TV: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – Is Something Burning?

Title: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Episode: Is Something Burning?
Network: ABC
Airs: Tuesdays 10/9 c
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker
Rating: PG
Reviewer: Michelle Germann
FA Scorecard: B

How does one talk about the seismic shift on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” without spoiling the episode? I apologize, but it’s just not possible.

Talk about culture shock. “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” is leaning hard on its new 10 PM time slot and Ghost Rider to forcibly disassociate itself from its reputation and history as the red-headed stepchild of the MCU. The apparent goal is to transform it into something more like the Netflix original series “Daredevil,” the first MCU property to maintain the coveted “dark and gritty” designation in its first and second season. So, it makes sense that Robbie Reyes would be introduced through a display of his new powers, exploding at least one skull and burning a soul, whatever that may entail. His introduction proved to be the line of demarcation between the old family-friendly series and its new iteration.

Months after Daisy left behind SHIELD, seemingly in a moment of grief over the loss of her forgettable boyfriend Sparkplug, I mean Lincoln Campbell, the team has been split and is heading in different directions. Mack and Coulson have been assigned the duty of crisscrossing the globe, policing people with powers, in what appears to be a renewed effort to make the television arm and film arm play nicely together. Mentions of the Sokovia Accords do no harm, and actually make you briefly wish Captain America would have decided to play the system like fish pill meta-human Yo-Yo Rodriguez. Talk of following the rules and global policing flew out the window when word came down that Daisy, a.k.a. Quake, had reappeared in Los Angeles, a plot point that leads you to hope the family isn’t completely dead.

The one hitch in the plan that involves Mack, Coulson and eventually May hitting the ground in Los Angeles, to retrieve Daisy, is that she isn’t ready to become a member of the team again. Much like back in the often frustrating days of the first season, Daisy appears to have no time for help, which lead me to hope Robbie Reyes would catch her in a dark alley, a wish that took me back to my demand that she be a plane crash casualty, Hydra casualty or an Inhuman casualty. It’s unfortunate we don’t always get what we asked for but, if we did, I guess we’d be all the way back at step one, with nobody taking time out from their government job to find the guy with different anger management issues than the Hulk.

The chessboard is in place with one player on the run, two players choosing to ignore the rules, one player kind of playing by the rules and Fitz and Simmons keeping secrets from one another. Only one wild card exists in the mix, the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider. Reyes isn’t all that different than Johnny Blaze, save for the fact that a hot rod he drove in a race was inhabited by a spirit and that he never makes you think of Nicholas Cage.

It’s not clear how Reyes will factor in over the arc of the new season, but “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” is back in a new form that includes everything described above plus a Life Model Decoy for the comic geeks, and a ghost for the Scooby gang!

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