A long summer full of superhero blockbusters is at an end, which means it's time to welcome our favorite band of Marvel misfits back to the small screen.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is here for a fourth season, and this time, the show is touting the inclusion of one of Marvel's more recognizable heroes as a reason for viewers to tune in.
At least the series doesn't waste any time in introducing us to Ghost Rider, whose trademark flaming skull and car have monopolized the marketing for this season.
On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 1, we meet him in the very first scene – a madcap Los Angeles robbery that also includes our favorite rogue agent, Daisy Johnson.
While the fiery special effects that bring Ghost Rider's powers to life are surprisingly good for a network television show, I realized abut halfway through his first scene that pretty much of all of his action is going to take place at night and therefore be difficult for my tired eyes to follow. Nonetheless, watching him and Daisy duke it out was pretty awesome.
Even better than Ghost Rider's fight scenes was his final scene in this episode: We see him in his everyday life as Robbie Reyes, helping his younger brother, Gabe, get to school.
The two of them bounce banter off of each other in a believable, brotherly way, but that wasn't what really hooked me about the scene.
See, Gabe is disabled and confined to a wheelchair. As someone whose young sister is developmentally disabled, it always excites me to see this kind of sibling relationship portrayed in film and television. (Though, unfortunately, I do not have superpowers like Robbie.)
Having a sibling with disabilities, whether they be physical, mental or a combination of both, affects your perception of life and the choices you make in a multitude of ways.
It makes situations complicated that, if you didn't have a sibling with disabilities, you wouldn't think twice about. It's a very particular and occasionally difficult lifestyle to which not a lot of people can relate.
Daisy: You don't get to decide who deserves to die.
Ghost Rider: I'm not the one who decides.
Having not read any of the Ghost Rider comics starring Robbie Reyes, I look forward to seeing how his relationship with his brother influences his actions. How does Robbie reconcile his seemingly cold-blooded, murderous side with the side that takes loving care of his younger brother?
We'll just have to wait and find out. Fortunately, considering how much of this season appears to be staked on Ghost Rider's storyline, I imagine we won't have to wait long.
Over the first three seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy Johnson has had a remarkable arc as a character. She went from orphaned computer hacker and S.H.I.E.L.D. outsider, to full-fledged member with a family in her fellow agents, to superpowered Inhuman.
Now, full of guilt about the death of Lincoln in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Episode 22, Daisy has gone rogue, determined to prove that she's worthy of the sacrifice Lincoln made to save her. I definitely cannot wait to delve more into her damaged psyche this season, as disturbing as that may sound.
The world knows her as Quake. And Quake is an outlaw who takes out banks and bridges.Melinda May [on Daisy]
Chloe Bennet has grown as an actress just as Daisy as grown as a character, and I can't wait to see what she does with this latest storyline – and, of course, how she interacts with Ghost Rider. One thing's for certain, though: I don't want to see her romantically involved with him.
I can't think of a time on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Daisy wasn't romantically entangled with either Grant Ward or Lincoln. She needs a break from that kind of drama.
While we're talking about romance: I love seeing Yo-Yo boldly confront Mack about his inability to follow through on their undeniable chemistry. Those are two characters that would be incredibly hot together if Mack ever got over his fear of breaking S.H.I.E.L.D. rules and consummated their relationship.
The Aryan Brotherhood? Not my type of brothers.Mack
Yo-Yo became one of my favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. characters from the moment she was introduced last season; I love her sassy, rebellious attitude and the way she wont hesitate to break the rules if it's the right thing to do. And in this instance, the right thing to do is make out with Mack. As soon as possible.
The way the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team has reacted to Simmons' promotion was chock full of tension that is instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever felt any level of competition in the workplace.
Fitz feels bitter that he never gets to see his girlfriend, and one wonders if he isn't also a little bit bitter that said girlfriend is also his superior now. Meanwhile, May is outright pissed that she has to get permission from Simmons for things like signing out a piece of equipment.
The scene in which Simmons actually had the ovaries to pull rank on The Cavalry herself, after May had complained about Simmons' security clearance being higher than hers, was pretty killer. It's a good reminder that Simmons, despite her perfectly proper diction and her penchant for Peter Pan collars, is actually pretty badass.
I don't trust the new Director. But he trusts me.Simmons [to May]
This was the same Simmons who went undercover at Hydra, successfully convincing her team that she had betrayed them when she was in fact putting her life on the line for them. Now, she's climbing the corporate ladder in the hope that she can become close enough to the new Director to keep her team together.
Speaking of which: I look forward to meeting the new Director (to be played by Jason O'Mara) and seeing how he gets along with Agent Coulson – being back in the field seems to suit him, but how will he handle answering to this higher power?
And of course, I can't wait for more of Daisy and Robbie's excellent adventures in L.A. Overall, it was a solid, action-packed introduction to the new season.
What did you think of Ghost Rider's introduction? And what about the revelation that Dr. Radcliffe has built a pretty realistic Life Model Decoy – and that Fitz is going to help him perfect it in secret? How do you think this will affect his and Simmons' relationship?
Remember, you can watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.