkness and through to the other side. Later as Mack is replaying the emotional roller-coaster of the day alone in the room with the gate, looking at a photo labeled “Hope 4/18/06,” Robbie and the Rider pull themselves through. “Want to help settle my last score?” Robbie asks Mack.
Fitz confronts Mace about the whereabouts of Simmons just as she arrives back at base. The scientist was taken to a secret clean room and asked to find out what kind of Inhuman Nadeer’s brother will become after gestating for the last seven months in a Terrigenesis cocoon (of course Jemma doesn’t know it is Nadeer’s brother). Simmons establishes the person inside still has a heartbeat and orders everyone out when she realizes his high heart rate is due to fear of what is going on around him. She introduces herself and assures the man inside she knows others who have gone through Terrigenesis and takes his hand. The cocoon begins to crack open allowing Simmons to remove pieces of it way. She is able to get a part of his face free, but before she can find out his name, the rest of the team comes charging in and pulls the black bag over her face.
As Radcliffe is at home celebrating AIDA saving the day, the android is working on designing a new brain.
Questions, Thoughts, and Theories:
That long hiatus almost killed the amazing momentum the show managed to create in the first few episodes, but luckily this outing managed to bring quite a bit of the excitement back. Just in time for the Winter Finale next week (stupid election and holidays). So much to get to and so little time.
Starting with AIDA… I don’t think she is going to become the next Ultron. I have faith the show is going to not take the obvious route and make the android evil. Life Model Decoys are such a large part of SHIELD, AIDA becoming the next villain would derail their full use on the show. I think she is going to be more like an Agents of SHIELD version of Vision. My theory is she is creating a brain that will allow her to understand and mimic humans better. She believes in the mission she was created to do and I don’t think the Darkhold disrupted that, just gave her more ideas as to how to “be the SHIELD.” This could lead to a debate in the series about the ethics of creating a sentient being for the purposes of cannon fodder and really add more layers to the show.
Am I projecting or did Mace give AIDA a funny look? One of the prevailing theories on Reddit is Mace is an android, not an Inhuman, which explains his oddness.
The tie-ins with Doctor Strange feels a little late, but at the same time it was probably for the best this episode didn’t air the Tuesday after the movie’s release. More people had time to go and see the latest MCU flick and make the connections between the portal AIDA built and the portals the Sling Ring creates. Also, the darkness that started to pull Coulson in look a lot like the mirror realm.
I wonder if the Senator’s brother remained in the Terrigenesis cocoon for such a long period of time because he was afraid to come out and face what is going to happen to him or the wrath of his sister. It can’t be just a coincidence the cocoon started to break open the moment Simmons reassured him he was going to be okay. Any theories as to what he will become?
Any theories as to who Hope is to Mack? I don’t think he is a family member or he and his brother might have mentioned her. The loss may be recent as well since it was only just now Mack is in pain about the loss of someone. Or was he reliving the loss of Hope because he lost his best Fitz?
The Philinda fans have to be in a frenzy right now!
Too many great lines from the night:
Mace: “First we sharpen the axe, and then we cut down the tree” (Referring to pursuing Eli)
Mack: “My axe is plenty sharp, it is also a shotgun.”
Coulson: “What are they doing? Do we look that stupid on comms?” (When watching May and Mack attempt to make contact with him and Fitz)
Mace (when referring to Mack’s leaving on a motorcycle to find Eli): “Driving off against orders, with no helmet? Mack knows better.” Such an odd goody-goody.
AIDA to May: “I was designed to save lives, to be the shield…”
Radcliffe to AIDA: “Shush! You’re developing a catchphrase.”
What did you think of last night’s episode of Agents of SHIELD? Are you happy Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie came back quickly? Do you have any theories on AIDA or Nadeer’s brother? Elena makes a comeback in next week’s Winter Finale! Talk to me in the comments section below.