‘Agents of SHIELD’ S4: E02 ‘Meet the New Boss’ Review

Photo Credit: Marvel/ABC
4.5

The new director (Jason O’Mara) makes his debut as May (Ming-Na Wen) suffers the consequences of her ghostly exposure from the premiere episode. Meanwhile, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) pursues Robbie (Gabriel Luna) in hopes of bringing him to justice. But everyone is in for a surprise as paths start to cross on the latest mission.

 

**Spoiler Alert**

This review contains spoilers for S4E02 of Agents of SHIELD. If you haven’t yet watched, read at your own risk.

 

The Good

The opening scene. There’s definitely a change in tone when you open your show with a ghost in someone’s house. Seeing the ghost haunt an unsuspecting family and then cut to Robbie Reyes gearing up in his Charger for work almost made it feel like an episode of Supernatural. But, of course, we get the added bonus of superheroes.  

Coulson isn’t as cool in the field as he pretends to be. Coulson might like, in theory, getting to be the center of the action, but during the wait for a meeting with the new director, he mentions that the plane is starting to feel more and more like home and “at least they can’t take that away.” He misses being the one calling the shots, even if he’s trying not to show it.

Daisy is back in hacker mode. Proving she doesn’t need her superpowers to be intimidating, she spouts off facts about Robbie’s life with ease after hacking his social media and doing a little investigating on her own. She does it with wit, a little charm, and a hefty dose of sarcasm. It’s like a throwback to Skye - if Skye were immersing herself in a much darker life.

Fitz and Mack discuss isolation. While on the plane en route to Pasadena to investigate the new ghostly threat posed, the duo talk about how all the traveling by plane can be isolating. It’s one of the few quiet character moments the show does without throwing in action sequences or hostilities, and it’s a nice reminder that these two became good friends when Fitz didn’t have anyone else. When Mack talks about feeling alone, Fitz’s first question is whether he’s been able to talk to Yoyo (that’s Elena, so it looks like Mack’s nickname for her really did stick). It’s a quick exchange, but I’m glad that the show remembers to show us moments like this and not go heavy on the action all the time.

Marvel/ABC

It looks like we’re in for a big Doctor Strange connection after all. Showrunner Jed Whedon downplayed the possibility of a connection to Doctor Strange when asked about it, saying that the show and the movie would explore the same themes, but this episode seems to hint that we might be seeing a much bigger connection than we thought thanks to the mention of a book called The Darkhold, which I’ll tell you all about in our Marvel-ous Connections below.

May panics as the visions set in. Ming-Na Wen typically has to remain stoic and controlled in the role of May, so when we see May tossing belongings out of lockers and frantically trying to protect the people she cares about, you know the panic must be extreme. Watching her control begin to crumble as she believes that everyone around her is infected is heartbreaking, but it makes for a great scene where she takes on all the members of the strike team she’s been training, Coulson, and the director.

The new director is Inhuman. In a nice twist, we see that the new director is not only impervious to May’s attempts to fight him, but also super strong. He appears to have the same basic abilities of Luke Cage, which is fitting since that’s the next Marvel series on the way. In yet another twist though, it’s revealed that Coulson stepped down and declined being the face of the agency. It was his idea to put someone with abilities in charge. That means, eventually, we’ll see a public unveiling of not only SHIELD, but the director as an Inhuman, right?

Daisy runs into Mack and Fitz. While Mack and Fitz are investigating ghosts, Robbie and Daisy also converge on the same facility. They’re all tracking the same thing, though Daisy has no idea what’s going on and Robbie seems to know more than he’s revealing. Not only does Daisy burst in and save Mack without batting an eye, but Mack and Fitz don’t even react to her appearance until after the fact, more concerned with the man with the flaming skull for a head. You can’t blame them, really. But what follows is probably my favorite scene of the episode.

Daisy, Mack, and Fitz get some feelings out. Mack tries to get Daisy to come back to base as he wraps her broken arm, mentioning their drugs for bone growth that seem to be in short supply. You can see the moment Mack realizes why they’re in short supply - Yoyo has been stealing them. The hurt on his face is nothing compared to the barely contained anger that Fitz unleashes at Daisy for turning her back on them. As Fitz points out, they’ve all suffered tragedies and the rest of them leaned on one another instead of running away. Daisy, for her part, just looks sad at the entire exchange. After all, they don’t know that she left to protect them from the death that seems to be following her. It’s a great moment between this group of actors and they all really elevate one another in the scene.

