After staying off the air for most of November, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back and stronger than ever. Whatever the reason for the show’s still-unexplained hiatus, it’s clear that the series took the time it needed to fortify its path forward. And after last episode’s tantalizing cliffhanger ending, “Deals With Our Devils” pulled fans right back into the action. What, exactly, were the deals that our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agents made with their devils? Let’s find out.
“Deals With Our Devils” had an effective take on the idea of split realities. The episode wasted no time in showing what happened to Phil Coulson, Leo Fitz, and Robbie Reyes after last episode’s cliffhanger. The three of them are trapped inside an alternate dimension (the same one where the late Lucy Bauer once was), where their friends cannot hear them. The hunt for Eli Morrow takes a backseat as S.H.I.E.L.D. races to save its three operatives.
The idea of split realities functioned as an effective plot device. It gave all of the characters room to breathe after the cataclysmic events of “The Good Samaritan.” Robbie continues to struggle with his inner demons, while Fitz (justifiably) vents to Coulson about the fact that Jemma Simmons has gone missing. Plus, the bystander roles for Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie made for some humorous moments. Case in point: Robbie becomes a backseat driver when Daisy Johnson takes the wheel of his Hell Charger.
This probably sounds random, but “Deals With Our Devils” had an intriguing amount of parallels with a Young Justice episode entitled “Misplaced.” Both deal with the world being separated into alternate dimensions. And then there’s the fact that one person saves a friend by becoming the host body for a supernatural being — in this case, the Spirit of Vengeance. But who has become the new Ghost Rider?
Aida and Robbie: Stories of Sacrifice
Much of “Deals With Our Devils” is about sacrifice. Fitz and Dr. Holden Radcliffe must sacrifice Aida‘s secrecy and come clean to Coulson and Melinda May, respectively, about Aida’s true origins. As a Life-Model Decoy, Aida is the only one capable of reading the Darkhold, which corrupts humans but contains the knowledge that S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to save Fitz, Coulson, and Robbie. It’s gratifying to see some payoff for season four’s inclusion of Aida given that this is her first major role since her debut.
Yet, the more painful sacrifice in “Deals With Our Devils” is the one that Robbie makes. With Robbie trapped in the other dimension, the Spirit of Vengeance abandons Robbie’s body and selects “Mack” Mackenzie as his new host. Whereas Robbie once invited the Rider to inhabit his body, Mack did no such thing. It was chilling to see Mack become the new Ghost Rider, and it was even more heartbreaking to see Robbie renew his own deal with the Rider, in order to save Mack from his hold.
With Robbie returning to the mantle of the Rider, Mack is free. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Mack’s brief tenure as the Ghost Rider leaves a significant impact on him. In the end, Mack agrees to help Robbie settle his score with Eli Morrow. Still lingering is the fact that the Spirit of Vengeance has his own scores to settle, which predate even the ones that Robbie has. Whatever happens in the series’ upcoming winter finale, it’s evident that Ghost Rider has irrevocably changed the course of the show.
- Simmons really can’t catch a break, can she? It was stirring to see her connect with Senator Ellen Nadeer’s brother and save him from his seven-month-long Terrigenesis cocoon. But when Simmons was at the mercy of Nadeer’s cronies, it almost seemed like she wouldn’t make it back to S.H.I.E.L.D. alive.
- On that note, what’s going on with Senator Nadeer? Hopefully the series will take some much-needed time to provide answers about her antagonistic role in season four’s overall arc. Of course, that means that S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Jeffrey Mace needs to come clean about his own deal with Nadeer. (Dare I call her a devil in disguise?)
- Not gonna lie, when Coulson emerged from the intradimensional portal, I almost thought he and May were going to kiss. I’m glad the two of them are staying friends, and nothing more. Modern TV needs more platonic friendships like theirs.
- “Deals With Our Devils” ended with an awesome solo jam session with John Hannah (Dr. Radcliffe). Even more intriguing was seeing Aida use her Darkhold-given knowledge to sculpt herself a human brain. Will she become an A.I. and, inevitably, revolt? Let’s hope not, since Ultron has already wreaked enough havoc on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Even though Daisy leaves for parts unknown, previews show she’ll be back next week to help Robbie and Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez take on Eli Morrow.
The show is marketing next week’s “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics” as “Ghost Rider’s Last Stand.” The first chapter of Robbie Reyes’s saga on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming to an end, and I’m excited to see what his next chapter will be. Tune in next Tuesday, December 6 for the winter finale, and come back for our final Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap and reaction for 2016.