This week’s recap is going to be a little different, mostly because this episode was a little different. Instead of the routine car chases, Skye/Daisy/Quake pouting sessions, or spending so much of ABC’s production budget on CGI flames, we finally are getting some answers to our *ahem* burning questions.
The episode “The Good Samaritan” is filled with flashbacks. We get flashbacks from Robbie Reyes, flashbacks from Ghost Lucy, and flashbacks from Robbie’s uncle Eli Morrow who to my continued surprise is still important to the story. There is a little advancement in plot this episode thanks to the agents, but structurally this episode is filling in all of the blanks the first five episodes created and setting up some interesting challenges for the rest of the season.
So let’s start with the first flashback that kicks off the episode: Eli Morrow. This is taking place before everyone became the poorly done CGI ghosts. Eli is even driving Ghost Rider’s black Dodge Chager, which in this time still hasn’t been given to Robbie. He shows up to work and finds that Lucy and her husband Joseph have not only discovered how to complete their research, but have already built a machine that can create matter. Their goal is to make it on a larger scale but Eli has doubts about this and those aren’t put to rest when Lucy brings up the Darkhold to him, much to her husband’s disapproval. In the present, Lucy is still getting Eli to help replicate the experiment to return her back to a human form, but needs a location with more power to complete it.
The second flashback is from Robbie and is the one we’ve been waiting for… ORIGIN STORY!!! To set this up, for whatever reason Daisy has picked up Robbie’s brother Gabe, even though 1.) Gabe never wanted to see Daisy again. 2.) Nothing is really stopping Robbie from doing it himself. 3.) I really doubt he would be a target for Lucy Bauer to go after. But Daisy picks Gabe up, gets him on the jet, and reunited with his brother. Gabe thinks he has pieced everything together and thinks his brother is a secret agent, which to him explains the blood and the late nights. There’s actually something tender and sweet about this moment as Gabe smiles and looks up to his brother. He’s proud of him in this moment thinking his brother must be a hero of sorts. Man, is he wrong.
Now, when we last saw Director Mace, he was making some shady deals with Senator Nadir about capturing Daisy and Ghost Rider and he’s acting on that right away. Mace shows up on the base and the tension is still strong between him and Coulson. What’s crazy is Mace and Coulson talk about Star Wars while investigating the ship for Robbie and Daisy. This is a Marvel Universe show talking about and acknowledging the Star Wars Universe. The last time this was done was when Spider-Man brought up The Empire Strikes Back during Captain America: Civil War. It’s all one big Disney family. So while Robbie, Gabe, and Daisy all hide from the S.H.I.E.L.D. SWAT teams, Robbie is forced to explain what is actually happening to his brother.
The flashback has a pre-wheelchair Gabe walking around and Robbie who looks no different but sounds a lot more like a, the only word I can think of is “douchebag?” I’ve really enjoyed Gabriel Luna’s acting but him trying to be this more careless, self-involved version of Robbie feels so strange and wrong. Robbie invites Gabe to come watch him race his uncle’s car and Gabe’s dialogue is tragically filled with talk of needing to do homework, playing soccer, going to Stanford and Berkley, everything that we know is going to be taken away from him. Gabe even mentions that Robbie should be doing more with his life but is interrupted as a van in front of them launches a firebomb at the car and later riddles the car with bullets as they try to escape. Gabe says how he couldn’t feel his legs and feared Robbie was dead but believed he saw a Good Samaritan that pulled him out of the burning car and saved Robbie. We find out that when they were attacked, Robbie prayed to anyone and everyone to save his brother and that Robbie actually died from the accident but managed to hear a voice that asked if he wanted a second chance to avenged his death and punish those that hurt his brother, to which he replies yes. It’s revealed the Good Samaritan that pulled Gabe out of the burning car was Ghost Rider who then possesses Robbie’s now very much alive body. Now this could be interpreted in different ways, but this other Ghost Rider shows up on a motorcycle and with a classic black leather jacket, which is some of the most identifying features of the first Ghost Rider from the comics, Johnny Blaze. It is at this point unconfirmed if it’s actually him but it definitely seems like a nod to the fans that the character Nicholas Cage played in the 2010 and 2012 movies could be officially included in the Marvel Universe and be the source of Robbie’s powers.
To understand the third flashback, you need to know what happened with the other agents. First, Simmons was sent to a meeting with the US government with a bag over her head to show just how much of a secret it is. We don’t see her for the rest of the episode. Fitz realizes Lucy need more power than the original lab for her machine to work and after some investigating, he discovers an old Roxxon (Evil Marvel corporation) lab. The investigating he does is actually very exciting because it brings up Peggy Carter and her research on zero matter/darkforce which was a major component of the second season of Agent Carter. Basically it was a form of unstable energy that could manifest itself as different powers for different people. It’s bad news.
And finally, Mace does discover Daisy and Robbie and demands that they be brought into custody. This doesn’t thrill Robbie too much who transforms into Ghost Rider and breaks out of the not-so indestructible containment unit. Mace takes on Ghost Rider but even his super strength and durability isn’t enough. Luckily Gabe manages to get him to calm down and turn back into Robbie before any real damage is done. Unfortunately, Gabe now has seen what his brother can become and is ashamed of the killing he’s done. With no real way to contain Robbie and Ghost Rider being the only one that can stop Lucy, Mace allows him and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to go rescue Eli and stop Lucy from activating her machine. It’s in this moment we get Lucy’s flashback where we find out her husband Joseph wasn’t content with just making a machine that could make matter, but he wanted to make it himself. Eli couldn’t let this happen and was going to do something about it. When the agents show up to stop Lucy, she confronts them and Robbie agrees to take her out. She shares the rest of her flashback with him that it wasn’t her they needed to stop but Robbie’s uncle. Eli was jealous and wanted the power for himself, it was him that turned them into ghosts and when he beat Joseph into a coma it wasn’t for vengeance but because he wanted to know where the Darkhold was. Not only that, but Joseph was the one that ordered the Fifth Street Loco gang to kill Eli but it was Robbie and Gabe in the car by mistake. So we learn who the true villain is but by then it’s already too late. Eli activates the machine and in a flash, Coulson, May, Robbie, and Fitz have all disappeared and Eli emerges from the chamber with matter-controlling powers.
Now in the comic books, Eli Morrow is a criminal and a devil worshiper and when he dies, he possesses the Dodge Charger that ends up in his nephew’s hands. When Eli and Robbie’s spirits bond, they become Ghost Rider. I believed they were going in a different direction because Eli just seemed like a one-time character but here I stand corrected. What will Eli do next? Where did all of the agents go? Will Doctor Strange be any good? Hopefully we’ll have those answers next week, True Believers!