When dealing with a cliffhanger, sometimes it’s best not to talk about it. That’s what I’m doing for this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap and Reaction, since “The Good Samaritan” ended that way. I’m hesitant even to call it a cliffhanger since the term has become woefully overused in pop culture. And in any case, there’s more than enough to talk about with Ghost Rider‘s origin story. Let’s jump in and examine the standout moments from this week’s episode.
The Cost of Being Ghost Rider
Robbie Reyes’s story took a compelling turn as he finally came clean to his younger brother, Gabe, about being Ghost Rider. Robbie threw a wrench into his relationship with Gabe due to the fact that his reason for hosting the Spirit of Vengeance was to protect Gabe from harm. No matter whether Ghost Rider’s victims deserved their deaths, Robbie has a lot of blood on his hands. And it was a natural progression for Gabe to not want that same burden.
Robbie’s origin story drew directly from the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a Biblical passage that’s become ingrained in pop culture. It was intriguing to see how Robbie went from a cheery older brother to a moody, laconic host for the Spirit of Vengeance. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen actor Gabriel Luna (Robbie) smile so many times in one episode. It makes me wonder what might have happened if Robbie’s transformation occurred at the beginning of season four, instead of six episodes in as a flashback.
Speaking of the Reyes family, I frowned at the revelation that Eli Morrow is the true villain of the magic-focused storyline. In hindsight, it’s easy to see how the writers planted hints about Eli’s true intentions. Still, that plot twist came almost completely out of left field. It reminded me of last season’s revelation that Dr. Andrew Garner was Lash, the Inhuman serial killer.
It just doesn’t make sense why Eli would be so power-hungry that he’d forcibly transform Lucy Bauer and her colleagues into their ghostly forms. I’m sure that a future episode will delve more into Eli’s psychology. But overall, that moment felt like more of a disorienting plot twist instead of the surprising yet meaningful development that it should have been. Nevertheless, Eli’s dark turn aligns with his comic book origins, so let’s see how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. handles his story.
Has S.H.I.E.L.D. (or Coulson) Really Changed?
Even though S.H.I.E.L.D. has evolved, it remains the same in many ways, especially with Phil Coulson as its bedrock. “The Good Samaritan” pitted Coulson against Director Jeffrey Mace, who boarded Zephyr One aiming to detain Coulson’s fugitive allies, Ghost Rider and Quake (Daisy Johnson). Yet despite being a field agent, Coulson still hasn’t quite faced ramifications for his insubordinate-level actions.
During the series’ first three seasons, Coulson mostly functioned without advisement. In season one, he had his own field team aboard the Bus. He became the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. leading into season two, which focused on a feud between him and Agent Robert Gonzales. And even though Gonzales and his allies became Coulson’s advisory board, most of them died or left the series by season three.
Coulson is the kind of character who inspires personal loyalty from his fellow agents, rather than institutional loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. Even with Jeffrey Mace as the agency’s new director, Coulson’s closest colleagues — Melinda May, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons, and “Mack” Mackenzie — are still more loyal to Coulson than Mace. However, the problem isn’t that Coulson has made the wrong decisions. The problem is that he doesn’t necessarily have the authority to make those decisions anymore.
I hope that Mace continues to put pressure on Coulson to fall in line with the new S.H.I.E.L.D. I don’t say that because I agree with Mace’s policies. Rather, I think that Coulson still has to accept that he no longer runs S.H.I.E.L.D. — and that has a lot of untapped potential for meaningful character development for Coulson. What should Coulson’s role look like in a S.H.I.E.L.D. run by Jeffrey Mace? I’m sure the series will answer that question as season four continues.
What Comes Next?
I know I initially said I wouldn’t talk about the cliffhanger unresolved ending of “The Good Samaritan.” Yet, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone on hiatus until the end of November, so I actually do need to talk about that ending to some degree. Robbie, Coulson, and Fitz all vanished in the explosion that imbued Eli Morrow with the power to create matter from nothing.
Personally, I wouldn’t get too worried about what happened to Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie. After all, it took us over four months (between seasons two and three) to find out what happened to Simmons after the Kree monolith swallowed her and dumped her on another planet. Maybe that explosion just made Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie invisible, just like how Zero Matter did the same to Dr. Jason Wilkes on Agent Carter.
Speaking of Agent Carter, “The Good Samaritan” incorporated a cool history lesson about the show’s second season. We didn’t learn anything new, but it was cool to hear Fitz mention Isodyne Energy, the company that Whitney Frost and Calvin Chadwick used for Zero Matter research. Fitz’s mention of Isodyne had a “cool factor” that narrowly lost to Coulson’s discussion with Jeffrey Mace about Han Solo and Admiral Gial Ackbar from Star Wars.
There’s one more lingering question from “The Good Samaritan” that will likely get answered in the next episode: Where the heck did Simmons go? It seems like Jeffrey Mace might be killing two birds with one stone, since he apparently appeased Senator Ellen Nadeer (who blackmailed him at the end of “Lockup“) by sending her Simmons (who also blackmailed him), under the guise of a “classified” assignment for the U.S. government. The fact that Mace made Simmons put a bag over her head before she left doesn’t bode well.
The Month-Long Hiatus
Finally, how many more episodes do we have before the mid-season finale? For all previous seasons, the mid-season finale has consistently occurred at episode ten. But “The Good Samaritan” is episode six, and the series is going on an unexpected hiatus until November 29. As a result, it doesn’t seem like ABC can squeeze in four more episodes before the series’ inevitable winter break. Suffice it to say that season four is the oddest season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet.
In any case, stay tuned to Fandom for more news on what will happen when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns on Tuesday, November 29!