Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Debrief Season 4, Episode 7: “Deals With Our Devils”
Right off the bat: wow. What the heck.
After a few weeks off (and one hell of a cliffhanger), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has returned with one monster of an episode. Not only do we find out what happened to our beloved Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie, but some other major developments occur over this episode, some of which really set us up for an amazing second half of the season. Let’s get to it, shall we?
They waste no time in showing what happens in the aftermath of the energy blast that gave Eli Morrow his matter manipulation powers. We already know that Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie vanished in the blast without a trace. One hell of a cliffhanger to leave everyone on, right? May and Mack enter the area where Morrow and Coulson were last seen, and they find no trace of him. After trying to tag them on comms, they get word that a few armed agents have tracked down Morrow.
I’ll give you two guesses as to what happens to them, and one of the guesses doesn’t count.
Morrow, seemingly drunk with power now, tries to show off the new inanimate carbon rod he’s holding to the agents. They don’t seem too impressed, so he drops it, and it shatters (oh no, poor rod). Of course, as it does, three new rods appear, just maybe not where the agents would’ve wanted them to: in each of their chests, killing them instantly. Yikes. To cover his tracks, Morrow put up another dark black solid carbon wall, blocking their pursuit by blocking off the tunnel.
Not far behind are May and Mack. After examining the bodies, Mack says what we’re all thinking: “This is heading into nightmare territory.” Really? Now it’s heading into nightmare territory? Ghosts that make you insane before you die and the appearance of the literal embodiment of death and Satan wasn’t enough to instill nightmares into you? Dang, Mack. Dang.
Back on the ship, everyone’s reviewing the footage of what happened to Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie. They each vanish in a flash of light after the shockwave from the energy blast catches up with them. You can hear everyone’s hearts just sinking to the bottom of their stomachs. That is, everyone save for Daisy, who seems to be the only one on the ship who reads comics, because she argues that they may not be dead. Her argument essentially boils down to: no body, no death. Obviously. (Though let’s be honest, given how comics are these days, even a body doesn’t necessarily mean death, so who knows.) Mace says he’s going to contact Simmons to tell her of what’s going on and what happened to Fitz.
Later, May goes to find Darkhold, the book that kind of started this entire clusterpuff in the first place. She didn’t hide it in a safe or a secret compartment anywhere, no. It’s literally in a backpack, just like any other school textbook—if, you know, your textbooks could drive people insane with jealousy and power. (So, regular textbooks?) She wants to use it to try to help their friends, but Mack, who showed up as she gets the book, stops her, once again serving as a voice of reason.
Eventually Director Mace shows up, and deters Mack from hitting the trail to try to chase down some leads—apparently Morrow hired the Chinatown Crew (what a name) during his stay at the penitentiary where he served time. After some verbal jabbing at each other, Mace drops a pretty interesting turn of phrase for someone literally named Mace: “First we sharpen the axe, then we chop down the tree.” Of course, Mack being Mack, he replies, “My axe is plenty sharp. And a shotgun.” Mack: 1, Mace: 0.
Mace and May plan to head out earlier on a quinjet to take the tech back to base so Dr. Radcliffe can study it. May questions the plan, asking if Simmons approved something like that—it was, after all, Mace’s idea that Simmons should study the tech. But the thing is, he’s the one who sent her on that top secret mission last episode. And he apparently never called her, either. Jerk.
But where is Simmons? Remember that person stuck in Terragenesis in one of the earlier episodes? He was at the house in which Senator Nadeer was staying. Apparently S.H.I.E.L.D. has a hold of him now, and they want Simmons to try to figure out what his potential transformation might be. Of course, his identity is classified (damn Mace’s security spectrum), and we don’t get to know. Boo.
Back on the Zephyr, Mack’s not down with the whole “let’s wait” plan, though, so after making sure the fallen agents are properly cared for, he hops on his motorcycle and jumps off the plane just as it’s about to take off, shotgun-axe and all.
The episode takes a bit of a shift here, color palette-wise (hint hint), and we’re back at the power plant. Fitz, who seems to be alive and well, finds Coulson in the blast chamber. They’re both okay, and they start going over what might’ve happened. Eventually May and Mack show up, except they’re doing exactly what we saw them doing earlier in the episode. Though Coulson and Fitz can see them, they aren’t seen themselves. They are—you guessed it—basically ghosts. The color palette matches the sickly yellow color that the other Darkhold ghosts had, except much less… Alice in Chains-y.
They follow May and Mack, who are chasing down Morrow. Robbie, who was in the tunnel, finds him first, and he is livid. Remember that Lucy, the other Dr. Bauer, revealed to him that Morrow was the one who locked them all away in the Darkhold boxes. Robbie knows Morrow’s the evil one here (well, as much as anyone can be said to be evil in this million shades of grey series). He can’t stop Morrow, though, as he passes right through him like a ghost. He’s helpless as he watches his uncle kill the agents then walk away.
Eventually Coulson and Fitz find him, and he seems at least somewhat glad that he’s not a lonely ghost… Darkhold… demon… Satan… fire-head… person. Together they all go back to the Zephyr with everyone, where they watch their own disappearances alongside everyone else. Again, as it turns out, they were there the whole time, just nobody could see them. Fitz’s theory was that during the blast, they were pulled to some liminal space between one dimension and another. They’re being sucked into… somewhere, they don’t know yet.
