Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had a very inspired fourth season so far, which is a shame as the ratings have been sinking. The show has found a great balance of espionage intrigue and superhero mayhem. With a really creative execution and strong character work, Deals With Our Devils ranks as one of the season and series’ most entertaining episodes.
With Coulson, Fitz and Robbie mysteriously vanished after confronting Eli Morrow, the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. feared the worst. May surprisingly took it the hardest and needed a pep talk from Daisy to remember the team specializing in defying the odds. Both of the team’s more logical thinkers found themselves conflicted.
Mack wanted to track down some leads with Eli’s old hired goons even though Eli’s powers allow him to kill with a thought. May was just as desperate hoping to use the Darkhold book for some leads in tracking down Coulson and Fitz. This was a clever departure from the normal dynamic where Mack and May are the ones trying to talk sense into everyone else when they start throwing out crazy ideas.
Just with that setup, Deals With Our Devils would have made for a fun show. But the writers went a very creative way in playing things out by doing an episode within an episode.
Trapped in an alternate plane of existence, Coulson, Fitz and Robbie could only watch their friends with no way of contacting them. This instant replay with a new perspective was a cool twist on the traditional storytelling format without wearing out its welcome. The color shifts for the altered reality weren’t excessive, but made for a nifty visual switch.
I liked that the Ghost Rider spirit sized up the situation and ditched Robbie. Apparently it didn’t like the losing scenario and found a more fitting host in Mack. This led to one of the episode’s best moments as Mace wasn’t so much upset about Mack disobeying orders, but that he went out on the motorcycle without a helmet. Mace has been played as a real straight arrow and this was another amusing reminder.
Simmons, meanwhile, missed out on all the fun again. She was in an undisclosed location attempting to free Senator Nadeer’s brother from his prolonged Terragenesis. It seemed a pretty convenient way to keep Simmons out of the important events of the episode. Plus it was hard to believe he just needed someone to speak to him calmly to get him to come out of his Inhumans cocoon.
With Simmons sidelined, Mace called in Holden to crack the Darkhold. Holden’s quickly become one of the better additions to the cast this season because he’s a smart guy that’s not afraid to use his common sense. Despite May’s pleas, he wanted no parts of reading the Darkhold and eventually took Aida up on her offer to read it.
This was Aida’s big coming out episode as May and Coulson learned she’s an android in their respective realities. The effects with Aida opening a gateway to retrieve Coulson and Fitz looked sharp. But giving Aida access to the Darkhold is certainly going to be one of the team’s more regrettable decisions this year.
While Aida worked to free the others, Daisy was trying to help Mack from a full-on Ghost Rider conversion. Although Daisy was game — including a wicked high speed chase — it took Robbie offering to serve Ghost Rider beyond his vengeance against Eli to free Mack. Robbie has proven to be a very fascinating character and this latest deal with the devil further cemented the fact adding Ghost Rider this season was a savvy move.
As a whole, the cast really delivered strong performances this episode. Iain De Caestecker probably had the standout performance as Fitz went off on Coulson.
Beyond Simmons’ absence, it was slightly annoying that Daisy even bothered to walk off. At this point everyone knows she’ll be right back whenever the slightest emergency occurs. I wish the writers wouldn’t make Daisy come off so childish in that regard.
Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Photo Credit: ABC