The biggest news out of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since the Season 3 finale last May has been that legendary Marvel superhero Ghost Rider was on the way for Season 4, and he blazed onto the scene in the season premiere to kick ass, take names, and dole out a whole bunch of death. Gabriel Luna made his grand bloody debut as Robbie Reyes - AKA Ghost Rider - and S.H.I.E.L.D. will never be the same. His entrance means that Season 4 is heading in a completely different direction than Seasons 1-3, and it's worth getting excited about. Read on for our breakdown of three major ways that Ghost Rider is changing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for Season 4.
Marvel TV Is Going Mystical
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stayed within the realms of science for most of its crazy twists over the first three seasons of the series. Even the wide variety of superpowers demonstrated by the Inhumans could be traced back to genetics rather than any sort of higher power or supernatural element. The show has had Fitz, Simmons, and a handful of other smartypants agents over the years to put facts behind the fantastical. Now, thanks to the introduction of Robbie Reyes and his haunted car, S.H.I.E.L.D. has established itself as existing within the wider world of Marvel mysticism.
The timing is right for S.H.I.E.L.D. to really start branching out from the realms of science. The next Marvel theatrical release will be Doctor Strange, which will follow the story of a surgeon who is trained by a sorcerer to defend the world against evil. As always, S.H.I.E.L.D. will connect in some way to the latest big screen Marvel venture. Executive producer Jed Whedon has already revealed that the ties will vary between the thematic, the reflective, and the direct. Ghost Rider is only the beginning of the mysticism to come in Season 4 and beyond.
The World Is A More Violent Place
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't go halfass in introducing the brutal side of Robbie Reyes' Ghost Rider. The S.H.I.E.L.D. version had already killed an awful lot of people before he even showed up on screen, and he made one hell of a first impression by taking down a group of gang members in just about as violent a way as possible for a guy with a haunted car on network TV. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has never exactly shied away from violence, but the Season 4 premiere took it to a whole new level. Ghost Rider has set a brutal precedent for anything that comes next.
It's actually not a huge surprise that Season 4 got off to such a dark start. ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey teased earlier this summer that the next batch of episodes would be edgier, darker, and riskier than anything that S.H.I.E.L.D. had attempted before. The bump from the 9 p.m. ET time slot up to the 10 p.m. ET time slot has given the show leeway to tackle more explicit material. Ghost Rider's death toll is a good indicator that S.H.I.E.L.D. probably won't be getting lighter again any time soon.
The Good Guys Will Get Their Hands Dirty
The Season 4 premiere showed enough of Robbie Reyes' altruistic side to prove that Ghost Rider won't become a supervillain, although he isn't exactly signed on as a traditional Marvel superhero, either. There's no denying that he has done a lot of bad things, and the good guys will need to get their hands dirty and look the other way in order to work with Robbie.
Even if Ghost Rider's human side is a wonderful person who ran into a patch of bad luck, he still killed a lot of people, which isn't all that virtuous. Working with Ghost Rider will mean that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents will have to accept more shades of moral grayness instead of just the black and white of good and bad. Robbie can pal around with his little brother all he wants; he'll still be a guy whose alter ego goes by the name "Spirit of Vengeance," and whose path is soaked with blood.