Fitz finds out by following Mace that the Director was in contact with the anti-Inhuman Senator Nadeer the whole time. What’s more, he finds out that they’ve essentially lost track of Simmons, who, again, was black bagged and taken to a secret location to work on the Terragenesis/Terracotta Warrior/person/thing/guy. Robbie, who was complaining of stomach problems and sickness since they were ghost-ified, finally can’t hold it together any longer and begs Fitz for help, saying he’s growing very, very cold.
Coulson, after failing to reach out to May, and after hearing her incredibly heartbreaking soliloquy about how she doesn’t believe he’s dead, joins them in the Zephyr’s cargo bay. Turns out Ghost Rider doesn’t want to get sucked into hell or whatever dimension the three of them are getting pulled into. It ends up leaving Robbie and enters… dun dun dun… Mack, who’s standing nearby. This explains why he hopped onto his motorcycle and how he was able to basically throw an agent across the bay as he rides off.
Daisy, who has her own hot head streak, hops into Robbie’s car (oh no) to chase him, and Robbie hops in, along for the ride. I mean, come on, it’s not like he was just going to let his car go or anything. Sure, he said he wants to chase down his uncle, but I mean really…
She loses Mack eventually, thanks to the ever-ubiquitous well-placed
Los Angeles Marvel city that isn’t Los Angeles traffic jam. Mack goes on to where the Chinatown Crew (no seriously what a freaking name) are working a job, and he just rides in, guns-a-blazin’.
Simmons makes a breakthrough with Terragenesis Guy, who she helps break out of his shell (symbolic, no?) by, well, introducing herself. She realizes he’s nervous when she sees his heart rate, and she does her best to comfort him in what’s obviously a scary time. That’s enough, as he begins to crack out of the stony shell, eventually revealing his face. He greets Simmons, and before he can tell her who he is, Simmons is black-bagged again and whisked away.
Daisy catches Mack mid-conversation with, well, Robbie. The thing is though, it’s not really Mack who’s talking, it’s Ghost Rider, and they’re basically working out a deal to both get Robbie out of his predicament and save Mack’s soul. After agreeing to settle not only Robbie’s score, but all of Ghost Rider’s score (all of them), Ghost Rider leaves Mack, re-entering Robbie.
At HQ, after Dr. Radcliffe refuses to read Darkhold (smart move, I wonder if he has experience around not reading out of mysterious books of death…), Aida volunteers to do so in order to save Fitz and Coulson. She’s a robot, after all, and she can’t go insane like the others did—”only corrupted,” as they say, since she’s only programming. The poor android has to sit there and listen to that and all, but still, she reads the book, and together they get to work to build an (wait for it) inter-dimensional portal to bring them back.
I mean, what did you expect an android to see in Darkhold?
Aida, in a really, really awesome special effect, uses specially constructed gloves to manipulate energy beams that are bouncing between the Darkhold boxes. She constructs a portal as Coulson and Fitz watch. Time is running out for them as the darkness is closing in, and since this is a television drama, and since you and I both know we never stand at the back of a room when something dramatic happens in a television drama, Coulson ends up getting partially sucked into a strange low-poly darkness. Fitz grabs him, and they’re struggling against it.
The portal finishes, and they can see through to the other side where Dr. Radcliffe, Aida, and May are waiting. May tries to jump through the portal, but she’s stopped by Dr. Radcliffe, who says that it’d be a “deadly mistake” if she did. Coulson, on seeing May’s worried face, and with Fitz’s help, pushes even harder, and fights fiercely to get back home. They escape, and jump through the portal, which closes behind them.
Fitz almost immediately walks out of the portal room to yell at Mace about what he found out while he was interdimensionally indisposed. But before he can threaten him and yell about what he heard on the Zephyr, Simmons returns, and all the feelings happen as they run into each others arms and oh gosh everything is right with the world again. For now, at least.
We learn that Mack’s sitting on a lead to find Morrow. He’s hiding in the portal room, looking mightily guilty or sad or otherwise depressed about something. He’s holding what looks like a photo, with “Hope 4/18/06” written on the back. His brooding is interrupted as Robbie (plus Ghost Rider) comes screaming back through the portal. He eventually stands next to Mack and asks him if he wants to help him settle his last score.
In the epilogue, Dr. Radcliffe channels another doctor from another drama on another network.
Meanwhile Aida, who still has the strange light manipulation gloves, has started work on what looks like a human brain. Gasp.
- This episode saw a ton of cliffhangers get resolved. It was an incredibly dramatic one, full of feels, as Coulson’s understanding of May’s feelings deepened even more as he watched her fight to save him.
- Watching Fitz agonize over being away from Simmons was nothing short of heartbreaking, and his argument with Coulson seemed all so cathartic for him. He’s yelled plenty before, but to see him so frustrated and at a boiling point was excellent drama.
- Where can I get a pair of those neat light-bending gloves? That special effect was seriously the best thing.
- Watching Mace get stymied by Senator Nadeer was frustrating, but also a bit gratifying. The man was too much of a golden boy, and it was good to see him falter just a bit.
- Mack as Ghost Rider was freaky, though it was super interesting to see him play out a much different side of himself.
- “On your left.” — What you did there, Robbie. I see it.
- Seriously though, Chinatown Crew? Come on, Marvel. Come on.
Anyway, here’s a clip from one of my other favorite show that also had an episode about making a deal with the devil.
Not as dramatic, but surely still as feelsy.
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