Is there any better match for the superhero than the origin story? Well, maybe capes, but those are overrated (and as we all learned in The Incredibles, can be the tragic undoing of even the most powerful among us).
Sometimes origin stories can feel unnecessary – after all, a little mystery can be a good thing – or repetitive – there are only so many times we need to watch Bruce Wayne's parents die – but when done well, they can be the ideal way to keep audiences connected to the human side of superhumans.
Origin stories remind us of what superheroes were they were like when they were, well, just like us.
On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 6, we were treated to a standout origin story. And while Ghost Rider may not be a stereotypical superhero (in that he is obviously far more cursed than blessed by his abilities), it didn't dilute the power of his story in the slightest. If anything, it made it more potent.
"The Good Samaritan" was, among other things, yet another showcase for Gabriel Luna, who brings a startling amount of humanity to a character that is supposed to have made a deal with the devil.
Luna's performance is consistently subtle and restrained when it would be so easy for him to go over the top. He conveys so much of Robbie's pain and regret with just his eyes, which makes it even more disturbing when they suddenly transform into the fiery peepers of his alter ego.
That's the deal I made. I swore to go after those who spilled innocent blood, and I was reborn.Robbie
We've learned more and more about Robbie with each episode, making him feel less like the ratings stunt I originally suspected he was and more like an incredibly valuable member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. family.
The flashback to the car accident that created Ghost Rider – not to mention, Robbie's reveal of his Ghost Rider side to Gabe – felt like the perfect culmination of that story.
The scenes between Robbie and Gabe, in both the flashbacks and the present day, contained some of the best work actors have ever done on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It helps that the two actors have incredible chemistry that makes me buy their brotherhood, but the dialogue between the two of them in this episode was also incredibly well-written.
The only power I got to worry about is horsepower.Robbie
Robbie and Gabe's banter feels much more natural than some of the forced humor to which this show can admittedly fall prey. (I'm looking at you, gratuitous Admiral Ackbar references!)
Witnessing Gabe go from having such admiration for his big brother (albeit with some disappointment in his lack of ambition), to being utterly ashamed of his brother's violent side and unwilling to have the blood of the those Ghost Rider had killed on his hands, was pretty rough.
But seeing Robbie' anguished reaction to that change in his beloved brother's attitude toward him was even worse.
In the end, only Gabe reminding his brother of his humanity could keep Ghost Rider from punching Director Mace to death – an unpleasant end, to be sure.
Gabe: I thought you were dead.
Robbie: 'Cause I was dead.
Speaking of which: Can we talk about what a jerk Director Mace has become now that he is apparently in the thrall of Senator Nadeer? And where did he send Simmons? Is she studying the weird creature that we saw living in the Senator's house?
After all, she is S.H.I.E.L.D.'s foremost scientific expert on Inhumans. Whatever it is she's up to, I want answers. And I know Fitz does, too.
The rest of the team took a backseat in this episode, and the Ghost Rider-centric story was so strong I didn't miss them.
But, I look forward to seeing how they all deal with the fallout of the explosive incident at Roxxon, and to hopefully more references to Agent Peggy Carter's connections to Roxxon, Isodyne and Zero Matter (because more Peggy Carter always has been and always will be a good thing).
The skull on fire presents a pretty compelling argument for "Hail Satan."Coulson [on Ghost Rider]
Anyways, now that Eli is revealed to be the villain, not the victim, of the story – a twist that I honestly didn't see coming – one imagines that Robbie's guilt trip will go into overdrive.
Following the show's impending three-week break, I hope we get to see Robbie help the team take down his uncle. Redemption, not revenge, needs to become his reason for being.
I am slightly disappointed that we won't get to dive right back into S.H.I.E.L.D. following the U.S. premiere of Doctor Strange this weekend (thanks, incredibly important presidential election!), but on the plus side, it will give audience members a couple of extra weekends to get around to seeing the movie before S.H.I.E.L.D. can potentially spoil it.
Lucy: You're his nephew, Gabriel. Like the angel.
Robbie: No. I'm the other one.
So, what did you think of "The Good Samaritan"? Where do you think Director Mace sent Simmons? When do you think the Life Model Decoys will actually play a role in anything going on this season?
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.