Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 7 “Deals with Our Devils”
It’s not often that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. uses unorthodox methods to tell its story, but when it does, it’s normally memorable, and its return from fall break is no exception.
As you may remember in the cliffhanger, after Robbie’s evil uncle set off the gizmo that gave him superpowers, Coulson, Fitz and Robbie all vanished in a puff of smoke.
The surviving team members Daisy, May and Mack try to figure out what happened and what next steps to take. These scenes play out like they usually would. There’s a lot of drama and deciding to either move on, continue the mission to stop Uncle Leo, or mount a rescue mission for teammates who may not be dead.
The scenes play out to a point before we rewind to the sepia toned realm where Coulson, Fitz and Robbie were blasted to, and we see those same scenes again, only with the world tinted brown and the missing characters realizing they are invisible.
It’s a clever little device that gave Clark Gregg, Iain De Caestecker and Gabriel Luna lots of room to perform and become increasingly desperate, as they try to influence the events of the “real” world. It also allows the audience to know more many of the characters, since the ghost world residents are able to get behind closed doors. The rest of the episode uses this device to tell and retell scenarios from the real world and the in-between one.
While there’s not a lot of action, the tension runs high through the episode. That paired with the Memento-style story trick keeps things going and interesting. The trapped characters’ motivations are also ring true – the Spirit of Vengeance leaves Robbie for Mack, Fitz is concerned for the MIA Simmons, and Coulson’s rapport with May seems to be growing into something more personal.
In the end, a sinister source sets things right. Only the evil tome, the Darkhold, has the knowledge to open a gate to the sepia toned realm of the damned. And, only the sexy android, Aida can read it without having her head explode. (And, giving robots unlimited knowledge always works out so well, amiright Westworld fans?)
Aida dons some fake science gloves and opens that gateway that bring Coulson and Fiz back from the beyond and reunite them with their counterparts. Robbie comes along later after he seemingly manages to make an even worse deal with the devil to get Ghost Rider out of Mack.
This was a strong return from break and a clever way of stretching the final confrontation with this half-season’s big-bad, leading into next week’s winter finale.