Five Thoughts on Agents of SHIELD’s “Deals With Our Devils”

By | November 30th, 2016
Posted in Television | % Comments

We’re back, and boy did the show ever choose quite the moment to take a break on. So now we pick up where it left off, with Eli Morrow powered up and on the move. Enough reflection, let’s jump in and see how it goes.

1. Ghosted

Following the events of the previous episode, where Coulson and Fitz got blasted by the shockwave from Eli’s evil machine of magic superpowers, the two seem to have vanished. May and Mack can’t find them, and have to assume the worst.

They’re only half-right, as we later see the two live through the same scenes. The only difference is that everything is a sickly yellow, and no one else can see, hear, or touch them.

So basically, they’re ghosts. And so is Robbie. And they’re all going to get dragged to hell if they don’t get back soon.

The episode actually uses this in a clever way, first showing us a scene with the non-ghosted characters playing out as normal, with all the interaction and conversations therein. Then we see the scene again from Coulson and co’s perspective, where they learn new secrets, try to reach out to their friends, or provide commentary. There’s even a cute scene where Coulson tries to comfort May as she talks to herself about how he can’t be dead, but she can’t hear him.

2. Simmons’ Side Mission

When we last saw Jemma Simmons, she was being sent off on a secret mission to who-knows-where. Well, it seems her hidden task ties into Senator Nadeer’s story, and the terrigenesis cocoon she’s had in her apartment.

What we initially thought was a failed transformation is, in fact, a delayed one (so the Senator’s hatred of Inhumans doesn’t make quite as much sense, if she knows this), and Simmons has been called in to help complete it. She manages, primarily through just talking to the cocoon, and peeling away some of it as it begins to crack.

Then, before she can even get the guy’s name, she’s whisked away and sent back to SHIELD.

And I’m sure that’s the last we’ll ever hear of it, and the unknown Inhuman will have no problem with the person whose kindness helped him through the transformation being pulled out before he could even thank her.

3. Mack’s Got the Ghost

Early on in the episode, we see Mack grab his motorcycle and go hunting down Eli. At first it seems like he’s gone mad with grief, but then we see the scene again from Robbie’s perspective, as the Spirit of Vengeance hops out of him and hitches a ride on Mack. Once more, I really like how they show us the same scene from two different points of view.

As the Ghost Rider, Mack’s skull-faced appearance looks a little more like the classic version, and less like the more streamlined appearance Robbie’s Ghost Rider form has. But then, he also gets to ride a motorcycle, which is fitting, it’s just too bad we don’t see it turn into the flaming motorbike we know and love.

Robbie making a deal with the Spirit of Vengeance to take it back rings a little similarly to how he bonded with his ghost in the comics; “I’ll bond with you and kill who you want me to, just let me get my vengeance and leave my friend.” Perhaps it would have worked better if it were Gabe who the spirit latched on to instead of Mack, but that also would have been a tad too obvious.

4. ADA to the Rescue

It becomes clear to May throughout the episode that the only way to save Coulson and Fitz is through the Darkhold, but everyone else has the better judgement to not open it. Even Doctor Radcliff takes a peek, and immediately slams it shut because we’ve finally found a character smart enough to not read a book of untold dark knowledge and mystical powers.

So no human can read it without losing their minds to its dark allure, but the season has spent plenty of time building up a character who isn’t human: ADA. It makes sense on multiple levels, which she’s more than happy to list, and it’s built up in such a way that the audience is thinking “Okay, this is the smart thing to do, someone needs to say it – thank you, there we go!”

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As she reads, we see a brief glimpse as it appears in computer code (lots of zeroes and ones), a nice callback to how the Darkhold always appears to the reader in their first language. Then it’s just a quick application of magic and science and boom, we have an interdimensional gateway that can turn ghosted people back to solid form. Easy peasy, right?

But there’s one other thing worth noting: ADA’s analysis of the cubes the ghosts were stored in before indicates that they draw on power from alternate dimensions to do what they do, and as anyone who’s seen the Doctor Strange movie knows, that’s exactly how magic works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So this knowledge both presents a little tie-in to the good doctor’s movie, but reminds us of one important law, as the webcomic “Girl Genius” so eloquently stated: “Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.”

5. Ominous Setup

So Coulson and company are safe, Fitz and Simmons are reunited, and Robbie’s got his ghost back. Everything’s good, right?

Of course not, we have the winter finale coming up soon, gotta keep the viewers wanting more. Robbie and Mack, both still wanting a fair bit of vengeance, are teaming up, and I swear I will be a happy viewer if this means we get to see Ghost Rider use a flaming shotgun axe. Can they beat a man who can literally kill people by making carbon spikes materialize in their hearts? Most likely, but hopefully it’ll be fun to watch.

More ominously, ADA seems to have picked up some additional tricks from the Darkhold, as she’s working some light magic while Radcliff sings a little song about saving the day (which, I admit, made me chuckle). So apparently the dark magic of the book can even drive a machine mad with its power, and it’ll be interesting to see where that leads.

Hopefully Radcliff remembers to keep multiple backups of ADA’s memory, instead of just one, and it wasn’t overwritten by her newly Darkhold-inspired self.

I suppose we’ll get answers to that soon enough (unless they use it as a hook for the next half of the season, of course).

//TAGS | Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

Robbie Pleasant


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