Ghost Rider back in current season of ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’
The bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe’s lack of contact with the spinof series, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” has become disappointing to some followers of the show. But the series, now four seasons old, brings in a recognizable character from the films—the skull-faced vigilante Ghost Rider, formerly portrayed by Nicolas Cage.
The film rights to the character, formerly owned by Sony and Columbia, are back with Marvel, hence the inclusion and reboot. It’s something, at least—fans have been dismayed by the main films’ deliberate exclusion of events happening in the TV series, even when fallout from various film storylines affect it almost immediately.
It’s still mainly about a few altruistic agents investigating and dealing with superhuman activity. Agent Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), however, has gone rogue and become a solo crime-fighter after a tragic Season Three finale.
Daisy, an Inhuman (a mutated human with powers), is now known as Quake, avoiding her former teammates from the covert agency, S.H.I.E.L.D.
But an encounter with the folkloric being Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) eventually triggers a series of events that attracts the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D., primarily its new head, Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara).
The current season, airing on Fox, features a relatively more cohesive team, now that Coulson (Clark Gregg) isn’t calling the shots anymore—which works in his and his close associates’ favor, most of the time.
The returning characters, May, (Ming-Na Wen), Mac (Henry Simmons), Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), are being developed well, and are also fan-favorites at this point. If there are plans to shake up this totally working dynamic, this is probably the calm before the storm.
But like before, the characters have survived some lineup changes and grueling multiepisode arcs. The absence of the traitorous Ward/Hive (Brett Dalton) hasn’t affected the roster much.
But Fitz and Simmons, currently in an intense relationship, are a pair that’s becoming comfortable, which probably foreshadows a difficult breakup soon. Previous romances in the show were short-lived—and ended in death. Hopefully, both characters will survive it; Henstridge and De Caestecker are excellent actors.
With the addition of magic into the first couple of episodes, it gives a more thoughtful exploration of unseen forces, intriguing in more ways than the explanations of mysticism in “Doctor Strange.”
The presence of the Darkhold, an ancient, corrupting book from Marvel’s horror comics, deviates from the show’s more repetitive, “X-Men”-inspired drama of the angsty Inhumans.
After a somewhat dismal third season finale, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” while still not actively part of the bigger Marvel world despite introducing earth-shaking changes, still flourishes, mainly because of tight rapport among the show’s character actors.
It would be great if these characters at least made cameos in the film projects, such as the cosmos-spanning “Avengers: Infinity War,” in 2018. It’s time to throw the show—and its longtime viewers—a well-deserved bone.
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