Marvel/ABC

 

The Bad

Jemma Simmons is giving tours. Really? This is what the director of an organization like SHIELD does with his top scientist? It’s a waste of her character. He also asks Coulson to help, which seems silly if Coulson can’t be the face of the organization since he’s “dead.” Shouldn’t he just employ a PR person?

May was placed on a jet with the leaving politicians. I might be wrong, but the final shot of the episode appeared to have her strapped in place in the same jet that was taking the visiting politicians from the base. They worked so hard to keep the politicians separate from the encounter with May and from the men who were already affected by the ghost, so why put her in the same vehicle as them?

 

The Marvel-ous Connections

Canelo’s Auto Body. Canelo got a mention in the season premiere, but it didn’t look like Robbie was working at his Auto Body shop since we saw him in the junkyard. Robbie also works here in the comics, as mentioned last week.

Jeffrey. We didn’t get a last name out of the director just yet, but given that we know he’s from the 1940s comic book era and we’ve got a first name, there are two big options. The first is Jeff Jordan who also went by the name Captain Wonder. A scientist, he developed a drug that gave him the strength of 10 men. The show could have co-opted that development and made him Inhuman instead, especially since Inhumans only joined the comic books in 1965. The second option is Jeffrey Mace, a man who was so inspired by Captain America in WWII that he became a vigilante and fought Nazis on his own, calling himself Patriot. He also actually rescued Cap and took up the name at various points in his run.

Tobias Ford. Way back in season one, the series had an episode that crossed over with Thor: The Dark World in which a man became caught between two different dimensions. That man, who was initially thought to be a ghost by the team, was Tobias Ford. By the end of the episode he had “crossed over” to whatever the other dimension was and never seen again. Jemma mentions him here because she just doesn’t think ghosts are real. She might be changing her mind soon.

Peggy Carter. Sadly, Agent Carter might have been canceled, but we do get to find out that she actually oversaw construction of this SHIELD base in 1949, long after the other TV series ended. Of course, Coulson’s “there’s so many stories that were never recorded” line could have been a cheeky way to note the fans being upset with that series cancellation.

1949 in Marvel history. The biggest names in comics at the time for Timely, which would become Marvel, were the Sub-Mariner and Captain America. The Marvel Mystery Comics series came to an end, changing its name to Marvel Tales. Outside of that though, it wasn’t a particularly significant year for the publisher. It took another two years for Timely to fully transition over to Marvel Comics.

The Darkhold. The mysterious book that the ghosts mention is a magical object from the comics. It’s actually made up of indestructible parchment. Created by Chthon, it’s a book full of magical knowledge. Chthon is an Archdemon in Marvel comics, which is a fancy way of saying he lives in a dimension adjacent to that of Earth’s heroes and he has a whole lot of magic. In his story, he’s actually responsible for creating magical beings like witches, werewolves, etc. He also can control anyone who uses the spells in his magic book. Scarlet Witch actually got her powers from him in one version of her comic book backstory. He’s tangled with Doctor Strange, and nearly killed him in the comics, though he can grant more power to a sorcerer like Doctor Strange if the magic user pledges their soul to him. Mephisto, who we’ve seen rumored to appear on the show, has even imprisoned demons within the pages of the books in the past. Several comic book characters have attempted to use the book he created with disastrous results. The show will likely get a lot darker before things are over.

Steve Rogers went AWOL. This mention by the director lets us know that Steve probably hasn’t been in contact with anyone since the events of Captain America: Civil War. It also provides a little bit more fodder for the idea that Jeffrey is Jeffrey Mace since he’s someone who actually took up the Captain America mantle in the comics for a while and it sounds like Cap was the first choice to replace Coulson as director.

Marvel/ABC

 

The Questions

Who is “he?” There were a lot of mentions of some mysterious person further along in the Darkhold than the trio of ghosts we met tonight. But who is he?

Will Quake and Ghost Rider help each other find peace? Neither of these people are very happy with where they are in life. They both are using their abilities to atone for their sins - at least that’s how it appears. With them deciding to team up at the end of the episode though, will we see one or both of them start to heal, maybe even join up with SHIELD?

They’re going to save May, right? This show doesn’t kill off its main cast very often, but they wouldn’t put her out of commission so early on in the season, would they?

 

Grading the episode: Despite the inconsistency with May and the waste of Jemma’s talents, this episode was a lot of fun. It blended the emotional beats and action very well while teasing more Marvel to come. A-

Don’t forget, there will be no new episode of Agents of SHIELD next week as network television will be airing the Vice Presidential Debate. Agents of SHIELD will return with new episodes on October 11. If you need a Marvel fix over the next week though, Luke Cage hits Netflix this Friday, September 30.