AOS – Season IV – Ep.1 “The Ghost”: A Review

Posted: 09/26/2016 in Uncategorized

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Ghost Rider, Inhumans still in play, and now a supernatural threat. Darker in tone, more violent in presentation, AOS aims for the fences in their opening jaunt .The group is now broken down into components with  Coulson (Clark Gregg) being demoted to an agent, May (Ming-Na Wen) being relegated to a training role while Jemma (Elisabeth Hentsridge) & Fitz  (Ian De Caestecker) are now higher on the food chain. A lot goes in in a tight 45 minutes and most of it is good.

Dr. Holden’s (John Hannah) latest creation stands to be a recipe for disaster, though the good doctor does seduce Fitz into helping him “perfect” his project. A.I.D.A. (Mallory Jensen) is “not Ultron” per the good doctor. Upon addressing glitch with her, Holden has his creation plead her own case to Fitz. The performance by the Australian actress is solid. She plays “almost human” quite gamely with a physical performance  as she allows she is a source of protection  for humans, a decoy for danger, nicely setting up the long postulated aspect of “Life Model Decoys” that have been such an ongoing trope in the Marvel Universe. Her appearing nude seemingly out of nowhere startles Fitz and her engaging him as to her true purpose, directly, capitalizes on his being unsettled. Though he at first balks at her very existence, charging Holden with surrendering her to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the as yet unnamed director (Jason O’Mara), he inevitably agrees to aid him, behind  Jemma Simmons’ back. Nothing good will come from his withholding this information from his now romantic partner…  No good will come from aiding a man whose technological agenda has always been hubris laden, but assuredly, some really good tv will result. Aida will become a menace and her affiliation in the written lore is remotely reflected on the small screen, some epic fallout will ensue.

Coulson (Clark Gregg) now demoted and partnered with Mac (Henry Simmons) seems happier than he has been for some time. The notion of him as an agent pursuing Daisy/Quake (Chloe Bennett) and other non –human, enhanced threats –works. The lighter humorous fare is never too far behind as the playful banter that informs the Whedon brother’s writing style is still well represented. I cite the “how do I get tech like that?” referencing Coulson’s new hand and its scanning software and the former director’s equally glib “you just need to cut off a limb” response. The show is in darker waters this season however and the cast ably dives in. The group’s fragmenting is an added dramatic twist, particularly the fact that Jemma now outranks May (Ming-Na Wen) with the latter resenting her for it. The question of loyalty and to whom it is directed is put forth.

Daisy’s own dark journey is presented, citing her taking down the “Watchdog” operatives and acting in full blown vigilante mode. The toll the use of her powers takes upon her is palpable. Her abilities come into play with just enough frequency to not be overdone. The notion that she is at the point of no return is clearly stated in a latter battle sequence with her spoken request. The identity of her “inside track” to stay ahead of her S.H.I.E.L.D. pursuers is too quickly revealed but this is a minor complaint. Yoyo/Elena (Natalia Buckley-Cordova) returns and pushes her desire for a relationship with Mac which seems again a little forced comparative to their earlier chemistry last season but hey, this is a completely different game, so I will strike this aspect as a criticism.

The real star of this run, however, is “the Rider”. I had concerns about the use of a more ‘modern’ take of the legendary Marvel character, but with Gabriel Luna’s portrayal of Robbie Reyes, those fears were quickly assuaged. The visuals popped. The escalated violence and grass roots development of the street legend of “the Ghost Rider” including the graffiti wall tracking those eliminated was perfect. The less is more approach, showing us more Reyes than Rider allowed for a slow burn. The reveal of the presence of an injured/paralyzed sibling, Gabe (Lorenzo James Henrie), adds more fuel to the mystery and motivation behind the “Spirit of Vengeance’s” campaign.

The one on one battle between Daisy and G.R. was fairly epic, delivering with both style and substance. His walking away when she makes a request for an ‘end’ to their battle was cinema level quality. The introduction of a supernatural ‘compound’ that creates madness is buttressed by a ghost like presence which sets the stage quite handily and quickly for this season. May’s encounter with said presence stands to have grim consequences down the line.  Honestly, the main issue I thought might affect the quality of the show was the rapid migration from super-hero standard sci-fi threats, enhanced humans, government and aliens, to a supernatural menace. This was done seamlessly. AOS takes the first step to creating a killer season of their series. The numbers generated afterward, viewership-wise confirm this idea. AOS Season IV is off to a terrific start, maintaining the assurance that it remains simply outstanding and well worth your time.

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