Marvel Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 episode 8 review:

3.9 The Present

The Laws Of Inferno Dynamics: 

Well, Marvel Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned from a break two weeks ago, and now we have another break.What the hell, Marvel? But thankfully, in those sparse two weeks, the show has delivered two very solid episodes that set things up for the second half of the fourth season very nicely.


This week, Marvel fans are treated to the finale of the Ghost Rider storyline (at least for now) as Robbie Reyes and his Uncle Eli Morrow have a climactic confrontation. Happily this week, Morrow transforms from a kind of one-note villain into a classically relatable and somewhat tragic adversary. Even though Morrow has been the big bad of the first half of the current season, there was never really a great deal of story meat on Morrow’s bones. Yeah, he was corrupted by the power of the Darkhold, but why? Well, this week we find out, and damn is it effective.


You see, despite the fact that Morrow holds two PhDs and is one of the most brilliant physicists in the world, he is still a victim of marginalisation and prejudice. When his peers look at Morrow, all they see is the poor Hispanic from the ghetto, and this has embittered Morrow. We get to witness this confession play out this week as Morrow entraps his nephew Robbie in a magically created nuclear bomb. All of a sudden, Morrow transforms from a barely explored arch villain into a desperado with tragic, cut-from-today’s-headlines layers. Bitterness has transformed Morrow into a world smasher just as hellfire transforms his nephew into the Ghost Rider.


I just wish that instead of spending time with Lucy the Darkhold ghost, a character that was shunted out of the series as quickly as she arrived, we got to see Morrow develop, maybe through flashbacks or something. I just feel that Morrow could have been a great and multi-faceted villain this entire time. How potent would it have been if instead of flashbacks to Lucy and company, we got to see the shoddy treatment that Morrow had to endure? That’s the stuff classic villains are made of.

But at least we get to experience it all for a little while. This week, Reyes is able to take down his uncle and as Morrow burns thanks to Ghost Rider, uncle and nephew disappear for parts unknown. So I guess we must say goodbye to Ghost Rider, at least for the time being. By episode’s end, Coulson drops a delicious hint about a previous Ghost Rider who once disappeared and returned. Now that just sounds like a big fat hint for a possible Ghost Rider series, doesn’t it. We can only hope. Multiple Ghost Riders in their own show and the return of the suddenly vastly compelling Eli Morrow? Yes, please.

But as Ghost Rider ends, the next story begins. It looks like the second half of this season of Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD will be all AIDA all the time. Remember now, AIDA is more than an android. She is now a magic android as she has absorbed the Darkhold into her programming. That’s just all sort of badass. So far, the character of AIDA has been a lite version of the robots of Humans or Westworld, but this week, AIDA goes full Cylon as she discloses that she has some pretty brutal plans.


During the whole attack on Eli Morrow thing, AIDA gets shot and reveals that Doctor Radcliffe programmed her to experience pain. That’s all sorts of screwed up. Despite this, AIDA helps save the day again by finding a way to magically and technologically contain Morrow’s bomb. AIDA looks like she’s going to be a great boon to our agents, right? Yeah, no. By episode’s end, it is revealed that AIDA holds May captive and is ready to begin the next phase of her plan. The Cylons had a plan and so does AIDA, and the fact that the next half of the current season of Agents Of SHIELD is going to be called LMD is pretty freakin’ ominous all of a sudden, ain’t it?


But there is some happiness as well this week. Mack and Yo Yo finally hook up after a season and a half of awkwardly flirting. I think all us hapless Marvel romantics did a pathetic little happy fist pump when those two wacky kids finally kissed. Yo Yo also springs into action this week as she does her best super speed Evan Peters impression and beats up some slo mo goons. Hopefully, this new found romantic union will springboard Mack into a major player because he’s been playing a supporting role for a damn long time.


Daisy’s story takes a happy turn as well this week. You see, Morrow’s magic is creating seismic activity. The only thing that can keep his magic bomb from blowing is Daisy Johnson and her ability to absorb that seismic energy. The public sees her expel that energy as Director Mace reveals to the world that Daisy hasn’t really been a fugitive, but an undercover agent on a mission to take down the Watchdogs. Now, all of a sudden, Daisy is seen as the hero she deserves to be. When S.H.I.E.L.D. returns in January, it will be interesting to see Daisy take on the role of a legit super hero.


But it is the last scene that will make Marvel fans wait with bated breath for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s return. All season, Coulson and May have been promising each other a peaceful drink from an old bottle of booze. This week, they share that drink, but that’s not May. As we said, May is being held by AIDA and it’s now clear that the May running with SHIELD is an LMD ready to do AIDA’s bidding. January can’t get her fast enough because SHIELD will have to face off with a character that is half Doctor Strange and half Ultron, and that’s all yikes.
Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD has been firing on just about all cylinders for most of the season, and the mid-winter finale is no exception.