MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back and it’s back with a vengeance – the Spirit of Vengeance, that is! After revealing during San Diego Comic Con that the Ghost Rider will make his MCU homecoming on this season, the show has been hyping his appearance non-stop through its marketing campaign. With its move to a later timeslot in the US, Ghost Rider is a perfect character to propel the show into a darker and more mature tone, and boy did he.
The season premiere kicks into high gear right off the bat with Daisy (Chloe Bennet) chasing down members of the anti-Inhuman group, Watchdogs, whom we met last season. After a brief exchange, Daisy finds out in epic fashion that she’s not the only one hunting down the goons. From the end of the street, a black 1969 Dodge charger with a built in flamethrower charges down towards the Watchdogs, only to be blasted into the air with a rocket launcher. Instead of blowing up, the car absorbs the blast, ignites its wheels, and slams into its prey. What transpires next is a scene that single-handedly makes this Ghost Rider appearance better than any of its film adaptations.
At this point you might be wondering, “Why the car? Doesn’t Ghost Rider use a motorcycle?” The title of “Ghost Rider” is a mantle that has been passed down to different people including Johnny Blaze, who most of us are familiar with thanks to Nicholas Cage. The Ghost Rider introduced on the show is the latest incarnation of the Spirit of Vengeance, Robbie Reyes. Gabriel Luna provides the much-needed gravitas the role requires, which is somehow reminiscent of Jon Bernthal’s take on The Punisher.
Although the premiere sets up several plot points for this season, it’s safe to assume that the Quake vs. Ghost Rider arc will pretty much consist the bulk of the show, at least on its first half. The treatment is similar to Daredevil Season 2 where The Punisher was introduced. Seeing that Daredevil was a success, it’s easy to understand why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is using the same formula. Even the theme of whether or not to kill criminals is in full force with the conflict between Quake and Ghost Rider – a conflict that escalates into one of the best fight scenes this show has ever produced. Seriously, if there’s one thing that will convince you to watch this season, its Ghost Rider’s transformation. No cheap and campy CGI, I swear.
If the season premiere is any indication of things to come, then I have nothing but high hopes for this show. The only risk I see so far is juggling multiple story elements that are so different from each other and finding a way to make everything make sense in the end. From this episode alone we got: Quake, Ghost Rider, Life Model Decoys, a re-established S.H.I.E.LD., and a creepy ghost woman who possesses people. Yeah, that’s a lot to take in. With Doctor Strange hitting theaters in November, it’s not surprising to see supernatural and magical elements being introduced in the MCU through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Just how magic fits in in a world of science and espionage is yet to be seen, but I trust the show that managed to build a season around Inhumans and a parasitic alien god with tentacles on its head and made it work.